Archive for the ‘Sightseeing’ Category


I went to London for the first time when I was 16 and immediately fell in love. From the sense of history that permeates the London streets to the simultaneously modern aura, London is a city where any traveler can be content. And for those intimidated by European travel (whether it be language barriers or any other reason), London is a great city for first-time Europe travelers. Here is a little crash course in navigating your way around the this regal city.

Photo: trodel

Photo: trodel

High season in London is June through August. That’s when the weather tends to be at its warmest, but consider a trip during the first three weeks in May (last week is school holidays in the United Kingdom) or in September—the weather is usually just as nice, but you’ll avoid the jostling crowds and have a better pick of lodging and restaurants.

What to Wear

  • Bring a waterproof jacket.
  • Comfortable shoes, since driving in the capital is a nightmare, I recommend you use public transportation, so you’ll be walking more than normal.
  • Even in the summer it can get cool, so bring a light sweater.
  • Get a money belt or wear a jacket with an interior pocket. Though London is a relatively safe city, there are opportunistic thieves in the tourist areas.
  • When you are there, carry some bottled water. The Brits don’t believe in public drinking fountains.

Getting Around
Getting around London can be a thrill, and the city offers a host of travel options that make navigating among sightseeing stops part of the fun. London is also a very walkable city, but for safety’s sake, always remember to look to the right when you’re crossing the road.

If traveling from Heathrow, the cheapest option is to take the Underground (London’s subway system, also called the “tube”), as the Piccadilly Line will deliver you to Central London in 45 minutes for less than £6 (about $12).

If you have a lot of luggage or small children, instead try National Express, which runs several buses per hour from Heathrow to Victoria Coach Station. The journey takes about an hour, and you can pre-book tickets online.

Once you are free from luggage, the Underground is the way to explore London. It is easy to navigate with a color-coded tube map, and if you buy a reusable Oyster Card, cost effective.

West End and Central London
If you are going for less than a week, focus your time on the West End and Central London. Big Ben, Buckingham Palace, Parliament, the Tower of London, the shops of Covent Garden, the theatre district near Leicester Square, Trafalgar Square and the British Museum in Bloomsbury are all within a few tube stops of each other.

Plan your trip to London on TravelMuse.

Post based on “Exploring London” by Anna Marie Roos.

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Trip Photos: Singapore

Merlion Park in Singapore is a popular tourist attraction. Located at the mouth of the Singapore River, this park is presided over by a Merlion—a mythical beast that has the head of a lion and the body of a fish. Here is a fun photograph shared by Flydime on our TravelMuse Flickr group that was taken at Merlion Park.

A monk enjoys Merlion Park. Photo: flydime

A monk enjoys Merlion Park. Photo: flydime

Plan your trip to Singapore on TravelMuse.

Read articles about Singapore on TravelMuse.

Want to share your recent trip photos and have them featured on TravelMusings? Add your photos to our TravelMuse Flickr group or TravelMuse Facebook page, and we’ll publish our favorites.

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Santorini is a small cluster of islands of volcanic islands in Greece that are located in the southern Aegean Sea. Located 63 miles north of Crete, this archipelago has a typical Mediterranean climate. Santorini can be reached by plane or ferry.

A view of the islands of Santorini. Photo: echiner1

A view of the islands of Santorini. Photo: echiner1

Plan your trip to Greece on TravelMuse.

Want to share your recent Trip photos and have them featured on TravelMusings? Add your photos to our TravelMuse Flickr group or TravelMuse Facebook page, and we’ll publish our favorites.

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With London playing host to the next Olympic Games in 2012, we noticed a few great photos that were recently added to our TravelMuse Flickr group that we wanted to share. London is modern yet still retains it’s antiquated charm. From The London Eye, one of the tallest Ferris wheels in the world, to the timeless red telephone booths, London is a crossroads of history and innovation. The city has already made great strides in constructing its venues for the Olympics in 2012.
Photo: Leonardo, easthastings

The London Eye at Night. Photo: Leonardo, easthastings

Typical London Weather! Photo: Leonardo, easthastings

Typical London Weather! Photo: Leonardo, easthastings

Photo: Cheryl Lynn (sunnysideup79)

An aerial view from The London Eye. Photo: Cheryl Lynn (sunnysideup79)

Photo: echiner1

Classic red telephone booths provide a perfect photo op. Photo: echiner1

Plan a trip to London on TravelMuse.

