4 Countries You’ll Want To Visit Again and Again

Climbing aboard an aircraft and jetting off to a new vacation spot is a thrill unlike any other. You sit back in your seat, imagining the delights that await you, and all the sights and sounds you’re going to experience for the first time. Visiting new places can make you feel like a true explorer, plotting your course around the globe and ticking off countries from your “places to visit” list. 

As wonderful as the above is, there are some countries that demand more. One visit just isn’t enough; as much as you want to venture forth to new countries, you find your mind constantly returning to a country you have visited before. One stay wasn’t enough; you want to go back, time and time again, and immerse yourself in a corner of the world so perfect that you could visit a thousand times and never get bored.

The countries that are capable of inspiring return visits are rare, but when you find one, you’ll be guaranteed a lifetime full of wonderful vacations. Of course, you’ll visit other places too, but some countries find a place in your soul that you just can’t shake. Below are four such countries that, for different reasons, have the power to keep pulling travellers back time and time again…

Iceland

800px-Blue_Lagoon_Main_Building
Wikipedia.org

Iceland is such a small country that it may seem like repeated visits are unnecessary, even when you consider the fact the landmass is continually growing. Is there really enough to experience in Iceland to warrant repeat visits? The simple answer is: yes. Iceland is a fascinating, geologically active country that is always changing. It’s the perfect choice for those who want to experience something new with every visit, but always be promised a relaxing, tranquil experience that allows you to marvel at all the wonders of the earth itself.

The ultimate must-see for Iceland: The Blue Lagoon is a truly incredible experience, and one you will find no issue with returning to time and time again. This geothermal spa is adored by thousands of visitors every year, and no matter how many times you do it, enjoying the naturally warm water juxtaposed with the cold air will never grow dull. What’s more, the Blue Lagoon is thought to have therapeutic properties, making repeated trips an excellent idea particularly if you suffer from a skin condition.

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Should You visit the Field of Miracles in Pisa?

the Field of Miracles, Pisa
the Field of Miracles, Pisa

This is one of those places that you’ll either love or hate. There’s no in-between. If you can disregard the tacky souvenir stalls and shady guys trying to sell you fake handbags or fake African souvenirs and focus just on the mind-blowing architecture of this place you’ll be fine. Otherwise you might go away feeling disappointed and bitter that you wasted your time/money on something that looks better in the photos than in the real life. But that’s the harsh reality of many famous landmarks around the world nowadays. But let’s get back to the basics.

Pisa was a powerful merchant/naval republic in the Middle Ages. Its rise to the power happened before Florence became the major player in Tuscany. When you’ve got loads of money, you have to flaunt it, right? So the people of Pisa decided to built something extraordinary to show off their wealth and hence the magnificent Piazza dei Miracoli.

Piazza dei Miracoli (Field of Miracles) is a UNESCO World Heritage Site site near the center of Pisa and as the name says it’s a rather large field with 4 magnificent edifices. There’s the Baptistery (the first building you can see on the field), the Cathedral, the Leaning Tower and the Monumental Cemetery (Camposanto). There are also two museums: the Sinopias Museum (Museo delle Sinopie) and the Cathedral Museum (Museo dell’Opera del Duomo). The name Piazza dei Miracoli wasn’t given at the time of the construction of the entire site but it’s a rather recent invention. An Italian poet Gabriele d’Annunzio named it as such at the beginning of the 20th century.

the Baptistery 

Baptistery at the Field of Miracles, Pisa

It’s dedicated to St.John the Baptist and it’s the largest baptistery in Italy. It’s also one of the oldest since it’s construction began in the mid 12th century. As all the other buildings of the Field of Miracles, the baptistery is built in Pisan Romanesque style but it’s got some Gothic elements such as the dome. Its pulpit was sculpted by Nicola Pisano and dated 1260 which is considered to be the beginning of the Italian Renaissance.

This is the only building that I’ve only seen from the outside. I wasn’t that interested to pay an entry fee.

the Cathedral

Cathedral at the Field of Miracles, Pisa

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Genoa, Italy

Postcard from Genoa, Italy

Bel paese (meaning beautiful country in Italian) is definitely a great term for Italy. While most of the people visit Venice or Florence or Rome, I doubt that many have ventured to historical port city of Genoa. Perhaps you went on a cruise along the Mediterranean and you embarked on your cruise ship in Genoa? But did you roam its gritty streets and have you seen its baroque palaces and lively squares? Did you know that Genoa is the birthplace of Christopher Columbus and that it once was a powerful merchant republic just like Venice? It even shares its flag with England ( St. George’s flag). A part of the old town of Genoa is inscribed on the World Heritage List (UNESCO) which is just another reason you should visit Genoa one day. And no, this isn’t a sponsored post 🙂 I dare you to give Genoa a chance.

the area around the Old Harbour

aquarium in Genoa
the biggest aquarium in Europe
Genoa, Italy
St.Lawrence’s cathedral
Genoa
the main square Piazza de Ferrari

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Sunday in Trieste (May 2017)

Trieste, Italy

What better way to spend Sunday than by eating cakes in some of Trieste’s oldest cafes? My best friend M. and I went on a day trip to Trieste, Italy with the sole purpose of enjoying ourselves. There was no fixed agenda apart from our wish to visit several traditional cafes/ patisseries. It’s been a long time since I had fun in Trieste because I usually just use it for flights/ train connections. When I was a child we used to regularly go to Trieste.

