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A taste of Rome's fountains and piazzas

Rome 2016


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Piazza del Popolo (twin churches ???) Only half a day left before flying back home and still so much more to see and do in Rome [Rome-travel-guide-278393]. We decided to take the metro to Piazza del Popolo and walk around until it's time to get to the train station. We left our luggage in the hotel and went on our way.

Somehow it seems I have a thing for scaffolding this year, many of the castles in Denmark and Sweden as wel as the Moses statue at the Basilica di San Pietro in Vincoli and guess what one of the twin churches at Piazza del Popolo (!) always my luck!

From there we walk to the spanish steps, it's not a thing thats very high on my list but as it's close we might as wel take a look right? The steps have been closed for renovation this summer and are only just re-opened.large_1297706_14831083914936.jpg
It's sayd to be a meeting place always crowded with people sitting on the steps, but after the renovation the Roman police sees to it you don't go and eat your lunch on the steps, don't know why but it's not allowed and they are pretty strict on the matter. The fountain at the bottom looks like a sunken boat, I think it's quite ugly, and thats exactly what it's called too: Fontana della Barcaccia

Next we go and follow the route to Fontana Trevi which I actually liked a lot more than I thought I would, I thought the whole entourage of the fountain would be too much but it all fits just fine. I only think it should have been on a bigger square, but on the other hand thats also part of it's charm. I didn't throw a coin with my right hand over my left shoulder but I'm sure I'll be coming back to Rome one day so I didn't feel the need (and my Dutch roots prevent me from throwing money anyway)

It's still a bit early for lunch and since the Pantheon is really close now we go and visit this as well.large_1297706_14831084178457.jpg
Fontana Trevi (multiple photos cut and paste)Didn't think there would be enough time but everything is much closer than I expected. I'm really glad we did get to visit it! I think it's a great building. It started out as a Roman temple and was later transformed into a church. You would expect it to be a dark place with only a hole in the roof for lighting (the eye or oculus) but it really is not. The floors and walls are richly decorated but my main interest goes to the dome (occupational deformity)

We have lunch near the Pantheon before taking the nearest metro train to Termini station. We pick up our luggage at the hotel and go and find out how the ticket stuff works to get us to the airport. An old guy helps us out, I know it's a form of begging, but hey he helps us on our way so I leave him some change.

On our way to the airport it starts raining, we have been lucky with the weather for a change

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Posted by Stefmuts 04:44 Archived in Italy Tagged churches buildings fountain ruins city sightseeing roman city_trip Comments (0)

Capital of the Roman empire

Rome 2016


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After visiting several Roman sites all over I think it’s about time I go and see the place they came from, starting with the Colosseum. Here we can skip the line again and although it’s not as crowded as the Vatican museum skipping the line safes us at least half an hour waiting time. Inside I can’t help it comparing the hole Amphitheatre to the one I visited in Tunisia (El Djem) The Colosseum might be the biggest one but it’s most certainly not the best preserved one. I remember visiting the tunnels under the arena in Tunesia, here in Rome [Rome-travel-guide-278393] the whole floor of the arena is gone. A part of the outside walls are modernly rebuilt and a part of the arena is covered to show how it would have looked like with the floor intact.
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But it still is an impressive structure which would have been able to seat up to 50.000 people at gladiator and animal fights and executions, with trap doors and lift constructions to get them on and off the ‘stage’.

On the upper outside ring is an exhibition on Palmyra and the damage Isis has done to that place. It’s really sad to see the before and after pictures but the replica of the famous statue Isis has destroyed shows how modern technology can undo a bit of the damage, yes the real one is gone forever but restorations with similar replicas at least make sure all is not lost.

Then it’s on to Palatine hill / Forum Romanum , here again a waiting line and no skipping this time, but we get the tip to walk the 5 minutes to the other entrance.
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There we slip in just before a group. Their tour guide was counting heads so we just went around them, not nice maybe, but no harm done either. We walked around for a while, came to the place where we could overlook circus maximus, I later saw that spot is actually three stories high built, you have no idea when you’re standing there. We walked back to the entrance near the colosseum then decided we needed a toilet so we left the site at the north entrance.

