5 European Cities That Are Breathtaking in Spring

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF TRAVEL TRIVIA)

 

5 European Cities That Are Breathtaking in Spring

Spring is the perfect season to visit Europe. Airfare and lodging options are more reasonable, and museums and attractions aren’t as crowded. Now that we’ve got that out of the way, which European city should you choose? Here’s a list of potential destinations that are absolutely breathtaking in the spring.

Budapest, Hungary

Budapest, Hungary

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Ideal for travelers with a modest budget, Budapest is a city that lies on both banks of the Danube. The city was initially three separate towns of Buda, Óbuda and Pest until they were combined in the year 1873. Today, you can visit Budapest in the springtime, stroll down cobblestone streets and enjoy food-themed festivals that highlight Chilean and Moroccan cuisine. Visit the historic Jewish quarter, go to the opera or see a play at a theater. Don’t forget to check out the Aquincum, a museum housing the reconstructed remains of an ancient Roman city.

Paris, France

Paris, France

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Sure, Ella Fitzgerald sang the praises of “April in Paris.” But May and June are even better. That’s because during those two months, the sun is out for 16 hours before it finally sets. This allows you to enjoy so many outdoor activities like sipping wine at a cafe in the sun, strolling by the banks of the Seine or taking a romantic boat ride with your significant other.

What’s spring without flowers? Fortunately, Paris offers plenty of green space for quiet reflection and relaxation. The city boasts over 100 gardens, from simple pocket parks to more flamboyant ones such as the Tuileries.

Glasgow, Scotland

Glasgow, Scotland

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Arts lovers will definitely need to consider a springtime visit to Glasgow, Scotland. Visit the Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum to check out the work of various artists, including the designs of artist and architect Charles Rennie Mackintosh. Mackintosh was born in Glasgow in the year 1868 and is considered one of Scotland’s most influential artists. If you visit Glasgow in April, you shouldn’t miss Glasgow International, a bi-annual art festival featuring contemporary art.

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Lausanne, Switzerland

Lausanne, Switzerland

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Located on Lake Geneva, Lausanne is a Swiss city that offers medieval architecture and beautiful vineyards. A quaint mixture of holiday resort and commercial town, Lausanne is a wonderful place to visit in the spring. Tiny, narrow roads and winding alleyways comprise the city, and many of those roads and alleys contain cafes and quaint shops. The city abounds with opportunities to eat mouthwatering cuisine. And if you visit Lausanne in the spring, don’t forget to visit its parks which boast Mediterranean plant species. There’s plenty to satisfy art lovers too. Art museums, theater, music productions and ballet performed by the world-renowned Béjart Ballet are just a few of the cultural activities available in Lausanne.

Lisse, Netherlands

Lisse, Netherlands

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When you think of Netherlands, you think of tulips. Lots of them. And that’s exactly what you’ll get when you visit Lisse, Netherlands, in the spring. If flowers are your thing, check out Keukenhof, a lovely garden located in Lisse. It has 7 million planted flower bulbs, making it one of the world’s largest flower gardens. Flowers are planted in a specific pattern to fit a theme that changes each year. So the effect will always be stunning, no matter how many times you visit Keukenhof over the years. And, of course, since this is the Netherlands, the garden has plenty of tulips. Don’t miss the rare black tulips that are featured there as well.

French inventor makes ‘beautiful’ flight across Channel on hoverboard

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF CNN)

 

French inventor makes ‘beautiful’ flight across Channel on hoverboard

Zapata soars over Bastille Day celebrations on flying board.

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Zapata soars over Bastille Day celebrations on flying board. 00:32

(CNN)French inventor Franky Zapata has successfully crossed the Channel on a jet-powered hoverboard for the first time, after a failed attempt last month.

Zapata took off from Sangatte, northern France early on Sunday morning and landed in St. Margarets Bay, near Dover in England. The journey took just over 20 minutes, according to Reuters news agency.
“I had the chance to land in an extraordinary place. It’s beautiful. My first thought was to my family. It was huge. Thanks to my wife who always supports me in crazy projects. We worked very hard,” he told CNN affiliate BFMTV.
Franky Zapata flies past the Calais city hall on Sunday after starting his Channel crossing attempt.

The inventor said that he tried to “take pleasure in not thinking about the pain,” even though “his thighs were burning.”
Zapata, a former jet ski racing champion, took to the skies in July on his Flyboard Air vehicle but missed a platform mounted on a boat as he tried to land midway for refueling. The 40-year-old was uninjured in the fall into the sea, and said that he worked “15 to 16 hours a day to rebuild the machine.”
Franky Zapata stands on his jet-powered "flyboard" next to helicopters as he arrives at St. Margaret's Bay in Dover.

In an interview after he completed his journey across the Channel, Zapata said that for his next challenge he was working on a flying car and had signed contracts, but for now he “was tired” and “wants a vacation,” he told BFMTV.
The inventor captured the world’s imagination when he took to the skies above Paris at Bastille Day parade in July with the board that can reach an altitude of nearly 500 feet — with the potential to go much higher — and a speed of 87mph.
Franky Zapata on his jet-powered "flyboard" lands at St. Margaret's Bay in Dover.

