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My travels to Russia in 2014 – part 5

For my rest of my trip to Russia I was going to fly from Moscow to Saint Petersburg.

On the plane to Saint Petersburg.

On the plane to Saint Petersburg.

It is located on the Neva River at the head of the Gulf of Finland on the Baltic Sea. It is Russia’s second largest city after Moscow with 5 million inhabitants.

Saint Petersburg was founded by Tsar Peter the Great in 1703.

The Bronze Horseman, monument to Peter the Great.

The Bronze Horseman, monument to Peter the Great.

The historic centre of Saint Petersburg constitute a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The city has 221 museums, 2000 libraries, more than 80 theaters, 100 concert organizations, 45 galleries and exhibition halls, 62 cinemas and around 80 other cultural establishments – obviously I was not going to see all of them.

Saint Petersburg is also home to the Hermitage, one of the largest art museums in the world. It was founded in 1764 by Catherine the Great in 1764 and been opened to the public since 1852.

Me at the Hermitage.

Me at the Hermitage.

The collections occupy a large complex of six historic buildings along Palace Embankment, including the Winter Palace, a former residence of Russian emperors.

The entrance to the Winter Palace.

The entrance to the Winter Palace.

Its collections comprise over three million items including the largest collection of paintings in the world.

Next on my sightseeing was the Church of the Savior on Blood. This Church was built on the site where Tsar Alexander II was assassinated and was dedicated in his memory.

The Church is situated along the Griboedov Canal.

Construction began in 1883, work was finally completed in 1907.

Construction began in 1883, work was finally completed in 1907.

Construction began in 1883 under Alexander III, as a memorial to his father, Alexander II. Work progressed slowly and was finally completed during the reign of Nicholas II in 1907.

Me admiring the domes.

Me admiring the domes.

The church never functioned as a public place of worship, having been dedicated to the memory of the assassinated tsar. The church is now one of the main tourist attractions in St. Petersburg.

Detail of the richly decorated façade and onion domes.

Detail of the richly decorated façade and onion domes.

The Church contains over 7500 square metres of mosaics.

During the Russian Revolution, the church was ransacked and looted. During WW2 the church suffered significant damage. It has now been restored.

Inside the church.

Inside the church.

The next day I was going visit the sites of the Russian Revolution.

To be continued….

For more information about Russia please visit:

http://www.visitrussia.org.uk

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My travels to Russia in 2014 – part 2

For my second day in Moscow I was going to visit the Novodevichy Convent. This convent remained virtually intact since the 17th century and so in 2004, it was proclaimed a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Novodevichy Convent is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Novodevichy Convent is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

The convent was founded in 1524 by Grand Duke Vasily III to celebrate the recapture of Smolensk from the Lithuanians.

The entrance to Novodevichy Convent.

The entrance to Novodevichy Convent.

The convent was built as a fortress at a curve of the Moskva River.

A tower on the walls of the convent.

A tower on the walls of the convent.

The oldest structure in the convent is the six-pillared five-domed cathedral, dedicated to the icon Our Lady of Smolensk.

The cathedral dedicated to the Our Lady of Smolensk.

The cathedral dedicated to the Our Lady of Smolensk.

Extant documents date its construction to 1524–1525. Most scholars agree that the cathedral was rebuilt in the 1550s or 1560s.

Me posing in front of the Cathedral of Our Lady of Smolensk.

Me posing in front of the Cathedral of Our Lady of Smolensk.

In 1922, the Bolsheviks closed down the convent but the nuns returned in 1994.

The cathedral was built at the Convent's founding.

The cathedral was built at the Convent’s founding.

The domes were added a century after the cathedral construction.

One of the five domes on the cathedral.

One of the five domes on the cathedral.

In 1812, Napoleon’s army made an attempt to blow up the convent, but the nuns saved the convent from destruction.

It was a clear sunny day for my visit.

It was a clear sunny day for my visit.

Other buildings of note includes the red and white Church of the Assumption and the neighboring refectory, the soaring bell-tower and the north and south gate churches.

Other buildings in the convent includes the Church of the Assumption.

Other buildings in the convent includes the Church of the Assumption.

The bell-tower was built to a height of 72 metres (236 ft), making it the tallest structure in 18th-century Moscow (after the Ivan the Great Bell Tower in the Kremlin).

The octagonal bell-tower.

The octagonal bell-tower.

The convent is also famous for its cemetery, which is the final resting place for a number of Russian cultural and political figures, including Chekhov and Shostakovich.

