The magnificent Sahara and the Berber tribes that belongs to it are wonderfully described in this book:
Izzy discovers that her amulet is a Tuareg artefact containing an inscription in Tifinagh, a language of the ancient world used for poetry and magic, understood now only by nomads in the deep desert. The desert routes once travelled by caravans of camels bearing ivory, gold and salt are now more perilous than ever but Isobel must follow them if she is ever to lay her ghosts to rest.
Out in the magnificent wastes of the Sahara she will find more than she ever dreamed: not only the answer to her mysterious inheritance, but a romance as grand and sweeping as the desert itself…
Historic Philadelphia amazed me with fll leaves and its tranquility. The Founding Fathers of the United States gathered here to develop the Free Masonry and build the country. They signed the Declaration of Independence in 1776 and the Constitution in 1787.
Philadelphia at the time of the American Revolution, it was the largest and most important city in America. Founded by William Penn as a place of religious tolerance, its spirit infused the early steps towards independence.
W. Penn named the city Philadelphia, which is Greek for brotherly love (from philos, “love” or “friendship”, and adelphos, “brother”). Penn had experienced religious persecution and wanted his colony to be a place where anyone could worship freely. But Philadelphia is a city of big gay community too.
Because of its loveliness, sometimes is called Philly by its citizens.
Philadelphia is the birthplace of the United States Marine Corps. My friend and I took a walk down the river and admired the old sailboats, military ships and submarines.
… and is also the home of many U.S. firsts, including the first library (1731), first hospital (1751) and medical school (1765), first Capital (1777), first stock exchange (1790), first zoo (1874), and first business school (1881).
Most of these buildings can be seen as part of the List of National Historic Landmarks in Philadelphia. I was actually lucky having a friend who lives there to take a proper walk with me and explain me the meanings.
So how it all began?
Before Europeans arrived, the Philadelphia area was home to the Lenape (Delaware) Indians – hence the name of the river that goes through the city. Upon arrival of Europeans (early 17th century), Lenape communities were weakened by newly introduced diseases, mainly smallpox, and violent conflict with Europeans.
After the charta of the mentioned W. Penn to form the colonie, a number of important philosophical societies were formed, which were centers of the city’s intellectual life. These worked to develop and finance new industries and attract skilled and knowledgeable immigrants from Europe.
Philadelphia served as the temporary capital of the United States from 1790 until 1800. Dating from these times, Old city impressed me with its charm and warmth.
Another historical place to visit, just to get an idea about Europeans arrivals is the Colonial Germantown Historic District.
From that time is the market as well – the oldest in USA! It is vivid, historic (since there are Amish people selling cheese, donuts, pretzels etc.) and definitely good for opening the appetite.
Talkin’ about food:
A very big role in Philadelphia’s history played the Independence Hall where both the United States Declaration of Independence and the United States Constitution were debated and adopted. It is the place where the formal announcement of the formation of the League to Enforce Peace was marked, which led to the League of Nations and eventually the United Nations.
Inside of its tower The Liberty Bell was housed – actually in the highest chamber of the brick tower. The Liberty Bell is an iconic symbol of American independence. In its early years the bell was used to summon lawmakers to legislative sessions and to alert citizens about public meetings and proclamations. Today is located in the Liberty Bell Center.
The Masonic Temple serves as the headquarters of the Grand Lodge of Pennsylvania, Free and Accepted Masons. The building is of Norman style of the building with massive granite cornerstones – typical European.
Some time of his life (19th century) Edgar Allan Poe (the poet and author of the famous Raven) lived in Pennsylvania. This was his house:
What to say more about Philly?
The city is growing, expanding, people are dazzling around… it has this cozy atmosphere of the warm nice fall with colourfull leafes but it shows you all the mighty, power and glory. Like the current City Hall.
The Philadelphia skyline is growing, hence the city is the economic and cultural anchor of the Delaware Valley—a region located in the Northeastern United States.
