• AK

A Little Bit of Europe - London, Paris, Venice, Rome

#Europe #London #Paris #Venice #Pisa #Vatican #Rome #NikonD300


Europe London
The sun setting against the Palace of Westminster, the meeting place for the Parliament of the United Kingdom. Viewed from the Westminster Bridge.

I have not met anyone who is not keen on going for a holiday in Europe. It doesn't matter if it's the usual touristy cities, the exotic Eastern region, or the icy Scandinavian towns. Many would plan for a Europe holiday at least once in their life, and several times for those lucky ones.

From backpacking students and honeymooners to families and retirees, there will always be a place to excite and please everyone in Europe. History, art, architecture, culture, nature, entertainment and shopping, you name it, they have it all. And it isn't just about having that broad and diverse offering, the depth of experience in each interest is phenomenal and unforgettable.

Although I've traveled to several European cities for various reasons on several trips before, there were only 2 trips that were purely leisure and holiday-like. One was to Barcelona in 2013, which you might have read in my earlier posts. The other was more than 6 years ago to the standard postcard destinations of London, Paris, Venice, Rome and the Vatican City.

It was a short trip of only 13 days, which wasn't long considering the number of places covered. Fortunately, travelling within Europe was easy and efficient. Rail travel was a breeze and by travelling on overnight trains, one could save precious time. As most train stations are located in the heart of the cities, getting around was extremely easy upon arrival. Better still if you have booked a hotel near the station. All you'll have to do is to walk to your hotel from the train station and start the day immediately.

Of course, the key would be to travel light and carry little. Without which, you would not be able to walk the streets in search of your hotel from the train station. An all-in backpack or a hardy trolley case with durable wheels should do the job. However, the roads and pavements in many cities are not as well-paved as Singapore's. That could be your trolley case's last trip.

For photo-enthusiasts, you may wish to think twice before packing all your gear. Less is more; because less is exciting and more is redundant. Lately, I find it a tad more challenging and fun with less lenses to play with, and quite often, some lenses were just left in the hotel room everyday. Having said that, it is still a daunting task to decide which system and gear to bring on every trip till now.

However, I would like to share my experience in Rome, where bringing a big, heavy camera might not be a bad thing after all. Shortly after walking out of the hotel, I was approached and surrounded by a group comprising a middle-aged lady and several kids. Their modus operandi was clear - distract and attack (pick) from all directions. They were extremely quick and had reached out to my camera bag and trousers' back pocket. Without hesitation, my camera had turned into a 2 kg cast magnesium alloy weapon swinging in their hands and faces. They simply had to dodge and disperse with my unexpected retaliation and skull-breaking weapon tossing in the air.

Imagine Bruce Lee with a DSLR instead of Nunchaku. Plus a bit of action movie kungfu yelling did help to scare them off.

Alright, it wasn't all bad and dangerous in Europe. Yes, pick-pocketing and snatch thieves are common in many European cities. But I guess we just need to be mentally and physically prepared. And probably be carrying a big and heavy camera-weapon that breaks skulls and smashes itchy hands.

I believe many would have been to London, Paris, Venice, Rome and the Vatican City, probably not just once for some. And some might have even been a victim of such common petty crime with their memorable stories to tell.

There is no need for further introduction, tips or tricks from my short and humble experience. And for cities so well covered on books, TV, and the internet, almost everyone can be an expert quite easily.

For once, I shall keep the long story short and let the pictures do the talking, and hopefully, relive those fond memories for you and me.

Hope you'll enjoy my little bit of Europe...


London
Taking the Tube from the Heathrow T4 to the hotel located near West Brompton, transferring at Earl's Court station. The London Underground is an attraction on its own which every visitor should experience. With 270 stations and an average of 3.3 million commuters per day, it is the heartbeat and blood vessel of London. It is also the world's oldest underground railway.

London St. Paul's
Approaching St Paul's Cathedral, our first stop for the day.

London St. Paul's
The grand West Front façade of St Paul's Cathedral in the late morning. A cathedral that saw many significant events from the funeral of Sir Winston Churchill to the wedding of Prince Charles and Princess Diana.

London
An iconic reminder of the city.

London St. Paul's
St Paul's against the typical gloomy London sky. It is the second largest church building in the UK, with one of the highest dome in the world. Do climb up the 259-step stairs and visit the Whispering Gallery up in the dome.

London
Perhaps, we should have this in Singapore, since everyone is always looking down (at their phone) when crossing the road.

London Tate Modern
Lunching at the restaurant on level 6 of Tate Modern, offering one of the best views of London and the river. A must-see museum of modern art with an excellent collection.

London
Sidewalk along River Thames towards the landmark Tower Bridge, and the City Hall building (right) by Lord Foster.

London Tower Bridge
Walking on and across the Tower Bridge.

London Tower Bridge
The Tower Bridge viewed from the Tower of London.

Tower of London
Locked inside the Tower of London.

Tower of London
Inside the Tower of London.

British Museum
The highly respectable and renowned British Museum. A must-see, must-go for everyone visiting London. You may wish to set aside at least half a day there to explore its wonderful collection.

British Museum
Don't look away.

British Museum
Close-up of "Ginger" - the famous naturally-mummified body exhibited at the British Museum, dating back to approximately 3400 B.C.

British Museum
An impressive collection of Egyptian mummies in the British Museum.

British Museum
Up-close and personal.

London
Always wet, gloomy and somewhat soulful.

London
Reflecting on the British Museum after the visit at the bar.

Trafalgar Square
The iconic symbol at Trafalgar Square.

London Eye
You know what's rolling.

London
Symbolic and iconic. Probably one of the most recognisable symbol and clock tower in the world.