The cemetery was designed by Ivan Mashkov and inaugurated in 1898.

Novodevichy Cemetery is next to the convent.

Novodevichy Cemetery is next to the convent.

Famous Russians buried here includes Borris Yeltsin (1931-2007). The first post Soviet era president.

Boris Yeltsin monument at Novodevichy Cemetery.

Boris Yeltsin monument at Novodevichy Cemetery.

Boris Yeltsin was the first freely elected President of Russia serving 1991 to 1999. He voluntarily resigned from the post in 1999, leaving the job to Putin.

After visting the convent and the cemetery I went for a walk in the park outside the convent. It was a clear sunny day but the lake was still frozen from the winter.

The lake was frozen.

The lake was frozen.

After my sightseeing I was scheduled to meet president Putin for the second round of talks in the peace confernece that I was hosting over the Ukraine crisis. After the poor start to my first meeting with the president in which he poured a jug of water over me, I decided that I need to be more diplomatic for the second round of talks. Before I flew out to Russia, my auntie gave me a tin of homemade cookies. Mmmmm….. so what if I give president Putin the homemade cookies? Maybe he would more opening with peace discussions.

So anyway, I arrived at the Kremlin (via the back door) and the peace talks began. Putin was very impressed by my auntie’s homemade cookies and he offered me a vodka. We began talking on the serious matter at hand that is the Ukraine and the Crimea crisis. President Putin said that he was not going to change his stance to a cuddly toy negotiator. Oh well…. maybe better success tomorrow with the peace talks.

To be continued….

For more information about Russia please visit:

http://www.visitrussia.org.uk


My daytrip to Kotor, Montenegro in 2013

Today, I was leaving Dubrovnik for a daytrip to Kotor just across the border in Montenegro. I was going on a tour minibus with a guide named Pauevnic Roaiski.

Montenegro is a former Yugoslavia state and it has a coast on the Adriatic Sea and is bordered by Croatia to the west, Bosnia and Herzegovina to the northwest, Serbia to the northeast. Its capital and largest city is Podgorica, while Cetinje is designated as the Prijestonica, meaning the former Royal Capital City. It became independent of Yugoslavia on 2006. It is a small country with a population of just 625,000 people.

The tour bus cost 40 Euros and our guide was very knowledgeable. It is a two and a half hours drive to Kotor – a World Heritage Site on the UNESCO list.

My passport stamp from Montenegro.

My passport stamp from Montenegro.

The old Mediterranean port of Kotor is surrounded by fortifications built during the Venetian period. It is located on the Bay of Kotor, one of the most indented parts of the Adriatic Sea. Some have called the southern-most fjord in Europe, but it is a ria, a submerged river canyon. Together with the nearly overhanging limestone cliffs, Kotor and its surrounding area form an impressive and picturesque Mediterranean landscape.

In recent years, Kotor has become very touristy due to day trippers from Dubrovnik.

The Old Town is surrounded by the walls.

The Old Town is surrounded by the walls.

As my guide said, some 90% of tourists are from either cruise ships or day tours from Croatia.

I was taking in all of the sights.

I was taking in all of the sights.

In World War I, Kotor was one of three main bases of the Austro-Hungarian Navy.

Me admiring the city walls.

Me admiring the city walls.

The Old Town has been fortified many times over the years.

The hilltop fortifications can been seen.

The hilltop fortifications can been seen.

Kotor was first recorded in 168 BC as a Roman settlement.

The walls of the Old Town.

The walls of the Old Town.

The water works of Kotor.

The water works of Kotor.

The narrow streets of the Old Town.

The narrow streets of the Old Town.

Kotor is part of the World Heritage Site dubbed the Natural and Culturo-Historical Region of Kotor.

Chrikes.... they shoot monkeys here!

Chrikes…. they shoot monkeys here!

In 1979 a earthquake destroyed many buildings in the Old Town. It has since been rebuilt.

The hilltops surrounding the Old Town.

The hilltops surrounding the Old Town.

A band was playing in the square.

A band was playing in the square.

The square had floating umbrellas in the sky.

The square had floating umbrellas in the sky.

Pardon?!?

Pardon?!?

Kotor’s Old Town has many churches.

A Serbian Orthodox church of St. Nicolas

A Serbian Orthodox church of St. Nicolas.

After sighting around Kotor, the tour minibus headed off to the coastal town of Budva. This town has a charming old town fortifications and a nice harbour.