This was a day and a half in Philadelphia. In the evening we sat at the bankside of the river and watched across the othe, almost conurbated city of New Jersey.
Early fall in 2015 I have spent in the East cost of USA, visiting New York, Washington and Philadelphia. Each of those cities impressed me in a different way as each ofg them holds the unique atmosphere.
Washington for example is a grid with many wide avenues.
The signing of the Residence Act in 1790, approved the creation of a capital district located along the Potomac River on the country’s East Coast. The U.S. Constitution followed soon and the city was named in honor of first US President George Washington. Hence the Washington Monument – the obelisk on the National Mall, as the world’s tallest obelisk (169 m).
The Lincoln Memorial is an American national monument built to honor the 16th President of the United States, Abraham Lincoln. It is located on the western end of the National Mall .
The centers of all three branches of the federal government of the United States are in the Washington, including the Congress, President, and Supreme Court.
As the city hosts 176 foreign embassies as well as is the headquarters of many international organizations, trade unions, non-profit organizations, lobbying groups, and professional associations, the entire feeling is much posh and less dazzling than some other US cities.
Even the bus station seems impressive.
Part of the National Mall is interesting to see World War ll Memorial with the all 3 ocean side’s built: Pacific, Atlantic and Indian (depends on the fronts and names of people killed).
The Jefferson Memorial is a presidential memorial, dedicated to Thomas Jefferson (18th century), one of the most important of the American Founding Fathers as the main drafter and writer of the Declaration of Independence.
The Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial is located in West Potomac Park. It is called the Stone of Hope and it is representing granite statue of Civil Rights Movements.
The United States Capitol, often called the Capitol Building, is the home of the United States Congress, and the seat of the legislative branch of the USA. It sits atop Capitol Hill at the eastern end of the National Mall in Washington, D.C.
During my visiti there were some cionist protests.
Washington is home to many national monuments and museums, which are primarily situated on or around the National Mall too. Many of them are part of the Smithsonian Institution, being for free as Smithsoinian was the collectionist, founder and benefactor.
So I gave myself dedicated time to this as the museums were really impressive and ofcourse, I never managed to visit them all.
My first stop was National Museum of American History and Culture where I learned a lot about Indigoneus people of America and the first formers of USA fighting against british domination, slavery in Civil War in 18th century and emancipation of women.
The next stop was American Natural History Museum. Maybe the only better natural history museum I saw was in Vienna, Austria. But if.
This one gives the entire historical development of animals and plants through the ages of the development of american continenet as well as their spread through the climate environment and survival.
The rfly terrarium… Unfortunately they were flying constantly around so I couldn’t capture not one properly… 🙂
The Botanic Gardens were humid a lot. But smelly on tropical flowers 🙂
I liked the presentation of picking and processing three main plant cultures: cotton, tea and cocoa:
And the secret life of roots…
The Natural American History Museum kinda captures both Americas and the dead civilisations. The girl who once lived in Chile and travelled South America, visiting Peru, Bolivia, Argentina and Brazil couldn’t be more entusiastic about this!
The last one I visited was the Air Space Museum about the NASA. Of course. 🙂
Even though this book is a fiction, it is based on true events.
Agnes Magnúsdóttir is the last person executed on Iceland, accused of participating in the murder of Nathan Ketilsson and Peter Jonsson on the night between 13 and 14 March 1828 in Illugastadir, on the Vatnsnes peninsula in northern Iceland.
The story about her confessions live in the nowadays Iceland. Her tomb is present at Tjorn, northern Iceland where she is buried together with her partner in crime.
The authow wrote her view on life and way of thinking of Agnes. She first heard this ghost story when she was an exchange student in Iceland.
The author is beautifully describing the then Iceland in 19th century, its political and religious values and relations with the king in Kopenhagen.
The tradition, beliefs, hard life under terrible meteo conditions of this northern country are very well described as well, the people’s survival through agriculture and livestock breeding etc.
