Sights in Chisinau, Moldova

Chisinau is the capital of Moldova, an Eastern European country once part of the Russian Empire. It has some small museums, parks, and monuments.


  • Parcul Catedralei and Gradina Publica Stefan Cel Mare si Sfint—two parks in the middle of the city with one park featuring the Nativity of Christ Metropolitan Cathedral that dates back to the 1830s and has a bell tower built in 1836, the main entrance with the Holy Gates, and on the northwestern side a 24-hour flower market and the other park has an entrance with a statue of Stefan who was Moldova’s greatest medieval prince; B-dul Stefan cel Mare
  • Army Museum—a museum that has a poignant exhibit on Soviet-era repression with stories of the Red Terror, famines, mass deportations, and gulag slave labor told through photos, videos, newspaper clippings, and dioramas as well as interrogation rooms and displays of propaganda posters and military uniforms; Str. Tighina 47
  • Nativity of Christ Metropolitan Cathedral—a Moldovan Orthodox church dating back to the 1830s with beautiful interior frescoes and a bell tower originally built in 1836 and rebuilt in 1997 due to it being destroyed in World War II; Parcul Catedralei
  • National Museum of Ethnography and Natural History—a museum with a life-size reproduction of the skeleton of a dinothere, an 8-ton elephant-like mammal that lived in the Pliocene epoch and dioramas that depict national customs and dress as well as exhibits on geology, botany, and zoology; Str. M Kogalniceanu 82
  • National Art Museum—an art museum with a collection of modern European art, folk art, icons, and medieval pieces as well as temporary exhibitions often focusing on local graphic artists; Str. 31 August 1989, 115
  • National Archaeology and History Museum—a museum that has archaeological artifacts from the region of Orheiul Vechi north of Chisinau including Golden Horde coins, Soviet-era weaponry, and a World War II diorama on the first floor; Str. 31 August 1989, 121a
  • Pushkin Museum—the site where Russia’s national poet, Alexander Pushkin, spent three years in exile between 1820-1823 with his tiny cottage filled with its original furniture, personal items including a portrait of Byron on his writing desk, and a three-room literary museum in the building facing the cottage documenting his dramatic life; Str. Anton Pann 19
  • Repression Memorial—a monument to the victims of mass deportation during Stalin’s rule; Aleea Garii

Sights in Valletta, Malta

Valletta is the capital of Malta and is a city with a rich cultural and military history. It is very religious with several churches and a basilica.

  • Barrakka Ta’ Fuq (Upper Barrakka Gardens)—a lookout point with a troupe of cats, greenery, and views of Grand Harbour and the Three Cities across the water; Castile Square
  • John’s Co-Cathedral—an impressive church designed by the architect Gerolamo Cassar between 1573 and 1578 with an interior renovated in the 17th century in a Maltese Baroque style with a painting of John the Baptist by Caravaggio, a long low nave with walls and pillars encrusted with rich ornamentation, marble floors, and a vault with paintings by Mattia Preti that depict events from the life of St. John the Baptist; Triq ir-Repubblika
  • Grand Master’s Palace—the former residence of the Grand Masters of the Knights of St. John and until 2015 the seat of Malta’s parliament is now home to a collection of over 5,000 suits of 16th to 18th century armor and weaponry including crossbows, muskets, swords, and pistols and the State Apartments with five rooms usually opened to the public; Pjazza San Gorg
  • National Museum of Archaeology—a museum housed within the Auberge de Provence that features exhibits that include artifacts such as stone tools dating back to 5200 BC, Phoenician amulets, and a temple model from Ta’Hagrat as well as model prehistoric figurines that were found within the area, pottery from the Bronze Age, animal figurines, and jewelry; Triq-ir-Repubblika
  • Fort St. Elmo and National War Museum—this fort named after the patron saint of mariners was built in 1552 in only four months to guard the harbors on either side of the Sceberras Peninsula and was restored and reopened in 2015 with the addition of the National War Museum which covers Malta’s wartime history from 1565’s Great Siege when Turkish forces attacked the country to World War II with audiovisual displays and artifacts such as a biplane and the George Cross awarded to the country in 1942
  • City Gate—this city gate designed by Renzo Piano resembles the dimensions of the original 1633 entrance to the city giving visitors the feeling of crossing a real bridge with a frame designed to look like knights’ sabers
  • Parliament Building—this building completed by Renzo Piano in 2014 includes two massive stone volumes that are supported by stilts and photovoltaic panels on the roof which generate much of the energy required to ventilate the building and inside is the northern block which contains the parliament chamber and the southern block containing the offices of the members of parliament
  • Lascaris War Rooms—a mechanically ventilated underground tunnel complex that lies 40 meters below the Upper Barrakka Gardens that housed Great Britain’s secret command in Malta during WWII and remained in use until 1977 with a restoration completed in 2009 with the rooms laid out in their original configuration staffed by wax figures; Lascaris Ditch
  • Church of St. Paul’s Shipwreck—a church honoring St. Paul who was shipwrecked in Malta in 60 AD and brought Christianity to the country with a 19th century façade and a 16th century interior with treasures such as a gilded statue of St. Paul carved in Rome in the 1650s, a golden reliquary containing bones from his wrist, and part of the column on which he was killed in Rome; Triq San Pawl
  • Carmelite Basilica—a basilica originally built in 1570 and expanded in the mid-19th century that was rebuilt between 1958-1981 after being damaged in World War II with a 42-meter-high dome and an interior with an early 17th century painting of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel and red marble columns; Triq I-Arcisqof
  • Valletta Contemporary—a modern art gallery with a rotating roster of exhibitions and installations from local and international artists; 15-17 Triq il-Levant
  • MUZA—the current incarnation of Malta’s Museum of Fine Arts located in the Auberge d’Italie, a 16th-century building that was once home to Italian members of the Knights of St. John, with historic maps and paintings; Auberge d’Italie
  • Casa Rocca Piccola—a 16th century palazzo that is the family home of the 9th Marquis de Piro who currently lives there and allows visitors to see parts of his luxurious home and the family’s WWII air-raid shelters; 74 Triq ir-Repubblika
  • Malta Postal Museum—a small museum with a permanent exhibition that tells the story of the postal system of the Knights of St. John; 135 Triq-I-Arcisqof
  • Malta Contemporary Art—a space dedicated to photography, painting, mixed media, and other art exhibitions; Triq Felix
  • James’ Cavalier—a 16th century fortification transformed into an arts center with galleries, theater, and a cinema; Castille Place
  • Sacra Infermeria—located in the former 16th century hospital run by the Order of St. John, this museum has an exhibition about medieval medicine; Triq-it-Tramuntana
  • Prospettiva—an installation designed by a Maltese architect to celebrate Valletta’s distinction as the 2018 European City of Culture that merges the city’s five gates into a two-dimensional structure disassembled into planes; Glormu Cassar Avenue
  • Siege Bell Memorial—a memorial erected in 1992 that commemorates those who lost their lives during the war convoys between 1940 and 1943; St. Christopher Bastion
  • Toy Museum—a doll-sized museum with a large private collection of model toys such as tin cars from 1950s Japan, tin toys from 1912 Germany, Matchbox cars, farmyard animals, train sets, and dolls; 222 Triq-ir-Repubblika
  • Triton Fountain—a grand fountain sculpted by Maltese sculptor Vincent Apap in 1959 restored and reopened early in 2018
  • National Library—a library with a classical façade erected by the Knights of St. John with book-lined shelves and occasional temporary exhibitions
  • Commonwealth Air Forces Memorial—a monument to the 2,298 members of the Commonwealth Air Force who died in World War II with no known graves
  • War Memorial—a monument to the 600 Maltese and almost one million British servicemen who died in World War I

