Posts Tagged ‘travel’

Why You Should See It: Duomo di Milano Milan, Italy

Editor’s Note: Anastasia Chernykh is the social media manager for My Life’s a Trip. She is also a great photographer and traveler. She recently visited Milan, Italy and I asked her to write a guest post. I hope her excellent guest post inspires you to climb up to the roof of the Duomo.

– Jen Pollack Bianco

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Go up to the roof to realize how huge the cathedral actually is (behold tiny people figures on piazza)

The most impressive thing about the Milan Cathedral is how much time and effort were spent on its construction. Thousands of artists, builders, craftsmen and 78 different architects from all over Europe worked on the project for 500 years!

The result is thoroughly impressive. The fifth-largest Christian church in the world, the Duomo is decorated with over 4000 statues, gargoyles, and figures (it is the most decorated building in the world) and the size of a city block on the inside.

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Duomo and Galleria Vittorio Emmanuele II

The Duomo’s building, topped with a spire statue of the Madonna, was the tallest in Milan for almost two centuries. And its construction even changed the appearance of the city. In order to build this impressive Flamboyant Gothic church, marble was brought from the quarries of Candoglia. The canals built for marble delivery turned Milan into a small Venice, and they still can be seen in the Navigli area of the city.

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Ubiquitous Italian Pigeons on Piazza del Duomo

Unfortunately the kind of marble used on the Duomo is very fragile and needs to be replaced every 50-100 years. This expensive reality has provided continuous work for the Veneranda Fabbrica del Duomo di Milano, the organization that has been responsible for the cathedral’s construction and maintenance since 1387.

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Interior of Duomo di Milano

The interior of the cathedral is not as impressive as the exterior, but it’s also well worth visiting. Some believers think the most precious thing in cathedral is The Holy Nail relic, with which, per the legend, Christ was crucified. It is placed over the altar and is illuminated with red lightbulb.

There is a sundial on the floor near the main entrance that was once used to regulate clocks in the whole city. It was placed in Milan Duomo by astronomers from the Accademia di Brera.

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Artsy Windows of Duomo are Illuminated from Inside   

The archaeological area displays the remains of the early Christian baptisteries of S. Giovanni alle Fonti and S.Stefano and the remains of the basilica of S. Tecla, which dates back to 355 A.D.

Milan’s magnificent Duomo was the first cathedral in the world to illuminate its windows from within so that, at night, the sacred images can be admired from the outside.

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Sky and Spirals: First Thing You See After Climbing The Dark Spiral Staircase

The roof climb is another visitor’s must-do. The views of the city are incredible and the opportunity to see 135 spires rising above the cathedral, like a marble forest, is worth the climb alone!

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“The Marble Forest”

There is a gilded statue of Madonnina, the Virgin Mary, at the top of the highest spire Milan Cathedral. Traditionally, no building in Milan can be higher than the Madonnina. The Duomo was the tallest building in Milan until the middle of 1950s, when the higher Pirelli Building was built. So to keep up with tradition, a smaller replica of the Madonnina was placed atop of it.

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Gilded Statue of Madonnina as Seen From Cathedral’s Roof

The best way to explore Duomo is a combined Duomo Pass, admission  includes Terraces (by elevator for A pass or on foot for B pass), Duomo, Museum, Church of St.Gottardo in Corte and Archaeological Area.
 The line is smaller near closing time on Sundays, and I’d suggest to purchase B Pass to avoid the queue at the elevator. The climb isn’t that hard (about 200 steps) and there is something utterly satisfying about going all the way up and then being rewarded with a fabulous view!

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 The view of the Milan from the Terraces of Duomo

Duomo di Milano

OPENING HOURS

Every day: 8.00 am – 7.00 pm. Last ticket at 6.00 am. Last admission 6.10 pm

TICKETS

DUOMO PASS Duomo Pass A € 15.00 Duomo Pass B € 11.00

Make sure you’re properly dressed before entering the Duomo (no shorts, no short skirts or dresses, no tank tops).

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Exploring Stockholm, Sweden: a Photo Essay

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The view from Södermalm

I recently returned from an Arctic Adventure to Swedish and Finnish Lapland with Photo Enrichment Adventures. My first stop was Stockholm, Sweden, where I spent a few days getting over jet lag and exploring the “Capital of Scandinavia.”

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Love locks- they’re not just for Paris

Some of my favorite things about Stockholm were exploring the Nobel Museum in Gamla Stan, Stockholm’s old town. I enjoyed the charming cafes and interesting old streets in the area.
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Swedish still life in Södermalm

Södermalm was my favorite area of Stockholm, with it’s trendy restaurants, cafes and creative vibe.

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Taking a boat tour is a classic way to see Stockholm

If you’re into boats, don’t miss the Vasa Museum, one of the best experiences you’ll ever have with a sunken ship. I did not get to visit the Abba Museum, but I’m big on saving something for the next trip.

Swedish Zen at the Miss Clara Hotel

I stayed at the Miss Clara Hotel the first few nights. Located in a gorgeous 1910 Art Nouveau building that used to house a girls school, the vibe was modern and quiet, and had a lovely sauna in the basement.

