Palazzo Poggi in Bologna – open your mind to the 18 century science.

The Museum established in Palazzo Poggi is one of the most fascinating places I have ever visited. The structure of the Palazzo dates back to the works carried out in the 16 century to modify and enlarge the building that had been purchased at the end of the 15 century by the Poggi family. The plan to expand and embellish the palace dates from the mid-1500s and was the idea of Giovanni Poggi, powerful cleric and eminent figure in the papal curia.

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Breaking the rainbow – Cascade d’Ouzoud Waterfalls Tour in Morocco.

In the early hours of the morning Jemaa el-Fnaa in Marrakesh looks quiet and empty. All the rush and colours of the evening disappear, leaving the square open to random visitors. A few pigeons flew away as we crossed the square. Until then not bothered by few locals gathered in the middle, sitting comfortable on the ground, enjoying the sunny morning.  The mighty tower of Koutoubia Mosque was rising slowly, painted in gold by the waking sun.

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A weekend in York – wandering the old city walls

I was scanning the UK map carefully, looking for a perfect place to get away on a short weekend trip. Since I am a huge fan of English cathedrals, York was an easy choice. The famous York Minster awaited!

 

The location of the B&B we stayed in was more than perfect. Just 5 minutes’ walk from the incredible National Railway Museum (this place deserve a separate post!) and less than 10 minutes from the York Minster (post is coming your way!).

After visiting both places, we have decided to go for the York City Walk! The evening wander on the city walls, from one unique Bar to another, was a perfect end to our day.

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The views from the walls were incredible. Without realizing we have walked about 3.4 kilometers! The walls are beautifully preserved and are the longest medieval town walls in England. Apparently about 2.5 million people walk along all or part of the City walls each year! If you decide to do it, you must have at least 2 hours at your disposal.

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In 1642 Civil War broke out between King Charles I and Parliament. York reminded loyal to the King and in April 1644 was besieged by a Parliamentarian army commanded by a Yorkshireman Sir Thomas Fairfax. Charles’ nephew, Prince Rupert, was sent to help York with an army of 15.000 men. He forced Fairfax’s troops to break off the siege and retreat. While in pursuit, Rupert he suffered a crashing defeat. The siege was renewed and lasted until 16 July 1644, when the devastated Royalist Army opened Micklegate Bar and marched out in surrender.

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Despite its proximity to one of the main areas of fighting Micklegate Bar was not damaged during the siege. It was protected by the nearby Royalist Fort on the mount, which held out against Parliamentarians who described it as “a curious and strong work”.

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Next stop was Multangular Tower, which we have almost passed by, as the map took us to the park and we got confused at first. But we have quickly managed to find the tower and were ready to keep going further.

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During our wander we have discovered that the tower was added later on, in the time of the Roman Emperor Septimius Severus, from 209 to 211, although the walls were originally constructed in 71. About nine meters tall this is the only remaining defence tower.

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The next stop on the map was Bootham Bar – the gateway almost 2000 years old! Roman legions marched through it towards present day Scotland. The earliest parts of what reminds date from 11th and 12th centuries, although some of the stone was reused from the original Roman gate. In the 19th century a section of city wall, which originally linked Bootham Bar to the fortifications, was demolished. These fortifications, still visible across the street, were not part of the City Walls, but they were built to protect the Abbey of St. Mary, which stood just outside the city.

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The next was Monk Bar – the tallest (measuring 19.2 m) and most ornate bar in York. The majority of it was constructed in 14 century and the forth storey was added by King Richard III. There are rooms above the gateway, which originally gave access to the murder-holes, where enemies could be fired down! Today they house the Richard III Museum.

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Walmgate Bar was next. This is the most complete gateway in the City Walls. The oldest part of the Bar is 12 century archway, part of a small gatehouse. It existed when they were only earth ramparts, before the stone walls were build. Look carefully and you might be able to see a 15th century wooden gate.

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The last stop was Fishergate Bar – the inscription above the central arch commemorates William Todd, the Lord Mayor of York, knighted by Henry VII, for his support against Lambert Simnel, a pretender or claimant to the English crown. In return for the honour Lord Mayor Todd paid for the restoration of 55 meters of city walls.

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The tour was nicely planned and allowed us not to get lost, as the City Walls are not complete and sometimes to get from one point to another you need to go down and try to figure out the best way to be back on track. By using the map – we did not get lost!

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 City Walls

Ksar Aït Ben Haddou – the gingerbread adventure

I felt tired, not interested, dreaming about a bed, in which I could actually sleep, not surrounded by loud snoring of others and not listening to the wind violently jerking the Berber’s tent. My night at the desert was uncomfortable sleepless, my butt felt sore and I could not think or imagine a place where the sand was not getting into. After spending one day in the car to get to Zagora, hoping all the way to arrive in one piece, desperately holding my suitcase while riding on a camel and trying to remove my contact lenses without getting sand in my eyes, I was not up for doing anything. But since I was not planning on coming back here, I dragged my sorry ass out of the car and went for a walk with our little group.

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Trip to Zagora desert? Not so sure about that now…

The alarm on my phone rung at 6. I was not asleep for at least half an hour, woken up by my growing excitement. After all we were going to visit the desert today – even more, we were going to spend the night on the desert, with the Berbers, in the tents! My head was filled with pictures of enormous dunes, caravans of camels negotiating their way under the hot sun and a few colourful Berber’s tents, sitting in the middle of nowhere. The Moroccan desert – our home for the night.

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The invisible contrast – visiting St. Matthias Church and the Fisherman’s Bastion.

The Fisherman’s Bastion litters down the hill, the tongue of its stairs slowly descending towards the city.  The view from a delicate mixture of neo-Gothic and neo-Romanesque structure is simply magnificent. After all you are on the hill, looking towards the houses and its red roofs, even more visible during a cloudy day.

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4 days wandering in Budapest.

I love city breaks! They give me enough time to get the taste of the city and recharge my batteries for the upcoming week of work. For a short period of time I am finding myself in a different country, surrounded by different people, eating local cuisine and enjoying sightseeing to the full.  If I could afford it, I would be on a city break every week!

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