Bruges, Belgium – Medieval Centre

Bruges, Belgium – Medieval Centre

Bruges

The medieval centre of Bruges is remarkably well preserved and is a UNESCO world heritage site. Many of the medieval buildings in the ancient squares is a very popular tourist destination, so you need to plan your visit to avoid the tourists. Bruges is a heavyweight sightseeing destination, you can walk along a canal and explore the city, eat mussels and frits, and wash them down with the town’s own beer, brewed by Bourgogne des Flandres, and which is really nice.

The medieval town of Bruges is very popular with tourists thanks to its picturesque cobbled streets and historic buildings and the encircling canal and inside the city walls, many of the ancient buildings in the Basilica of the Holy BloodBruges are still privately owned so you may have to request entrance into the building, the Bruges almshouses which are whitewashed and can be seen in the townscape of Bruges, mostly clustered around a small courtyard. These were the precursors of public housing and were established in the 14th century by wealthy townspeople or guilds

Begin your sightseeing of Bruges around the central Grote Markt (Grand Place), which is surrounded by a series of gabled guildhalls and is also home to the iconic tower, which goes by the name of Belfry of Bruges (Belfort) and dates back to the 13th century. The other main public square in Bruges is the Burg, and this is where tourists will find the Basilica of the Holy Blood. Hard to miss is the city’s Sint Salvator Cathedral and also the beautiful Gothic-style Stadhuis (Town Hall), which is Belgium’s most historic and arguable most attractive town hall, is adorned with statues of various counts and countess from Flander

The city’s famous medieval diamond industry, the Diamond Museum (Diamantmuseum) offers daily diamond polishing demonstrations and boasts many valuable diamond exhibits. The Gruuthusemuseum is also worth investigating and contains a number of beautiful silk tapestries and Belgian antiquities, while for art lovers in Bruges, the Memling Museum is the place to visit and works by Germany’s celebrated artist Hans Memling enjoy an attractive setting, is housed within a former hospital chapel.

The city’s waterways on a canal boat ride. take ride on the open-air boat and get ready to see the city from the water, giving you amazing views of landmarks that you simply can’t get from anywhere else.

To find a canal boat tour, go to one of four quays in the city, Huidenvettersplein, Nieuwstraat, Wollestraat, or Rozenhoedkaai Quay. Each boat holds around 20 people, with tours lasting half an hour. The tours leave regularly but there are often long queues, so arrive early in the morning or later in the evening to avoid a wait.

The St. Janshuis Mill is one of the medieval flour mills in Bruges that has survived in its original location till today. It has been declared as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO.

The St. Janshuis Mill or St. John’s Mill gets its name because it once supplied flour to the St. John’s Hospital. It is located on the banks of a tranquil canal on the ramparts of the original city fortress. There was a mill at the site from 1297 which was destroyed by a storm in 1744. The present building is the result of a reconstruction in 1770. It belonged to a family of millers until 1914 when it was purchased by the city of Bruges. The mill was neglected for 50 years and started functioning again in 1964.

Brugges Windmills have been carefully renovated and preserved and continues to make flour in the traditional way. In summer, when the wind is high, visitors can see the sails spinning at full speed just like it did in the middle ages. It is open for public view and visitors can learn the workings of a traditional flour mill from the millers. A steep staircase takes visitors to the museum located inside the St. Janshuis Mill.

Road Trip Down Frances West Coast

Road Trip Down Frances West Coast

Western France Guide

It’s time for a return visit to the coast of western France but this time photographing French cuisine, its culture, and places of interest for tourism.

The trip started in September when we arrived at Saint Malo, which is fully walled city, Fort national just outside the city walls, it was built to protect the city from privateers. The city was founded in the 12th century on a close rocky island. It is worth exploring the many shops and cafes inside the city walls, and accommodation is very easy to find as their hotels both inside the city and on mainland. Parking can be a problem and yet might have a long walk to your hotel.