Window shopping in Gamla Stan (old town)

Stockholm is chilly in the spring, with it’s waterfront location bringing winds off the Baltic sea.

A cute Stockholm native

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a Swedish Frenchie in old town

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Salmon, salmon and more salmon

I got to try a traditional Swedish smörgåsbord with all the trimmings at the Grand Hotel. Lingonberry jam, smoked fish, and the house 1874 Grand Aquavit to wash it down.

Skål! I’m a fan of the Aquavit

Flavored with caraway, anise and fennel, the aquavit reminded me of the Brennivín I tasted in Iceland.

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Stockholm at night

I did some night shooting in Stockholm in preparation for heading to Lapland and chasing the Aurora Borealis. I was colder during the night shoot in Stockholm than anytime during the lapland part of my trip, due to winds. But I do like I the images I got of the city at night.

I couldn’t resist taking a selfie in gorgeous Stockholm window light

The light in Stockholm was beautiful at times and flat at others. But the window light was so delicious I couldn’t resist taking a selfie on my iPhone 6s.

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Auckland Harbour Sunrise Time Lapse Video Featuring The Arcadia Cruise Ship

The Arcadia pulling into Auckland Harbour, New Zealand

 

The Arcadia pulling into Auckland Harbour, New Zealand

On my recent trip to New Zealand, I spent a night in Auckland before flying to Queenstown. My room at the Auckland Hilton had a nice view of Auckland Harbour and I was up before sunrise. When I noticed a cruise ship heading into the Harbour, I quickly set up my iPhone 6s to make this time lapse video.

The P&O Cruise ship Arcadia pulling into Auckland Harbour at sunrise (video) 

For previous time lapse videos, I’ve used apps like TimeLapse and Hyperlapse from Instagram. I’m really happy with the results I got using the native camera’s time-lapse feature on the iPhone 6s. I set up this time lapse shot by clamping my iPhone 6s to my room’s balcony using my In Your Face Viewbase.

My layover in Auckland was so short, I thought about staying near the airport. But stumbling upon this pretty sunrise scene, I’m glad I didn’t.

Do you have a favorite app or way to make time lapse videos? Let me know in the comments thread.

Hilton Auckland

Address: 147 Quay St, Auckland, 1010, New Zealand
auckland@hilton.com

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A Stay on Mnemba Island, Zanzibar, Tanzania

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 Mnemba Island feels like the screensaver 

Every once and a while I find myself in a place that feels photoshopped. The water is too blue, the clouds so puffy they feel fake. It’s like being transported inside the screen saver on your computer. Mmemba Island, a private island resort off the coast of Zanzibar, Tanzania is one of those places.

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White sand beaches and blue water on Mnemba Island

Mnemba Island is a favorite spot for honeymooners in East Africa. Located off the the north eastern tip of Zanzibar, Mnemba Island has 10 semi-open thatched bandas, or bungalows, along the beach. The maximum capacity of the resort is 20 guests. The island is only about 1.5 kilometers in circumference, so it’s really a getaway. The resort was about half full during my stay but I only saw the other guests at meal times. For all intents and purposes, it feels like a private island.

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The daily routine on Mnemba Island

Mnemba is geographically inconvenient. It’s a 90 minute drive plus a 10 minute boat transfer from Stone Town, Zanzibar. The resort has a private dive school and dive centre with all the gear you need for snorkeling and stand up paddle boarding.

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Sunset is magical on Mnemba Island

The diving is a big draw at Mnemba and the resort’s private dive school. They’ll set up an afternoon dive for you and your guests. Mornings can be spent snorkling the Mnemba Atoll, which you can reach right from the beach, before having breakfast. Or you can spend the day reading in your outdoor living room and losing track of time.

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Sundowners on the beach at Mnemba Island

The staff at Mnemba Island is great. It’s an & Beyond property and up to the brand standards. The staff knows how long you are staying on the island and goes out of their way to maximize your opportunities to have memorable experiences.

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Early morning calm on Mnemba Island

December weather on Mnemba was hot and humid. We snorkeled before breakfast, when the sun and temperatures were most pleasant. The water is lovely and warm. But the island is still rustic wilderness. Crabs and creepy crawlies are part of life here. They don’t bother you, but they also don’t respect your personal space.

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 A list of wildlife sightings on Mnemba Island 

The staff makes sure all your creature comforts are taken care of, and the laundry service was quick and much appreciated. There is wifi on the island. It’s not quick, but it’s definitely there and helps keep you connected to the rest of the world (should you wish to be).

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Left: morning coffee at Mnemba right: homemade cinnamon rolls for breakfast

The chef makes sure any food allergies or special requests are handled. The menu focuses mostly on the great seafood available in the area. There is a full service bar in the lounge where guests can gather for cocktails or tea during the day. If you’d prefer privacy, your butler will happily set you up for sundowners on the beach.