As a feminist, I saw this book in the following way: this book gives a different view into a life of a woman who was an orphan, strong enough mentally to survive, but weak enough to fall in love. Sadly, the society sentenced her to death for witchcrafting… just one more in the row.
You have my photo of driving this thing on Instagram. Scroll down for the account.
Meanwhile, let’s start properly.
We started at the canals close to the city of Veere. I was surprised how everything is so green green.
The summerhouses were peaceful and surrounded with nice grass and gardens.
We took the basket with snacks and drinks and started our adventure. The idea was to reach Veere at the island Zeeland.
Zeeland is actually westernmost and least populous province of the Netherlands, located in the south-west of the country, consists of a number of islands and peninsulas (hence its name, meaning “Sealand”).
Alongside the canal we spotted many cute houses and animals. The daylight was quite bad since the sun was disappearing every 2 minutes.
The drive took around 45 minutes until we reached Veere – a delightful historical village built on the shore of the Western Schedlt river.
Veere obtained city rights in 1353. It was once a fishing town, but the small marina is now used for pleasure yatchs.
The most eye-catching building is of course the town hall, erected in 15th century.
The city used to be a staple port for the wool trade with Scotland between 15th and 18th century but the remained tooth of the whale reminds on the fishing history of the city.
The featured image explains the entire concept of this city: historical statues vs. modern buildings and institutions vs. hispterish restaurants. But I adore it! Especially because of the restaurants and the atmosphere created there. Plus, it is the city with the sea – enough said. 🙂
On the map of Europe it is placed on the western coast of the Netherlands and as such it is the capital of the province of South Holland.
Officially, The Hague is the seat of the Dutch government, but the city is not the capital of the Netherlands, which is constitutionally Amsterdam.
Around 150 international organisations are located in the city, including the International Court of Justice and the International Criminal Court, International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY), Europol (European Police)… which makes The Hague one of the major cities hosting the United Nations, along with New York, Geneva, Vienna, Rome, and Nairobi.
I never manage to properly take a photo when entering the city from the highway. Especially during the night when the lights of Deloitte (UK multinational business company) building are on.
The story of The Hague starts in 13th century when the counts of Holland used the city as their administrative center and residence when in Holland. As the first fortress was made of wood, the place was literally called des Graven hage (eng. the Count’s Wood). So today’s inner city has some small streets in the town centre that may be dated from the late Middle Ages and several spacious streets boasting large and luxurious 18th-century residences built for diplomats and affluent Dutch families.
Very impressive is the large Protestant church dating from the 17th century called Grote of Sint-Jacobskerk (St Jacob’s Church) built in what was then a modern style.
Absolute must is Mauritshuis museum – home to The Girl with the Pearl Earring, painted by Vermeer. There is a movie about this story too.
Het Plein is a town square in the old city centre – a good place to eat and drink. With festive lights, outdoor seating, and heaters in the winter, this place is perfect for a gezellig evening (there’s no English translation for this Dutch word, but in this context it roughly means the cozy, warm feeling you get from being with good friends).
The best part of The Hague the Scheveningen beach – a modern seaside resort with a long, sandy beach, an esplanade, a pier, and a lighthouse.
Eating at Scheveningen is a specal feeling. I am impressed by the atmosphere at the seaside with many fires lighted up creating the special romantic moments.
The most beautiful building amongst the hotels alongside the beach is The Kurhaus. It was built in 19 century annd has a great passage through to get to the seaside open to the public. This year (my 4th visit to The Hague) I had a privilege to stay in this beautiful hotel 🙂
The tyrannical King Ismail resides over the palace of Meknes. Through the sweltering heat of the palace streets, Nus Nus is his slave. He is circumsized, of course, and as eunuh fights his emotions.
Meanwhile, young, fair Alys Swann is captured during her crossing to England, where she is due to be wed. Sold into Ismail’s harem, she is forced to choose: renounce her faith and become subject to the King or die.