Anyway, it was nice to just wander around the city center leisurely and to take in the beautiful architecture of Trieste. Very much like my hometown Trieste has more of a feel of a Central European city than a Mediterranean city. Trieste is an important Italian port and a significant university center (especially for languages) but it’s also the oldest town in Italy by the age of its inhabitants. It’s seen better days and a vivid memorial of that is its grand main square Piazza Unità d’Italia. But there are other beautiful buildings and squares too.

Trieste, Italy
at the main square

Trieste, Italy

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Travel as a menu #travellinkup

a dessert in Paris

Quite an interesting topic for this month’s travel linkup: comparing travel to a menu. Now, usually the dessert part of a lunch or dinner is my favourite part of the entire meal and I often choose what I want to eat for dessert before I even choose the main. But I guess most people don’t do that  🙂 So, let’s start at the beginning. What place is your starter? Tough question. Since I mostly just travelled around Europe almost all of those places could be classified as short-haul. I didn’t really do any long-haul flights e.g. going across the Atlantic to the USA or flying to Dubai or visiting China or New Zealand like some other travel bloggers. So, I’d need to divide my destinations into short-haul (starters) and long-haul (main) even when they aren’t that far away from each other. Regarding the dessert part of my meal, oh boy, there are several amazing places that have left a lasting impression on me.

I’d choose Italy as my starter. I’ve travelled extensively around Italy but there are still many places that I haven’t visited such as Sicily or Cinque Terre. If I have to pick a favourite place then it’d be Bologna. I already blogged about it so you can read why I like it so much if you want to. I’ve been to Florence  and Rome and Venice several times but I’d rather spend a relaxing day in Bologna hanging out with the locals than brave the crowds in one of the above places.

Bologna

The main. Well, there’s only one possible main for me. And that’s London. I could always go back to London (and I have, 11 times so far!). It’s like my favourite meal. I could never get enough of it and it always tastes great. You might wonder now what’s my favourite meal…but I won’t tell you 🙂 What would be the furthest I have ever travelled? If I look at the map and the distance from my hometown to a place, then the furthest place I’ve ever travelled would be Lisbon , Portugal  which is over 2 000 km from my hometown and which was definitely the longest flight I’ve ever took. I absolutely loved Lisbon and I’d love to go back.

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Ponte Vecchio, Florence

5 unmissable Florence sights

Ponte Vecchio, Florence

Florence isn’t my favourite  Italian  city. There, I said it. But it’s undoubtedly beautiful and immensely important for world culture. After all, it’s the birthplace of Renaissance and artists such as Michelangelo created some of their best masterpieces in Florence. Having said that, it’s no wonder than many people find Florence daunting and even overwhelming because of an abundance of must- see museums and art galleries filled with so many iconic sculptures and paintings. Florence is also one of those cities where the tourists outnumber the local population in the period of April to October. So choose your time of visit wisely. I’d suggest to either visit in the early Spring or in the late Autumn. Definitely avoid the summer when it’s too hot to walk around the city. If you’re a first time visitor then definitely focus more on squares and palaces and ice-cream than on museums. Unless, you’re a real culture vulture and you simply have to see the original statue of David in Galleria dell’ Accademia. And book your museum tickets online to avoid waiting in the queue. Even if you only have a day in Florence you can manage to see all of the most important sights I listed below.

So here’s the list of 5 unmissable sights in Florence

  1. Ponte Vecchio

The oldest bridge in Florence (1345) is also the most beautiful one. The Americans call it the Golden Bridge because of all the high-end jewellery shops on it. It’s always crowded and you should take care of your belongings while admiring all the costly jewellery. If you cross the bridge and go left you’ll reach the Palazzo Pitti and the serene Boboli Gardens. Over the bridge is the Vasari’s Corridor which connects the new Medici palace (Medici family ruled over Florence and Tuscany for centuries) of Palazzo Pitti with the old palace of Palazzo Vecchio. The newest addition to the bridge are the so-called love padlocks. To take the best photos of the bridge you have to either go to the bridge after or before the Ponte Vecchio bridge.

Florence
Ponte Vecchio
  1. Piazza della Signoria

Once the political center of the entire region and nowadays a hotspot for locals and tourist alike this gorgeous square is also a sort of museum in the open. The dominating feature of Piazza della Signoria is the medieval town hall of Palazzo della Signoria or Palazzo Vecchio. You can enter it for free but if you want to see the upstairs rooms you have to pay for the ticket. On the right side of the palace is the world-famous museum the Uffizi and on the corner is the Loggia dei Lanzi with a number of interesting sculptures. There are many important art pieces at this square including the copy of Michelangelo’s David (the original is in the Accademia). There’s also the Neptune Fountain and the Cosimo I Medici sculpture on a horse. Occasionally there’ll be some temporary modern sculpture or installation too. You’ll probably notice a round marble plaque on the floor in front of the Neptune fountain. That plaque marks the exact spot where the infamous Girolamo Savonarola was hanged and burned after he was finally captured. He used to organize Bonfires of the Vanities in the 15th century and burn books and artworks. There’s a water tap behind the Neptune’s fountain so you can fill in your water bottle. If you fancy a cup of pricey coffee you can choose one of the two historical cafes at the square.

Palazzo Vecchio
the copy of David
Neptune’s fountain

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