Mont Saint Michel

Mont St Michel Dawn

Mont Saint Michel is one of the most famous and visited places in France: the stunning Mont Saint Michel island topped by its fabulous medieval abbey! Located at the frontier between Brittany and Normandy, the Mont Saint Michel is one of Europe’s most unforgettable sights and inspires awe to every visitor and pilgrim. It stands in the heart of a wide bay invaded by the highest tides in Europe. The ramparts at the base of the island were built to keep English forces out

Access to Mont Saint Michel is controlled by restricting access by cars and buses to Abbey. to get the Abbey you either walk or catch the free shuttle bus.
Dinan

 

Dinan

Dinan is a fortified French city dating back to the middle ages, with its timber-framed architecture, cafes serving traditional dishes, and is full of medieval history, with a 13th century castle and ramparts that encircle this well-preserved sanctuary where time has stood still.

You can explore through Dinan’s narrow cobbled streets, lined with pretty half-timber houses, and discover the Flamboyant Gothic St Malo church, the Basilica of St Saveur and the 40m high Tour de l’Horloge (clock tower). Climb the 158 steps to the top for some fantastic views of the town and surrounding area

Dinan Old Medieval Bridge

Quimper

Quimper, Finistere France

Quimper has quite a large historic centre and plenty to explore – a visit is recommended when you are in this part of Finistère. Your visit will almost certainly start in the large square in front of the cathedral, Place Saint-Corentin: this is the eastern end of the old town and within easy reach of all the most important attractions.

Most of the historic centre is pedestrianised making it very pleasant and safe to explore. You can walk down cobbled streets and paved squares in the historic old town, there also some very nice walks along the River Odet waterfront. Explore its cobbled streets and paved squares in the old town to the north of the River Odet

Concarneau

The walled town of Concarneau in the medieval Ville Close was the next stop; when you go through the main entrance, you will find many attractions, tourist shops, clothes shops and restaurants, Concarneau port is also France’s third most important fishing port.

The Ville Close de Concarneau was the location for Diagon Alley in the Harry Potter movie, so Diagon Alley is real with its ancient narrow streets and shops.

If you drive into Concarneau along the coast road it is easy to park next to the beach rather than in the town; you can then walk into town past the sea museum which is worth a visit.

Concarneau City Brittany

Carnac Stones

Carnac stones Brittany

Carnac stones is a megalithic site of ancient rocks around the village of Carnac in Brittany, great for landscape photography but keep in mind the opening hours, opens late and closes early, and it is still worth a visit.

The Carnac Stones consist of both single and rows of standing stones and stone circles. The leading group of stone alignments involves 12 converging rows of standing stones stretching more than a kilometer, many of these stones are 4m high and weigh 3.5 Tons.

La Rochelle

La Rochelle France

La Rochelle has been a centre for fishing since the 12th century, with it’s famous Vieux Port (old harbour), with lots of cafes to relax in and enjoy French cuisine.

The port is Protected by the Chaîne tower and the Saint-Nicolas tower, After a walk on the quays, the visitor is invited to go along the beautiful narrow streets of the old town. It is packed with interesting mansions, Renaissance residences, and old timber-framed houses.

The main Renaissance building of the town hall dates from the 15th and the 16th centuries, and boasts a surrounding wall of Flamboyant Gothic style.


Arcachon

The seaside town of Arcachon has four districts which get their names after the four seasons are indeed a spectacle to behold. Expectedly, these locations inspired my France travel photography. Interestingly, the winter town is celebrated for its relaxing and therapeutic atmosphere from the pine trees and has Royal connections; Queen Victoria’s daughter recuperated there after an accident in Canada. She made a full recovery and lived to 92.

The first stage of France’s West Coat Tour is now complete, but there is more to come, do I move onto the wine country of the Loire Valley or go to the Camargue.

Arcachon Bay France
Gibraltar – Travel Guide

Gibraltar – Travel Guide

Welcome to The Rock, British style at the tip of Spain, if you are looking Britishness then you will find it in Gibraltar, from the moment you arrive in Gibraltar international airport you in a Britain overseas colony, which holds British values from the past, red phone boxes, fish and chips and much more. You can now either take a taxi or take the bus to the market place (service number 5)

Gibraltar is a monolithic peninsula, its limestone base thrives unique vegetation and many species of migrating birds, Gibraltar is only fourteen miles from Africa so the climate is very mild.

