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Three-Day Getaway to Rome

Rome has so much to see and do that the best thing is to tour it at your leisure and sightsee with a view to coming back for a second stint. Above all, take some sturdy footwear with you as it’s best to see the city on foot, strolling along its streets. At each corner you will come across a picture capable of transporting you to some bygone era, or a church beckoning you to enter and discover the treasure hidden inside. Here are some pointers to tackling a three-day getaway in this beautiful city.

First Day – a Walk Through Ancient Rome

The best way to make initial contact with the city is by visiting its ancient sites. We recommend you start by heading forIl Vittoriano,a monument to Victor Emmanuel II, affording some splendid views of the complex making up the ancient Roman city: theCircus Maximus,the Roman Forum, the Colosseum, the Arch of Constantine, the Forum of Augustus and the ever-impressive Trajan’s Column. If you’re up for something a little special, take a stroll through the Roman forum at dusk and you will experience a magical moment. And, if you’re seeking something more secluded, head for the Church of San Bonaventura al Palatino, a backwater of peace.

After so much excitement, the best thing is to make for the district of Trastevere and delight in its culinary offerings and nightlife. To whet your appetite, have a glass of wine at the Ombre Rosse Caffe (Piazza S.Egidio 12,13) before going for a genuine Italian dinner without any frills at Trattoria da Lucia (Vicolo del Mattonato 2).

Second Day – the Vatican, Piazze, Palazzi, and Umpteen Churches

Whether you are religious or not, you can’t leave Rome without having seen St Peter’s Basilica. As much as you may have seen it in pictures or on the television, until you actually set foot in St Peter’s Square, you cannot imagine the sheer scale of this monument. Once inside, everything seems overwhelming, from the dome, designed by Michelangelo, to the incredible marble decoration, Bernini’s baldachin crowning the high altar and the sculptural groups such as Michelangelo’s Pietà and Bernini’s tomb of Urban VIII. “The early bird catches the worm”, so we recommend getting there early to avoid long queues.

Hard by St Peter’s are the Vatican Museums which, among many other art history gems, feature the Sistine Chapel. You are urged to book ahead to avoid long waits. If you’re into art, make sure you extend your visit to include the Stanze di Raffaello, four rooms adorned with frescoes by Raphael which are well worth seeing.

After this double session, both mind and body are going to need a good rest. Time to head for Castel Sant'Angelo, cross the river Tiber and regain your strength in one of the eateries along the trendy Via dei Coronari. We recommend you try the Italian cheese and sausage boards at Fresco Coronari.

Once you’re restored, it’s time to descend on the Piazza Navona where you will come across the original Fontana dei Quattro Fiumi, designed by Bernini, and the Chiesa di Sant’Agnese in Agone, by Borromini. Not far from there stands the Pantheon of Agrippa, another must-see piece of Roman architecture. Built from AD 118 to 125, you can’t fail to be moved by its stunning dome. Slip inside and seek out the tomb of Raphael, housed in one of the side chapels. Culminating this itinerary is another of the city’s classics – the Fontana di Trevi.

A good way of rounding off this intense day’s sightseeing is to stroll along the Campo dei Fiori and roam the streets surrounding the Piazza Farnese. Stop off for a break at the Caffè Perù and then cap your itinerary by dining at the Cul de Sac (Piazza di Pasquino, 73).

Third Day – Picnic with the Borghese

The Villa Borghese Gardens make the perfect setting for ending off a getaway to Rome. On your way there, make sure you go along the Via del Babuino and stop off at both the Piazza di Spagna and Piazza dei Popolo. From there, walk up the hill to the Villa Borghese gardens which afford panoramic views of Rome from the highest point in the city. Culminating a tour of this magnificent park, full of statues and leisure areas, is the Galleria Borghese. This museum houses the final jewels of your journey – the frescoes adorning its interior, sculptures by Bernini and a collection of paintings.

Ready to be spellbound by the beauty of the Eternal City? Book your Vueling tickets here.

 

Text and images by ISABELYLUIS Comunicación

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Paris Weekend Getaway

Paris is the city of artists and art lovers, a source of inspiration for writers, the capital of fashion, a classic venue for romantic escapades, the epitome of a chic metropolis and a beacon for gourmets, as well as a long list of etceteras. It is one of those places that never let you down when you get to visit them and which has something for everyone, be that the shop windows of luxury stores in the Place Vendôme, enjoying a glass of wine in Le Marais or soaking up the ever-lively atmosphere in the square where the Pompidou Centre is located. Although – we have to admit – the city is a little on the dear side, it is, however, suitable for all audiences and all tastes, and well worth a getaway, however brief that may be.

Paris In Two Days?

We regret having to disappoint you but you cannot see Paris in all its splendour in one go – you simply have to return. However, you can squeeze quite a lot into a well-planned, 48-hour stint in the “City of Light”. The most important thing is to limit the number of areas and monuments you aim to visit, organise your time properly and avoid panicking if you can’t get it all done, which is likely to happen.

Worth Noting

Don’t be shy about being a guiri in Paris. We recommend you take the tourist bus as your first way of coming into contact with the city. As you won’t be able see all the sights on foot, the bus at least gives you an idea of what there is, and the places you see along the route will help you choose where you would like to go back for a visit.

