Marseille, port of France

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Marseille is the second largest city in France and also the largest port as it sits on the on the country’s southeastern coast.

The port is very important in visitor arrivals as well as industry while the city itself is well visited for its beachesculture, and architecture.

In 2013, Marseille was designated the European Capital of Culture and with its blend of opera houses, historical and maritime museums and art galleries makes great entertainment for tourist.

Some of France’s greatest artists worked in Marseille, among then DufyRenoir, and Cezanne.

Some of their works can be seen at the Musée des beaux-arts de Marseille. Other museums in the city include the Natural History Museum, the Grobet-Labadie museum and the Musée de Civilisations de l’Europe et de laMéditerranée.

As with other cities in France cuisine is very important and the bouillabaisse is the most famous of the dishes in Marseille which is known for its seafood. Other specialties of the region include the anchoïade, bourride, and pied paquets.

Good restaurants to try in the city include the O’bidul which is the highest ranked restaurant for French cuisine according to Trip Advisor with meals ranging between $17 and $33.

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Barcelona, cultural capital of Europe

Barcelona
Barcelona is one of the largest cities in Spain and the capital of CataloniaThe city is the largest on the Mediterranean Sea and sits between the mouths of the Llobregat and Besos Rivers.

The city was founded as a Roman city and has a rich cultural heritage making it a rich cultural centre and an important tourist destination. The architectural works of Gaudi and Domenech i Montaner have been designated Unesco World Heritage Sites.

Among the city’s main sites are the Sagrada Familia church, Palau Guell, the Columbus Monument, and the Arc de TriomfBarcelona has many small hills and boasts a Mediterranean climate with mild humid winters and warm dry summers.

The National Museum of Art of Catalonia has a well-known collection of Romanesque art while several other museums exist, which cover architecture. There are also 68 municipal parks. The Camp Nou football stadium, home of FC Barcelona, is the largest in Europe.

The Barcelona International Airport is one of the busiest in the world. The city also has an extensive road and rail network connecting it to parts of Europe. 

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Bydgoszcz, visit Poland

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Nestled on the banks of the Vistula and Brda Rivers in Poland is the city of Bydgoszcz. The city, the eighth largest in Poland, has in recent years become one of the most important in the country.

The oldest building in Bydgoszcz is the Fara Church or Church of St. Martin and Nicholauswhile the Church of Poor Clares is a landmark. Water sportsArt Nouveau buildings, thewaterfrontmusic, and urban greenery are some of the things for which Bydgoszcz is noted.

The largest city park in Poland (830 hectares sits in the city. Culture is very important especially music and the city has housed an Academy of Music since 1974. The Opera Nova sits on the banks of the Brda River and it is possible to take tours along the river.

Many famous opera singers have performed in the theatre. The city is served by a local airport and railway which connects it to other parts of Poland including the capital Warsaw.

The city also boasts a tram line and this is an easy way to get around and see the sights. The old town is easy to walk around in with many gothic style buildings.

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Istanbul, East meets West

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Istanbul is the largest city in Turkey and the second largest in Europe. It was the capital of four separate empires throughout its history from its founding in the 6th century as Constantinople.

It was once the seat of the Roman, Byzantine, Latin, and Ottoman Empires. The city lies on the Strait of Bosphorus between the Sea of Marmara and the Black Sea with one part of the city in Europe and another in Asia.

The city’s historic and economic centres sit on the European side. It is further divided by a natural harbour known as the Golden Horn.

The city was the centre of Christianity for centuries until the rise of the Ottoman Empire when Islam took over. Today the city is still home to what was once one of the largest cathedrals in the world, later a mosque and now a museum– the Hagia Sophia.

The symbol of Istanbul may be the Topkapi Palace which was built after the fall of Constantinople. The city’s Grand Bazaar is also the largest covered market in the world.

The city has a borderline Mediterranean and humid sub-tropical climate but also has microclimates due to its vast size. Kebab is the most-well known of the city’s cuisine but it is also famous for its seafood.

The city was once famous for being the eastern terminus of the Orient Express from Paris. The city is still served by two international airports – the Istanbul Ataturk and the Sabiha Gokcen.

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Washington DC

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While it is true that Washington D.C. is the capital of the United States, it is a nice place to visit for the average tourist in its own right.

The city is cool and with an easy road network is one of the nicest cities to walk around in with chic neighbourhoods, trendy restaurants, and an entire section dedicated to American history on the National Mall.

It is also walking or a metro rides distance from the nearby states of Maryland and Virginia which both donated land to help form the district, named in honour of President George Washington, in 1791.

The city is in a humid sub-tropical zone and has four seasons with hot summers and cold winters.

The city has a distinctly European feel which is not surprising since it was designed based on plans of the cities of Paris, Karlsruhe, Amsterdam, and Milan.

Six of the buildings listed in the top ten of the American Institute of Architects are in Washington D.C. These include the White House; the US Capitol; Thomas Jefferson Memorial; Lincoln Memorial, and Vietnam Veterans Memorial.

Historic buildings in the city have a varied style built in Queen Anne, Chateauesque, Romanesque, and Victorian styles.

Georgetown, the Smithsonian Institute with the National Air and Space Museum are also must sees. Across the Potomac River in Virginia is Arlington Memorial cemetery where former presidents including JFK are buried.

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Corsica, Napoleon’s birthplace

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Somewhere in the Mediterranean Sea, west of Italy, southeast of France, and north of Sardinia is the French island of Corsica.

