Travel Blogs

Featured

Arriving in Florence

Our introduction to Florence – the center of Tuscany

Background

Our first trip to Florence was part of an Italy Tour in Fall of 2017. Florence is the birthplace of Renessaince, home to some of the best museums in Italy and the largest city in Tuscany.

Getting There

We arrived to Florence from Venice via Bologna in train. The trip took about 2.5 hours. We booked the tickets months before online back in our home in Atlanta, GA, USA. Train reservations are fairly easy via the train italia website.

Below is a clip of our train passing Bologna.

Passing Bologna on the way to Florence

Galleria dell’Academia

We stayed at a Air BnB rental in Florence. The city center was a 15 min walk and the train station was a 20 min walk. We could also opt for a taxi or bus.

Our first stop next morning was Galleria dell’Academia which houses one of the most famous sculpture – Michelangelo’s David. The lines at the entrance goes around the block, so it was good we did our reservation online a week before. Below is a picture of Glenda on the reservation line as some street musicians entertain us by the sidewalk.

Here are some pictures from the museum including the sculptures – David and ‘Sabine Woman’ .

The museum’s gift shop was pretty good. And just 10 minutes walk from the Academia Gallery takes us to the historic city center. More on that in the next blog! Below is the highlight video of our visit to this world famous museum. You can subscribe to my YouTube channel or add the Tuscany Playlist in your favorites to view all the videos from tbis region.

Academia Gallery in Florence

The Louvre Museum – A Photo Tour

A brief photo tour of the Louvre Museum

The Louvre is the world’s largest art museum and a historic monument in Paris, France. Approximately 38,000 objects from prehistory to the 21st century are exhibited over an area of 72,735 square metres (782,910 square feet). The Louvre is the world’s most popular museum, receiving approximately 8 million visitors annually.

We visited the museum at Paris in the summer of 2018. Below is a small collection of artworks photo we took while exploring this vast museum.

The Martyrdom of Saint Dennis by Henry Bellechose (1416).

Glenda resting in one of the halls of French Art Gallery where an artist is working on a copy.

The Medici gallery at the Louvre has a large collection of artwork depicting the history of this famous Italian family and their alliance with the French monarchy through marriage.

David and Bathsheba by Jan Massys (1562)

One of the most famous sculpture at the Louvre – The Nike of Samothrace (Winged Victory) from 190 B.C.

Monalisa Gallery

Below pictures are from the Monalisa gallery which is the most visited hall at the museum.

Below 2 photos are of artwork and ceiling at the museum gift shop and adjoining hallway.

The Egyptian and Near Eastern artifacts wing holds many priceless collection of sculptures, mummy and stone carved artworks.

Exploring the Louvre over multiple days is a wise approach given the vastness of artifacts. The best time to visit is afternoon through evening on weekdays when the tourist rush is bit less. Using the Paris Museum pass will get you multiple day entry to the Louvre along with many other museums and landmarks in and around Paris.

A Brief Tour of Salzburg – The Birthplace of Mozart

A video blog of our brief tour of Salzburg, Austria

Salzburg is the fourth largest city in Austria. The historic city center (Altstadt) is internationally renowned for its baroque architecture and listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Salzburg is also the birthplace of composer Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. The video blog below is a brief tour of Salzburg during the summer of 2018.

Salzburg is located in the picturesque Austrian Alps. It is a short train ride away from major cities like Vienna or Munich. The historic center is just 10-15 min pleasant walk from the train station. You can grab a quick lunch on the way in several street side cafe or restaurants.

The historic city center is a well preserved testament to 18th century Baroque architecture, dotted with beautiful gardens and fountains.

Another major attraction is Mozart’s house which is now a museum. You can find a good collection of memorabilia here from Mozart’s early years.

A short walk from Mozart’s house brings us to the bridge connecting the two sides of Salzburg. A stunning view of the fort and the town from the bridge is a must see!

We enjoyed Salzburg and hope you get to visit it soon as well!

The Fountains of Versailles

Exploring the fountains at the palace of Versailles

The Gardens of Versailles occupy the west part of the palace of Versailles. The gardens cover some 800 hectares of land, much of which is landscaped in classic French Garden style by André Le Nôtre. In addition to the meticulous manicured lawns, parterres of flowers, and sculptures are the fountains, which are located throughout the garden.

