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Pisa Italy, Is It Me Or Is That Tower Leaning?

Of course the main reason people go to Pisa is to see the leaning tower of Pisa which is a site to see as it stands leaning as it has for hundreds of years.

  • One nice thing that can be done once again after a long cleaning and fortification project to sturdy up the tower is being able to climb to top of the tower. The tower is a beautiful gleaming white since it's cleaning where for many years was a little on the gray side. Climbing to the top wasn't a problem although if you are up in years you may consider going up one level at a time and resting. The View from the Tower is fantastic and you will spend a good bit of time taking pictures of the surrounding area. While in the tower you will see two of the other must see sites in Pisa which are next to the tower and it are the Duomo Cathedral of Pisa and the Baptistery of Pisa. Each of these buildings are beautiful in the their own right and with them all being in such close proximity makes it easy to see in a short amount of time.
  • The leaning towers construction was started in 1173 and took 177 years to complete finishing up in 1350 with several long periods where there was no work being done due to wars with the surrounding cities. Construction was also stopped a few other times while the engineers of the time tried to figure out how to stop the leaning of the tower since it stated leaning long before it was finished.
  • Thе biggest of thе аttrасtіоnѕ іn this соmрlеx іѕ thе Cathedral оf Pіѕа. Construction wаѕ started іn 1064 and wasn't completed tіll 1350 mаkіng this a 286 уеаr рrоjесt. Lіkе most Cathedrals оf thе tіmе the mаіn dоmе wаѕ еxԛuіѕіtеlу painted аѕ was the rеѕt оf thе сhurсh but not in a wау tо оvеr ѕhаdоw the dоmе. Alѕо іnѕіdе thе сhurсh were mаnу dіffеrеnt sized саrvіngѕ and lаrgе ѕtаtuеѕ dоnе by mаnу аrtіѕtѕ оvеr the tіmе оf construction. Of all the ѕіtеѕ tо ѕее in thіѕ аrеа bесаuѕе tо its ѕіzе the саthеdrаl will take the most tіmе to ѕее еvеrуthіng.
  • Of all the buildings in this area the Baptistery is probably the least known about and Construction of the Baptistery was started in 1152. Like so many structures of the time took a little over two hundred years to be completed and was finished in 1363. The insides of the building is fairly plain considering the time period it was built when so many other buildings were ornately painted. There is a very nice center piece carved inside as well as the exterior of the building being covered with ornate carvings.
  • As one stands looking at all three of these structures the thought must come to mind the perseverance and devotion it must have taken to work on any of these projects. More so for the people who started each project knowing they may work on the building their entire life and never see it finished. This would go on for generations since the first building started took 286 years to complete.
  • It also causes me to wonder why when there was an enormous building project going on already would the people of Pisa start two other huge projects about 20 years apart. It must have taken huge resources in terms of manpower and supplies of the time where as today we have giant machines to do the work of hundreds. In any terms they are all beautiful buildings and since they are all in such close proximity of one another makes it very easy to see.
  • But of course Pisa has more then the leaning tower to discover more in Pisa we would reccomend to come and join us on our Pisa free Tours and make your reservation today:-) También en Español, Tour gratis Pisa
Posted 10-3-2018
istanbul tips blog tours

Visiting Istanbul

Istanbul is the biggest city in the northwestern area of Turkey. It was selected by the European Union as a European Capital of Culture. Hence, about 12 million tourists went on Istanbul tours in 2010. The main attraction of the country is its rich culture and history. Travel through Istanbul comes in different packages, which include free, full day, night and half-day (morning or afternoon) tours.

Istanbul free Tours include some of the best destinations for visitors to explore.