The island, an departement outre-mer or overseas region of France, is dominated by amountain chain which comprises two-thirds of the territory. Corsica is the most mountainous of the Mediterranean islands.It has three separate climatic zones – hot coastal zone, temperatemountains, and an alpine zone.

For the nature lover there is the Parc Naturel Regional de Corse which boasts several protected species while the Scandola Nature Reserve is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.Ajaccio, the capital is in Corse du Sud while the second largest city Bastia is in Haute Corse. The Corsican culture is a unique blend of French and Italian.

The French general and emperor Napoleon Bonaparte was born in Corsica and his home is currently a museum while the town of Calvi claims to be the birth place of the explorerChristopher Columbus.

Along with French, Corsica has its own language which is recognised as an official language by the French government.

Corsica has interesting cuisine which includes wild boarseafood and river fishficatellu coppalonzu made from Corsican pork and cheeses such as brocciucasgiu merzucasgiuand veghju made from goat or sheep milk.

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Crete, cradle of European civilisation

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The island of Crete in the Mediterranean Sea is the largest of the Greek isles and the most populous.

The second largest island in the Mediterranean after Cyprus- Crete is teeming with history. It was once the centre of Minoan civilisation which is recorded as the earliest known European civilisation.

The culture is rich. Known for Mantinades poetry and music, and dances the most notable being the Pentozali. Crete is also rich with archaeological sites such as Knossos and Phaistos and there are also Minoan, Roman, and World War II ruins.

Crete is mountainous and has three different groups of mountains forming part of a range running from east to west. The island is plush with fertile plateaux, valleys, caves, and gorges. The climate is primarily temperate and there is snowfall in the mountains between November and May.

Heraklion is the largest city and capital, with more than a fifth of the island’s 600,000 people.

Crete has a road network larger than that of Britain and is well-served by ferries from the mainland city of Athens.

Crete is a veritable den of flora and fauna not seen anywhere else in Greece or other parts of Europe. There are no large or dangerous mammals or snakes on the island.

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Dubrovnik, pearl of the Adriatic

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Sitting along the Dalmatiancoast of Croatia is the city of DubrovnikNicknamed the Pearl of the Adriatic, the old city was named a Unesco World Heritage Site in 1979.The city was founded in the seventh century and is considered one of the ten best medieval walled cities of the world.

The city boasts Europe‘s third oldest pharmacy established in 1317. Many old buildings were destroyed in an earthquake in 1667 but several still remain. Among the cities highlights are the Sponza. Palace which now holds the National Archives; Rectors Palace, St. Saviour’s Church -all dating back to the Renaissance as well as the 18th century St. Blaise’s Church.

The wall of Dubrovnik is one of the main features of the city which is a popular tourist destination featuring many top class hotelsEach summer a festival known as the Dubrovnik Summer Festival is held in the city. The festival is 45 days long and involves concerts, games, and live plays.With a Mediterranean climate Dubrovnik has hot dry summers and wet winters. It has its own international airport is also accessible to the rest of Croatia by highway.It is used as the location of King’s Landing in HBO‘s series Game of Thrones

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Santo Domingo, a whole of sun and history

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For those who love the beach and lots of sunshine with a little bit of history thrown in Santo Domingo is the place to visit. The capital and largest city of the Dominican Republic sits at the mouth of a river that empties into the Caribbean Sea and enjoys bright sunshine almost year round.

The city also happens to be the oldest continuously inhabited city in the New World after being founded by Bartholomew Columbus in 1493. The city is an ode to Spanish old world architecture and several of the structures built during the reign of the Spanish still exist.

The city’s Zona Colonial has been a Unesco World Heritage Site since 1990 and contains a magnificent collection of 16th century buildings, churches, and palaces. The oldest castle in the Americas the Alcazar of Colon is in the city’s colonial centre. Other sites in the colonial zone include the Catedral Santa Maria La Menor and Parque Colon. One of the main attractions of the city is the Malecon, a beautiful avenue running along the coast with some of the finest hotels in the city within view of the sea. The Columbus Lighthouse sits in the east of the city as a monument to the Christopher Columbus and is said to contain his remains. Not far from the city is the vibrant Boca Chica Bay where one can enjoy the beach while walking around in narrow streets.

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St. Martin, a double dose of delight

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The island of St. Martin in the Caribbean is unique. It is the smallest island in the world that is governed by two sovereign nations.

One side of the island is ruled by the Kingdom of The Netherlands and is called Sint Maarten while the other is governed by France and is known as St. Martin. It is the only land border shared by those two nations anywhere in the world.

The Dutch side’s main city is Phillipsburg while the French side’s capital is Marigot. The island is served by one airport – the Princess Juliana International Airport.

The island of St. Martin/Sint Maarten is hilly and tends to by dry. Like most of the other islands in the Caribbean it has a dry season from December to April and a wet season from June to November.

The Dutch side of the island is quite festive. A cruise ship port sits in Great Bay near Phillipsburg and tourists can enjoy fine restaurants serving French, Chinese, and Indonesian cuisine.

There are also loads of little shops where interesting jewellery and clothing can be purchased. The € is the unit of currency on the French side while the guilder is used on the Dutch side.

The main languages spoken here are English, Dutch, and Papiamento. French is the main language spoken in the other half of the island. Here is like a little slice of France in the Caribbean with exotic boutiques, cafes and patisseries all around the narrow streets. Duty free shopping with high-end brands makes St. Martin very attractive to visitors.

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