Ismail ibn Sharif was the second ruler of the Moroccan Alaouite dynasty. He is also known in his native country as the “Warrior King”. Ismaïl is also known as a fearsome ruler and used at least 25,000 slaves for the construction of his capital (also mentioned in the book). His Christian slaves were often used as bargaining counters with the European powers, ransoming them back for inflated sums or for rich gifts. Most of his slaves were obtained by Barbary pirates in raids on Western Europe.
Visiting Versailles is inevitable when you are visiting Paris. I took the 45 min train and decided to go for a one day trip.
It all started as a humble hunting lodge in 1624 by Louis XIII, and then when king Louis XIV decided to move the residence from the center of Paris to build the Palace of Versailles.
The entrance looks pretty amaizing: the huge golden fence, the golden clock, the rich facade with many ornaments…
Versailles was the seat of political power in the Kingdom of France from 1682, many philosopher, poets, sculptors, gardeners and other artists were gathering there as well as many Dama’s were walking around showing the latest fashion together with King and Queen.
The Sun King – Louis XVI
Queen Marie Antoanette, habsburg’s Dauphin
The center of political power as such existed until there was no more money to expand the castle or repair it’s parts. Walking inside, I was surprised how walls were thin but detailed with gold, ivory, porculain etc and how cold could it be during the winter times since the windows were this too.
Until the royal family was forced to return to the capital in October 1789 after the beginning of the French Revolution. Versailles is therefore famous not only as a building, but as well as a symbol of the system of absolute monarchy of the Ancien Régime.
The most impressive is of course the Hall of Mirrors (fra. Grande Galerie or Galerie des Glaces) – the central gallery of the Palace of Versailles.
The chandeliers are reflecting the mirrors giving this beautiful impression of shine and luxury.
The Grand appartement de la reine is the Queen’s grand apartment. It served as the residence of three queens of France — Marie-Thérèse d’Autriche, wife of Louis XIV; Marie Leszczyńska, wife of Louis XV; and Marie-Antoinette, wife of Louis XVI – the one that apparently said to the poor, hungry and furious mass ”If they don’t have bread, let them eat cakes.”
In the photo below there is Queen’s bedchamber. There is a barely discernible hidden door in the corner near the jewel cabinet through which Marie Antoinette escaped the night of 5/6 October 1789 when the Paris mob stormed Versailles.
That same night, as always, the dinner was served for both of the King and Queen.
Life at Versailles was determined by position, favour, and, above all, one’s birth. Wandering around, I looked through the window trying to imagine all the nobel’s of France strutting as real dandies if their times.
Behind the palace / castle are beautiful gardens filth with statues, fontaines, lakes, pavillons, farm etc.
The most famous one is Le Petit Trianon. It is the place where joyful and young Queen Marie Antoanette was playing around, writting her diary without being aware of the size of her new kingdom and the hungry mass around. She built there a farm, employed couple of local peasants and layed with pigs and chicken. She adored cards, so she used to play with others in the Salon of the Pavillons of Le Grand Trianone.
Yeah, I am a big fan of Marie – Antoanette and her diaries.
no actually twice so far… I have been to Paris twice and defo going back again and again.
I usually do not go back to places I have visited but Paris is Paris! And is just Paris. No cliché.
So let’ start first what everybody expects: the Eiffel Tower. And yes it is true, just like in american movies, it appears and peaks from almost every streat. My brother and I were the entire time playing this cou-cou game with it. 🙂
As you can see, the Eiffel Tower from Avenue Kleber. Of course, it was raining. Paris has the best PR of all the cities. It is called the city of lights and always shown with sunshine. But actually, it is kinda grey and rainy most of the time.
Tourists that come to visit Paris and are caught by the rain, think they have just been unlucky. But actually, it is quite normal weather over there…
So, the story about the site is familiar, isn’t it? In 1889, at Champ de Mars it was constructed for the World’s Fair by Gustave Eiffel as a symbol of industrial revolution of that time. It was supposed to be removed as many Parisians didn’t like the ugly construction in the city. But it remained the global icon with the apartment of his creator at the top and restaurants with the view on the city.
