Venice at Night

DSC_3790 - Venice Church At Night 2If you thought Venice was nice during the day, wait until it gets dark, then your looking at picturesque Churches, Cathedrals, and canals. All very pretty and very easy to Photograph without a tripod as there are plenty of walls and mooring posts for which to prop your camera on top of, sweet!DSC_3760 - Venice Docks at Night

I did wander around the streets and canals, it was getting dark and I tended to stick with routes I knew from the morning when I was checking out potential photographic points. It all seemed very safe and there was plenty of foot traffic.

DSC_3778 - Venice Canal at Night

And the Grand Finale shot before heading back to join my Contiki Group – the Basilica di Santa Maria della Salute.DSC_3787 - Venice Catherdral

Venice – City of Canals

DSC_3729 - Venice Catherdral in DayVenice, one of the cities I really wanted to see on this trip to Europe. For one reason, because of its unique canal structure and flare, and secondly its sinking. Although I’m not into all that hype about it actually going underwater in the Adriatic anytime soon, I’m sure at some point they will have to start to combat the problem and that could turn this iconic city into a construction zone for a while, best to get in before that happens.

DSC_3050 - Itinerary

I don’t normally post the itinerary for our Contiki Inspiration Tour, but for Venice I am because we aren’t actually staying in Venice itself, rather a road motel on the mainland, so your “free time” is more limited and you don’t want to miss the boat – quite literally (see boat below).

DSC_3390 - Boat to Venice

First stop was the  Piazza San Marco which due to the rain (that we escaped in Verona) ended up being quite wet. DSC_3460 Venice

Not Everyone on the tour was prepared for Rain in the conventional meaning, but one has to admit, garbage in the pocket does have a variety of uses and is lightweight and easy to carry. DSC_3666 - Make Shift Rain Gear

From the Piazza we went to our Venetian Glass Blowing Demo, where the glass blowing master made a glass horse from scratch (then proceeded to add a bit penis on it – sigh Contiki).

DSC_3443 - Venitian Glass Blowing Demo

After that we had lunch and wondered around a bit, the streets were easy to navigate and offered up numerous ways to get from point a to point b.

DSC_3431 - Venice Walkway

DSC_3447 - Canal in Venice    DSC_3549 - Venice - Sestier De S. Polo

Finally we regrouped for our Gondola rides, which was quite nice and rumors of being close to the water and it smelling awful did not come true (I guess that’s a good thing from the rain).

DSC_3661 - Venice Gondolas

DSC_3712 Venice Canal Bridge

Next was Dinner, as I had opted out of the dinner I grabbed a Calzone and drink (Cost 8€) and headed out to do some long-exposure night photography before meeting up with the rest of the tour group at the Bridge of Sighs.

Verona Italy

DSC_3331 - Verona BannerWelcome To Verona! A city by any other name would still be the setting for which Romeo and Juliet was based. We rolled into this small but tourist crowed Italian town on a cloudy day, fortunately staving off rain for our visit.

DSC_3339 - Crop We had to walk towards Juliet’s Balcony, the end-goal of our short stop over. Across cobble stone roads and past coliseums and quaint buildings. DSC_3375 - Verona Streets - Cropped

Juliet’s Balcony is in a small courtyard off a merchant street, and it is buzzing with tourists, its nice balcony with only a view of the court for which its located; due to the high nature of all the surrounding buildings. Not 100% sure where Romeo was suppose to hid out here to meet with her in the play, but alas I digress.

DSC_3346 - Juliet's Balcony - Verona

After the balcony, the other tourist activity is to line up to touch the statue of Juliet; rub her bosom to be exact, an apparent local culture task for luck in love.

DSC_3353 - Lady Juliet - Verona - CropOn our way back we pasted by some additional sculptures, it seems people riding horses continues to be a popular theme in European road statues.  DSC_3337 - web

Finally we had to wait on the bus for our pick-up, it did sprinkle a little bit but tall buildings and being on the protected side allowed up to stay mostly dry.

DSC_3363 - web

Amsterdam – Heineken Factory

Amsterdam – Heineken Factory

Due to my “chemical engineering” mind, I decided to check out the Heineken factory with fellow Contiki travellers… yeah I’m full of fun reasons. The museum is quite a complex set-up where history and equipment abound.

Look at me! I’m a beer Label… and clearly not a standing upright one either…

Interesting factoid – Heineken bottles sold in Netherlands and some other countries are sold in the original brown bottles. However, when marketing to the US and some other more “western” countries the bottle colour they used was green because in those markets brown was associated with well… you know.

Above is a picture of the Contiki Crew, whereas below is my chemical engineering instincts took hold!

Although admission to the museum was a bit expensive, it was worth the price of admission (if you like beer 🙂 ).