Zapata has worked with the US and French militaries, with the French investing $1.4 million to pay for tests of the board. French special forces are interested in the flying board for several uses, including as a possible assault device, said Armed Forces Minister Florence Parly, according to CNN affiliate BFMTV.
The English Channel has been crossed in many innovative ways over the years — including by hovercraft, hot air balloon, monoski, gondola, pedalo and glider and parachute.
On 25 July 1909, French aviator Louis Blériot made the first airplane flight between continental Europe and Great Britain in a monoplane.
In 1875, British marine captain Matthew Webb was the first to swim from Dover to Calais, completing the journey in 21 hours and 45 minutes.

The Busiest Intersections in the World

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF TRIP TRIVIA)

 

The Busiest Intersections in the World

What’s more fun than crossing the street? Crossing the street with thousands of your closest friends, of course! Throughout the world, there are certain notorious intersections that raise the simple act of crossing the street to the level of competitive sport. Crowded, noisy, and full of visual stimulation, these congested spots offer thoroughly urban experiences that will undoubtedly leave a lasting impression.

From the bustling streets of Tokyo to the constant hustle of Times Square in New York and several spots in between, here are four of the busiest intersections in the world.

Shibuya Crossing, Tokyo

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If you Google “busiest intersection in the world,” you’ll find pages and pages of text dedicated to this notorious crossing — and it’s not just hype. Located outside of the Shibuya subway station in Tokyo, some reports state that 1 million pedestrians traverse this intersection… per day.

But perhaps the most fascinating thing is how the crossing unfolds. All of the traffic lights turn red at the same time in all directions, signaling to pedestrians that it’s go time. Pedestrians — as many as 2,500 per crossing cycle — jostle into the intersection from all directions in what has lovingly been dubbed “the scramble.”

Curious? Insiders say that one of the best viewing points is the second story window of the Shibuya Crossing Starbucks, which also happens to be one of the coffee giant’s busiest outlets in the world.

Times Square, New York City

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If New York is the City that Never Sleeps, then Times Square is the endless jolt of espresso that keeps it wired. Originally known as Longacre Square, it was re-dubbed Times Square after “The New York Times” moved its headquarters to the bow-tie-shaped crossing, which is not actually a square at all.

Festooned with blaring advertisements and lighted signs from all angles, this is certainly a well-trafficked crossing. According to the Times Square automated counting system (18 cameras located on six different buildings, monitoring 35 unique locations in the area), there can be between 380,000 and 450,000 pedestrians in the heart of the square each day.

On New Year’s Eve, with the famous ball dropping ceremony, the traffic surges to a million or more.

Place Charles de Gaulle, Paris

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This massive junction was originally named Place de l’Étoile, or “Star Plaza” or “Square of the Star.”

That name makes sense when you view the intersection on a map — a staggering 12 avenues that all converge to meet in a starburst formation. And at the center, its pinnacle is the famed Arc de Triomphe.

With 12 avenues meeting in one place and automobiles, scooters, and trucks whizzing by, you’d be a fool to try to dash across this intersection. Happily, the city has made it easy, offering underground pedestrian access to the square.

Piccadilly Circus, London

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Sorry, but you won’t find elephants or a trapeze here. In the context of this interchange, “circus” refers to the circular shape of the intersection rather than the presence of a big top.

Nevertheless, London’s Piccadilly Circus is quite a spectacle to behold. In fact, this intersection, which sees as many as 100 million tourists per year, is so busy that the term “Piccadilly Circus” is used in the vernacular to refer to any number of convoluted or crowded settings.

Located in close proximity to the theater district, several major shopping streets, and the London Underground, there’s plenty to see and do in this bustling area. If you’re sensitive to bright lights, bring shades: The brightly lighted signs are turned off only for special occasions or for maintenance work.

The Most Congested Urban Intersections

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Did you look both ways? Crossing the street is far from an average experience at these internationally infamous crossings. Once you’ve visited these busy intersections, you may never look at a walk sign the same way!

Israel: From Europe to the Arctic, temperature records tumble in 2019

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE TIMES OF ISRAEL)

 

From Europe to the Arctic, temperature records tumble in 2019

Planet is getting hotter at a rate unparalleled in two millennia, and atmospheric CO2 levels are at their highest in 3 million years

The sun rises near power lines in Frankfurt, Germany as a heat wave scorches Europe, July 24, 2019. (AP Photo/Michael Probst)

The sun rises near power lines in Frankfurt, Germany as a heat wave scorches Europe, July 24, 2019. (AP Photo/Michael Probst)

AFP — We may only be just over halfway through it, but 2019 has already seen temperature records smashed from Europe to the Arctic circle and could prove to be one of the hottest years ever recorded.

Numerous studies have shown that heatwaves such as the one that baked northern Europe this week are made more likely by climate change, and as man-made greenhouse gas emissions continue to rise, 2019 fits a general warming trend.

This June was the hottest on record, beating out June 2016 — so far the hottest year ever.