The best look at the tower and place to take the best photos is Trocadero.
Not so long time ago, Hiter took his photo from here just after the Nazi’s entered the city. His most famous photo is actualy from Trocadero.
Today it is also the place where all the fashion peeps, bloggers and Eiffel tower lovers take photo for their life memories. O tempora, o moris!
My brother and I have also whitnessed weddings and photo sessions there. Sometimes it was too much as we would see pink limos stopping the traffic or old suga daddy groom with his too young diggers trying to have that perfect wedding in Paris when thousands of other turists are on their photos too.
But then again, who are we to judge? 🙂
The second fashionista popular thing in Paris is Champs-Élysées. It iused to be a walking path for Parisians during the kingdom where the king would also talke his walk from his previous palace in the center. Later the seat of french kingdom will be moved to Versailles (I will get to that too). 🙂
Today the avenue is known for its theatres, cafés, and luxury shops, (seriously, there are Ferraris and Lambourginis parked in front of shops like Louis Vuitton in order to sit inside the car and take a photo – and all that for 199 EUR!) for the annual Bastille Day military parade, and as the finish of the Tour de France cycle race. The name is French for the Elysian Fields, the paradise for dead heroes in Greek mythology but also there are many statues of famous french politicians, like ex-prime minister Clemencau. It is one of the most famous streets in the world.
The avenue leads towards the Arc de Triomphe de l’Étoile, the monument at the center of Place Charles de Gaulle (french general and statesman from Lille). The étoile or “star” because of the juncture formed by its twelve radiating avenues.
The Arc de Triomphe honours those who fought and died for France in the French Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars, with the names of all French victories and generals inscribed. I found the name of the croatan division too from the region of Dalmatia. Beneath its vault lies the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier from World War I.
The third famous thing about Paris are churches. Most particularly Notre Dame Cathedrale – a medieval Catholic cathedral on the Île de la Cité (island in the middle of Paris, on the river Sorbonne – where from the entire french empire started). Widely considered to be one of the finest examples of French Gothic architecture, it attracts milions and milions of visitors.
Inside we visited the throne where Napoleon was crowned, another statue of Jeanne d’Arc (just like in Reims) and the Tresory.
As I started to explain, Île de la Cité is where all started centuries ago and the residence of the Kings of France until the 14th century was Sainte-Chapelle: considered among the highest achievements of the period of Gothic architecture. It was commissioned by King Louis IX of France to house his collection of Passion relics, including Christ’s Crown of Thorns—one of the most important relics in medieval Christendom.
Please note the blue (royal colour as the royal blod) stained glass and the natural light show!
Then Basilique royale de Saint-Denis, which is in St Denis quarter, in the outskirts of Paris – a bit dodgy area… a large medieval abbey church, completed in 1144, but originalley a Gallo-Roman cemetery in late Roman times.
The basilica became the burial place of the French Kings with nearly every king from the 10th to the 18th centuries being buried there, as well as many from previous centuries – e.g. king Louis XVI and queene Marie Antoanette. (It was not used for the coronations of kings, that function being reserved for the Cathedral of Reims).
The tombs of Louis XVI – the Sun King and Queen Marie Antoinette were demolished after French Revolution in 1791. since the devastated mass, disapointed in french kings and frustrated because of the poverty, was digging the graves in search of the jewelry. Hence their tombstones are modern marble with an inscription characteristic of today’s graves.
But my total honour went to Catherine de’ Medici, daughter of Lorenzo II de’ Medici (Florence, 16th century) an Italian noblewoman who was queen of France from 1547 until 1559, as the wife of King Henry II. Being the daughter of influenced family, she had extensive, if at times varying, influence in the political life of France and for a time, she ruled France as its regent.