Amsterdam

Amsterdam

Amsterdam was our first city on the Contiki – European Inspiration Tour. The city with the Red Light District and Painted Elephant Statues…

Canals everywhere, feels a lot like home (Ottawa’s Rideau Canal).

There were a lot of bikes as well, the city is almost littered with them (in a good way).

Amsterdam also boasts the Van Gogh Museum, my primary reason for visiting this city. It’s a great museum except that no cameras are allowed inside so this a short blog entry.


To Amsterdam

To Amsterdam

A quick glance at the white cliffs of Dover and we got on a ferry bound for Europe!

The Trip over was pretty uneventful, time to talk to fellow travellers and start planning out Amsterdam.

We had to drive through Belgium, pretty nice country-side.

And, of course, the first place we stop… Mc Something or other!

We did stop along the way for windmills, once we were in the Netherlands!
Next, we visited a small town, and got to bike around to see the sights.

Our Bike tour took us along one of the multitude of canals.
We eventually reached a man-made lake, pretty cool to see.
Then, we headed back to the bus to head off to the next place – Cheese & Clogs!

European Inspiration – Tower of London

Tower of London

The stuff of english stories of claims to power in the English Royalty, the tower of london and the unforgettable white tower (shown above). I couldn’t pass this hot ticket item up while in town – in fact I would say that this attraction represented by far the best dollar for value in the city. After the outer gate we are met by a Beefeater for the free Yeoman’s tour. Continue reading

Day 1 – European Inspiration – Ferry Ride down the River Thames

Day 1 – European Inspiration – Ferry Ride down the River Thames

After a ride on the London Eye , my plan was to head towards the Tower Of London, but it was about a 30 minute walk down the Thames in the heat of the day (sun more an issue than the temperature). I decided to grab a ferry ride at the base of the Eye for around £8.

Once we were underway, one of the shipmates gave us a guided tour down the river, explaining what each building was called, and if time allowed a bit of history on each.

We did pass by the Shakespeare’s Theatre; an open top round building which was built in the style and location of the original theatre. The last time that I was in London, I was able to attend a show, which was great and I suggest it for fans of Theatre.

Also, apparently, London has a tall ship docked for your amusement.

There were some really neat buildings to see along the shoreline which were more modern in design.

Oh, and we passed under the “London Bridge” the real bridge, which is not very exciting.

Not to be confused with the tower bridge!

As you can see below, the ferry kindly turned so that we could all get a photo of this amazing bridge!

The ferry then drops you off at the docks right beside the Tower of London, convenient!

Day 1 – European Inspiration – London Eye

Day 1 – European Inspiration – London Eye

Definitely one of the newer attractions in London, the London Eye is basically a huge ferris wheel which allows for an exquisite view of the city of London (Official Website).

When I got there, the lines weren’t long and, other than a small issue of a “pen knife” (swiss army knife – which they hung onto while I was on the Eye and returned at the exit) in my bag, getting on was hassle free.

Getting into the capsule is a pretty straight-forward procedure as the capsule slows for you to get on. Once in the capsule you and about 10 other people ride the full circle of these white capsules which are covered in clear glass (which is surprising clean – all things considering).

Picture of me as we crest the top of the wheel!

And the view you came for, Big Ben and the English Parliament Buildings.

Day 0 – European Inspiration – The British Museum

Day 0 – European Inspiration – The British Museum

There are three things I like about this museum.

  1. Its Free*
  2. It has interesting exhibits from around the world
  3. They allow Photography

Here is a link to their website –> http://www.britishmuseum.org/

*There is a special exhibit section which is not free. I think you need a museum membership or pay a small fee, but unless your hard set on seeing whatever the special exhibit is, there is so much other stuff in the museum to keep you busy.

If you have hoarding tendencies and think you’re bad, you should visit this museum to get an idea of what real hoarding is. They have so much in this museum that it would be hard to cover it in one day if one were to read everything in detail.  If you’re me with a camera and quick feet, it only takes 2 hours and 15 minutes and 350 photos :-).

Let’s Start with the Egyptian Section, by far the largest section in terms of collected statues, mummies, and tomb items. The primary hall is full of large stone statues such as one one shown below, some reaching all the way up ~30 feet into the air.

Once you go into the side halls, you can see various mummified remains behind glass enclosures, I’d suggest bringing a small cloth to wipe away all the finger prints; especially at child level. Overall, I wasn’t as impressed with the mummies as they seem to lack a lot of the golden head dresses, etc. that one would normally think of when talking about mummies (aka King Tut).

So I continued on and there were more statues to be found… a lot more.

They also had a section of mechanical clocks and compasses, which I though was really neat.

The reality is that this is a huge museum, with many things to see from many different parts of the world which used to be part of the British empire. It’s worth a visit if you are visiting London.