Friday, 30 November 2012

Palace of Westminster and Bonfire Night, England.

The Palace of Westminster (aka Houses of Parliament) is home of both the House of Lords and the House of Commons, and is situated on the Middlesex bank of the river Thames. Originally, the site was home to the first Royal palace, during the 11th century. However, in 1512, a fire destroyed much of the palace and it was no longer used as a Royal residence, instead being used by parliament from the 13th century. Another fire occurred in 1834, followed by a bombing after WWII. 
Along with Elizabeth Tower (Big Ben), it is one of the most recognised and visited attractions in the UK. It also played a fundamental role in the 1605 gunpowder plot in which Guy Fawkes and other Catholics stored gunpowder under the House of Lords in order to kill the Protestant King James I during the State Opening of Parliament on the 5th November. The plan, however, was unsuccessful and us Brits have celebrated Guy Fawkes  Night (or Bonfire Night) ever since!! On this night, fireworks and bonfires are popular, as well as the making of a 'Guy' (an effigy of Guy Fawkes). Kids stand in public places with these Guys and shout 'penny for a Guy' to gain money from passers by. The Guy is then burnt on a bonfire.
"Remember, remember, the fifth of November, Gunpowder Treason and Plot..."

Sunday, 25 November 2012

Neues Rathaus, Marienplatz, Munich, Germany

Neus Rathaus (New Town Hall), located in the Marienplatz in Munich City Centre, hosts the Munich city government. Built in the early 1900's, after about 41 years of construction, it now hosts offices and a restaurant, as well as gargoyles and other fine architectural details.

Saturday, 24 November 2012

London Eye, London, England.

One of the most famous landmarks of Britain, the London Eye, a 135m ferris wheel, opened back in 2000, shortly after the millennium. As well as being the biggest of its kind in Europe (was the biggest ferris wheel in the world until 2008), it is also the biggest tourist attraction in the UK.

 Standard tickets are about £17 (€21) and offer some of the best views of London. Samsung Galaxy tablets,installed in the pods, offer details and a brief history of the visible landmarks, including Buckingham Palace, the houses of parliament and Westminster Abbey.

It is worth noting, you may have to queue for a while, but it is worth it in the end and there are also fast track tickets available if you are willing to spend a bit more money. You can also buy tickets which include admission to the London Eye, Madam Tussaud's, the London Dungeons and the Sea Life Centre, which is cheaper than buying them all individually. 

Thursday, 22 November 2012

Munich, Germany

When visiting Munich, my German friend said to me 'I want you to see Munich as a large village, not as a small city', and he was right. Munich, although being Germany's third largest city, it lacks the skyscrapers and city feel that you would expect. Instead, Munich offers a more cosy yet medieval atmosphere with its gothic churches and weekly markets. To reflect this, it has been nicknamed 'Toy town' by the English, because of its safety and quality of life, and 'Millionendorf' by the Germans, meaning 'village of a million people'.
 I found the people of Munich to be friendly and outgoing, and also noted the large amount that spoke English, making it easier to get by there. As well as the people, I also found the scenery itself to be rather charming; whether it was stroll through the Olympic Park, or a wander around the city, there were plenty of landmarks to catch your eye. It also worth noting that, although it may not look so, Munich is a very modern city with host of museums, restaurants, shops and bars, as well as many other things to see and do.
 Due to its location, it is quite possible to go skiing in the Alps, or even hiking along the many mountains near by. The Bavarian capital is also quite close to Dachau, home of the infamous concentration camp, and hohenschwangau, a small Bavarian village which boasts Neuschwanstein Castle (Cinderella's Castle), as well as many, many tourists!!
 Munich is definitely a place to visit if you want a quaint village atmosphere with all the perks of a city, world class museums as well as the chance to do some hiking, and grand Gothic architecture wiv a slight Bavarian twist.

Saturday, 17 November 2012

Chinesischer Turm, Englischer Garten, Munich.

Chinesischer Turm (Chinese Tower) is a 5 storey, 25m high tower in Englischer Garten, Munich, built in 1790. It was built to resemble The Pagoda, a similar tower in London. It was burnt down in 1944 after heavy bombing, but rebuilt in 1952. It is a must see if you venture into the Englischer Garten. Here, you can sample typical Bavarian cuisine and, of course, beer!!