The record was breached due to an exceptionally strong European heatwave. The continent’s June temperatures were around two degrees Celsius (3.6 Fahrenheit) hotter than average, according to the EU’s Copernicus climate monitor.

People cool down in the fountains of the Trocadero gardens in Paris July 25, 2019, when a new all-time high temperature of 42.6 degrees Celsius (108.7 F) hit the French capital. (AP Photo/Rafael Yaghobzadeh)

Temperatures were also notably higher than historic averages in South America, the US atmospheric monitor NOAA said.

Europe has endured two exceptionally strong heatwaves in a matter of weeks.

Record highs tumbled across France, with the mercury peaking at 46 C (114.8 F) on June 28 in the southern town of Verargues. The previous record, set back in 2003, was 44.1 C (111.4 F).

The second wave of heat this week saw Paris’s all-time high pulverized: Meteo-France measured 42.6 C (108.7 F)  in the French capital on Thursday — more than 2 C (3.6 F) hotter than the previous high, set more than 70 years ago.

An elderly woman covers her face from the hot sun with a newspaper, in Milan, Italy, Thursday, July 25, 2019. Parts of Europe will likely see record-high temperatures on Thursday as much of the continent is trapped in a heat wave, the second in two months. (AP Photo/Luca Bruno)

Germany, Belgium and the Netherlands all also registered all-time high temperatures.

The World Weather Attribution service this month said June’s heatwave was made between 5 and 100 times more likely by man-made climate change.

“Since 2015, we’ve seen extreme heatwaves every year in Europe,” said Robert Vautard, a climatologist at France’s Laboratory of Climate and Environment Sciences.

The first half of 2019 also saw intense heatwaves in Australia, India, Pakistan and parts of the Middle East, according to the World Meteorological Organisation (WMO).

In mid-July, for the first time on record, thermometers read 21 C (69.8 F) in Alert, a Canadian outpost that is the most northern settlement on Earth, around 900 kilometers from the North Pole.

That beat the previous record set in 1956, but the number of days where temperatures reach 19-20 C (66.2 – 68 F) have shown a marked increase since 2012.

People enjoy the hot summer weather at the river Isar in Munich, Germany, July 25, 2019. (AP Photo/Matthias Schrader)

The last four years are the hottest on record.

Last year was fourth on the list, with an average surface temperature of 1 C  (1.8 F) above pre-industrial levels.

2016 still holds the crown as the hottest year in human history — a full 1.2 C (2.2 F) above average, aided by a powerful El Nino warming event.

According to the NOAA, the period of January-June 2019 was the second hottest ever measured, hotter even than the same period in 2016.

The WMO estimates 2019 will be among the top five hottest years, and that 2015-2019 will be the hottest five year period ever recorded.

Three papers released this week showed that Earth’s temperature was currently warming at a rate and uniformity unparalleled in the past 2,000 years.

Atmospheric CO2 levels are currently around 415 parts per million — the highest concentration in three million years.

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10 Cities All Architecture Lovers Need to Visit Before They Die

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF TRAVEL TRIVIA)

 

Cities All Architecture Lovers Need to Visit Before They Die

From towering skyscrapers to the ancient Colosseum, the world is filled with architectural marvels. And since architecture is best enjoyed in person, here are 10 cities that architecture lovers simply must visit.

Chicago, Illinois, U.S.A.

Chicago, Illinois, U.S.A.

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It’s called the “City of Big Shoulders” for a reason. Chicago is home to some of the oldest skyscrapers, such as the Manhattan Building, built in 1891; the Reliance Building, built in 1895; and Chicago Savings Bank Building, completed in 1905. Most of Downtown Chicago was destroyed in the Chicago Fire of 1871, but the iconic Chicago Water Tower, built in 1869, was left standing. Built solely of yellow Lemont limestone, seeing the 182-foot tower firsthand should be on every architecture lovers bucket list.

Rome, Italy

Rome, Italy

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Rome is home to some of the world’s most photographed structures, including the Colosseum, the Roman Forum and Trajan’s Market. Had it not been for the Romans, designs like the arch and the dome would never have come to be. Rome’s classical structures are a must see. That’s a given. But the city’s Baroque style buildings, which were mostly constructed during the 17th century, are also well worth your time. The sheer grandness of structures like St. Peter’s Basilicaand the Trevi Fountain can’t be captured in a photograph. Few things in life will leave you as awestruck as taking a stroll inside St. Peter’s, with its massive dome, and looking up. You may never want to look down again.

Barcelona, Spain

Barcelona, Spain

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Influenced by the legendary 19th century Catalan architect Antoni Gaudi, Barcelona’s architecture, much like the city itself, is imaginative and colorful. One sight that’s a must see is Gaudi’s Casa Batllo. The façade of the building is constructed of broken ceramic tiles, thus creating an eye-popping mosaic that is unlike anything you’ve ever seen. Other structures that are inspired by Gaudi’s vivid imagination include Jean Nouvel’s Tower, which is designed to resemble a geyser of water shooting through the air, and Frank Gehry’s Fish.