For sightseers, one of the essential activities is touring the banks of the river Seine and its magnificent bridges. Not for nothing were they listed as World Heritage by UNESCO. So, strike out on a boat ride along the river – towards evening is the best time to see it.

To avoid long hikes across the city, be sure to book strategically placed and – above all – well connected accommodation.

Essentials

Following is a list of the places you should seriously consider visiting when planning your short stay in Paris:

- An infallible classic is a walk along the Champs Élysées, from the Tuileries Garden to the Arc de Triomphe. From there, you stroll down towards the Trocadero gardens and cross the Seine to behold the city’s best known landmark, the Eiffel Tower.

- Go to the Île de la Cité where you can see two other beacons of the French capital –Notre Dameand the Sainte-Chapelle, a Gothic jewel with a stunning interior, thanks to its spectacular stained glass windows. While you are in this area, head for the Pont Neuf, which affords splendid views of the city and the Seine.

- Stroll along the narrow streets of Montmartre, also known as the “artists’ quarter”, and go up to the church of Sacré Cœur. Nightlife addicts can take a night-time stroll through the Place Pigalle, famed for its cabarets, especially the popular Moulin Rouge.

- Art lovers will be hard put to make choices on such a short getaway. You can easily spend a whole morning wandering among the vast array of masterpieces in the Louvre, so we would be more inclined to head for the Rodin Museum,as your expectations will be amply met by both the exhibition areas and the museum gardens. The Musée d'Orsay, with its 19th-century artworks, the Musée de l'Orangerie, with its Impressionist paintings, and the Pompidou Centre, featuring an excellent repertory of modern and contemporary art, are also good options, as long as you restrict the areas you intend to visit.

- Have a walk around the Place Vendôme, its centre presided over by a column modelled after Trajan’s Column in Rome, where you will find the leading luxury stores in Paris.

- Trend-seekers would do well to include Le Marais in their itinerary, as this is the city’s trendy district par excellence. Here you will find the most fashionable designer stores, art galleries, bars and restaurants.

Succumb to the delights of one of Europe’s most beautiful cities – book your Vueling here.

Text by Los Viajes de ISABELYLUIS

Images by Sean X. Liu

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5 Highlights of A Leipzig Getaway

In terms of tourism, Germany is much more than just Berlin, Munich and Hamburg. In recent years, some cities from the former German Democratic Republic (GDR) are gaining prominence like any other, having shaken off the dust and deadweight of the Socialist regime they lived under during the Cold War. One of these newly emerging cities is Leipzig, its waxing popularity driven by the art scene, its recent history and the great vitality of its inhabitants. In the following we pinpoint the reasons that make Leipzig the ideal destination for your next getaway.

Leipzig – A Music Destination

Listen up, classical music lovers! Music is very much in vogue in Leipzig, and I mean goodmusic, largely owing to the city’s past. It is famous for composers of the calibre of Johann Sebastian Bach, who was cantor of the Choir at St Thomas Church, one of the oldest in the world. And of Robert Schumann and Clara Wieck, who entertained their contemporaries as musicians and as a couple. For Felix Mendelssohn, Leipzig was where he spent the last few years of his life, while the city is the birthplace of Richard Wagner. The Augustusplatz is the city’s music hub and the site of the Gewandhaus concert hall, a Brutalist-style building which houses one of the most widely acclaimed symphonic orchestras. Right opposite stands the Opera, the third oldest in Europe. Oddly enough, the two institutions share the same conductor.

Leipzig – A Defiant City

The chain of events that led to the downfall of the GDR unfolded precisely in Leipzig. Throughout 1989, a number of masses and peaceful protests were held around the Church of St Nicholas that gradually wore down the old, established regime and led to the fall of the Berlin Wall. The Stasi, the feared secret police of East Germany, witnessed these events in silence, as, faced with growing grass-roots pressure, they declined to intervene. Leipzig boasted numerous printing presses in the second half of the 20th century and, in order to monitor their activity, the Stasi had their headquarters set up in the so-called Haus zur runden Ecke (House of the Rounded Corner). Today it is a museum showcasing the workings of the former State security, which so hobbled the lives of the GDR’s citizens.

Leipzig – A Trade Centre & River Port

Leipzig has long been a major trade centre and, to provide merchants conducting their business with shelter from the inclement weather – rainy and overcast most of the year – around twenty covered arcades were built. Two of the best known arcades are Speck’s Hof – the oldest in Leipzig, which currently showcases some magnificent paintings and ceramic medallions, and the Mädler arcade with its stylish glass skylight and the historic Auerbachs Keller restaurant, where Goethe overheard the stories that inspired Faust when he was studying in Leipzig. As a tribute to the celebrated writer, there are two statues dedicated to the main characters in this paramount work of universal literature.

Leipzig’s commercial calling is partly due to the White Elster river, a sub-tributary of the Elbe, which numerous canals criss-crossing the city flow into. They also provide a different way of discovering it – from a small boat.