Want to have your photos featured on TravelMusings? Add your vacation photos to our TravelMuse Flickr group or TravelMuse Facebook page, and we’ll publish our favorites.

Be sure to visit the London Olympics 2012 official Web site for up-to-the-minute news and details.

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A Guide to Dublin in Honor of St. Patrick’s Day

There is a lot more to Ireland than just St. Patrick’s Day, Guinness, corned beef, leprechauns and pots of gold. Plan a trip to Ireland’s bustling capital city, Dublin, where you can explore all the facets of Irish culture. From outdoor adventures to literary pub crawls and everything in between, Dublin will enchant the whole family.

The River Liffey. Photo: fazen

The River Liffey. Photo: fazen

Getting Your Bearings
The River Liffey runs through Dublin, dividing the north and south of the city. The south is historically the wealthier area of town, and it contains some of Dublin’s most famous sights. Lounge in St. Stephen’s Green and wander up and down Grafton Street, but don’t overlook the area just north of the river. This part of Dublin includes the General Post Office, the grand and imposing Customs House and one of Dublin’s newest landmarks, the Spire of Dublin.

Historic Dublin
Get acclimated to the city and its history by taking a 1916 Rebellion Walking Tour. This will take you throughout the city center, exploring landmarks that played a role in the 1916 Easter Rising. Another fascinating (yet gruesome), historic spot is the Kilmainham Gaol, where those captured in the Easter Rising were held and some were executed.

Dublin Museums
Dublin boasts many fine museums and galleries, including the National Gallery of Ireland, the Irish Museum of Modern Art and the Chester Beatty Library and Gallery of Oriental Art. All three of these attractions are a wonderful, and best of all, they’re free!

Dublin Outdoors
The east of Ireland enjoys some of the country’s best weather, making Dublin a great place to enjoy Ireland’s outdoors. St. Stephen’s Green is a lovely park in the middle of the city.

Irish Castles

While Ireland no longer has royalty, it still has some breathtaking castles. In the city, you will find Dublin Castle, the former seat of British-appointed rulers. Dublin’s suburbs have some beautiful castles as well: The Dalky Castle & Heritage Center is worth a visit, as is the Malahide Castle.

Tour the Guinness St. James' Gate Brewery. Photo: Pierre Phaneuf

Tour the Guinness St. James' Gate Brewery. Photo: Pierre Phaneuf

Brew Tours
The Guinness Storehouse is a great place to start. The Storehouse, often mistakenly called the Guinness Brewery, is located behind the iconic St. James Gate, just west of the city center. Once inside this modern attraction, the self-guided tour teaches you about the history of Ireland’s most famous drink, from how it’s made to its groundbreaking advertising history. If you fancy something a bit stronger, take a tour of the Old Jameson Distillery.


Catching a play is a great way to sample some Irish culture. If you are in the city in late September and early October, don’t miss the Dublin Theatre Festival, one of Europe’s oldest theater festivals. If your stay in Dublin doesn’t coincide with these dates, check out the Abbey Theatre. This renowned theater features classic Irish and international plays and is an obvious destination for drama aficionados.

Literary Dublin

Ireland has a long and proud literary history, and Dublin is its most prolific city. James Joyce, Oscar Wilde and Bram Stoker all hail from Ireland’s capital. Fans of Ulysses can retrace Leopold Bloom’s journey through the city, or if you want someone else to do the work for you, join a Literary Pub Crawl to see famous literary sights throughout the city while you enjoy a night out on the town.

Plan a trip to Dublin on TravelMuse, and may the luck of the Irish be with you.

Read More Articles About Dublin on TravelMuse:

Dublin’s Pubs and Grub
Irish Greens: Dublin Outdoor Attractions
Dublin Shopping: Irish Crafts to Guinness Souvenirs
Literary Attractions in Dublin

Post adapted from “Irish Enchantment: Dublin’s Top Attractions” by Candace Driskell.

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I’m currently in the fourth week of my travel and journalism adventures in Berlin, and I must say that I’m already beginning to feel like a true Berliner—it seems as though I’ve lived here for much longer. Aside from getting to know the fellow students in my journalism internship program, shopping for my weekly meals at the local grocery store and experiencing Berlin’s exciting nightlife scene, one of my most memorable moments to date was taking a free Sandemans New Europe tour of some of Berlin’s major attractions.