Dating from the time of Louis XIV and still using much of the same network of hydraulics, the fountains contribute to making the gardens of Versailles unique. On weekends in late spring to early autumn, the administration of the museum sponsors the Grandes Eaux spectacles during which all the fountains in the gardens are in full play.
The Versailles Orangery, which was designed by Louis Le Vau, is located south of the château, a situation that took advantage of the natural slope of the hill. It provided a protected area in which orange trees were kept during the winter months. I took the below picture of the Orangerie and South Parterre from the above Water Parterre.

The water Parterre adjacent to the palace is adorned with beautiful statues from Greek mythology. It also provides a magnificent view of the gardens and the grand canal.

The Night Fountain comes alive with sprinkling water at certain days of the week. It acts as a connector from to the Latona fountain from the right end of the Water Parterre.

One of the main attraction in the garden is the Latona fountain or Bassin de Latone . It depicts an episode from Ovid’s Metamorphoses. Latona and her children, Apollo and Diana, being tormented with mud slung by Lycian peasants, who refused to let her and her children drink from their pond, appealed to Jupiter who responded by turning the Lycians into frogs. This episode from mythology has been seen by historians in reference as an allegory to the revolts of the Fronde, which occurred during the minority of Louis XIV.

The Apollo Fountain, which was constructed between 1668 and 1671, depicts the sun god driving his chariot to light the sky. The fountain forms a focal point in the garden and serves as a transitional element between the gardens of the Petit Parc and the Grand Canal

Walking back from Apollo fountain through the picturesque King’s garden, we arrived at the mirror fountain. A 10-min water show takes place here on certain days of the week at the top of the hour.

The Saturn fountain connects the Kings garden to the main corridor that stretches from the palace to the grand canal.


The Grand Canal was built between 1668 and 1671. With a length of 1,500 metres and a width of 62 metres, it physically and visually prolongs the east-west axis to the walls of the Grand Parc. During the Ancien Régime, the Grand Canal served as a venue for boating parties. In 1674, as a result of a series of diplomatic arrangements that benefited Louis XIV, the king ordered the construction of Petite Venise – Little Venice. Located at the junction of the Grand Canal and the northern transversal branch, Little Venice housed the caravels and yachts that were received from The Netherlands and the gondolas and gondoliers received as gifts from the Doge of Venice.

Glenda and I took a boat ride through the canal to experience the serene beauty of Versailles gardens from the lake!

Get a full experience of the lake in the boat ride video below. Enjoy!

Basel, Switzerland

In the middle of nowhere, close to everywhere!

Imagine a place, where you walk across a bridge to go from Switzerland to Germany. Rent a bike and ride across town into France. Take an hour or less train ride to Zurich, the snowy Alps or tiny country of Lichtenstein. A 2-3h train trip could get you to Luxembourg or Milan, Italy!

In the summer of 2018, we discovered such a destination in the city of Basel, Switzerland and its nearby picturesque villages by the Rhein river.

We arrived in Basel in a regional Lufthansa aircraft from Frankfurt, Germany on a short 45 min trip.

Basel Airport is relatively small. Our next stop was a 4h train ride to Paris. So we took the local bus from the airport to Basel SBB station. Below is a short video clip and some images of a first look at Basel.

The Basel SBB station is an ideal pit stop to freshen up, grab a bite or do some shopping before heading to your next destination – which in our case was Paris. If in any doubt, you can always check with the friendly customer service staff at the upper lobby.

Long distance train services between Switzerland and France are frequent and comfortable in both 1st and 2nd class. Most trains offer free wifi for your devices to stay connected online.

If you are staying in and around Basel, the picturesque Swiss and German villages by the Rhein river are only 15-20 mins ride in local train.

We stayed in one such place called Rheinfelden at the border of Switzerland and Germany. Below are few pictures of this beautiful sleepy little town in the middle of nowhere but close to everywhere!

A Taste of Eastern Europe

A photo collection of delicious Eastern European cuisine

We had a wonderful trip in Austria and Hungary during the summer of 2018. Below are a collection of delicious cuisine we experienced there.

A Hungarian bakery where we stopped on our way to Budapest.

A quick snack at a McDonald’s by the highway from Vienna to Budapest.

Hungarian goulash (stew).

Hungarian pasta with chicken.

Another Hungarian roadside bakery on our way back to Vienna.

Breakfast at Cafe Klimt by the famous Hofburg palace in Vienna.

Lunch in Budapest. Duck with Mushrooms and potatoes.

Hungarian Crepes and icecream with walnuts for dessert!

A Walking Tour of Siena, Italy

A video blog of our walking tour in Siena

We visited Siena in the fall of 2017. Siena is a historic city in the picturesque Tuscany region of Italy.

The city center is one of the most well preserved from medieval times. Enjoy the video blog and take a walk with us in Siena!