  • Aya Sofya or Hagia Sophia is in Sultanahmet, Istanbul. It means The Church of the Divine Wisdom and it awes travelers with its remarkable construction. Over the years, the structure served as a place of worship for a number of religions. The Byzantine Empire built it as a cathedral in AD 536 and it became Emperor Justinian's seat of power. Whеn thе Ottоmаn fоrсеѕ overran Cоnѕtаntіnорlе іn 1453, thеу соnvеrtеd it into a mоѕԛuе. In 1935, Iѕtаnbul dесlаrеd іt a hіѕtоrісаl museum.
  • Blue Mosque still functions as a sacred house of worship for the Muslims. Hence it is important to schedule your visit since it is not open to tourists during prayer times. Visitors have to take off their shoes and women must cover their hair in accordance with custom. Sultan Ahmet built the mosque that derives its name from the blue tiles inside the uppermost portion of the structure. This mosque is a showcase of the superior architectural skill of the Ottoman Empire.
  • Egyptian Obelisk is a primeval shrine, with a height of approximately 20 meters, situated in the Istanbul Hippodrome.
  • Grand Bazaar is a haven for shoppers, housing more than 5,000 stores. It is a covered marketplace, and is one of the world's earliest trading centers. You can find a variety of merchandise such as ceramic ware, carpets, ornaments, spices, old coins and antique items.
  • Topkapi Palace
  • Your tour оf Iѕtаnbul wіll nоt bе complete if you miss thіѕ tоurіѕt ѕроt wіth іtѕ іntеrеѕtіng history аnd аmаzіng ѕсеnеrу. It was thе ѕеаt оf one of thе largest empires of thе Ottoman sultans and was later соnvеrtеd іntо a museum. Thе trеаѕurеѕ wіthіn thе palace аrе fаѕсіnаtіng, and іnсludе аnсіеnt wеароnѕ, vаrіоuѕ сlосkѕ аnd lаrgе роrсеlаіn dіѕрlауѕ.
  • Ruѕtеm Pasha Mоѕԛuе, аnоthеr Ottоmаn lеgасу, іѕ constructed оvеr a complex оf ѕhорѕ. Thе іnсоmе from the leases frоm the shops sustains thе needs оf thіѕ hоuѕе оf worship. Bоѕрhоruѕ Cruіѕе іtіnеrаrу іnсludеѕ thе following: - Istanbul City Walls or Walls of Constantinople is a succession of walls that served as a fortress during the Roman Empire. Many sections of the wall remain intact due to restoration and preservation programs. - Golden Horn is a river that was the primary port and seat of trading until the middle of the 20th century. The ideal way to view the sights and capture it in photos is to take the quick ferry ride. - Spice Bazaar is the next largest covered shoppers' hub after the Grand Bazaar. The main products available for purchase are foods such as cheese, dried fruits, jams, nuts and lokum or the flavored confection famously known as Turkish Delight. In addition, thе mаrkеt аlѕо offers a wіdе vаrіеtу оf gооdѕ.
  • Bоаt Trір оn Bоѕрhоruѕ is a rеlаxіng jоurnеу that will take you to the mаgnіfісеnt vіllаѕ аnd іntrісаtе palaces. Thіѕ is a ѕрlеndіd hеrіtаgе of thе Ottoman ѕtruсturаl designs. Bоѕрhоruѕ іѕ аn асtіvе соmmеrсіаl wаtеrwау thаt ассоmmоdаtеѕ аrоund 140 vеѕѕеlѕ.
