Pisa, Italy

Hello everyone! It has been awhile but I hope to make up for lost time by doing several posts about cities in Italy I visited while on spring break. First up, Pisa! Pisa was much smaller than I thought it would be. The main tourist area was the Piazza Dei Miracoli which was a large grassy area that included the Leaning Tower of Pisa, the Pisa Cathedral, and Pisa Baptistery. The Piazza Dei Miracoli was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1987. I spent a total of about 2 hours in this area, but it would be easy to spend a whole afternoon exploring. To find tickets for the buildings located in the Piazza Dei Miracoli please visit: https://www.opapisa.it/en/tickets/prices/.

Leaning Tower of Pisa

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I did not go inside the Leaning Tower of Pisa but mainly focused on trying to get the perfect picture with it! This is actually very hard to do. It is a high tourist traffic area and it is very difficult to get a picture without someone in it! I recommend getting there early before a majority of the tour buses arrive.

The Pisa Cathedral

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The Pisa Cathedral was huge and made the Leaning Tower of Pisa look small in comparison. The cathedral is a medieval Roman Catholic cathedral that was finished being built in 1180. So needless to say, the church is very very old. Due to time constrains I was unable to see the inside of the church but if I go back to Pisa I will make sure to do so. The pictures I took give the church a golden hue but the actual church is almost white due to the marble it is made of.

Pisa Baptistery

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The Pisa Baptistery of St. John was completed in 1363, and is the largest baptistery in Italy. It is roughly 180 feet high! It was a very impressive sight that towered over the grassy lawn.

Overall Pisa was a fun place to visit and I felt like I saw quite a bit even though I only spent about two hours there. Next time I go I would like to spend a whole afternoon there going through each of the buildings.

I hope you found this article helpful and if you have any questions comment below. Thanks and Happy Travels!

 

**Disclaimer: I am not responsible for content on external websites accessed through the link provided.

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24 Hours in Rome, Italy

 

For spring break this year I decided to go on a trip through three countries in Europe. After my travels I have learned many things and hopefully sharing some of my stories will help you in your future travels. Over the next few weeks I will post about all the exciting cities I visited. To start the trip off, I went to the city that was #1 on my list…Rome, Italy.

I had a combination of the worst and best timing for my trip to Rome. On one hand I had perfect timing because I was in Rome for the first Sunday of the month. Why is this important you might ask… well… every first Sunday of the month a majority of Rome’s major attractions are free. That’s right. Free. I was able to go to the Colosseum, Roman Forum, and Palatine Hill without spending anything.

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But, on the other hand I was in Rome on Easter Sunday. It was, to say the least, very busy. While I was there Pope Francis blessed the city and it was very exciting to be in the city during this time. Unfortunately, due to the festivities the Vatican was closed while I was there. This was very disappointing as this was one of the main things I had planned to see. However, Rome did not disappoint and after lots of walking and yummy gelato, I still feel like I had the experience of a lifetime.

 

The Colosseum:

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The Colosseum is actually quite large. The line to get in is even larger. I waited for about an hour and a half to get into the Colosseum (which actually wasn’t that bad considering how many tourists were there). And once I was inside I had exactly 2 minutes to take my pictures on the lower platform. And yes… you really have only two minutes. They sent us out on the main platforms in groups and guards timed each group and ushered us off quickly once our time was up. Don’t let this discourage you though, after moving from the lower platform you can go to the other side of the Colosseum and take as many pictures as you want. I do believe there is a time limit of an hour for this part but I’m not certain.

The wait was worth it and next time I want to take the guided tour that takes you through the underground area (as pictured below).

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The Roman Forum and Palatine Hill:

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The Roman Forum was much larger then I had expected. This attraction was also free for me but I did have to have a ticket. This ticket was given to me free of charge when I entered the Colosseum. If you are traveling on a different day then the first Sunday you can buy a joint ticket for the Colosseum, the Roman Forum, and the Palatine Hill on the Rome tourist website. These three attractions are located next to each other and it took me the whole day to view everything. For ticket prices and more information about the tourist attractions available in Rome please visit: https://www.coopculture.it/en/ticket.cfm?office=Foro%20Romano&id=4

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Palatine Hill stands approximately 40 meters above the Roman Forum and is a great place to get panoramic photos. You use the same entrance to get into Palatine Hill as you do to see the Roman forum. The hill also has a garden and several beautiful statues.

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Rome was beautiful and the architecture on the buildings was stunning. However, there are a lot of tourist, so if you are planning to see multiple attractions in a day make sure to pre-book tickets when possible. This will save you time in the lines and will allow you to see more amazing things.

