London

5 Unmissable London Sights

London

London is the best city in the world! But visiting London can also be overwhelming simply because there is so much to do and to see. You could spend a lifetime visiting London and you still wouldn’t see it all. If you’re visiting London for the first time and you’re only spending a day or two there don’t be temped to find that cool bookstore you saw on Instagram or that cute cat café you pinned on Pinterest just because you think you’re too cool to do tourist attractions. There’s a good reason everyone takes a photo at Westminster Bridge with Big Ben in the background. Why? Because it’s the symbol of London. Yes, you can visit that new hipster brunch place your best friend went to or go on that street art tour everyone’s raving about the next time you’re in London but if you miss seeing Big Ben or Tower Bridge you’ll regret it. So, what do you want to remember your trip by? By visiting a UNESCO World Heritage Site (Tower of London) or …?

Do visit the well-known tourist attractions and cultural and historical landmarks on your first visit to London and leave the trendy new places for your next visit especially if you’ve only got a day or two to enjoy London.

Here’s the list of 5 Unmissable London Sights

1. Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament

Big Ben, London

Did you know that Big Ben is actually the name of the giant bell inside the clock tower? The real name of this clock tower is Elizabeth’s tower nowadays but its name used to be St Stephen’s tower.
The current Westminster palace aka the Houses of Parliament was built in 1870. You can visit it if you book a guided tour (for more information click here ).

2. Tower Bridge

Tower Bridge

Walk across the Tower Bridge and take hundreds of photos of it. It’s very Instagram worthy!:) If you’re lucky you’ll see it raised to let the ship pass under it. Moreover, if you want to learn about the bridge mechanics or walk on the glass floor 42 m above the Thames visit the Tower Bridge Exhibition.

3. Tower of London

Tower of London

During the history the Tower of London has been a fortress, a royal palace and a prison. Nowadays a tourist attraction as well as the home of the Crown Jewels. The oldest part of this UNESCO site is the White Tower which was built for William I (the Conqueror) in the eleventh century. You can admire it from the outside or buy a ticket and visit it. For more information click here.

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Ribnik castle

Discover Croatia: Ozalj Castle

Ozalj castle
Ozalj castle

What better way to spend a Valentine’s Day then by visiting a castle? That’s exactly what I did two years ago. How did I choose Ozalj castle? Well, I saw it featured in a magazine in an article about Croatian castles and convinced my husband to visit it with our friends. And it was the perfect day trip!

About Ozalj Castle

Ozalj is a small town roughly 66 km away from Croatian’s capital Zagreb and very near the Slovenian border. Its most famous period in the history was during the rule of the illustrious Croatian noble family Zrinski in the 17th century. Another notable resident of Ozalj was the Croatian deaf-mute painter Slava Raškaj who was born in Ozalj in 1877.

The medieval Old Town of Ozalj perched on the stone cliff above Kupa river was transformed into a beautiful castle in the 18th century. Ozalj castle changed many hands during the turbulent Croatian history. It was owned by the King in the 13th century and then by the noble families of Babonić, Frankopan, Zrinski, Perlas, Batthyany and Thurn and Taxis. Its current owners are the “Brethren of the Croatian Dragon” society who have opened it to the public.

Inside the Ozalj castle you can find a small museum and the library. The entry fee was 20 kuna which is just under 3€ at the time of my visit (Feb 2015).

Ozalj castle
entrance to Ozalj castle

Ozalj castle

Ozalj castle in Croatia

the view of River Kupa from the castle
the view of River Kupa from the castle

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Top 10 of the Imperial Treasury Vienna

Vienna
the New Wing of the Hofburg palace

Who hasn’t dreamt of becoming a king or a queen when growing up? We were all brought up with stories and fairy tales about valiant princes and beautiful princesses. However, being an actual royal is something completely different, especially nowadays. Nevertheless, seeing real royal treasures can still be very enchanting ( and educational). On my recent visit to Vienna ( last month) I got to admire the priceless crowns and other immensely beautiful objects in Kaiserliche Schatzkammer Wien (Imperial Treasury) before I enjoyed a delicious cake at yet another Viennese cultural institution: Café Central.

About Imperial Treasury Vienna Museum

Imperial Treasury Vienna is housed in the oldest part of the Hofburg Palace in the center of Vienna (the royal palace of Habsburg family who ruled over Austria and much of Central Europe until 1918). Imperial Treasury may not be the most interactive or family friendly museum but it is one of the most important treasuries in the world containing secular and ecclesiastical objects of immense cultural and historical value. The museum is affiliated with the Kunsthistorisches Museum Vienna, which is just a short walk from the Hofburg Palace. The museum’s collection was compiled by the Imperial House of Habsburg over the course of centuries but it has only been opened to the public as a museum since 1954.