London Underground
A job that is always put on the line, literally. Keeping the city going.

London
Spot the crowd at Buckingham Palace.

London Eye
Eye in the sky.

London Eye
Ascending in the London Eye.

London Eye
I believe the best time to take it up to the skies could be in the evening with the gorgeous sun setting behind the Palace of Westminster.

London
Taking a break at the base of the London Eye, and enjoying the breath-taking view of River Thames at sunset.

London
Walking back on the Westminster Bridge.

London Underground
Life in London Underground.

London
London Post.

Paris
Commuting in the Paris Métro.

Eiffel Tower
Arriving in Paris at night. A magnificent view of the Eiffel Tower from Montmartre, a hill north of Paris.

Paris
The Basilica of the Sacré Cœur (The Basilica of the Sacred Heart). Standing tall and majestic on the summit of Montmartre.

Paris
The Paris Métro.

Notre Dame interior
A priest delivering a sermon inside Notre Dame Cathedral. Elegance and beauty in many ways.

Notre Dame
Bought a ticket to ascend the Notre Dame Cathedral. A chance to get close and personal with the gargagorl.

Paris Notre Dame
A panoramic view of the beautiful Parisian city from the Notre Dame Cathedral.

Notre Dame
A peak of Notre Dame Cathedral.

The Louvre Paris
The forces of nature, architecture and the arts. The famous glass pyramid of the Louvre Museum.

The Louvre Mona Lisa
The power of one woman - Mona Lisa by Leonardo da Vinci.

Experiencing one of I.M. Pei's amazing creation.

Paris
A French bakery kiosk in the Tuileries Garden.

Paris
A view of the Tuileries Garden through the Arc de Triomphe du Carrousel.

Paris
Signs in the Paris Metro.

Paris
Signs of France. Walking past a news stand and approaching one of the most recognisable structures in the world. Could you recognise what it is?

Eiffel Tower
Under the majestic Eiffel Tower.

Eiffel Tower
Cast iron railing details of the Eiffel Tower.

Eiffel Tower
The beauty of engineering.

Eiffel Tower
An incredible structure of design and engineering married in harmony. Gustave Eiffel would be very proud to know that it has been standing tall since 1889 and is the most visited paid-entry monument in the world.

Paris
A visit to LV at Champs-Élysées.

Paris
Another iconic and highly symbolic place in Paris - The Moulin Rouge.

Paris
Out of Paris Métro.

Paris Pompidou
The Pompidou Centre - a creation by Richard Rogers and Renzo Piano.

Paris
Waiting for the train to Venice at the Paris Bercy Station.

Paris
Had 2 hours to kill at the Paris Bercy Station. Walking around and exploring the building.

Paris
A car parked at the Paris Bercy Station.

Paris
Everything French.

Paris
Audio visual communication.

Venice
Arrived in Venice the following morning.

Venice
Feeding pigeons at St Mark's Square (Piazza San Marco).

Venice
If you think you had a shitty day, think again.

Venice
The beauty of Venetian colours, light and architecture.

Venice
Light and shadows.

Venice
Venetian architecture and colours in reflection.

Venice
Walking the dogs in Venice.

Venice
There is a magical charm in Venice. Gorgeous sunlight paints the Venetian buildings in a wonderful display of light and shadows, constantly changing across the day.

Venice
Fly past at St Mark's Square.

Venice
A view from Liassidi Palace Hotel, our accommodation in Venice.

Venice
Gondolas dancing to the waves.

Venice
Colours of Venice.

Eurostar
En-route Rome on Eurostar.

Rome
Arriving in Rome.

Rome
Rome Train Station, catching a train to Pisa, Tuscany.

In a local train.

Tuscany
Colours of Tuscany.

Leaning Tower of Pisa
4 degrees.

The Leaning Tower of Pisa.
The Leaning Tower of Pisa.

The Leaning Tower of Pisa.
The Leaning Tower of Pisa.

Leaning Tower of Pisa
Standing tall and tilted on top of the Leaning Tower.

Pisa
A typical courtyard in old Italian cities.

"Red".

Colosseum
The largest amphitheatre in the world. Still standing tall and majestic like what it used to be some two thousand years ago.

Colosseum
The Colosseum. Its awe-inspiring grandeur of the Imperial Rome hasn't faded despite the ruined structures. Imagine gladiatorial fights, animal hunts, sea battles, large scale dramas and public executions, all in this arena.

Colosseum
A large cross standing in the Colosseum - a monument dedicated to the Christian martyrs placed by Pope John Paul II. On it, a plaque states: "The amphitheater, one consecrated to triumphs, entertainments, and the impious worship of pagan gods, is now dedicated to the sufferings of the martyrs purified from impious superstitions."

Colosseum
Hordes of tourists leaving Colosseum at the end of the day.

Sistine Chapel
Joining the queue into the Sistine Chapel.

Sistine Chapel Michelangelo
Michelangelo's masterpiece in the ceiling of Sistine Chapel. Worth the trip, worth the queue.

Sistine Chapel
The Gallery of Maps, Vatican. A magnificent corridor that brings you through a journey of awe and wonder.

Vatican City
St. Peter's Square, Vatican City.

St. Peter's Basilica
A glimpse of Pope Benedict XVI on Good Friday, 21 March 2008.

St. Peter's Basilica
Good Friday service inside the magnificent St. Peter's Basilica.

Vatican City
A wet Good Friday.

St. Peter's Basilica
St. Peter holding the key to the Kingdom of Heaven.

St. Peter's Basilica
St. Peter and the Basilica.

St. Peter's Basilica
Empty seats after Good Friday service.

St. Peter's Basilica
Empty seats after Good Friday service.

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