I hope you found this article helpful and if you have any questions comment below. Thanks and Happy Travels!

 

**Disclaimer: I am not responsible for content on external websites accessed through the link provided.

A Weekend at the Isle of Skye (Part 2)

 

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The adventurous weekend at the Isle of Skye continues! Day 2 was filled with cute towns, gorgeous landscapes, and mythical rivers. The day began with rain, but I didn’t let that get me down, I was in Scotland after all. We waved goodbye to Kyleakin and started our day by stopping at River Sligachan.

Sligachan Bridge and River:

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Legend has it that if you dip your face in the river Sligachan for seven seconds you will be blessed with the gift of eternal youth and beauty. So, of course I did it because…why not? The bridge over the river was built in the 1820’s and is a great lookout point to view The Cuillins which are a range of mountains. There is also a place where there is a vast display of rock piles. If you feel so inclined you can also add your own rock pile to the collection.

**Disclaimer: use caution if you decide to dip your head in the river. The rocks are slick, the water is cold, and the river is fast moving.

Old Man of Storr:

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This rock formation is the most famous landmark of the Isle of Skye.  The Old man of Storr towers 50m high from a steep hill. You can walk up to the lookout out point but be warned it is a strenuous walk. The trail is all up hill and is steep in some areas. However, the views at the top of the hill are stunning and from the lookout point you can also view Loch Fada and Loch Leathan. In the picture above, the Old Man of Store in the rock formation in the background

Kilt Rock and Mealt Fall:

Kilt rock, named because the rock formation resembles pleats in a kilt, is a beautiful sea cliff in northeast Trotternish on the Isle of Skye. At the same lookout point you can see Mealt Falls. I will admit that at first, I did not see the falls even though they were right in from of me. To see the falls, you have to look down and I was so distracted from looking at Kilt Rock that I didn’t see the falls until a fellow traveler pointed it out to me.

Lealt Gorge and Lealt Fall:

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This lookout point is beautiful and displays the gorge and waterfall. There is a path that you can take but use caution. There are steep cliffs and in the rain the path can be slick. Be smart and stay safe. That being said the views were spectacular.

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For lunch we stopped at the picturesque town of Portee. This town is famous for its multicolored buildings that have been featured on many advertisements and postcards. The town hosts a variety of eateries, including a Fish and Chips shop located by the water. It is also home to the Royal Hotel which was the meeting place of Flora McDonald and Bonnie Prince Charles in 1746.

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The Isle of Skye is a wonderful weekend destination for those wanting to see cute little towns and the rugged landscape of Scotland. I hope you found this article helpful and if you have questions feel free to leave a comment. Thanks for reading and Happy Travels!

 

***Disclaimer: I am not a professional travel agent and caution should always be used before traveling to a new country or place. Travelers should seek professional assistance before traveling. All historical facts were learned during the tour. I am not a historian and all historical facts should be confirmed before using them.

A weekend at the Isle of Skye (Part 1)

 

First off, the Isle of Skye is absolutely beautiful. The rugged terrain and picturesque cliffs make it a must see for tourists (and non-tourists) in Scotland. Once again due to a lack of car (and fear of driving on the left side of the road) I decided to take a tour to the Isle of Skye. This time I went with International Student Tours (ISUKTours). If your interested in the website, here is the link: https://www.isuktours.co.uk/. The trip was two days, so for this post there will be a part 1 for day 1 and a part 2 for day 2. This way I can add even more of the lovely photos I took!

Day one started bright and early with the bus leaving Glasgow at 8am. Once outside of the city the scenery is quite pretty, and you’ll get to see lots of adorable sheep and cows.

Town of Luss:

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Our first stop was at the quaint town of Luss which is located on the banks of Loch Lomond.  The town is very small but there is a footpath that takes you to the loch where you can take pictures from the docks. After that the path loops back through the main town area and ends at the parking lot where the restrooms are located. Be warned that you must have spare change because you have to pay to use the bathroom!

Loch Tulla and the Caledonian Forest:

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Our next stop was a scenic lookout point. The area overlooked Loch Tulla and the Caledonian Forest. The view was gorgeous, and the rain was kind enough to stop while we took our pictures (side note: always, always, always come prepared for rain. Even if it is the sunniest day you have ever seen, it could still rain. So, don’t be sad and wet and always bring an umbrella.)