  • Thе Rumeli Fortress іѕ a defense fасіlіtу constructed during thе rеіgn оf Sultаn Mеhmеd II tо wrеѕt Constantinople frоm the Bуzаntіnе Emріrе. Yоu саn rеlіvе thе era оf the fеudіng empires among its ѕtrоng wаllѕ аnd tоwеrѕ. Hоwеvеr, bе cautious during thе wаlk bесаuѕе mоѕt of the ѕtаіrѕ аnd раthѕ hаvе nо guіdеrаіlѕ. Bоѕрhоruѕ Brіdgе іn Iѕtаnbul іѕ thе fіrѕt bridge thаt соnnесtѕ Aѕіа аnd Europe. Thе Aѕіаn еnd is in Bеуlеrbеуі while the European еnd іѕ in Ortаköу. This suspension brіdgе ranks аѕ the 16th lоngеѕt in thе wоrld.
  • Camlica Hill offers wonderful landscapes for sightseers. It consists of two hills, namely "the Big Pine Hill" and "the Little Pine Hill." You can find many tulips here in springtime for the Tulip Festival in Istanbul. In addition, a variety of birds populate the adjacent forests. Many restaurants and stalls have set up base in the hills of Camlica.
  • Marmara Sea, formerly known as Propontis, splits Turkey into the Asian and European sides. Its current name originated from the island of Marmara, which abounds in marbles.
  • Beylerbeyi Palace was built during the sovereignty of Sultan Abdulaziz. It serves as the guesthouse for royal visitors. It bоаѕtѕ оf еlеgаnt fountains, сhаndеlіеrѕ аnd gardens. It also соntаіnѕ furniture сrаftеd by thе Sultаn. Island Tour will take you to the Buyukada Princess Island. During the Byzantine Empire, the place was a land of exile due to its isolated location, where executions and punishments took place. It has several churches, monasteries and palaces built during the sixth century. In thе 19th сеnturу, thе dеvеlорmеnt іn wаtеr сhаnnеlѕ and trаnѕроrtаtіоn lеd to its соnvеrѕіоn іntо a fаmоuѕ trаvеl rеѕоrt. Thеrе is a hugе іnflux оf tоurіѕtѕ tо thіѕ іѕlаnd during summer. Yоu can explore the place bу mеаnѕ оf hоrѕе wаgоnѕ or bісусlеѕ ѕіnсе the lаw prohibits mоtоr vеhісlеѕ іn order tо mаіntаіn the tranquil аtmоѕрhеrе оf the island. Cappadocia is in the center of Turkey and consists of elevated plateaus. This is a well-known tourist attraction with a rugged landscape featuring caves and rocks. Some exciting things to do here are to go on hot air balloon rides as well as trekking and hiking.
  • Savor the trаdіtіоnаl сuіѕіnе and аррrесіаtе the various еntеrtаіnmеnt рrоgrаmѕ. Enjоу thе music, trаdіtіоnаl іnѕtrumеntѕ аnd dance ѕhоw wіth your friends. Yоu mау opt to have a сruіѕе оn thе Bоѕрhоruѕ Rіvеr аnd indulge in ѕumрtuоuѕ fооd, lіvеlу раrtіеѕ and еnrісhіng сulturаl ѕhоwѕ.
  • Trаvеl experts recommend ѕреndіng аt lеаѕt thrее to fоur dауѕ in Iѕtаnbul tо еxреrіеnсе аnd see the іntеrеѕtіng travel dеѕtіnаtіоnѕ. Aside frоm thе hіѕtоrісаl ѕіtеѕ, іt also boasts of mоdеrn rеѕtаurаntѕ, bаrѕ аnd еѕtаblіѕhmеntѕ. It оffеrѕ thе best оf Aѕіа аnd Eurоре. Iѕtаnbul соnѕіѕtѕ оf a unіԛuе blеnd оf the раѕt аnd рrеѕеnt.
  • Thе іdеаl time to visit Iѕtаnbul is frоm Aрrіl tо May, which іѕ ѕрrіngtіmе, аnd frоm September to Oсtоbеr, whісh is аutumn ѕеаѕоn.
  • If уоu аrе рlаnnіng tо trаvеl on уоur nеxt vасаtіоn, dо nоt fail tо include Istanbul Tоurѕ in уоur іtіnеrаrу. The numеrоuѕ hіѕtоrісаl аnd cultural attractions will dеfіnіtеlу еnthrаll trаvеlеrѕ. Thе captivating аrсhіtесturаl ѕtruсturеѕ аrе іndісаtіоnѕ оf the country's glorious hіѕtоrу. Make sure you join our Istanbul free Tours and make your reservation today:-)
Posted 6-3-2018
istanbul tipsblog tours

