Syracuse, Italy Travel Guide

Syracuse embodies the eternal beauty of Sicily more than any other city. The ruins of ancient Greece extend beyond lush citrus groves, café tables spread out over dazzling baroque squares, and honey-colored medieval streets lead to the sparkling blue sea. It’s hard to imagine now, but at its peak, it was the largest city in ancient times, even larger than Corinth and Athens. If you are travelling to Syracuse for business or for a much needed rest as recommended by your trusted counsellor, here are the top must-see attractions in Syracuse, Italy.

Parco Archeologico della Neapolis

For the classic, the real attraction of Syracuse is this archaeological park, in which the Teatro Greco is located. Built in the fifth century BC and reconstructed in the third century AD, the 16,000 seater amphitheater staged the Aeschylus’ last tragedies which were performed here for the first time in his presence. From the beginning of May to the beginning of July it comes to life with a yearly season of classical theater. Next to the theater is the peculiar Latomia del Paradiso, a deep and steep limestone quarry from which the stone of the ancient city was extracted. It is littered with catacombs and full of magnolias and citrus trees. 

Piazza del Duomo

The splendid Syracuse square is a masterpiece of baroque urbanism. A long rectangular plaza, flanked by extravagant palaces, stands on the ancient Acropolis of Syracuse. Only a few vestiges of the original Greek building are preserved. However, if you look along the side of the cathedral, you will see a series of thick Doric columns integrated into the structure of the cathedral. North of the cathedral is the town hall of Syracuse in the Palazzo Municipale. It was built by the Spanish Juan Vermexio in 1629. In the left corner of the ledge, the architect’s signature is carved in stone. Across from the cathedral are the Alagonian Library, the opulent seventeenth-century Palazzo Arcivescovile, and some rare thirteenth-century manuscripts.

Duomo

Erected on a 5th century Greek temple skeleton, the Syracuse Cathedral from the 7th century became a cathedral when the island was evangelized by Saint Paul. The most striking feature is the facade with baroque columns that Andrea Palma added after the 1693 earthquake. A Virgin Mary statue crowns the roof in the same place where an Athena golden statue once served as the lighthouse to the Greek sailors who returned home. The original temple was famous throughout the Mediterranean, thanks in large part to Cicero, who visited the island in the 1st century BC. 

Teatro Greco

The highlight of the archaeological zone of Neapolis is the Teatro Greco, a masterpiece of elegant architecture that can accommodate about 16,000 people. The amphitheater carved out of the rocky slope was built in the 5th century BC, reconstructed in the 3rd century. They impressively staged the works of Euripides, Sophocles, and the Aeschylus last tragedies, including Prometheus Unleashed, Prometheus in Chains, and the Persians.

6 Top Attractions in Barcelona Not To Be Missed

The capital of Catalonia is Barcelona, located on the coast of northeastern Spain. If you have a passion for art and architecture, Barcelona is your dream destination. Best of all, it is a destination that enables you to combine both fun and culture.

Gaudi Architecture

Barcelona is famous for the outstanding architectural works of Antoni Gaudi, an architect whose distinctive style embodies color, free-flowing form, and texture. He was part of the Catalan Modernista movement. A stay in Barcelona is incomplete without visits to some of his famous buildings such as:

Casa Vicens

This fine Art Nouveau building contains spectacular ceramic decorations in the façade. Gaudi’s residential project which is now a museum combines oriental and neoclassical designs which is a unique departure from tradition.

Park Güell 

A huge urban park abounding in lovely landscaped gardens, this complex was built between 1900 and 1914. Gaudi lived here for almost 20 years, and it is one of the largest green spaces in Barcelona. You can take a stroll through the gardens as you study Gaudi’s artwork; there is an abundance of sculptures, mosaics, and colorful tiling to admire. Venture to the highest point of the site for amazing views of Barcelona.

La Sagrada Familia Church

A famous landmark, this is a vast, unfinished basilica with a lavish exterior. It was designed by Anton Gaudi and is part of a UNESCO World Heritage site. The architect worked on this immense project until his death.

The reason the construction took so long is due to the fact that this expensive project was funded by donations. Therefore the builders had to pause as they waited for the money to come in. When it is finally completed, the basilica will have a total of 18 towers.

If you need a break from culture, here are some fun activities for you:

Visit the Beach

Endowed with 60 miles of coastline, beach-lovers will be in their element. Apart from the famous Barceloneta beach, there are other gems to be discovered such as:

Nova Icària Beach

This is one of Barcelona’s best beaches for watersports. It’s a venue that attracts visitors of all ages, teens, families, as well as young adults. Nova Icaria is a laid-back, peaceful beach with a great selection of bars and restaurants that are within easy reach.

Bogatell Beach

Popular with locals, Bogatell beach has good water quality and is the place to go for both sunbathing and sports enthusiasts alike. The beach is away from the crowds of Barceloneta, has a friendly relaxed atmosphere, and offers amazing eateries. Why not sample the traditional paella, or squid fried the Andalusian style. Alternatively, check out one of the trendy beach bars that serve delicious specialty cocktails.