Glencoe:

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Glencoe is a famous place for several reasons…1. It was the site of the Massacre of Glencoe in which 38 men and women of the McDonald Clan were murdered. 2. It is the site of many famous films such as Skyfall and Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban. 3. The Three Sisters mountains are the best place to take pictures. However, the photo lookout point for the three sisters is very crowded due to a lot of tours. So when you see that perfect picture take it fast!

Fort William:

After so many photo stops it was time to break for Lunch. The town of Fort William was nice and had grocery stores if you are looking for a cheaper lunch option. There are also an array of pubs and restaurants.

Eilean Donan Castle:

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The Eilean Donan Castle is one of the most photographed castles in the world and has been featured in many movies, such as ‘Made of Honor’. The castle looks as if it is from a fairy tale. Originally build in mid 13th century, it fulfills everything that you thought a castle would look like. You can also purchase admission to view the inside of the castle and this is a popular tourist attraction. Unfortunately, due to time restraints we could only stop for photos but if I could go back I would definitely make sure to see the inside.

Kyleakin:

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After stopping at the Eilean Donan Castle it was a short drive to the Skye Bridge. This bridge connects the Isle of Skye to main land making it easy to access the Island. We stayed the night at Saucy Mary’s Hostel located in the village of Kyleakin on the Isle of Skye. After arrival I hiked to the ruins of Castle Moil with some of the other members of the tour. You can also walk down to the ocean or check out the boats in the harbor. The perfect end to the day was getting to see the sunset from Skye Bridge.

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Stay tuned for Part 2 of the Isle of Skye adventure!

If you loved this post please like and follow my blog so you can follow all the travels to come!

 

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Discovering Loch Ness…

 

The place I wanted to see the most in Scotland was Loch Ness. The mystery of the Loch Ness Monster has always fascinated me, and I knew I had to see for myself what was so amazing about this place. Due to a lack of car (there was no way I was going to rent a car and drive on the other side of the road), I decided to take a tour to Loch Ness.

I went with Student Tours Scotland, based out of Glasgow, Scotland. This tour company is amazing. It is a privately-owned company run by a tour guide named Gary. He is absolutely hilarious and on the bus ride home he always plays bus bingo with prizes. I promise this is much cooler than it sounds. Student Tours Scotland offers a variety of weekend day trips for students and non-students. I recommend checking out their website at: http://www.studenttoursscotland.com/.

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Okay, now for the trip! It was fantastic! We first stopped in Invermorriston (slightly past Rort Augustus). Here we went on a short hike along the River Morriston. The views were gorgeous, I could not stop taking pictures! We parked in the parking lot off of road A82 directly across from St. Columba’s Well.  Then you can take a path from there to explore the scenery.

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Next, we backtracked to Fort Augustus for lunch (this is where Loch Ness is). Although I did not get to see the Loch Ness Monster (which was very sad I assure you) it was still great to see the loch and cross it off my bucket list! While I was there I also got to make friends and pet some highland cows (another serious highlight to my day).

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When you visit Fort Augustus don’t forget to take your picture with the Loch Ness sign located near the canal office. Also, if you want there are river cruises on Loch Ness available. These are located across from the Clansman Center.

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Overall, it was a great outing and thank you Student Tours Scotland for such a great trip! I will definitely be taking more in the future!

Happy Travels Everyone!

 

***Disclaimer: I am not responsible for external website content.

Top Attractions in Edinburgh, Scotland

 

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Edinburgh, the capital of Scotland, is the perfect place to spend a day (or more) while visiting Scotland. The city is rich in history and has many free walking tours for tourists. It is hard to see and do everything in this large city in a day, so I’ve compiled a list of some of the top places I have found to be fun to visit.

Edinburgh Castle:

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It is entertaining to spend a couple hours touring the buildings and museums housed in the castle. However, be warned that Edinburgh castle is a very popular tourist attraction and can become very crowded. I recommend buying tickets in advanced, as this will save you having to wait in line. Some top attractions to see here include the Scottish National War Memorial and the collection of crown jewels. For tickets and open hours visit: https://www.edinburghcastle.scot/

The Royal Mile:

This street leads to the castle of Edinburgh and is lined with eateries, shops, and tourist attractions. Many free walking tours start here such as City Explorers Edinburgh. Although I have not been on one of their tours, I have heard that they can be fun and informative. For times and to book a place visit: http://edinburghfreetour.com//

Hike Arthur’s Seat:

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This hike is not long but it isn’t for the faint hearted. The entire hike is uphill, and by the time you get to the top your calves will be screaming. That being said, the view is worth it. The top of the trail overlooks the whole city of Edinburgh and the ocean. The whole hike took us about an hour and a half. Wear non-slip hiking boots as the trial can become slippery when it rains! The Palace of Holyroodhouse, the Queen’s official residence in Edinburgh, is located next to the hike end point. After completing the hike we went to lunch at the café there and enjoyed cappuccinos with cute crowns designed in them. For more information about the Palace of Holyroodhouse visit: https://www.royalcollection.org.uk/visit/palace-of-holyroodhouse

National Museum of Scotland:

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First off, this museum is huge so make sure you bring your walking shoes. The museum hosts everything from medieval artifacts, dinosaurs (my favorite part), art, geology, and technology. It is also home to the taxidermy of Dolly the sheep. Dolly was the first cloned mammal and coming from a science background, I find this pretty cool. Also, the museum is free to the public! For open hours visit: https://www.nms.ac.uk/national-museum-of-scotland/

Greyfrairs Church:

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This church house’s the cities oldest graveyard and was the final resting place of many famous people including the poet Allen Ramsay. It is said that author J.K. Rowling used the cemetery to find inspiration for the names of many characters of her books. Also, the cemetery is home to the loyal Skye terrier Greyfrairs Boddy. After the owner died and was buried in the graveyard, the dog refused to leave the grave site. A shelter was build for him after he refused to leave. Bobby lived there until his death 14 years later. A statue of Bobby was build outside the church in 1873. For more information visit: https://greyfriarskirk.com/.

These are a few of the many attractions in Edinburgh. It would take closer to a week to see all that Edinburgh has to offer. But, if you only have a day or two in Edinburgh I hope this list helps you narrow down what you want to do. Happy Travels!

***Disclaimer: I am not responsible for external website content.

Top 5 Things to do in Glasgow, Scotland

 

Glasgow is one of the biggest cities in Scotland and since it is not as touristy as the capital, Edinburgh, it makes for a great place to spend a day. I recommend if you go to Scotland to make sure you set aside a day or two for Glasgow. This industrial town may not be as famous as the capital of Scotland, but it’s charm and friendly atmosphere make it a must see. After living in Glasgow for almost a year I have found that there is always something new to see, but due to time restrictions I will tell you the top five places I recommend going to while you are here…

1. University of Glasgow

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yes… I know…why do you want to see a school while you’re on vacation? Well, this school is an architectural wonder and looks like the school from the Harry Potter movies! Although it was not actually in any of the films (I double checked this) it is still one of the most beautiful buildings I have ever seen. Also, the famous cloisters are a great place to take pictures. The school also houses the Hunterian Museum and the Hunterian Art Gallery, both of which are free for the public. The school offers tours of the school or you can spend a day walking around the campus yourself. For more information about tours visit: https://www.gla.ac.uk/explore/visit/attractions/.
2. Kelvingrove Art Museum

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I have spent countless rainy days wandering the halls of this museum. The art is spectacular, and the building itself is awe inspiring. The museum also hosts a variety of artifacts including fossils, taxidermy, and an ancient Egypt room complete with a mummy. This museum is also free! For open hours visit: https://beta.glasgowlife.org.uk/museums/venues/kelvingrove-art-gallery-and-museum.
3. Glasgow Botanic Garden

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The gardens are a perfect place to go if it is raining because they house two gigantic glass houses filled with a variety of plants. The large white glass house houses plants from around the world in its large center chamber. The other glass house has a different theme for each room. My favorite is the room that houses a large tropical pound. There is also a Tea Room on the grounds if you want some refreshments after walking through the gardens. For open hours visit: http://www.glasgowbotanicgardens.com/
4. Glasgow City Center (Buchanan Street)

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This large shopping area hosts a variety of tourist shops, eateries and street performances. It is within walking distance of both the Modern Art Museum, Glasgow Cathedral, and City Hall. My favorite place to visit in City Center is Glasgow Cathedral, but be warned it is a farther walk from Buchanan street so I would recommend taking a bus. During December most of the Christmas markets are also within walking distance from Buchanan Street. *Note: the photo above is of Glasgow Cathedral
5. Pollock Country Park

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This park is a little far from City Center, but it is worth the bus ride. The park has miles of walking trails, a golf course, Pollock Estate and Gardens, and Highland Cows! That’s right… they have adorable highland cows. I recommend spending a morning or afternoon touring the estate and gardens then wandering to the pastures that house Clydesdale horses and Highland Cows. On specific days they have meet and greets with the cows that are housed there! For more information visit: https://www.glasgow.gov.uk/?articleid=16592

I hope you found this information useful and stay tuned for more fun adventures to come!

***Disclaimer: I am not responsible for external website content.