Her husband, King Henry II excluded Catherine from participating in state affairs and instead showered favours on his chief mistress, Diane de Poitiers, but Henry’s death thrust Catherine into the political arena as mother of the frail fifteen-year-old King Francis II whom she managed to put on the throne upon his adultry. Women rule through the history behind the curtains. 🙂
For the great view on the city, there is a Montmarte.
There is more than 250 steps to get there, but the view is breathtaking.
Montmartre is primarily known for its artistic history, the white-domed Basilica of the Sacré-Cœur on its summit, and as a nightclub district.
Near the end of the 19th century, during the Belle Époque, many artists had studios or worked in or around Montmartre, including Claude Monet, Pablo Picasso, Vincent van Gogh etc. Montmartre is also the setting for several hit films. Nowadays there are many restaurants with live music, artists and sellers of antiquities so it gives still the c’est la vie charm.
Talking about cabaret (form of entertaining music/ dance of 19h century), just beneath Montmartre there is famous Moulin Rouge (eng red windmill). A historical place, best known as the spiritual birthplace of the modern form of the can-can dance- originally introduced as a seductive dance by the courtesans.
During the World War ll was famous as the gathering of the Nazi soldiers and courtesans who were most of the time the spies, using their seduction as the main arms.
The other place for clubbing and student life is defo the Latin Quarter where the famous SorbonneUniversity is.
Collège de Sorbonne, founded in 1257 as the third oldest university in Europe (after Bologna and Oxford) has mediaval surroundings and this bohemian atmosphere of students and professors
Now about the gardens of Paris!
Currently the closest one is Jardin du Luxembourg.
The Jardin des plantes is the main botanical garden in France. My brother and I have visited there French National Museum of Natural History.
The third garden I have visited is Tuliers. The palace and garden itself were a royal and imperial palace in Paris which stood on the right bank of the river Seine. It was the usual Parisian residence of most French monarchs.
The Tuliers garden actually leads towards the Arc de Triomphe du Caroussel de Louvre. The arc was built to commemorate Napoleon’s military victories of the previous year.
And as you can see on the photo above, the Louvre Museum is just there. The world’s most visited art museum with one of the biggest surfaces in the world.
The other side of the Tuliers gardens leads towards the Place da le Concorde and the Luxour Obelisk – a 23 metres high egyptian obelisk, originally located at the entrance to Luxor Temple, in Egypt. In early 19th century was brought to Paris as a gift.
This square used to be a place of guillotine.
Another impressive square is Place de la Republique containing a monument which includes a statue of the personification of France, Marianne. Same Marianne is the motiv of E. Delacroix painting Liberty Leading the People, which celebrates the French Revolution (nowadays in Louvre Museum – photo above).
Place de la Bastille is where our hotel was and where the Bastille prison stood until its physical destruction during the French Revolution in 1791. If you go there, do not wander around asking the locals Where the Bastilla is? It is destroyed and the opera house is built on its place.
We visited as well the Napoleon’s tomb at Les Invalides. The building containins museums and monuments, all relating to the military history of France, as well as a hospital and a retirement home for war veterans. The Musée de l’Armée is pretty impressive leading the visitor throgh the french military hisotry!
The Palais de Justice is among the oldest surviving buildings of the former royal palace together with the Sainte Chapell (mentioned above). It is where Marie Antoinette was imprisoned before being executed on the guillotine.
The Hôtel de Ville has been the headquarters of the municipality of Paris since 14th century. As everything in Paris, the building is impressive gothic towered building…
Let’s just take a break for a while and look into this:
… au continuer s’il vous plait 🙂
Centre Pompidou is a complex building of Museum of National Modern Art, kinda funky building – it was complited in 1977. What a year! 🙂
And what is France without the football? Stade de France!
In case this post hasn’t have enough of burial and necrofil moments, let me show you the Père Lachaise Cemetery: being called the biggest concentration of human intelligence (or what it used to be).
And for the end… couple of photos of Senne river and the bridges: Pont Neuf and Pont Royal.