After a visit to the buzzing Mediterranean seaside, you may choose to pay a visit to Barcelona’s famous market:

La Boqueria

Possibly one of Barcelona’s oldest markets, La Boqueria has a vibrant and intoxicating atmosphere. The ocean smell permeating the air mingles with the smell of frying fish. There are over 200 stalls here, and the market is one of the city’s leading tourist landmarks.

You will find an amazing selection of fruits, fish, candy, spices, vegetables, and a host of other items. The market is also considered a culinary icon. You must visit one of the tapa bars and sample their garbanzo beans. Alternatively hit one of the fruit stands for unique blends of juice.

Barcelona is a favorite destination for people from all parts of the world; and for good reason too. Its diverse attractions, history, architecture, and cuisine should guarantee it a slot on your list of unmissable places to visit.

 

Pigeon Forge, Tennessee Travel Guide

With beautiful scenery, plentiful attractions, and abundant shopping, it’s not surprising that Pigeon Forge is one of America’s top tourist destinations. No matter the season, Pigeon Forge has something going on. Fall celebrations, baseball tournaments, Christmas festivals, car shows, as well as music conventions occupy the calendar with unlimited action. Pigeon Forge is the perfect destination for entertainment seekers and nature lovers. Here are the top things to do and see in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee.

Cades Cove

Cades Cove is located in the Great Smoky Mountains Park and is one of the park’s most visited sites. The cove sits in the middle of a valley floor and is a place where wildlife comes to play and graze. So expect to see black bears in the trees, as well as elk, deer, and other wild animals in the fields. A wide range of original museums, as well as barns, churches and a grist mill dating back to the 16th century, are all located along Cades Cove drive-through. For generations, this area served as a Cherokee hunting ground before being settled by mountaineers.

Dollywood

Dollywood is a grand theme park in Pigeon Forge and one of the most visited in the nation – created and imagined by legendaries the Herschend family and Dolly Parton. This park has more than 40 attractions and rides, all of which have given Dollywood global recognition. It also has live entertainment featuring demonstrations from craftsmen, dancers, and music. The rides in Dollywood include Mystery Mine and Wild Eagle.

Ripley’s Aquarium

Ripley’s Aquarium houses up to 10,000 sea creatures spanning more than 350 species. Among the attractions in this aquarium are the stingray bay, ocean realm, touch-a-ray bay, coral reef, penguin playhouse, gallery of the seas, shark lagoon, tropical rainforest, the discovery center, and systems control. There are also underwater tunnels that give visitors a feeling of being with fascinating creatures in the water. The feeding and dive shows are also very interactive.

Smoky Mountain Opry

The Smoky Mountain Opry is a popular musical variety show featuring the talents of musicians, singers, dancers, and comedians. There are laser lights, pyrotechnics, awesome special effects, high-flying musicians, all in a package of a musical feast.

Helicopter Tours

It is quite impossible to fully experience Pigeon Forge’s majesty on foot. There are helicopter tours that give visitors breathtaking views of this area. The helicopter can accommodate up to 4 passengers and a weight limit of 300 lbs per seat. They are also handicap-friendly.

Phnom Penh, Cambodia Travel Guide

The name Phnom Penh can’t help but evoke an image of the exotic. The Royal Place glimmering spires, the monks’ robes fluttering saffron, and the lush location on the mighty Mekong banks – this is the Asia many people daydream about from afar. Phnom Penh was once the ‘Pearl of Asia’ but its shine was tarnished by the impact of revolution and war. However, the city has risen from the ashes to take its rightful place among the region’s hip capitals, with a world-class food scene, bustling bars, and an alluring café culture. Here are the top attractions in Phnom Penh, Cambodia.

National Museum of Cambodia

This museum is home to the finest collection of Khmer sculpture in the world. It is housed in a terracotta structure built in 1920. The National Museum of Cambodia has a traditional design with a courtyard garden just north of the palace. One significant sculpture is a large fragment – including the intact two arms, shoulders and head of a bronze reclining Vishnu statue. Highlights include an impressive, 8-armed Vishnu statue from the sixth century and a staring Harihara which combines the attributes of Vishnu and Shiva. The Angkor collection also includes many striking statues of Shiva from the ninth, tenth, and eleventh centuries.

Royal Palace

With its ornate gliding and classic Khmer roofs, this palace was dominated by the Phnom Penh skyline. The Royal Place is a striking structure near the riverfront, bearing a striking resemblance to its counterpart in Bangkok. Being King Sihamoni’s official residence, some sections of the palace are not accessible to the public. Visitors are allowed to visit the Throne Hall and the surrounding buildings.

Silver Pagoda

Within the Royal Palace is the Silver Pagoda. This extravagant temple is known as the Temple of the Emerald Buddha or Wat Preah Keo. The temple is so named for its floor covered with gleaming silver. You can get a sneak peek of the 5000 tiles close to the entrance, although for protection most are covered. Inside the temple is a variety of Buddha statues made from precious metals.