Budva is 3,500 years old, which makes it one of the oldest settlements on the Adriatic Sea coast.

I went to the beach next to the fort for some sunbathing.

The coastal town of Budva.

The coastal town of Budva.

Many Russians come here for their holidays. Many Russian girls in sexy bikinis were on the beach and I liked that!

I was peeping at the bikini girls.

I was peeping at the bikini girls.

As the sun went down, I went to the harbour to admire the luxury yachts of the Russian rich.

The motor yachts of the rich.

The motor yachts of the rich.

I headed back to Dubrovnik for some ice cream and girls.

To be continued….

For more information about Kotor please visit:

www.visit-montenegro.com/cities-kotor


My daytrip to Malmö, Sweden in 2013

Today I was going to cross the Øresund Bridge by train and into Sweden to the city of Malmö.

The Øresund Bridge links Denmark to Sweden and was opened in 2000. It is a dual railway/road bridge and is almost 5 miles in length with a 2.5 mile tunnel preceding the bridge from the Danish side. It only cost 78 DKK (approx. 9 Euros) to cross the bridge by train.

The journey time from Copenhagen to Malmö is approximately half an hour.

My day trip to Sweden was to visit the city of Malmö. This is the third largest city in Sweden and the most southernmost city in Sweden.

Me posing next to Malmö City Hall.

Me posing next to Malmö City Hall.

In recent years, Malmö has become known for it rape crime wave and has earnt the reputation of the rape capital of Europe. A sad reflection on the failings of modern politicians. Putting this aside, Malmö centre has a number of interesting historic buildings and a castle from a time when this part of Sweden was part of Denmark.

The Swedish flags outside the City Hall.

The Swedish flags outside the City Hall.

My visit to Malmö was to start in the city centre in the square.

The city centre had many historic buildings.

The city centre had many historic buildings.

Near the square is St Petri (The Church of Saint Peter). It is a Gothic style in which construction started in 1319. It has a 105 metre tall tower.

The Church of Saint Peter is a Gothic style church.

The Church of Saint Peter is a Gothic style church.

After seeing the church, I was off to Willys supermarket to get my sandwiches. I like Willys.

Willys was very tasty food.

Willys was very tasty food.

Malmö is the host for the 2013 Eurovision Song Contest. This is the yearly contest to find Europe’s worst song and then promote the song in as a song of European unity. The contest is a mismatch of awful singers who had past their time many years ago (or in some cases decades ago).

Malmö is the host for 2013 Eurovision Song Contest.

Malmö is the host for 2013 Eurovision Song Contest.

I was walking around the historic centre of Malmö.

The old buildings of Malmö.

The old buildings of Malmö.

Near the centre of Malmö is the castle.

Malmö Castle is a fortress located in Malmö built in the 1530s.

Malmö Castle is a fortress located in Malmö built in the 1530s.

The castle is now a museum.

This castle replaced the older castle of 1434 by King Eric of Pomerania.

This castle replaced the older castle of 1434 by King Eric of Pomerania.

The castle is near the city park.

This charming windmill is in the park near the castle.

This charming windmill is in the park near the castle.

It was getting late on the afternoon. I was wearing my newly knitted daisy wooly hat.

Me posing next to the windmill.

Me posing next to the windmill.

I was off to the harbour for the sunset.

A Viking boat in the harbour.

A Viking boat in the harbour.

The harbour is a major port for Scandinavian shipping.

The sunset over the lighthouse.

The sunset over the lighthouse.

After visiting the harbour, I watched the sunset over the harbour with the Turning Torso tower in the background. The Turning Torso is the tallest skyscraper in Sweden.

The sunset over the harbour with the Turning Torso in the background.

The sunset over the harbour with the Turning Torso in the background.

For more information about Malmö please visit:

http://www.malmo.se/english


My trip to Copenhagen, Denmark in 2013 – part 2

On my second day in Copenhagen, I was going to see the sights of the city paying attention to the architecture of the buildings. My walk around Copenhagen started at the fort of Kastellet near the waterfront. The fort is close to the Little Mermaid. The fort is one of the best preserved star fortresses in Northern Europe. It is constructed in the form of a pentagram with bastions at its corners.

The fort is still as an active military area that belongs to the Danish Defence Ministry, however members of the public can walk around the fort grounds. It is a popular site for joggers.

At the southwest corner of the fort is a rather charming windmill.

The windmill was built in 1847.

The windmill was built in 1847.