A TB-er gave me a tip on the Moses statue by Michelangelo at the Basilica di San Pietro in Vincoli so we crossed the street to go find it. Again I used Google maps offline to find it, we found Piazza di San Francesco di Paola and it had to be near that but no church in site. On the far side of the Piazza there is a tunnel and a sign, we were on the right track.
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view from Castel de Sant’Angelo Through the tunnel another square and indeed a church. Doesn’t look like much on the outside but the inside is beautiful! The statue of Moses is on the right side of the altar. It’s part of a huge free-standing funeral monument meant for Pope Julius II but before it was finished Michelangelo had to do another painting job, a chapel in the Vatican (the Sistine chapel J ) My luck again, it's in scaffolding. But they built the scaffolding around the most important figure: Moses . The chains of St Peter are also on display in the church under the main altar.

Last thing on the list for today is a Roman / Christian combination: Castel de Sant’Angelo This building started out as the tomb of the Roman emperor Hadrian, it later became a fortified military outpost in order to defend Rome and a hiding place for the pope. Inside the passage spirals upwards with slopes and stairs until you reach the level with again elaborately decorated rooms. On this level you also have a nice view on the river and the Vatican.

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Posted by Stefmuts 23:51 Archived in Italy Tagged churches ruins city sightseeing roman Comments (2)

Megalithic Sweden

Denmark-Sweden 2016


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large_1297706_14790345124033.jpgSo I planned to visit Lund but finding the flyer with all kinds of interesting sites near Ystad made me decide to skip Lund and go to the Ystad area again. First a stop at the Sandhammaren. I passed the sign yesturday on my way to Ales stenar but didn't stop to have a look. Today I make it a special trip. It's an area with beautiful white sand dunes, didn't expect that here! I took some time for a walk on the beach.

Near Gislöv I went looking for the Bragestenarna (rock carvings), went up the road, down the road, O, wait there is something. I pull over, park my car on the roadside and when I get out I see I almost parked on top of the rock with the carvings. No parking area, no obvious sign, just the plaque with some info. You do have to have some imagination to make out the carvings.large_1297706_1479034530164.jpg

The sites Hällristningar vid Järrestad (rock carvings) and Stenstuan I did not manage to locate (no road signs or I missed the road signs) so I head back to Kivik [Kivik-travel-guide-665464] for a second try at Kungagraven/Kiviksgraven. This time the entrance I used yesterday is fenced off, and today's entrance to the site is through the restaurant. After paying the entrance fee I walk towards the grave. The big door is open but I´m a bit disappointed to see concrete walls and ceiling. The tomb isn´t in it´s original state, pity! But inside are some of the original carved stones as they would have been in the original setting. It looks like painted rock but the paint is only to be able to make out the figures.large_1297706_14790345497005.jpgKunga-/Kiviksgraven

A bit north of Kivik, near the small town Vitemölla is another megalitic site: Havängsdösen, a 'stone chamber tomb' what made me suspect it to be something like Kungagraven. I try to get to Havängsdösen by walking up the coastline but after half an hour walking I decide to turn back and drive a bit further up, if there are opening hours to the site I don't want to be late. It was a nice walk on the beach though! A bit further up there is a parking lot with a sign pointing to Havängsdösen. So it's a dolmen inside a stone circle, freely accessible so no openinghours. I could have continued my walk along the beach since I was already half way there, but hey, I didn't know what to expect. The dolmen is located on a hill and it has sea view.large_1297706_14790345836796.jpgHavängsdösenI think it's almost as beautiful as Ales stenar! The neighbours are Ravlunda firing range, heavily protected by barbed wire and surveillance cameras which makes it look even more dramatic. I walked along the beach up to the point where I turned back earlier, so now I had done the full path from Vitemölla to Havängsdösen.