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Tropical fresh fruit on Mnemba Island

The design aesthetic of Mnemba Island is safari chic like the rest of the … & Beyond properties. The rooms, called Bandas, feature indoor/outdoor living rooms and bathrooms. You’re never really entirely indoors. But that did not matter even when we had light rain.

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I loved this “living picture window” at Mnemba Island.

Ceiling fans and mosquito nets kept the bugs out and the temperature pleasant. December temperatures were well into the 90s. The resort is closed in April, when the seasonal rains are longer.

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The indoor/outdoor bathroom at Mnemba Island

While Mnemba mostly caters to couples, one of the bandas is a family unit that can accommodate children. There was a intergenerational family group on the island during our stay on the island.

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Left: welcome coconuts in the Banda Right: Four poster bed with mosquito netting 

Mnemba was  great place for me to relax for a few days and get over jet lag before heading off on safari. Safari days are long and scheduled, so a few days on Mnemba allowed for some much needed relaxation.

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Comfy reading chair in a beach banda at Mnemba Island

The entire island is the resort, and it’s small (about ) and won the silver medal in the 2015 Responsible Tourism Awards.

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Beach banda at Mnemba glows softly after dark

Mnemba is best as an add-on destination before or after going on safari in east Africa. It will be most appreciated by dive and snorkel enthusiasts. It’s a lovely place to spend a few days in the screen saver.

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& Beyond Mnemba Island

+27 11 809 4300.
contactus@andBeyond.com

Rates start at $1155 USD per person

 

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Searching for Freddie Mercury in Stone Town, Zanzibar

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Calm sunrise in Stone Town, Zanzibar

I recently returned from my big trip to Africa, where I visited Tanzania, Rwanda and South Africa. The first stop on this trip was Stone Town, Zanzibar.

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Changing planes in Dar es Salaam

Zanzibar was the first place I ever visited in Africa, and I hadn’t been back in over 15 years. Located off the coast of Tanzania, in East Africa, Zanzibar played an important role in both the Spice Route and was a key port in the slave trade. But Zanzibar’s most famous export is the late singer and legendary Queen frontman, Freddie Mercury.

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Rainbow at the DAR airport

Born Farrokh Bulsara, Mercury was born in Zanzibar to Persian immigrant parents who lived on the island to avoid religious persecution. On my first visit to Zanzibar over a decade ago, I was surprised by how little the tour guides knew about Mercury. Mercury’s openly homosexual lifestyle was at odd’s with Zanzibar’s prominently Muslim culture. I remember saying to my tour guide at the time, “yes, but he’s still FREDDIE f*cking MERCURY.”

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School girls in Stone Town, Zanzibar

I’m a huge music fan. And I’m not the only Queen nut who has come to Zanzibar to pay homage the legendary singer. Fortunately the island has warmed to Freddie since my last visit. There are now Freddie Mercury tours and even a Mercury House (part of the Tembo Hotel). Vice even wrote this piece about the uptick in Freddier Mercury related tourism.

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Left: a shaft of light in the slave holding quarters in Stone town Right: Park of the East African Slave Trade Memorial on Zanzibar

Zanzibar has made peace with it’s notorious roots in the East African slave trade. I have to think that it’s just a matter of time before it softens to Freddie Mercury’s lifestyle. At least I hope it is.

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The Tembo Hotel in Stone Town.

If you’re still not convinced that Freddie Mercury wasn’t incredible, I suggest you listen to this isolated track of vocals of Freddie Mercury and David Bowie singing Under Pressure.

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The new Park Hyatt Zanzibar in Stone Town

I understand Zanzibar’s tourism industry’s need to change the conversation regarding their most famous export. But Freddie will never be the island’s Favorite Son. What hit me, while I wandered the streets of Stone Town listening to Queen’s Greatest Hits, is that Freddie Mercury was always the odd man out.

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Giant doors in Stone Town

His Parsi parents were outsiders who lived in Zanzibar to escape religious persecution. And Freddie was gay at a time when it wasn’t socially acceptable, making him an outsider to his outsider parents.

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I have no idea about the authenticity of the Mercury House in Stone Town

If you chat with the locals, they love to discuss EPL soccer. But if you mention Freddie Mercury, they noticeably stiffen.

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Pictures of Freddie Mercury on display in Stone Town

I saw Bob Marley t-shirts and pants for sale in Zanzibar, and he was Jamaican. Freddie Mercury-related tourism may be on the upswing, but no one was selling souvenirs with the Queen front man’s face on them. And there were certainly no locals wearing Queen t-shirts.

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The Mercury House in Stone town

So if you are fellow Queen fan who finds yourself in Stone Town, I suggest wandering around town with your earbuds in, listening to Queen, and taking in what it feels like to be an outsider.

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Spices for sale at the market in Stone Town

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Woman cooking breakfast in Stone Town

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Locals cooling off after a hot day in Stone Town

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 Soccer on the beach is a nightly ritual in Stone Tow

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Playing football in flip flops

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Sunset soccer on the beach

Or watch the locals play soccer on the beach at sunset while listening to Somebody to Love.

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 Dhows at Sunset in Stone Town

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