Dubai, United Arab Emirates

Dubai, United Arab Emirates

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In addition to being home to the tallest building in the world, the Burj Khalifa, the Dubai skyline is filled with twisty-turny steel buildings. If you find yourself wandering in this desert city, be sure to check out the Burj al Arab, which is designed to look like an Arabian dhow ship, as well as the curving Cayan, with its seemingly impossible 90-degree twist. There’s also the famed underwater zoo located in the Dubai Mall, which features 300 different species of aquatic life, including all types of fish, sting rays and sharks.

Shanghai, China

Shanghai, China

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Fueled by government investment, Shanghai has grown rapidly in recent years. It’s almost as if a glossy new structure pops up each month. The architecture in Shanghai is modernistic, and best represented in buildings like the Hongkou Soho office building, with its pleated exterior. Shanghai is also home to the second tallest building in the world, the Shanghai Tower, which features a twisted, glass façade that stretches upward for 2,073 feet.

Paris, France

Paris, France

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The birthplace of Art Deco and Gothic architecture, Paris is a city whose rich architectural history stretches back centuries. Gothic style, which is marked by colorful stained glass windows and flying buttresses, can be seen in a number of Paris cathedrals, including the Sainte-Chapelle, the St-Gervais-et-St-Protais and, most famously, Notre-Dame, which was in the news earlier this year after sustaining serious damage during a 15-hour fire. Paris’s famed Art Deco buildings, with their notable exteriors that feature numerous horizontal lines, began popping up shortly before World War I and were dominant in the ’20s and ’30s. Théâtre des Champs-Élysées and the Grand Rex movie palace are two prominent structures that exhibit this style. This is a small sample of the numerous architectural wonders in the City of Light.

Moscow, Russia

Moscow, Russia

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The Russian capital is home to some of the most recognizable architecture in the world with a style known simply as Russian architecture. Arguably the most renown structure in the Russian style is Moscow’s Saint Basil’s Cathedral. Constructed in the 16th century during the reign of Ivan the Terrible, the cathedral is known for its vibrant, onion-shaped domes. Moscow is also home to more recent architectural wonders like the Ostankino Tower, which was completed in 1967 and was for a period of time the tallest building in the world, and a group of Moscow skyscrapers known as the Seven Sisters. The seven buildings, which were built during the reign of Soviet leader Joseph Stalin, are wide and blocky, and scattered throughout Moscow. They were constructed in the Stalinist style of Russian architecture, which borrows elements of the Russian baroque.

Athens, Greece

Athens, Greece

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Several ancient monuments from Athens’s classical era are still standing, most notably the Parthenon, with its enormous stone columns. There is also the Theatre of Dionysus, which was the birthplace of Greek tragedy and the first theater ever constructed. And what would a historically rich city like Athens be without its ancient temples? During its heyday, the Temple of Olympian Zeus, which was completed around the 2nd century, had an unthinkable 104 columns, although only a few remain standing today.

Istanbul, Turkey

Istanbul, Turkey

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The most populous city in Turkey is known for two distinct styles of architecture: Byzantine and Ottoman. The Hagia Sophia, which was constructed in the 6th century, is a church that is emblematic of the Byzantine style, with its massive dome and elegiac mosaics depicting Christ and other biblical figures. The Ottoman style of architecture also flourished in Istanbul. Throughout the 16th and 17th centuries a number of imperial mosques were constructed throughout the city, including Faith Mosque, Yeni Mosque\ and Bayezid Mosque. The mosques all have the key features of the Ottoman style, with extensive use of domes and columns, and are an absolute marvel to experience in person.

New York City, New York, U.S.A.

New York City, New York, U.S.A.

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From the Art Deco masterpiece that is the Chrysler Building (1930), to the Gothic Revival design of the Woolworth Building (1913), to the more recent green design of the Conde Nast Building, New York City’s skyscrapers employ a wide range of stylistic elements. The character of the city can also be seen in the architectural designs used in its residential neighborhoods. From the brownstones in Brooklyn to the tenements on the Lower East Side, New York’s five boroughs are an architectural cornucopia whose styles are as diverse as the city itself.

3 Essential Cities to See While Traveling Europe for the First Time

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF TRAVEL TRIVIA)

 

3 Essential Cities to See While Traveling Europe for the First Time

This is a vast world with many exciting places to see. Planning a European trip is your first step in seeing even just a small portion of it. When planning a travel itinerary, it’s crucial to have a layout of what you want to see and when you want to see it. If you’re looking at the long list of places to visit in Europe, it’s best to narrow down your options.

To help with the process, here are three essential cities you should see while you’re traveling through Europe for the first time.

Paris, France

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When you think of dream destinations or romantic getaways, chances are Paris is high on that list. It may seem like the atypical choice for European getaways, but there are plenty of reasons why the City of Light is such a crucial stop.

One could focus on the obvious choice of the Eiffel Tower, which is a spectacle that the Las Vegas iteration barely does any justice, but the city of Paris is brimming with cultural wonders, other historic landmarks, and restaurants just waiting to stuff patrons full of staple French cuisine.

