Category Archive: Europe

Northern Ireland: Malmaison Belfast Hotel

Malmaison Belfast Address: 34-38 Victoria Street, Belfast, Northern Ireland Rating:   Features:  Located in two old seed warehouses, the Malmaison Belfast has retained some of the original features, including iron pillars, beams, and carved stone gargoyles. The boutique hotel has 64 luxury rooms and two suites. The rooms feature mood lighting, flat screen plasma televisions, upscale toiletries in generous sizes (you’re encouraged to take them with you), and FREE wifi. Giving a hat tip to Belfast’s maritime connection, the Malmaison Belfast features subtle shipbuilding décor features in its common areas. The hotel has a restaurant (Brasserie) and bar (MALBAR) on site. Price Range:  Typical boutiques rates here, and with the dollar to pound exchange rate, it can add up fast. The best price we found was by taking advantage of one of their several promotional packages, resulting in a pre-paid […]

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Rolling Along in Antwerp Belgium

I rolled into Antwerp by train, like many visitors to the city, arriving at the city’s ornate Central Station. I’d heard that the station was impressive, it makes the most beautiful list often enough, and the stone, iron, and glass architecture didn’t disappoint. I’ll let the architectural community argue over the appropriate style of the station, and I’ll just appreciate the dome and the turrets, the marble and the glass, and the gold. The Central Station was completed in 1905, and although it has been refurbished and expanded a couple different time, the station’s opulence has not been diminished. Today the station has four levels and 14 tracks that connect Antwerp with the rest of the country and the rest of Europe. Does it look somehow familiar? Perhaps you’ve seen the Sound of Music flash mob video If you find […]

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Mother Nature: A Fickle Photo Essay of Spring

Mother Nature can be a fickle friend, teasing us with sun and blooms one day and the next sending showers bordering on snow. As travelers, we learn to make the best of it, ducking into a museum in inclement times and walking in the park in better ones. Despite a Spring with weather all over the map (literally and figuratively), I still marvel at what Mother Nature has wrought. Ah, springtime! While in Dublin you confused me into thinking I was back home in Seattle. Overcast days, a spot of rain now and again, and a peek of blue sky. We layered up to walk around the cemeteries and ruins outside of Dublin. And when we finally got to the gardens at Powerscourt, we were rewarded with a bit of blue sky and a hint of sun. After Dublin it […]

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Postcard from Roses

On rainy Seattle days, I enjoy thinking about how lovely the coast of Spain is. Roses, located on the north end of the Bay of Roses, is a great beach getaway spot. And the Hotel Vistabella, where I stayed, provides a lovely view of the sand and surf.

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Finding Time to Visit Britain

Time is relative, proved Albert Einstein, but it is also relevant as visitors to Greenwich, a district of south London, are quick to discover. This district has achieved significance importance for lending its name to the standard used to regulate time and set clocks around the world — Greenwich Mean Time. If you’ve ever tried tried to coordinate a business phone call with participants located around the globe, you’re probably familiar with using GMT to set the appointment time. A visit to the once small fishing village of Greenwich will likely include a visit to the Royal Observatory and the surrounding grounds which contain the Royal Maritime Museum and the Queen’s House. Collectively called the Royal Museums Greenwich, the area has been designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The Royal Observatory includes Flamsteed House, the original observatory dating back […]

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Postcard from Berlin: Brandenburg Gate

Sightseeing in Berlin included a visit to the Brandenburg Gate, one of the most well-known landmarks in Germany. The gate represents some difficult times in German history, but came to symbolize freedom and the desire to unify Berlin when the Wall fell. Today it is a proud symbol of European unity and peace.

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A Shopper’s Guide to York: Best Vintage Offerings

The reasons why people head for York (England) are extremely diverse – after all, this beautiful city offers so much, including a rich heritage, medieval cobbled streets, ghost stories and of course, the towering basilica that is York Minster. But what about the shopping opportunities? Sure, it has its fair share of high street stores, but what if you want something a little different, a little retro? Spend a day in this superb city, have a look at some of the cheap hotels in York that are available, and explore some of the amazing vintage and retro-inspired shops on offer. The retro and vintage style has made a massive comeback over recent years, so it’s no wonder the volume of stores that cater to the attire have increased too. York provides its fair share of retro offerings – you just […]

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Talking About Tuscany on the Amateur Traveler

I’ve written here many times about how much I enjoy the small towns and villages in Tuscany, predominantly the southern part of the area. From staying at La Montalla in Contignano, to wine tasting in Montalcino, to shopping and dining in Pienza, to exploring in Montepulciano, it’s all part of how I love to see the Italy. This past week I had a chance to discuss some of my favorite places with Chris Christensen of the Amateur Traveler. You can listen here, or head on over to iTunes and subscribe to the Amateur Traveler. Tip:  Download the past episodes and catch up on all of them when you have a chance. There’s some great stories, tips, and information to be discovered there. Travel to The Hill Towns of Southern Tuscany – Episode 350

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