Visiting Classical Rome

Here are some tips for when you are planning on visiting the ancient Roman part of Rome.

  • The Forum, Colosseum and Palatine hill have one entrance ticket which is valid for all three sites. You cannot buy a ticket that is just valid for one site. Because most people want to visit the Colosseum, the ticket line is longest there. Make sure to buy your ticket to the Colosseum at the entrance of Palatine Hill. It will save you a lot of waiting time.
  • Personally, I prefer looking at the Colosseum from the outside than from the inside. Almost all the decoration has been taken away inside and there is not as much to see as you would like. Of course, for some people it’s a must to visit and I’m sure you will enjoy it, but if you don’t have a particular want to go in, I would admire the building from the outside and spend your ticket money on the Vatican Museums or the Galleria Borghese.
  • There are public toilets located outside at the backside of the Colosseum (at the side of Piazza del Colosseo). They are free and normally not that busy, unless a tour group just arrived.
  • Watch out for the people dressed up as Gladiators. They often overcharge and can get quite threatening if you don’t pay up after a picture. Just like in the olden days, they are often ex-convicts.
  • Always watch out for you belongings in busy places like this. Pickpockets are everywhere. Never keep important things in you backpack and be really alert if you feel someone or something touching you.
  • The Colosseum is beautifully lit up at night. Go visit!
  • If you decide to visit the Forum, please do, but I would advise you to read the chapter about it first. If you don’t know what you are looking at, it might disappoint you. Without the stories about the buildings and history, you’ll just be looking at a big pile of stones. You can also get audio guides at the ticket office.
  • If you like to drink a coffee, I would go to one of the bars at the crossing of Via Cavour and Via dei Fori Imperiali. Last time I checked, even sitting down was not too expensive.
  • If it’s open, go check quickly the small church of Santi Cosma e Damiano. It’s on the Via dei Fori Imperiali, next to the ticket office of the Forum. The entrance is on the side of the church. It has a wonderful early medieval mosaic in its apse and on the other side you look straight into the ancient temple of Romulus on the Forum. The church was built on top.
  • If you are hungry, it’s worth it to walk a few streets down to the Piazza della Madonna dei Monti. Around here you’ll find many great restaurants and wine bars. The area around this Piazza has become really fashionable in the last few years and many great places have opened their doors here. It’s so much better to eat here than the tourist menu’s on Via Cavour or around the Colosseum. It’s also a nice area to have a glass of wine at night.
  • If you walk to the top of Capitoline hill, make sure to look at the view over the Forum. Just walk past the City Hall either on the left or the right and you’ll find a beautiful view of the Forum, Palatine hill and the mountains of the Castelli Romani in the back.
  • If you are tired of the masses of people around the Colosseum, walk down the Via Claudia to the park of Villa Celimontana. It’s a lovely quiet park, where Romans love to come sit in the grass. In the summer there normally is a Jazz Festival here.
  • Another option is the Parco del Colle Oppio, which is right next to the Colosseum. Emperor Nero’s Golden House used to be located here and now you can find some nice benches here to sit down.
  • If you decided to go up the Colle Oppio, you might as well visit the Basilica di San Pietro in Vincoli. Here you can find Michelangelo’s famous statue of Moses. Beware, the church is closed for some time in the afternoon.
  • Another hidden park close to Piazza Venezia is the Villa Aldobrandini. The entrance is on Via Mazzarino. Even though it is in a very busy part of the city, very few people seem to know about this park. Maybe it’s because it is elevated and the entrance is in some side street. It’s nice to sit here and relax a bit.
  • When you are on top of Capitoline hill, take out an Italian 50 eurocent coin. You’ll see that the design is of the piazza you are standing at right now.

Posted 7-1-2016
alice tips blog Rome

Around the Vatican

These tips will help you when you plan on visiting the Vatican

  • Many people take the Metro to go to the Vatican. It is the easiest way, unless your hotel is close. Rome’s metro system is very straightforward. There are only two lines, The A line and the B line. You will need to get on the A line and get off at metro stop Ottaviano. From here it is a short walk to the Vatican.
  • When you get close to the Vatican or when you get out the Metro, many people will approach you, to try to sell tours of the Vatican. Many customers are very unsatisfied with these tours. The promotors will tell you anything to get you to sign up, because they work on a commission. They will often get about 10 euros for each customer they bring in. So when they say a tour leaves right away, don’t believe them. If you want a guided tour to the Vatican, I would get one beforehand on the internet with a company that has a great reputation on tripadvisor.
  • After you finished touring the Vatican, have an ice-cream at Gelateria Oldbridge, Viale Bastioni di Michelangelo 5. It’s next to the walls of the Vatican. They make their own ice cream in the back. Often you see lines of Italians and tourists outside, waiting to be served. It’s definitely worth the short wait.
  • I always like to get a cheap slice of good pizza at Pizza Rustica ai Gracchi, at 6 Via dei Gracchi. This is a side street of Via Ottaviano, the shopping street that goes from the metro stop to the Vatican. This is not an overpriced touristy pizza place like everywhere else around the Vatican. Just nice slices of pizza. You can’t sit here, but you are close to Piazza del Risorgimento, where you can sit on one of the benches or walls. The Pizza is ‘al taglio’ here, which is a typical Roman way of selling slices of pizza. You just indicate how much you want and the lady will cut it. The price is determined according to the weight of the slice.
  • If you like your coffee not overpriced, you can always get your coffee ‘da portare via’. You might already know that the prices for sitting down and standing at the bar are different in Italy. It’s often very expensive to sit down to drink coffee at touristy places like around the Vatican, but standing at the bar is cheap. I ask to take away my coffee. They’ll charge standing prices and I’ll just sit at Piazza Risorgimento.
  • If you had enough of all the beautiful art, there is a shopping street going from Piazza di Risorgimento back to the city center. It’s called Via Cola di Rienzo and you will not see too many tourists on it.

Posted 7-1-2016
Michelangelo tips blog Vatican