During your stay, you’ll want to stop at awe-inspiring sights like the Pere Lachais, the largest park and cemetery in the city, Cathedrale Notre-Dame, the Louvre Museum, and the Tuileries Garden. When you’ve expended your energy, you can re energize at one of the many cafes found streetside. Croissants, macarons, and an over-abundance of additional pastries will leave you full but still wanting more.

For first-time European travelers, Paris is relatively easy to navigate. French is the primary language, but it won’t be too difficult to find someone who speaks English.

Venice, Italy

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Venice is an entire city built on a network of mud islands and canals. It already sounds like the perfect place you would want to visit during your European vacation. Right off the bat, the waterways that cut through the city are a sight to behold as they serve as viable routes to get from point A to point B.

Being an Italian city, there is no denying that the food is going to be everything you could want. Pasta dishes will be made with freshly-rolled dough, and bread will have that unmistakable freshly-baked taste. There is no shortage of restaurants to grab a seat at, but you’ll have to pry yourself away from the exquisite food at some point.

Many sights showcase the history of the watery city. The buildings that line the canal are an important part of Venice’s history, but attractions like the Campanile di San Marco, St. Mark’s Square, the Correr Civic Museum, and the Peggy Guggenheim are going to be what drives the trip.

If you can pry yourself away from the incredible food, there are many experiences to be had. While it’s always best to learn the native language, it’s not impossible to get around only knowing English.

Edinburgh, Scotland

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When you travel to Scotland, you’re treated to some of the most beautiful views and unforgettable experiences, making it a shoo-in for the most essential city to visit during your first-time trip to Europe. There is no getting over the rolling plains, the historic architecture, and the friendly people, and that’s only a small piece of why Edinburgh is an ideal choice for your vacation.

If you need your fill of castles, Edinburgh has them. It is also home to Arthur’s Seat in the highest point of Holyrood Park, the Royal Botanic Garden, St. Giles Cathedral, Calton Hill and the Scottish National Monument. There is plenty to see in Edinburgh, and these adventures and activities just barely scratch the surface.

There is a lot to enjoy in Edinburgh, but there is no denying that the views top that list. A steady emerald green courses through the city, contrasting the old look and feel of its existing buildings. If you can pry yourself away from the architecture for long enough, you may even be able to indulge in the delicious cuisine and whiskey-barreled, aged-right in Scotland.

5 European Hotels That Will Take You Back in Time

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF TRIP TRIVIA)

 

5 European Hotels That Will Take You Back in Time

The cities that make up the landscape of Europe have pasts that stretch back through every era of civilization. And the many grand, opulent hotels throughout the continent are evidence of the centuries of culture that shaped their home countries. Take a step back in time on your next trip to Europe by staying at one of these five hotels with long histories and a commitment to preserving an older way of life.

Grand Hotel Zermatterhof

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Zermatt, Switzerland

Be transported to a distant past with a stay in the Grand Hotel Zermatterhof, located below the iconic Matterhorn mountain. Your journey begins with a carriage ride from the train station to the car-free town of Zurich, one of the best cities to retreat to from the bustle of urban Europe. The historic Grand Hotel Zermatterhof has been hosting guests since 1879 and places a premium on a stay that celebrates the past.

In the summer months, the Zermatterhof makes a great place to embark on outdoor adventures in the rugged Swiss mountain country. In the winter, the hotel is located just 700 meters from the Matterhorn Ski Paradise, giving you access to some of the best skiing in the world.

The Olde Bell

Credit: Miranda Hodgson / Wikimedia

Hurley, Berkshire, England

The oldest hotel on this list, The Olde Bell was opened in 1135, almost 900 years ago. You will see traces of this ancient history on the claw foot bathtubs and the charming farm home décor with dark wood floors and sheepskin throws. The hotel has seen many famous guests and historic events—including when it hosted the meeting of Dwight D. Eisenhower and Winston Churchill during the Second World War.

The Grand Hotel Excelsior Vittoria

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Sorrento, Italy

The Grand Hotel Excelsior Vittoria, located on the Gulf of Naples, has been operated by the Fiorento family since it opened in 1834. The hotel has seen famous figures such as Sophia Loren and Marilyn Monroe stay in the beautiful suites. You will feel whisked away to a bygone era of romantic opulence and comfort while you enjoy your stay at the Excelsior Vittoria.

The Lutetia

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Paris, France

Dive into Paris’ history of art, literature and culture at this wonderful hotel on the Left Bank. Here you will find the famous Belle Epoque’s “palace hotels” such as Hôtel Providence, which will give you a chance to explore the busy commercial heart of Paris that inspired great works of art in the early 20th century.

The Lutetia was opened across from The Bon Marche, the world’s first department store, at the height of one of the great eras of French cultural achievement. Since its construction, the Lutetia has hosted significant figures in the art world such as James Joyce, Samuel Beckett, Matisse, and Picasso. Even the name evokes an ancient past: Lutetia was the name the Romans used for Paris.

Hotel Interlaken

Credit: Paebi / Wikimedia

Interlaken, Switzerland

Another hotel that has stood for centuries, Hotel Interlaken has been hosting guests for centuries. Hotel Interlaken was built in 1323 and first served as a cloister house run by nuns and monks for tired travelers. Hotel Interlaken served many other functions during these early years and was even used as a court room at one point.