Founded by Chris Sandeman in 2004, Sandemans is a city tour company based out of Berlin that offers free (tip-based) daily walking tours of 11 major European cities including Amsterdam, Hamburg, Munich, and Madrid in addition to Berlin. The tours, which are mainly offered in English and Spanish, last around three and a half hours and lead you past sites of historical significance within the city you are visiting.

The free tour of Berlin started at the Brandenburg Gate with a lively storytelling session of the early history of Berlin. Our guide continued to reveal interesting facts throughout the tour—the city was built on a swamp (Berlin means “swamp city” in Slavic), hence its light, looming stench.


Photo of the Brandenburg Gate: forki23

Smells and all, I got to see many of Berlin’s major attractions in a reasonable time frame, including Babel Platz (the famous site of the 1933 Nazi book burnings), Checkpoint Charlie, Museum Island and Gendarmenmarkt, which houses a French and German Cathedral. At one point, our tour guide led the group to an unpaved parking lot which houses the remnants of Hitler’s former bunker. Aside from a small plaque signifying the location, you wouldn’t think the area is anything more than an empty parking lot.

I found the Holocaust Memorial most impressive. Officially called Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe, the Holocaust Memorial was designed by Peter Eisenman and consists of 2,711 concrete slabs of varying heights covering approximately 4.7 acres. The memorial, which was completed in 2005, doesn’t include any sort of description of what the solid concrete blocks symbolize—our guide explained that Eisenman left it open for interpretation. For me, walking through the memorial was like weaving through a maze of massive gravestones, each signifying the life, pain and story of a Holocaust victim.


Photo of the Holocaust Memorial: Andrea Pyka

Despite becoming familiar with the city’s history, transportation system, culture and quirky student traditions (instead of clapping, students in Germany knock on their table multiple times), I can’t claim that I’m a Berlin expert. I still have so much to see and do, including trying a döner kebab, a popular Turkish dish of vegetables and slices of lamb meat covered in yogurt dressing all stuffed into a pita bread. But that will be for a future post.


44 Free Things to Do in D.C. for the 44 Days Until the Inauguration of U.S.’s 44th President

Today, Dec. 7 is typically remembered as the anniversary date of the bombing of Pearl Harbor in 1941, which marked the U.S. entrance into World War II. This year it also happens to be the 44th day until the inauguration of the 44th president of the United States, Barack Obama, on Jan. 20, 2009.

Those of you planning to attend the inauguration in Washington, D.C., should check out our Inauguration Day Tips article written by one of TravelMuse’s contributing writers, Debbie K. Hardin, who used to head up the communications department at the White House.

We’ll be featuring additional articles from Debbie on what to do in D.C. during inauguration week later this month, but the folks at Destination DC, the city’s tourism and marketing bureau, have pulled together a list of 44 free or affordable experiences to kick off the countdown starting today.

1. Stand on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, where Martin Luther King, Jr. delivered his “I Have a Dream” speech and where Marian Anderson performed her historic 1939 Easter concert.

2. Catch a free concert featuring Aretha Franklin on Jan. 19 at the Kennedy Center Millennium Stage.

3. Explore famous and infamous moments in history by following the “Civil War to Civil Rights” heritage trail through downtown D.C.

4. Visit the newly remodeled National Museum of American History, where you can view a copy of the Gettysburg Address on loan from the White House. The theme of Obama’s inauguration, “A New Birth of Freedom,” is taken from the Gettysburg Address. Look for Obama’s name in the “American Presidents” exhibition.

5. See poignant images from the Civil Rights era on display in the Road to Freedom exhibition of more than 200 powerful photographs at the Smithsonian Institution’s Ripley Center, on display through March 9.

6. Make your way to Capitol Hill’s newest attraction, the state-of-the-art Capitol Visitor Center.

7. Live Martin Luther King, Jr.’s legacy by joining a volunteer program through Serve D.C.

8. Check out the presidential portraits on display at the National Portrait Gallery.

9. Tour the magnificent Library of Congress and test out its new interactive exhibits, like the re-creation of Thomas Jefferson’s original library.