Psar Thmei

This landmark building is sometimes referred to as the Central Market, a reference to its size and location. The domed hall looks like a Babylonian ziggurat and it is considered one of the world’s largest domes. The design of the Psar Thmei allows for maximum ventilation, and the central hall is airy and cool on a sweltering day. It has 4 wings filled with shops selling silver and gold jewelry, clothing, dodgy watches, and antique coins. Undoubtedly, this is the best market for browsing.

Pensacola, Florida Travel Guide

With the Alabama border just some miles down the road, it’s easy to explain Pensacola’s vibe – a city that jumbles Florida brashness with laid-back Southern syrup. This is by far Panhandle’s most interesting city with a thrumming military culture, a Spanish-style downtown, lively beaches. Although urban-chic trends (craft cocktails, and locavores food) are taking root, many visitors still come to Pensacola primarily for a blue-collar and all-American vacation experience: bars serving cheap fried seafood and other local foods as well as white-sand beaches. Here are the top must-see attractions in Pensacola, Florida.

National Naval Aviation Museum

Your trip to Pensacola isn’t complete with visiting the enormous collection of military artifacts and aircraft muscle. Children and adults alike will be intrigued by the array of planes on display. There are also high technology items like an IMAX theater and flight simulators. You can watch the death-defying air show by the Blue Angels showing most Tuesdays and Wednesdays.

Historic Pensacola Village

The rich colonial history of Pensacola spans over 450 years. This attractive and fascinating village is an enclave of historic homes that have been turned into museums. It is the ideal starting point for visitors to familiarize themselves with this city. Admission is valid for a week and includes entrance to each enclave and a guided tour.

Voices of Pensacola

Part interpretive center, part archive of oral history, the Voices of Pensacola is a museum that highlights through audio recordings and videos, the various cultural groups that have contributed to Pensacola.

 

Pensacola Museum of Art

Situated in the old jail of the city, this lovely museum features a growing and impressive collection of major twentieth and twenty-first-century artists, spanning folk art, pop art, realism, and cubism.

Pensacola Children’s Museum

Learn more about over 450 years of local history while also having fun in this compact museum that occupies 2 floors of the legendary Arbona building. The first level is perfect for younger children up to 9 years old while the second floor has a bit more to offer older children. Your children will definitely love it here.

Bay Bluff Park

This scenic 32-acre park is off the Pensacola Bluffs Highway and features wooden boardwalks that lead visitors along the steep bluffs’ side, as well as through clutches of Florida rosemary, pines, and live oaks to the beach down below. The drawback of the Bay Bluff Park is the persistent litter that is now an eyesore.

Knoxville, Tennessee Travel Guide

Dubbed by the Wall Street Journal as a ‘scruffy little city’, Knoxville is an increasingly polished and prominent destination for craft-beer, gastronomy, and outdoor enthusiasts. Typically, first-time visitors are enthralled by all the city offers. The easy walkability of the downtown area allows people to discover and explore historic sites, greenways, parks, art museums, local music, and vibrant murals. With a sophisticated mix of cuisine and culture, served with original hospitality, Knoxville will definitely surprise you. Here are the top must-see attractions in Knoxville, Tennessee.

The Historic Market Square

One of the best things you can do in this city is visiting the Historic Market Square. Essentially, it is the hub or the heart of the downtown area with a great vibe and is also the place to be for live music, restaurants, and cafes. The market square is a great place to visit any time of the day but it comes alive at night. You can sit back in one of the camp chairs while enjoying the great music and a delicious meal.

Knoxville Farmers Market

The Knoxville Farmers Market is an open-air market with an emphasis on local produce. Everything at this market is made or grown by the East Tennessee region vendor. There are a wide variety of products on offer in this market, from coffee and delicious local food to artisan crafts and more. It’s a great way to kick off the weekend with its vibrant community atmosphere.

Maple Hall Bowling

This boutique bowling alley is located in the J. C. Penney Building in the heart of the city. It has a VIP room, cozy lounge areas, and a full-service bar. Maple Hall Bowling is more than a bowling alley, it is an experience. This place gets filled up very easily, so you can expect to wait a bit if you visit during peak hours.

Knoxville Visitors Center

Visit the Knoxville Visitors Center to experience something special. It has live music that is usually playing from Monday to Saturday at midday. The center’s wall features a nice mural of Knoxville, making it a cool place to take some photos.

The Sunsphere

Your visit to Knoxville is not complete without visiting the Sunsphere. Constructed for the World’s Fair in 1982, it is home to an observation deck and a full-service restaurant. At the end of the Fair, the Sunsphere was closed to the public and remained vacant for many years. The observation deck is on the 4th level and it offers a 360° view of the Smoky Mountains, the University of Tennessee, the Tennessee River, and the World’s Fair Park.