Leipzig – An Artistic Melting Pot

The Saxon city is currently one of the favourite destinations among painters, designers and creators from the world over on account of the lively art scene that has blossomed in the Spinnerei, once Europe’s largest spinning mill. Today it is an unusual, colossal cultural centre where contemporary art is produced and exhibited. It features twelve art galleries, a hundred art studios and over a hundred cubicles rented out to creators who flock to Leipzig to soak up the latest trends and share their know-how with other colleagues. Here, they feel very much at home.

Leipzig – A Grand City

Leipzig is a distinguished city with character and some striking monuments and other buildings. Prominent in the Augustusplatz is the Paulinum, one of the Leipzig University buildings, featuring a facade emulating the Paulinerkirche, the former university church which was senselessly dynamited in 1968 during the times of the GDR regime. Another building which stands out, at least for its height, is the City-Hochhaus, known as the “wisdom tooth” on account of its design. The top floor of this landmark houses the Panorama Tower restaurant and viewing platform. Their lunch menu is very reasonable and the eatery is worth visiting, if only for the splendid views.

The city also features a colossal monument which, apart from being oversized, also has an unpronounceable name – the Völkerschlachtdenkmal– which was built to commemorate the Battle of the Nations in 1813, specifically the defeat of Napoleon at Leipzig by a coalition of nations, namely Prussia, Russia, Sweden and Austria.

Come and discover this German city – check out your Vueling here.

Text by Tus Destinos

Images by Robin Kunz, Michael Bader, Peter Hirth, LTM-Tom Schulze, Nils Petersen

 

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Rabat Getaway

Rabat is a little known destination and one not much frequented by tourists heading to Morocco. This is precisely one of its major attractions – the chance to enjoy its monuments and spots full of atmosphere, minus the stress associated with other cities like Marrakech, Casablanca or Fez.

The city lies on the mouth of the river Bou Regreg, on the Atlantic seaboard, and is a curious blend of the old and new. The old medina and the city walls contrast with the new city, home to the country’s administrative facilities. It is not overly big, so you can see it all in a couple of days. Following is a selection we have made of the essential sights to see when visiting Rabat.

The Hassan Tower – Splendour Cut Short

The Hassan Tower is one of Rabat’s major landmarks, the unfinished fruit of the city’s greatest age of splendour. In the 12th century, Sultan Yaqoub al-Mansour decided to build the largest mosque in the West, to which end he commissioned the same architect who had designed the Koutoubia Mosque in Marrakech, and La Giralda of Seville. Unfortunately, the sultan died before the mosque had been completed, and construction work came to a halt. The most striking architectural feature is the minaret with its geometric designs. It was scheduled to be 86 metres high, but only 44 metres were eventually completed. The rest of the complex comprises the columns built to support 21 naves.

Alongside this ancient mosque stands the Mausoleum of Muhammad V, where the remains of the Alawite monarchs, Muhammad V and Hassan II, were laid to rest. Built between 1961 and 1971, it is a commendable example of contemporary Moroccan architecture. The project was assigned to the Vietnamese, Vo Toan, who successfully captured the essence of the country’s architectural and decorative tradition.

In Search of Origins – the Chellah Necropolis

The Chellah is a fortified precinct located some 2 kilometres from Rabat. Its interior houses, among other things, remains of the Roman city – after the Phoenicians and Carthaginians, they were the first to settle the area. Preserved in this early urban nucleus are the remains of the forum and temple of Jupiter. There are also vestiges of the early Islamic era. In the 15th century the precinct was reconverted by the Arabs into a necropolis, and features remains of tombs and a mosque.

The Kasbah of the Udayas – Rabat’s Magical Corner

Rabat is well worth visiting, if only for a tour of this walled quarter, made up of labyrinthine streets full of houses painted blue and white. The Kasbah was built in the 17th century by the Udayas on a cliff sited on the south bank of the river mouth to defend the coastline from a possible Spanish invasion. This is evident in its fortress-like character, with numerous battlements and lookouts, which now make excellent viewpoints for sightseers. In addition to wandering through the streets, soaking up the atmosphere in all its corners, you should take the chance to visit the Museum of the Udayas, located in the Andalusian Gardens, which boasts one of the finest jewellery collections in Morocco.

City of Gardens

Rabat is also known as the “city of gardens”, so make sure you stroll leisurely through and relax in one of them. Most noteworthy are the Nouzzah Hassan Gardens, located opposite the city walls, designed by the French general, Lyautey; the Jardins d'Essais Botanical Gardens, with exotic fruit, ornamental and Mediterranean trees, and Rabat Zoo, for those who fancy seeing animals, apart from plants.

Shopping in the Souq

The word souq, associated with tranquility, might sound like science fiction to the traveller in Morocco, but this is true of the bazaar in Rabat. With hardly any hustling by street vendors, you can tour the Souq in search of food, spices, craftwork, garments, carpets and a host of other goods.

You’ve noted everything you can see in Rabat, right? Take out a Vueling and enjoy a visit to this city.

 

Text by ISABELYLUIS Comunicación

Images by Jacopo Romei, SnippyHolloW, Fr Maxim Massalitin, Mustapha Ennaimi, Julia Chapple, Shawn Allen

 

 

 

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