Hotel Interlaken was converted to a hotel in 1491. The hotel is located a mere six-minute walk from the nearest train station and features cozy, rustic, and chic décor, plus a woodsy restaurant featuring a modern take on classic Swiss cuisine.

These hotels and the many others that can be found in European cities and countrysides will help you relax and enjoy the grand history of the European continent. Enjoy your travels abroad and take time to appreciate the luxuries afforded by these excellent hotels.

7 European Train Routes You don’t Want To Miss

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF TRIP TRIVIA)

 

7 European Train Routes You Can’t Miss

Europe is so much better by train. From capital city termini to remote village halts, almost every corner of Europe is reachable by rail. It’s even easier with the EuroRail, which offers incredible passes and deals on tickets to help you hop around Europe on the cheap. Here are 7 European destinations you must get to by train.

Jungfraujoch, Switzerland
The Swiss do rail travel better than anyone else in Europe, and they don’t let something as insignificant as a mountain stand in the way of connectivity. Jungfraujoch has the distinction of being the highest railway station in Europe. Travellers pass close to the Eiger, Jungfrau, and Mönch mountains before their train dives into a tunnel. At the summit, 3454 metres above sea level, you’ll be rewarded with incredible views of the Bernese Oberland and snow on the ground even in the height of summer.

Paris, France
The two busiest stations in Europe are both located in the French capital, making this city a must for every train enthusiast. Eurostar links Gare du Nord – top of the list – to London. This high speed service makes a twin centre city break a tempting possibility. Tick off the Eiffel Tower, cruise along the Seine, and take in the view from Sacre Coeur before emerging from the English Channel to tour St Paul’s Cathedral, ride the London Eye, and watch the changing of the guard at Buckingham Palace.

Flåm, Norway
One of the most beautiful rail journeys in Europe – and probably the world – is the one that links Flåm and Myrdal in western Norway. Beginning beside the Aurlandsfjord, the train climbs past tumbling waterfalls and icy glaciers to the mountains, condensing the country’s most dramatic vistas into one incredible hour’s ride.

Venice, Italy
Nothing screams luxury train travel like the Venice-Simplon-Orient Express. Step back in time to a glamorous age of train travel which has captured the hearts and imaginations of all those fortunate to have boarded its exquisite Art Deco carriages. In Venice, alight to explore a magical city riddled with waterways leading to a plethora of churches, palaces and hidden squares.

Madrid, Spain
When it comes to greenery, Atocha Station in Madrid surpasses all others. This delightful station is likened by some to an indoor botanical garden, with verdant palms and lush planting interspersed by platforms and commuters. Catch the high speed AVE service to Sevilla and Cordoba for Moorish architecture, flower-adorned alleyways and sultry late night flamenco.

Lviv, Ukraine
For something off the beaten track, catch a train across Ukraine to the beautiful city of Lviv. Modern, high speed trains make easy work of the distance, taking five hours to link the two in contrast to the slow overnight sleepers that were the traditional method of travel. Cafe culture’s king, but first, climb to Lviv’s mountaintop High Castle for panoramic views across the city and beyond.

Moscow, Russia
For a truly epic European rail adventure, why not begin in Asia? The Trans-Siberian railway is a must for any bucket list, but travel east to west and you’ll be saving the best for last. Moscow is bold, brash and buzzing with energy. Get around by metro and you’ll see some of the most splendidly decorated stations in the world – with mosaics, stained glass and bronze sculptures, Moscow’s underground feels more like a museum than a transit network.

Have you taken a train ride in Europe? Share with us your favourite journeys – we’d love to compare notes.

This blog was originally published on The Discoverer

Source: World Atlas | Date Updated: January 7, 2019

France: President Macron vows to rebuild Notre-Dame

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF SHANGHAI CHINA’S ‘SHINE’ NEWS)

 

Macron vows to rebuild Notre-Dame after devastating fire

AFP
AFP

AFP

The steeple engulfed in flames collapses as the roof of the Notre-Dame de Paris Cathedral burns on April 15, 2019 in Paris.

French President Emmanuel Macron has vowed to rebuild Notre-Dame Cathedral in Paris, after a colossal fire tore through the building, sending the spire crashing to the ground and wiping out centuries of heritage.

Macron expressed relief that “the worst had been avoided” in a blaze that had at one point threatened the entire edifice, and left France in shock over the damage to a building described as the soul of the nation.

The inferno destroyed the roof of the 850-year-old UNESCO world heritage landmark, whose spectacular Gothic spire collapsed as orange flames and clouds of grey smoke billowed into the sky.

Around 400 firefighters battled into the night to control the flames, declaring in the early hours of Tuesday that the fire was under control, around nine hours after it broke out.

Paris fire brigade chief Jean-Claude Gallet said “we can consider that the main structure of Notre-Dame has been saved and preserved” as well as the two towers.