If you go the Douglas Lookout on the top the upper rock you can take great photos of the rock and Africa in one direction and Spain in the other direction. The town itself is on the western side of the rock with many of the buildings outside of the town wall being built on reclaimed land; Gibraltar’s heritage goes back to the Moors who controlled the Mediterranean and Spain until 1492.

Go down to the Ocean Village and you can sit in one of the many restaurants or cafes and watch the British Airways land on the runway, which crosses the main road out of Gibraltar to the Spanish border.

I have visited Gibraltar twice and I love the rock, a little piece of England on the Mediterranean, great location, nice people and wonderful restaurants, and the Ocean Village marina is full of all type of fish, no Dolphins, they are out to sea, but you can take a trip on the many boats offering Dolphin watching.

old town is only a short walk away where you will find the busy Casemates Square, with its Restaurants and its English style Pubs and fish and chips. The Star Bar (Gibraltar’s oldest legal drinking establishment) dates back several hundred years is in Parliament Lane.

Grand Casemates Square, Gibraltar
main street gribraltar

Main Street is Gibraltar’s main commercial and shopping district. It runs north-south through the old town which is pedestrianised and lined with buildings displaying a blend of Genoese, Portuguese, Andalusian, Moorish, and British Regency styles.

Shops along this pedestrian-friendly thoroughfare sell pretty much everything, including cosmetics, perfumery, jewellery, designer glasses, tobacco and spirits, high end linens, and electronics. Marks & Spencer, Holland and Barrett, Next, F&F, Pandora, Dorothy Perkins, and Boux Avenue are to name but a few of the big-name brands.

 

Irish Town name dates back to the early 19th century when Gibraltar was split into differing quarters and is one of the oldest streets in Gibraltar. It runs from Main Street, just south of Casemates Square to John Mackintosh Square, parallel to the heavily fortified Line Wall. Today it is a pedestrian precinct with bars, restaurants and coffee shops.

The Convent (Gibraltar)
The Convent has been the official residence of the Governor of Gibraltar since 1728. It was originally a convent of Franciscan friars, hence its name, and was built in 1531, and heavily rebuilt during the 18th and 19th centuries. The official Changing of the Guard takes place a few times a year on anniversaries and special occasions.

The Southport Gates are three city gates in Gibraltar. They are located very close to the Convent in the Charles V Wall, one of the 16th century fortifications of Gibraltar which has cannon guarding the gates. The gates are clustered together, with the South Bastion to the west, and the Trafalgar Cemetery to the east

Convent Guard House in the city of Gibraltar.
Gibraltar View

Trafalgar Cemetery is key landmark in Gibraltar’s military history, it commemorates the famous Anglo-French/Spanish Battle of Trafalgar fought off Cape Trafalgar in 1805. Although there are only two casualties of the Battle buried in the Cemetery, a ceremony to commemorate Lord Nelson’s victory is held every year.

In Red Sands road you will find the Gibraltar Cable Car is an aerial tramway in Gibraltar. The base station of the cable car is located near the southern end of Main Street, next to Alameda Gardens

The Gibraltar Botanic Gardens or La Alameda Gardens are a botanical garden in Gibraltar, spanning around 6 hectares. The Rock Hotel lies above the park

Alameda Wildlife Park

The Alameda Wildlife Park first came to existence in 1994. Local Customs authorities confiscated a collection of parrots, land tortoises and monkeys from illegal traders who were passing through Gibraltar. The animals were handed over to G.O.N.H.S., (Gibraltar Ornithological and Natural History Society).

Nestled in the beautiful Alameda Botanic Gardens, the AWCP is home to a collection of both exotic and native species. The AWCP is the only Wildlife Park in Gibraltar

Alameda Wildlife Park looks after exotic animals confiscated by Gibraltar customs, unwanted exotic pets and animals such as the Cotton-topped tamarin, on loan from international Zoos, to raise awareness of important endangered species through conservation education.

Gibraltar Lighthouse

The Europa Point Lighthouse stands proudly at the very tip of Gibraltar. Its great beam lights the way for mariners sailing through the often turbulent Straits of Gibraltar, where the Mediterranean Sea and Atlantic Ocean collide. Stand on the very tip of Europa Point and appreciate the incredible views and the iconic red and white striped lighthouse.