10. Only Bill Cosby and the Obama Family can eat for free at D.C.’s legendary Ben’s Chili Bowl — but visitors can soak in the local flavor and chow down on the cheap with their signature half-smokes for just $5 or a chili dog for $3.60.

11. Cheer on the Inaugural Parade along Pennsylvania Avenue on Jan, 20.

12. Watch a peaceful sunset at the Marine Corps Memorial (Iwo Jima Statue).

13. Read the headlines from newspapers from around the world outside the Newseum on Pennsylvania Avenue. [Read our Newseum article from opening day.].]

14. Learn what it was like to be a guest at a past presidential inauguration through The Honor of Your Company is Requested: President Lincoln’s Inaugural Ball, a special exhibition at the Smithsonian American Art Museum.

15. Admire great works at the National Gallery of Art.

16. Say “inauguration” at The Phillips Collection admissions desk during the entire month of January and receive two-for-one admission. Take a picture of the Gandhi statue at the Indian Embassy, located just a few feet away.

17. Be a part of history on the National Mall and witness Obama’s swearing-in on Jan. 20. The entire length of the Mall will be open to the public.

18. Watch the changing of the guards at Arlington National Cemetery.

19. Stop by the Lyndon B. Johnson Memorial Grove on the Potomac for some quiet reflection.

20. Follow the Greater U Street Heritage Trail and discover Duke Ellington’s home and other greats along what was once known as “Black Broadway.”

21. Walk the grounds of Howard University, one of the country’s historically black colleges, and duck into the Howard University Gallery of Art. Admission is free and it boasts one of the most comprehensive representations of black artists in existence.

22. Stroll the cobblestone streets of historic Georgetown, once the stomping grounds of John F. Kennedy, Jr. and Jackie Kennedy. Locate the booth at Billy Martin’s Tavern where he proposed to Jackie.

23. Stop for a photo op in front of the White House, the new home for the new First Family.

24. Visit the Smithsonian’s Anacostia Museum that explores American history, society, and creative expression from an African-American perspective.

25. Take a stroll through grand Union Station. What was once the Presidential Suite, where presidents waited to board trains and greeted foreign dignitaries, is now B. Smith’s Restaurant.

26. See breathtaking photos and fascinating exhibitions at the National Geographic Museum.

27. Explore the diverse cultures of Africa at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African Art.

28. Pay respect to those who served at home and abroad at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, Korean War Veterans Memorial and National World War II Memorial.

29. Listen in on native folktales or catch a cultural performance at the National Museum of the American Indian.

30. Visit D.C.’s newest memorials, the Pentagon Memorial and the U.S. Air Force Memorial.

31. Get to know a Lincoln contemporary by touring Frederick Douglass’s historic home, Cedar Hill (advance reservations: $1.50). While there, you’ll enjoy one of the best views of the Washington cityscape.

32. Take a hike on Theodore Roosevelt Island and Memorial and find inspiration in the quotes from the environmentalist president, engraved on the memorial plaza.

33. Browse local art and sample fresh fare at Capitol Hill’s Eastern Market (Saturday and Sunday).

34. See a public mural featuring Barack Obama outside neighborhood hotspot Marvin (at 14th & U), named for D.C.’s own Marvin Gaye.

35. All those visitors coming in for inauguration? You can watch their many, many airplanes take off and land at Reagan National Airport from popular park Gravelly Point, located on the Potomac River.

36. Watch skaters glide on the ice (or join in the fun—adults $7 for 2 hours) as you take in the outdoor art at the National Gallery of Art’s sculpture garden and ice skating rink.

37. See the original Declaration of Independence, U.S. Constitution and Bill of Rights at the National Archives, then stick around to research your own family’s immigration records.

38. Brush elbows with a genius with a visit to the Albert Einstein Memorial.

39. Walk east of the Capitol to Lincoln Park to see the Emancipation Statue, the city’s first memorial to Honest Abe, along with a statue honoring African-American education pioneer Mary McLeod Bethune.

40. Stop by the African-American Civil War Memorial on U Street.

41. Experience one of the world’s most moving museums, the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum.

42. Build your horticultural IQ inside the U.S. Botanic Garden.

43. Find literary inspiration for your own presidential address at the Folger Shakespeare Library.

44. Climb inside a cockpit and touch a moon rock at the National Air & Space Museum.

For more information, travel tips and advice, log on to Destination DC’s official inauguration Web site,

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