Category Archives: Venice

Urban Escapades: Birmingham, Alabama

Birmingham AL

Back in the days, this sprawling city was coined with all the negative words that frequently paint today’s news with dark ambiance, from racial violence to deadly bombings; well, that was in the 60s. Birmingham today is surprisingly calm and prosperous with hospitable people; it’s like a motif for revolutionary change within a short span of time. Whatever ways you may want to put it, Birmingham is simply not a city to be missed.

You have all the time to prepare for another city adventure, so make sure to apply for ESTA (Electronic System for Travel Authorization) Visa online to facilitate smooth travel anywhere in the US. Birmingham’s attractive city landscape is just waiting for your timely visit so invite your friends or take your family with you for an unforgettable urban adventure.

Known as “The Magic City” of old, Birmingham has grown many times in its economic size although it doesn’t mean you cannot find traces of its relatively young heritage. If you love history, then there’s plenty of museum to dig into. Soaking information is cool and it makes you feel like a travel ninja, which is perfect for generating an opening line or pick-up line whenever you want to show off your well-traveled persona. The likes of the Birmingham Museum of Art on 8th Avenue North with a free entrance will certainly satisfy your inkling for rich and unbiased history with its fascinating presentation of historical materials.

One of Birmingham’s iconic landmarks is The Alabama Theatre on 3rd Avenue North, which is also considered as Alabama’s priceless historical site. Theaters have always been associated with romantic endeavors so if you’re planning to profess your love to your date, going to The Alabama Theatre is a good start. The theater is known to host various arts presentation from musicals, concerts to popular Broadway shows. There are also some silent films and the Mickey Mouse Club is another interesting way to soften your stiff spine hence smoothing your romantic moves.

Birmingham Zoo AlabamaTreat your kids to a splendid African Safari aka the Birmingham Zoo experience. Surprisingly, the zoo has been around since 1955 giving it an ancient feel although I’m not really certain if you can still find “Lucy” somewhere in the thick bushes. Nonetheless, for sure you can find various animals including endangered species from all over the world on its premises. Children just love it when the lions growl and the mighty tigers showing off will certainly brighten your day.

Of course your Birmingham experience won’t be complete without seeing the Vulcan Statue and Museum at Valley View Drive. What makes it interesting is it currently holds the world record for being the largest cast iron statue standing at 17 m tall. The statue simply gives a hint into Birmingham’s iron and steel industry beginnings making it the city’s symbol. The museum alone is within a staggering 4 has of urban green space which is perfect for strolling and for some splendid picnic too.

To culminate your Birmingham experience, you can also include outdoor fun that includes breathtaking parks, waterparks and magnificent beaches.

Venice: Queen of the Adriatic

Venice Gondola

When I first flew to Italy to visit Venice, I thought I knew more or less what to expect: there would be canals in place of streets, and pole-boats instead of cars. I was definitely curious to see it, but didn’t expect to be too surprised. I can only say I was very wrong- the city left me stunned and amazed, and I found myself saddened to only be able to stay there one week.

Venice is a fairly small town, only numbering 60’000 inhabitants in its historical area, but that is undoubtedly part of its charm. There really aren’t any other cities quite like it. After stepping out of the small “Vaporetto” ferry that transports people to and from the mainland, its as if I entered a land frozen in time, giving me a glimpse of the Renaissance in modern times.

VeniceDespite its small area, Venice is so rich in art and history that it will take you days to even begin savoring the sights it has to offer. The most famous landmark is undoubtedly Piazza San Marco, the town’s central plaza directly facing the lagoon. On the piazza are a number of restaurants ideal for a romantic dinner (especially at sunset!), as well as three of the most famous buildings in the city. The St. Mark’s Basilica, a huge cathedral with five domes overlooking the city faces the plaza and offers a glimpse at the Middle Eastern influence on the town’s architecture, as well as giving tourists a breathtaking view of the lagoon. The Church also boasts a large bell tower (Campanile di San Marco) which complements its beauty. The piazza is also home to the Palazzo Ducale, once the residence of the Doge of Venice, now transformed into a rich historical museum for the city.

venice black and whiteThere are also many other significant landmarks to visit, such as the two famous stone bridges “Ponte di Rialto” and “Ponte dei Sospiri” linking the two halves of the town, as well as the many beautiful manses of old aristocratic families in the city, such as Palazzo Mocenigo or Ca D’Oro- the Golden house.

Venice also offers its tourists a number of events and famous festivals to enrich their experience in the city. Some of the most significant include the traditional “Regata Storica” in September, in which dozens of ornate gondole race up and down the Main Canal, or the town’s biannual Art exhibition (Biennale di Venezia), or even the spectacular “Festa del Redentore” in July, which features an impressive firework display. Without a doubt, however, the most famous and appreciated event in Venice’s tradition is the Carnevale, the city’s carnival celebration in February where seemingly the entire historical district transforms into a breathtaking masked ball for the locals and tourists alike.

venice maskVenice is without a doubt one of the most awe-inspiring and unique cities I have ever visited; and I haven’t even talked about the International Film Festival held there every year, or the twin islands of Burano and Murano in the lagoon, where the most beautiful glass-work in the world is hand crafted with a technique dating back to the Renaissance. Suffice it to say that there is a reason why Venice is known as the “Queen of the Adriatic”, and you should definitely see it for yourselves.