Posts Tagged ‘city guides’
So by now you may have got that I love Zagreb. If you missed my last article on Why I Love, Love, Love Zagreb, Croatia, you can read all about the many reasons here, as well as what prompted me to extended my stay. In the meantime, here are the highlights of my time in Zagreb:
I love Zagreb for so many reasons. Off the beaten path and away from the tourist radar, Zagreb is refreshingly local. Still relatively inexpensive compared to the rest of Europe—and even Croatia—the city is filled with regal architecture, a gas-lamp old quarter where time stands still, and inexpensive hearty cuisine. I was charmed by Zagreb’s unpretentious attitude and abundant cultural pursuits, especially its unique museums, architecture, art scene, and live music scene.
Zagreb is a place I knew little about beforehand. I decided to head here to round out my tour of Croatia, which was deservingly beach heavy. Essentially, I wanted to see what Croatia was like away from the sea.
Croatia’s second largest city, Split, was not what I expected at all. In complete contrast to Dubrovnik, Split is gritty and a bit rough around the edges, where Dubrovnik is upscale and elegant. The main sight to see in the city is Diocletian’s Palace, built as a retirement palace for the Roman emperor Diocletian. It’s not just a palace, but a series of labyrinth streets that wind a maze around 220 historical buildings.
Dubrovnik, formerly known as Ragusa, is seeped in history, with traces of all the empires that left their mark here still visible below the surface. It’s so beautiful here that it’s easy to see why Dubrovnik changed hands so many times. Ruled by the Venetians, the Hungarians, the Ottomans, the Austro-Hungarian empire, and later by Yugoslavia, it wasn’t until 1991 that Croatia finally gained independence. Consequently, Dubrovnik was heavily attacked by Serbian-Montenegrin factions of the Yugoslav People’s Army who claimed Croatia was part of Montenegro. More than half of the buildings in the old town were damaged by continuous shelling, but this has all since been repaired.
Now only whispers of war remain throughout the city. These can be quietly observed in the form of plaques, or the contrast of newer roof tiles beside older ones. Yet, when you stop and take a closer look, you’ll also notice occasional bullet holes here and there on buildings, and of course the memories live on through the city’s residents.
Helsinki is filled with cutting-edge modern art. Relaxed tree-lined streets. Hip bars and cafés. Colorful Finnish fabrics. Decorative buildings. Design hotels galore. Heck, even the trees are pretty in Helsinki.
Tallinn, Estonia is the perfect weekend addition to a tour of Scandinavia. It’s a quick, easy and inexpensive ferry ride away from both Stockholm and Helsinki. With its charming and well preserved old town, ringed with stone walls adorned by fairytale turrets, it’s the perfect place to experience pure Baltic flavor laced with a sliver of Scandinavian influence.
Bergen is the gateway to Norway’s fjord country, and it’s also the second largest city in Norway. But unlike cosmopolitan Oslo with its glittering skyscrapers, Bergen manages to maintain a small-town vibe with its colorful old-style buildings and bustling seafront harbor.
Oslo is the modern epicenter of Norway and serves as a great introduction to the country. Here you’ll find the country’s top museums, nightlife and shopping. One of the most enjoyable ways to orient yourself is to take a boat cruise and see the city from the water. You can even enjoy a classic Norwegian seafood lunch of fresh shrimp on board as you watch the scenery glide by with the wind in your hair.
Today we continue with more of our top picks for a great time in Dublin! (If you haven’t already checked out part 1 of our Dublin City Guide, you can do so here.) There’s plenty to do in this city, and once you’ve checked the biggest sites off your list, turn your focus to these:
Dublin, Ireland has always been on my must-see list. Pubs, the color green, friendly people, Celtic symbology, fairies & leprechauns, and Guinness were all swirling around like sugarplums in my head. Ok, so Ireland is much more than these clichés, but I did find a refreshing desire to preserve tradition and Irish culture everywhere I turned.