Reuters

Flames that began in the early evening burst rapidly through the roof of the centuries-old cathedral and engulfed the spire, which toppled, quickly followed by the entire roof.

‘France is Notre Dame’

“Notre-Dame survived all the wars, all the bombardments. We never thought it could burn. I feel incredibly sad and empty,” Stephane Seigneurie, a consultant who joined other shocked onlookers in a solemn rendition of “Ave Maria” as they watched the fire from a nearby bridge.

Gasps and cries of “Oh my god” erupted around an hour after the fire first broke out when the top portion of the church’s spire came crashing down.

“We have been dealt a knockout blow,” a stricken-looking Paris Archbishop Michel Aupetit told reporters.

The cause of the blaze was not immediately clear, but the cathedral had been undergoing intense restoration work which the fire service said could be linked to the blaze.

French prosecutors said it was being currently being treated as accident.

Historians expressed incredulity at the collapse of a building that has been a symbol of France for almost a millennium.

“If Paris is the Eiffel Tower then France is Notre Dame. It’s the entire culture, entire history of France incarnated in this monument,” Bernard Lecomte, a writer and specialist in religious history told BFM TV.

Deputy Paris mayor Emmanuel Gregoire told the channel that workers were scrambling “to save all the artworks that can be saved.” Officials later said teams had managed to salvage an unknown quantity of the cultural treasures.

AFP

Smoke rises around the alter in front of the cross inside the Notre-Dame Cathedral as the fire continues to burn on April 16, 2019, in the French capital Paris.

‘Emotion of a nation’

Macron cancelled a planned policy speech and headed to the scene, where he vowed the cathedral would be reborn.

“We will rebuild Notre-Dame because it is what the French expect,” he said, describing Notre Dame as “the epicenter of our life” and the cathedral of “all the French,” whether religious or not.

France’s billionaire Pinault dynasty immediately pledged 100 million euros (US$113 million) for the effort.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel called Notre-Dame cathedral a “symbol of European culture” as the blaze raged.

The Vatican on Monday expressed its “incredulity” and “sadness” over the fire.

‘Water bombers not used’

One firefighter was seriously injured in the blaze, the fire brigade said.

US President Donald Trump in a tweet said it was “horrible” to watch the fire but caused controversy by offering advice on how to put it out.

“Perhaps flying water tankers could be used to put it out. Must act quickly!” he said.

But France’s civil security service, which oversees crisis management in the country, tweeted back at Trump that the use of water-bombing aircraft was not being considered.

“If used, (this) could lead to the collapse of the entire structure of the cathedral,” it said.

‘Will never be the same’

The cathedral was located at the center of the French capital in the Middle Ages and its construction was completed in the mid-12th century after some 200 years of work.

During the French Revolution in the 18th century, the cathedral was vandalized in widespread anti-Catholic violence: Its spire was dismantled, its treasures plundered and its large statues at the grand entrance doors destroyed.

It would go on to feature as a central character in a Victor Hugo novel published in 1831, “The Hunchback of Notre-Dame” and shortly afterwards a restoration project lasting two decades got under way, led by architect Eugene Viollet-le-Duc.

The building survived the devastation of two global conflicts in the 20th century and famously rang its bells on August 24, 1944, the day of the Liberation of Paris from German occupation at the end of the World War II.

“Paris is disfigured. The city will never be like it was before,” said Philippe, a communications worker in his mid-30s.

Jacky Lafortune, a 72-year-old artist and self-described atheist, stood forlornly on the banks of the River Seine staring at the cathedral.

Comparing the mood in the French capital to the aftermath of a terror attack he said: “But this stirs much deeper emotions because Notre-Dame is linked to the very foundations of our culture.”

French Titans’ Pledges to Notre-Dame Pass €600 Million

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE NEW YORK TIMES)

 

French Titans’ Pledges to Notre-Dame Pass €600 Million

The Arnault and Pinault families were among those who said they would devote resources and skills to the restoration of the cathedral, a symbol of French identity.

Battling the flames rising from the roof of Notre-Dame cathedral in Paris on Monday.Credit Bertrand Guay/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images
Image
Battling the flames rising from the roof of Notre-Dame cathedral in Paris on Monday.CreditCreditBertrand Guay/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

In the aftermath of the fire at Notre-Dame, one of the great symbols of France, the luxury industry — another symbol of the country, thanks to names such as Dior, Louis Vuitton and Saint Laurent — has pledged hundreds of millions of euros to the cathedral’s restoration.

The donations were followed on Tuesday by other pledges that soon surpassed 600 million euros, or about $675 million, and included beauty, energy, and finance companies.

On Monday, as Notre-Dame burned and flames lit the sky, the Pinault family — owners of Kering, the second-largest luxury group in France — was the first to publicly offer a significant contribution, pledging to donate €100 million to the rebuilding effort.

“The Notre-Dame tragedy strikes all French people, as well as all those with spiritual values,” said François-Henri Pinault, chairman of Artémis, the family holding company that controls Kering.

“Faced with this tragedy, everyone wishes to bring this jewel of our heritage back to life as soon as possible,” he added. “Today, my father and I have committed to donate €100 million from the Artémis fund to take part in the effort needed to fully rebuild Notre-Dame de Paris.”

