Luxembourg’s Grand Ducal Palace – Keep Calm and Wander

Grand Ducal Palace - Luxembourg - Keep Calm and Wander

The Grand Ducal Palace in Luxembourg Has Got an impressive facade. Yes, I was impressed. I wasn’t even planning or looking for this place but when I passed it on my way to the museum, I had to sit down on an empty cafe across the street and admire it from my outdoor table. I can also assure you that I was also looking at the marching guards. Promise, I was just looking.

The Grand Ducal Palace is the official residence of the Grand Duke of Luxembourg. In summer (from mid July to August), the palace is open for guided tours. Unfortunately for me, I was there in June, so the it’s the Duke’s loss for not able to meet me.

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Luxembourg’s Most Beautiful Balcony – Keep Calm and Wander

Luxembourg

Chemin de la Corniche Promenade in Luxembourg is Europe’s Most Beautiful Balcony. Perhaps, it’s the world’s longest balcony, too! I walked the entire promenade that snakes through the top of ancient, historical forts.

Chemin de la Corniche. The promenade runs on top of the old ramparts built by the French and the Spaniards. Take your time walking slowly and admire the views below the valley and across the river. The small community you see below is the district of Grund with interesting houses.

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The Roman Forum and Palatine Hill – Keep Calm and Wander

Roman Forum and Palatine Hill

Here are photos of my leisurely walk at the Roman Forum and Palatine Hill. For most tourists, they directly go to the hill where they see the bird’s eye view of the ancient ruins of the city that brought us the legend of Remus and Romulus. Some tour companies won’t include this attraction because it’s vast – and it would take time to go around.

At first, I wasn’t really impressed of the ruins I saw – until I sat down and googled its history. After 20 minutes of reading online, I walked around the lower ground and appreciated its significance to the city’s history. I see those relics with a new eye.

This archaeological site was once the residence of aristocrats and emperors. By the look of it, you’ll see that this was the centre of political and social movements at its heydays. Legend has it that Remus and Romulus were found in a cave here by the she-wolf. Romulus is believed to be the founder of the city of Rome (now you know where the city’s name come from). Caligula, that lunatic of an emperor, was killed here on a tunnel under the palaces.

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Rome Gay Travel Resources

The Basilica de Maria degli Angeli del Martiri – Keep Calm and Wander

Basilica de Maria degli Angeli del Martiri - Keep Calm and Wander

While I was on my way to the Trevi Fountain, I stumbled on the Basilica de Maria degli Angeli del Martiri, in front of Piazza della Repubblica. I went inside because i was intrigued by its huge and ugly exterior.

But, if there’s one thing I learned from travelling, that would be: Don’t judge the building by its facade. Right? I only found out that this basilica was built by Michelangelo in 1562 when I overheard a tour guide telling his tourists about its history.

The basilica is built on top of the ancient Roman bath – the Bath of Diocletian. It was designed by one of great Italian masters, Michelangelo, who also designed the dome of St. Peter’s Basilica. He’s also known as a sculptor who did Pieta and David.

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No Romance at the Spanish Steps – Keep Calm and Wander

Spanish Steps - Keep Calm and Wander

First of all, I didn’t find romance at the Spanish Steps in Rome. Not even a wisp breath of ardour. And that’s because the place is infested with tourists, like me.

I can only imagine at night when lovers would smooch on the stairs and whisper promises only to be broken later. But surely, you’ve seen this place from the movie, “Roman Holiday” or that TV show, “Everybody Loves Raymond.” And oh, if you’re a Bob Dylan fan, you might have heard this place in his song, “When I Paint My Masterpiece.”

Why it’s called Spanish Steps? There used to be a Spanish Embassy in the area and at the bottom of the steps, you’ll find Piazza di Spagna (Spanish Plaza). Naturally its name is extended into the steps – thus, it became Spanish Steps.

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Wishing for Peace at Trevi Fountain – Keep Calm and Wander

Trevi Fountain - Alain

This is no bull – but I really wished for world peace at the Trevi Fountain in Rome. Though my life isn’t perfect, I’m already grateful for what I now have. I didn’t even think about that wish because every time I find a wishing well or fountain in my travels, I always have the same wish – and you guess it right – world peace!

The World’s Most Beautiful Fountain? Well, the locals named it as the world’s most beautiful. While Rome has a lot of fountains, Trevi Fountain is the largest fountain in the city that is of Baroque style.

Nearby Attraction. The Spanish Steps is a walking distance from here.