The museum facilities include: ticket office, small shop, toilets and a cloakroom on the ground floor. There’s also an Audio Guide point (for extra charge) just before you climb the stairs to get to the museum’s collection spread over 21 rooms on the upper floor. The admission to the Imperial Treasury Museum costs 12€ for adults. The museum is open every day from 9.30 AM to 5.30 PM, except on Tuesdays. You can take photographs inside the museum but without flash. For more information about the museum click here !

Top 10 of the Imperial Treasury Vienna

As in most museums around Europe you can get a free leaflet with the museum’s plan and some basic information. I decided to find the top 10 objects listed in that leaflet while visiting the museum. Here’s the list of top 10 artifacts of the Imperial Treasury Vienna:

Crown of Emperor Rudolf II
It’s in the first room you enter. It’s truly magnificent and there’s also the Imperial Orb and Sceptre.

crown of emperor Rudolf II in Imperial Treasury Vienna

Cradle of the King of Rome
Now, this is one seriously imposing cradle. But you wouldn’t expect anything less for the Napoleon’s only son, would you?

cradle of Napoleon's son

Emerald Vessel
It’s a small object but it’s actually the largest cut emerald in the world.

emerald vessel in Imperial Treasury Vienna

Agate Bowl
I must say this was my favourite object of them all. It looks very contemporary. It’s rather big and the legends surrounding it are extraordinary. Some believed that it was the Holy Grail. It was made in the Late Antiquity and together with the unicorn’s horn (not real of course, it’s actually a narwhal’s tusk) makes ˝inalienable heirloom of the House of Habsburg˝, meaning it couldn’t be sold or given to anyone else.

agate bowl in Imperial Treasury Vienna

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2016 on the Red Phone Box travels

glass floor on the walkaway at the Tower Bridge Exhibition
at the Tower Bridge Exhibition in May 2016, London

Who would have thought that I would write constantly for almost a year and a half? I certainly didn’t think so when I hit publish for the first time back in 2015. And here I am now, 132 posts later,  looking back at 2016 on my blog. Firstly, I’d like to thank all my readers and followers! 🙂 Your support means a lot to me, especially since only a handful of my friends know about my travel blog. I don’t have a lot of travel plans for 2017 actually. My first and foremost travel goal is to finally visit Munich, Germany. But I’ll wait for a month or so until I make any real travel arrangements. After that, if I find a good deal, a cheap flight or if I suddenly want to visit badly some place, I’ll go. If not, I’ll stay at home. Travel isn’t everything! That’s one lesson I learnt the hard way in 2016. Anyway, I still haven’t written about all of my travels from 2016 (and earlier) and I want to continue to write my blog series Discover Croatia. So, there’ll be plenty of new posts in 2017! 🙂

Let’s take a look at 2016 on the Red Phone Box travels:

Top 5 popular posts (by number of views)

What has travel taught me?(#TravelLinkup)

Sky Garden, London

Vasa Museum, Stockholm

How many times have YOU visited London?

Visiting a Cat café in Nice, France

in cat cafe, Nice, France
in cat café, Nice, France

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Monthly Blog Overview: December 2016

Opatija, Croatia
Advent Wreath in Opatija

December. To be honest I felt more festive in November than in December. I mean, I attended two lovely Christmas events at the last weekend of November and I visited a chocolate festival in Opatija at the first weekend of December. But then I had another business trip and some other unpleasant obligations and my 33rd birthday. I so wasn’t looking forward to that! I felt like I didn’t accomplish much in the past year but in the end I had three lovely birthday meals so it wasn’t that bad after all. 🙂 Christmas was spent with family and I have so many sweets in my cupboard right now. I hope you had peaceful and joyful holidays too! I’m looking forward to 2017. I think I deserve some happy news finally!

So, in case you missed them:

Published posts in December

Did you open your chocolate Advent calendar today?

New travel article app giveaway

Monthly Blog Overview: November 2016

12 months, 12 photos

Chocolate Festival in Opatija

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My London Anniversary

London
just one of the many beautiful streets of London, photo taken in May 2016

Exactly ten years ago I visited LONDON for the first time. I’ve spent amazing time discovering London with my best friend M. and vowed to visit it again. After ten years and 11 visits to London I’m still in love with the best city in the whole world. And there’s still so much to do and to see. This year I went to London on my own and after initial missing-my-best-friend-to-share-London-with feeling I actually enjoyed wandering around London by myself. However, I do want to share my 12th visit to London with my best friend! When will it be? I don’t know. I don’t actually have plans of visiting London in 2017 ( shocking! I know 🙂 ) since there are other cities I want to explore in 2017 which have been pushed aside because of my constant visits to London (you can read all about my London adventures on my London Posts  page).

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