Near the entrance of Kastellet is a rather charming St. Alban’s Church surrounded by a frozen lake.

The sky was clear and the lake was frozen.

The sky was clear and the lake was frozen.

I ate my sandwiches here.

Monkey at St. Alban's church in Copenhagen.

Monkey at St. Alban’s church in Copenhagen.

After having my sandwiches, I farted alot and then went to the waterfront.

The marina was frozen and icy.

The marina was frozen and icy.

Heading towards the City Hall, I walked down the Strøget which is the longest pedestrian shopping area in Europe.

The Strøget was a charming walk.

The Strøget was a charming walk.

The round tower (Rundetårn) was a 17th-century tower built as an astronomical observatory.

The round tower (Rundetårn) is 36 metres tall.

The round tower (Rundetårn) is 36 metres tall.

The tower does not have stairs instead a 7.5 turn spiral ramp forms the only access to the towertop observatory.

The spiral corridor has a length of 210 m, climbing 3.74 m per turn.

The spiral corridor has a length of 210 m, climbing 3.74 m per turn.

Every year in spring, a unicycle race is held and the contestants have to go up and down the tower. The record is 1 minute and 48.7 seconds.

The tower still had it orginal toilets!

I was not impressed by the toilets here.

I was not impressed by the toilets here.

I think the toilet tips out onto the street below.

The toilet was stinky!

The toilet was stinky!

The view from the top is great.

The view from the top of the tower.

The view from the top of the tower.

Continuing my walk, I came across great architecture.

The buildings were colourful.

The buildings were colourful.

The west end of Strøget at The City Hall Square is a short walking distance from Tivoli Gardens and Copenhagen’s Central Train Station.

I decided to walk over to the artificial island of Christianshavn.

Christianshavns Kanal separates Christianshavn in a city side and a rampart side part.

Christianshavns Kanal separates Christianshavn in a city side and a rampart side part.

Christiania is a self-governing neighborhood which has established semi-legal status as an independent community as a “city within the city”. Photography is against the rules here as too many drug dealers deal their junk here.

Christiania is known as the freetown.

Christiania is known as the freetown.

Near Christiania is the The Church of Our Saviour and it is famous for it corkscrew spire.

The church with it corkscrew spire.

The church with it corkscrew spire.

After visiting the island of Christianshavn, my wee cotton feet was sore, so I headed back to the hotel.

On my way back to the hotel, I saw a statue of a man urinating against the wall.

This statue was peeing against the wall.

This statue was peeing against the wall.

Tomorrow, I was going to cross the Øresund Bridge by train and visit Sweden for the day.

To be continued….

For more information about Copenhagen please visit:

www.visitcopenhagen.com


My trip to Malta and Gozo 2012 – part 3

Having recovered from my infected foot injury I was ready to continue sightseeing around Gozo.

At breakfast I was going over the “holy” lonely planet guide book to see where I could go today.

I was reading up about Gozo from my travel guide book.

First on my sightseeing trip was to see the Inland Sea. The Inland Sea is a lagoon of seawater linked to the sea through an opening formed by a narrow natural arch.

The Inland Sea is connected to the sea by a small tunnel.

Also near the Inland Sea is the Azure Windowis a natural arch featuring a table-like rock over the sea.

Part of this window collapsed only a few months ago.

In the foreground of this photograph is the Blue Hole, a famous dive site on the Island of Gozo.

Last April a large part of the window fell off and made the window larger, more unstable and losing its almost perfect oblong shape. The Maltese authorities expects the window to completely crumble away soon and thus they had already got a name planned for the new rock feature when this does happens. It will be called the Azure Pinnacle.

The window is a popular cliff jumping platform for the stupid. This youtube clip is one such idiot (but funny):

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PegJqnzMEn8

The shores around the Azure Window are known for it fossils.

The beach around the window had many fossils.

It is illegal to take any fossils from the beaches in Gozo.

The Azure Window comes with it own set of toilets.

I needed a pee!

Around Gozo were many watchtowers. The towers were built by the Knights of St John to serve as a communication system for the knights as they provided a 360-degree view of the surrounding waters.

Many watchtowers were built around the coastline of Gozo.

Another natural landmark near the Azure Window is Dwejra Bay with it 80 metre high sea cliffs.

The sea cliffs around Dwejra Bay.

It was 4pm and the the air tempertaure was starting to go down. I decided to go on a 10km countryside walk around the north coast of Gozo.

I went for a 10km walk in the late afternoon.