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Rome Skyline From the Vatican – Keep Calm and Wander

Rome Skyline - Keep Calm and Wander

If you’re like me who like to see city skylines, then we could travel together. The view of the Vatican from the top of St Peter Basilica is surreal. You won’t just be able to see the city-state itself but it goes farther beyond Rome. You won’t be able to see skyscrapers like the ones in Dubai, Chicago or New York. But you’ll see a city that’s a work of many great artists who combined their creative forces to build a beautiful place that’s classic and timeless.

From the Top. You’ll be able to see the building where the Pope lives. The gardens of the Vatican, the building where the Sistine Chapel is, bridges and other magnificent architectural work. You’ll also be in close encounter with the Michelangelo’s Dome that towers all over Rome. The statues of Christ and his disciples on the facade roof are within your reach, too. And oh, I’ve never seen a city with so many domes but Rome.

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Florence Skyline from Torre de Arnolfo – Keep Calm and Wander

Florence Skyline from Torre de Arnolfo - Alain

Florence is the cradle of the Renaissance. The city, wherever you go, is full of incredible art from the middle ages. You’ll find works of Dante, Michelangelo, Giotto, Boticelli and other Italian masters in one city. Stunning frescoes? Check. Incredible sculptures? Check. Amazing architecture? Check. Great literature? Check. My dilemma was: Where do I start?

The narrow, cobblestone streets had me feeling that I was truly in ancient Italy. The city was once tagged as the “Athens of the Middle Ages.” Much of the things to do and see here are concentrated in the Historical Centre, a UNESCO-World Heritage Site. In the middle of it, you’ll find the stunning Florence Cathedral which the locals refer to as “Duomo.” From here, it’s an easy walk to the Academia where you’ll find Michelangelo’s original statue of “David.” You can also walk to Uffizi Gallery and marvel at its colossal statues outside the building. Nearby, Ponte Vecchio has been there for centuries and you might find something to splurge your money on.

Where to see the spectacular view of Florence skyline. The best view of Florence would be on the top of Torre de Arnolfo. It’s got the best view of the city’s skyline. Most of the postcards you see and buy were taken from here.

A Day in Florence. Yes, it is possible if your purpose is just to see the usual tourist attractions in the Historical Center. You can do these sights: Academia, Duomo and Baptistry, Uffizi Gallery and Ponte Vecchio. I have to warn you though that the queue at the Academia is brutal. So you better start there. Be the first in the queue in the morning. And oh, I find the gelato here in Florence better than the gelatos in any city I’ve been in Italy. Don’t be shy to get a large scoop!

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Harissa: Where The Virgin Mary is Watching Over Lebanon – Keep Calm and Wander

Harissa - Alain

Lebanon is a predominantly Muslim country but it is the most open-minded muslim country I’ve ever been to. Beirut, as a capital, is littered with Christian churches and mosques. People of two different faiths live in harmony. It’s a city where I didn’t feel like I have to watch out what I do.

I never had that feeling of being paranoid. Sorry Dubai or Abu Dhabi but you still make me paranoid everything I go there (8 times in the past two years). There’s this constant feeling of being watchful – because you don’t wanna end up in jail by just accidentally touching a man’s hip, right? Beirut, on the other hand, has a carefree, relaxed air despite the horrible traffic in the city. The people are nice and the Lebanese men are – oh, boy, don’t get me talking about them. Let’s just say, they’re my type. LOL…

About Harissa. It is a small community on top of Mt. Lebanon where a huge statue of the Virgin Mary is watching down the city with open arms. To reach Harissa, you’ve got to go to Jounieh, a city just 27 kms outside Beirut. It would take an hour with the endless traffic. Or less. Once you reach Jounieh, take a 9-minute cable ride to the top of Mt. Lebanon. You can also drive up there by car but riding the cable would be more panoramic and satisfying.

Jounieh. This city is famous for its club and restaurants. In fact, it is the nightlife spot of Beirut. You can admire its stunning view of the bay when you’re up there in Harissa.

Biblical City. Do you know that Mary and Jesus used to live in Lebanon? It’s been said that Mary would wait for Jesus at a cave in Maghdouche while he preached in Sidon and nearby places.

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Inside Juliet’s House in Verona – Keep Calm and Wander

Juliet's House - Verona - Keep Calm and Wander

The charming city of Verona is home to Shakespeare’s ill-fated lovers – Romeo and Juliet. Perhaps, the city’s most famous tourist attraction (or tourist trap) is Juliet’s House built in the Middle Ages.

Did Juliet Really Live Here? Nope, she didn’t. She’s just a fictional character from Shakespeare’s most well-known tragedy, “Romeo and Juliet.” If she doesn’t exist in real life – and so does Romeo.

So, why is this casa called Juliet’s House? According to history, the house was once owned by the Capello family whose surname sounds like Capulet, Juliet’s surname in the story. When the house was bought by the city – this tourist trap was created.

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