The French businessman François-Henri Pinault and his wife, the actress Salma Hayek, in Los Angeles last year.CreditChris Delmas/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images
Image
The French businessman François-Henri Pinault and his wife, the actress Salma Hayek, in Los Angeles last year.CreditChris Delmas/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

Shortly afterward, the Arnault family and LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton, led by Bernard Arnault, the richest man in France, announced that they would give €200 million.

“The LVMH Group puts at the disposal of the state and the relevant authorities all of its teams — including creative, architectural and financial specialists — to help with the long work of reconstruction and fund-raising, which is already in progress,” they said.

LVMH is the largest luxury group in the world. Its fashion holdings include Celine, Dior, Givenchy and Louis Vuitton. The group also owns drinks brands including Moët & Chandon, Dom Pérignon and Veuve Clicquot, as well as the landmark Parisian stores Le Bon Marché and La Samaritaine. The group reported revenue of €46.8 billion in 2018.

Mr. Arnault was an early supporter of Emanuel Macron’s presidential bid, and Brigitte Macron, the French first lady, wears Louis Vuitton for most of her high-profile public events. Mr. Arnault also masterminded the Fondation Louis Vuitton, the contemporary art museum in the Bois de Boulogne designed by Frank Gehry that has helped reshape the landscape of Paris and that will ultimately become a gift to the city.

Bernard Arnault, the chief executive of the French luxury group LVMH, and his wife, Hélène Mercier, in Paris in March.CreditFrancois Mori/Associated Press
Image

Bernard Arnault, the chief executive of the French luxury group LVMH, and his wife, Hélène Mercier, in Paris in March.CreditFrancois Mori/Associated Press

For its part, Kering owns luxury brands such as Balenciaga, Boucheron and Yves Saint Laurent. The Pinault family — also among the richest in France — owns the wine estate Château Latour. The group’s 2018 revenues were €13.67 billion. François Pinault, the patriarch of the family that controls Kering, is building a contemporary art museum in the former Bourse de Commerce in the center of Paris that will be designed by the architect Tadao Ando.

François-Henri Pinault, Mr. Pinault’s son, is married to the actress Salma Hayek. Kering has its headquarters in Paris, and Ms. Hayek posted a message of condolence and support on Instagram after the fire. “As many others I’m in deep shock and sadness to witness the beauty of Notre-Dame turn into smoke,” she wrote. “I love you Paris.”

The two fashion groups are deeply embedded and invested in the heritage of France as a global beacon of beauty and artistic creativity, a tradition that is also carved into the stones of Notre-Dame.

In recent years, the luxury industry across Europe has become actively involved in restoring historic monuments. The Italian leather goods group Tod’s is underwriting the restoration of the Colosseum in Rome for €25 million. Fendi, which is owned by LVMH, paid €2 million toward the restoration of the Trevi Fountain in the Italian capital (the company held a fashion show there when it was completed). Bulgari, a jewelry brand also under the LVMH umbrella, spent €1.5 million on the Spanish Steps in the city. And Salvatore Ferragamo, an Italian luxury goods company, has supported the Uffizi Gallery in Florence.

Fendi, which is owned by LVMH, held a fashion show in July 2016 at the Trevi Fountain in Rome after renovations the company had underwritten were completed.CreditVictor Boyko/Getty Images
Image

Fendi, which is owned by LVMH, held a fashion show in July 2016 at the Trevi Fountain in Rome after renovations the company had underwritten were completed.CreditVictor Boyko/Getty Images

The motives are both altruistic — supplying funds that local governments do not have in the interests of saving a joint inheritance — and self-interested — the companies clearly understand that the more closely they associate with masterpieces of history, the more they bask in their glow.

In addition, when it comes to Notre-Dame, donors will benefit from a hefty tax write-off. Individuals in France can get a 66 percent discount on charitable gifts, while companies can deduct 60 percent of their corporate sponsorship expenses — which would most likely include assistance to the cathedral — from their corporation tax, though the amount is capped at 0.5 percent of turnover.

In the aftermath of the tragedy in Paris, however, such distinctions may not matter. The gifts from the likes of the Arnaults and the Pinaults are a reflection of how personally, and how profoundly, the fire has reached into the identity of French citizens and their businesses.

Indeed, just after the announcement from LVMH, Patrick Pouyanné, the chief executive of the French energy company Total, said on Twitter that his firm would contribute an additional €100 million to the cause, and L’Oréal and the Bettencourt-Schueller Foundation, which is backed by the family that founded the cosmetics giant, pledged a total of €200 million. Offers of aid in the reconstruction effort also came from the bank Société Générale (€10 million) and the advertising firm JCDecaux (€20 million), while the tire maker Michelin also promised a large sum and the construction giant Vinci offered to provide workers and architects.

Their legacy will now be part of Notre-Dame’s future.

Liz Alderman contributed reporting.

Vanessa Friedman is The Times’s fashion director and chief fashion critic. She was previously the fashion editor of the Financial Times. @VVFriedman

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