I started the walk in the town of Għarb in the north of Gozo.

The countryside was lovely.

Near the start of the walk was the Shrine of Our Lady of Ta’ Pinu which is a Roman Catholic parish church and minor basilica located some 700 metres (2,300 ft) away from the village of Għarb. The church is dedicated to Blessed Virgin of Ta’ Pinu.

The church was big.

Pope John Paul II celebrated mass here in May 1990. In April 2010, Pope Benedict XVI came here to place a er…. um…. *ahem* a rose at the front of the devotional image of Our Lady Of Ta’ Pinu whatever….

Plenty of grapes growing at this time of the year.

The walk took me along several vine farms.

Many villages had the Virgin Mary statue in its square.

Northern Gozo is very quieter than the rest of Gozo.

Gozo had many churches and chapels.

For a small island, Gozo has many churchs(46 in all) and numerous smaller chapels.

The setting sun made the buildings glow bright orange.

I kept walking untill sunset.

Dusk over the farm fields.

After my day sighting, I was eager to go to bed early as it was June 24th a.k.a Christmas 2 Eve. Christmas 2 is a the summer version of Christmas celebrated on June the 25th. Six months after December 25th. It is celebrated in June because the people of Europe are fed up having to celebrate Christmas in the middle of winter when it is tooooo bloody cold to celebrate anything. So, we moved Christmas to June and called it Christmas 2.

N.B. People from Australia please don’t move Christmas to June or you will have a miserable cold Christmas as well! Stick to December 25th.

I set up a hidden camera in the living room hoping to get a glimpse of Santa delivering my presents.

I saw Santa!!!

The next morning was Christmas 2 Day and I put on my Santa costume.

I decided to dress up as Santa myself.

I then got drunk and tried to pull some Maltese girls.

I got the booze out and party I did.

With the celebrations over, I vomitted over my Auntie’s bed and crashed out.

The next morning I was going over to the Island of Malta for sightseeing.

To be continued….

For more information on sightseeing around Gozo please visit:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Santwarju_tal-Madonna_ta%27_Pinu

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Azure_Window


My trip to Iceland 2012 – part 2

Today I was going to see the countryside on what is known as the Golden Circle Classic Tour.

The tour includes a visit to Thingvellir National Park – the site of the oldest existing parliament in the world.  Then was going to see the Gullfoss, Iceland’s famous waterfall and finally to the Geysir area, a geothermal field where hot springs are in abundance, geysers explode and pools of mud bubble.

My first stop of the tour was to see Thingvellir National Park (Þingvellir). This is the site of the oldest existing parliament in the world and is an UNESCO World Heritage Site.

The mountains in the distance still had snow on.

The park is the site of a rift valley that marks the crest of the Mid-Atlantic Ridge.

The park marks the crest of the Mid-Atlantic Ridge.

The Mid-Atlantic Ridge is the where the continential plates of America and Europe meet.

The valley formed by the Mid-Atlantic Ridge.

Lava is seen here that had set into the landscape.

Lava thousands of years old is seen all around Iceland.

I was enjoying the day out.

The views were amazing.

Next I went to Gulloss the waterfall.

The water spray turned to ice on the far side of the waterfall.

Gullfoss is one of the most popular tourist attractions in the country.

I stayed behind the safety fence.

After the waterfall I was off to the Geysir area. Due to the high rate of volcanic activity in Iceland, it is home to some of the greatest geysers in the world.

Geysers and hot springs that erupts into jets of hot water and steam.

The water is said to be 80 degrees.

The Great Geysir which first erupted in the 14th century, gave rise to the word geyser but this geyser rarely erupts these days.

The nearby Strokkur geyser erupts every 5 to 8 minutes to a height of some 30 metres.

The water erupts up to thirty metres in height.

The eruptions are every 5 to 8 minutes.

The water spurts out every 5 to 8 minutes and to a height of thirty metres.

After seeing the geysers, I went to see the inactive Kerið volcano crater.

This volcano is inactive.

This volcano has not errupted for 3000 years.

I was hoping this volcano did not erupt soon!

After seeing the volcano, I went to the church at Skálholt.

This church is popular with tourists.

The church at Skálholt is relatively large in comparison to most Icelandic churches.

The light reflected off the walls.

The light from the stained glass windows gave a spooky feel.

I headed back to Reykjavík to check out the Icelandic girls in the nightclubs.

To be continued….

For more information about Iceland please visit:

www.visiticeland.com