Views of North Africa can be seen across the Strait of Gibraltar including Ceuta and the Rif Mountains of Morocco; as well as the Bay of Gibraltar and the Spanish towns along its shores. It is accessed from the old town by Europa Road

 

Majorca Travel Guide

Majorca Travel Guide

Majorca Travel Guide

When you arrive at Majorca Palma airport apart from the being in a very busy location in the summer, what greets you first when you step off the plane is the warm Mediterranean climate which says welcome to the holiday island, I then pick up bags and head to the north of Majorca, my favourite photography destination is Porto De Alcudia which backs onto the beautiful Playa de Muro beach where you bath warm waters of the Mediterranean which is very clean and very shallow or just stroll long the beach which is three miles long to C’an Picafort which used to be small fishing village but now is very popular holiday destination.

Restaurants in Port de Pollenca

Majorca is an island of contrasts from Valldemosa in the Tramuntana Mountain range, the 13th century monastery in Valldemosa has links to the Polish composer Frederic Chopin,

On the coast such iconic locations like old Soller Town, Port de Soller, Port de Pollença, old Pollença town, Cala Sant Vicenç, Port d’Alcúdia, Ca’n Picafort and old Alcudia Town with its town wall dating back to the fourteenth century.

Majorca has been part of the Byzantine Empire, Moorish Islam Empire and in many towns like Pollenca,  the Christian churches and monasteries have influences from the Knights of Malta, and many other faiths

The Alcudia beach is situated in the north of Mallorca just a few kilometres from Port d’Alcudia and near the medieval town of Alcudia. Alcudia beach is a white sand beach and it is one of the island’s prestigious Blue Flag beaches. This nearly 3.5 km long beach has something for everyone.

In Alcudia beach water is very clean and generally calm, but occasionally waves can pick up from the north so it is important to keep an eye out for water conditions. Alcudia beach is not a party beach, though there are bars and restaurants open in the evening.

alcudia-beach
Pine Walk Porto De Pollenca

Port de Pollenca beach is located in the north 10 km north of Alcudia, Port de Pollenca beach is nearly 1.5 km long, sandy beach that curves around the port and is surrounded by the Tramuntana mountains,  so this natural landscape adds a special quality to this beach. Port de Pollenca beach is a Blue Flag Beach.

In Port de Pollenca beach you will find plenty of the options where to eat or to have a drink. From easy burgers and fries to paellas, grilled fish.

The Pine Walk is a walkway that stretches for just over two miles, along Puerto Pollensa’s coastline. It gets its name from the pine trees that line the opposite side of the walkway, providing the perfect shade from the sunshine during the day

On the north of Majorca in Old Soller town is the Orange Express which is built in 1911 and goes through the Tramuntana mountains to Palma, the Orange express runs from Soller railway station, there also a tram to Port De Soller also of 1911, it seems every time I visit Majorca I end up photographing this remarkable train and tram.

The orange express was designed to take oranges and lemons to the Palma port for export, these days it is a very popular tourist attraction.

On the 4th of October of 1913 Mallorca’s first electric tram line was inaugurated, running between Sóller and the Port of Sóller. The construction of the Sóller tram began after the inauguration of the Palma to Sóller railway line. One outstanding features is the iron bridge over the Torrent Major

Orange Express in Soller Station
Cap De Formentor Majorca

On the northern tip of Mallorca is the Cap de Formentor, where the top end of the Serra de Tramuntana mountain range meets the Mediterranean. Cap de Formentor literally means ‘end of Formentor’ – the name of the 20-kilometre peninsula, northeast of the port of Pollença.

You can no longer drive to the Cap de Formentor you have take a shuttle bus in order to visit the famous lighthouse and the wild rocky peninsula on Majorca’s north-east coast which has spectacular views, particularly from the lighthouse.

The cathedral La Seu is the most famous building and landmark of Palma, which was first built by King Jaume II in 1300. Over time, many expansions were made to the main façade, as well as renovations to the inner rooms, and it was not until the 19 century that the cathedral obtained its current appearance. La Seu is one of the largest and most important Gothic cathedrals

The Castell de Bellver (Bellver Castle) just outside of Palma is unique among Spanish castles in being entirely circular. It was built between 1309 and 1311

Palma Cathedral Seu Seo of Mallorca