On my way back I stopped again to look at some stone circles in the forest (no sign on the road side, but I spotted the stones while driving by) also another pair of grave hills on the other side of the road. No parking area, probably the sites are not interesting enough since they are found all over the south of Sweden

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Posted by Stefmuts 22:32 Archived in Sweden Tagged ruins sightseeing petroglyphs dolmen megalithic Comments (0)

Exploring Taroudannt

Morocco 2015


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large_1297706_14696432931810.jpgWe had a full day to go and explore Taroudannt for ourselves. I hooked up with four group members and we started walking to the famous city wall. It's actually really close to the hotel. We walk along the outside of the wall untill we get to the next gate. Here we can go up on the wall and we do except for Cynthia who still has problems with her knee and doesn't want to make it worse by going up the stairs. On top of the wall you have a nice view of the area, but it could have been nicer if there not was a sort of garbage dumpside nearby. We walked a bit, took some pictures of eachother to have proof we've been there and meanwile Cythia was sitting on a bench in the shade. We joined her for a bit and then we started walking in the old part of town. We just started walking, left turn, right turn, nowhere in particular.large_1297706_14696433636880.jpg we ended up in a residential area with the laundry outsideand the local children following us. We had some fun with them, took some pictures then we tried to send them home. They woudn't listen to us (I'm pretty sure they understood though) but some local guy helped us out by telling them to leave us alone and go home. Everything with a friendly smile though.

We walked until we reached another gate in the wall and went outside the old town again. Getting thirsty we looked out for a restaurant or bar. We came past Hotel Palais Salam, might have been a nice place to have a drink but it seems the personel is on strike because they didn't get paid for some time. They were having a break from demonstrating but left their banners at the entrance. We decided this might not be the right place at least not for now.

We walked on along the city wall untill yet another gate. Here a restaurant and it seemed to be open, turned out there was one guy looking after the place for the owner who already left town for the upcoming festival. Kitchen closed but drinks he could do. There was a huge language barrier but he tried his best to keep the conversation going and so did we.

This evening we had to go shopping for a lunch for tomorrow, due to the festival we won't be able to have lunch anywhere on the way to Essaouira [Essaouira-travel-guide-1079514]

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Posted by Stefmuts 04:14 Archived in Morocco Tagged culture ruins castle sightseeing Comments (0)

Dublin-Kilkenny through Wicklow mountains

Ireland 2008


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large_1297706_14329748781751.jpgIt was a bit of a hassle to get out of Dublin. We drove throuhg Wicklow mountains national park to Glendalough [Glendalough-travel-guide-1309844], one of the must sees on my list. Glendalough is famous for its Monastic Site with Round Tower and the two lakes. But first we drive though the winding roads of the Wicklow mountains with highland like views (sorry if I offended Ireland by that comment, I meant it well). We had to stop a couple of times because of sheep on the road. The famous round Tower at Glendalough is on the cemetery. We have to pass a double gated entrance to get there. The tower is 30 meters high and is said to be the one of the most beautiful in the country.Round towers wereclock towersthat also served as a repository of valuable manuscripts and watchtowers to guard the cemetery against grave robbers.large_1297706_14329749016433.jpg The entrance is mostly placed at about 4 meters above the ground and can be reached by usinga ladder that could be brought in to make it difficult for intruders.The tower is nice but I'm actual more interested in the beautiful irish crosses.

At the cemetery there are also the ruins of a church and several outbuildings. We walked along the Lower lake up to the Upper lake where we went to take a look at the Poulanass waterfall and ruin of the Reefert Church. At Upper lake the trail went further up the slope to another few ruins, but we had seen enough. We walked down the other bank of Lower lake back to the starting point.

On the way to Kilkenny [Kilkenny-travel-guide-937251] we passed the ruins of a abby, we stopped the car to take a look around. Unfortunately the local youth has established its base here, empty beer cans and candy wrappers.

In Kilkenny we found B&B Olinda, bit dated a toilet with issues and bring your own towels but good enough

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Posted by Stefmuts 03:49 Archived in Ireland Tagged landscapes ruins dublin kilkenny high_cross Comments (0)

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