Sights in Skopje, Macedonia

Skopje is the capital of Macedonia and an old and very historic city with unique museums, churches, art galleries, and interesting neighborhoods to explore.

  • Church of St. Panteleimon—a church with beautiful 12th century frescoes including a Pieta similar to Giotto’s Pieta; Nerezi Village
  • Carsija—the old town neighborhood of Skopje with winding lanes filled with teahouses, mosques, craftsmen’s stores, nightlife, historic structures, and museums
  • Archaeological Museum of Macedonia—a modern museum made of Italianate-styled marble with three floors that display findings from Macedonian archaeological excavations including Byzantine treasures, 3-D reconstructions of early Macedonian faces, a replica of an early Christian basilica showing the phases of mosaic conservation, and a Phoenician royal necropolis; Bul Goce Delcev
  • Tvrdina Kale Fortress—a 6th century Byzantine and Ottoman fortress with an interior that features two miniature museums that house archaeological finds from Neolithic to Ottoman times; Samoilova
  • National Gallery of Macedonia—Skopje’s national art gallery with seven restored rooms from the former Turkish baths featuring modern Macedonian art and sculpture; Krusevska 1a
  • Museum of the Macedonian Struggle for Statehood and Independence—a museum that serves as a memorial to Macedonia’s historic occupation, land struggles, and revolutionary heroes with graphic oil paintings and physical reconstructions; Iljo Vojvodo
  • Memorial House of Mother Teresa—a futuristic-looking memorial to Mother Teresa who was born in Skopje in 1910 that includes memorabilia related to her and on the second floor a chapel with glass walls in filigree with silhouettes of doves carved into the filigree to symbolize peace; ul Makedonija 9
  • Sveti Spas Church—a partially submerged church two meters underground that dates back to the 14th century and is the most historically significant church in Skopje with a bell tower, a restored iconostasis (a wooden screen that separates the nave of the church from the altar area at the back) built in the early 19th century, and tiered carvings; Makarije Frckoski 8
  • Holocaust Memorial Center for the Jews of Macedonia—a moving museum with displays that commemorate the Sephardic Jewish culture of Macedonia through photos, English wall texts, maps, and video with an exhibition that documents the Jewish community’s history in the Balkans ending in World War II when 98% of Macedonian Jews died in the Holocaust; Iljo Vojvoda
  • Museum of the City of Skopje—this museum is located in the old train station building where Skopje’s horrific earthquake struck on July 27, 1963, killing 1,070 people and is now an art gallery for rotating exhibitions with one area focused on the events of the earthquake through video footage and photos; St. Kiril and Methodius
  • Museum of Contemporary Art—a museum created in the aftermath of the 1963 earthquake with artists and art collections donating pieces by artists such as Picasso, Hockney, Leger, Meret Oppenheim, and Bridget Riley that is housed in a contemporary building with floor-to-ceiling windows; Samoilova 17

Sights in Belfast, Northern Ireland

Belfast is the capital of Northern Ireland and has a rich seafaring history and several historic sites that recount its long history in addition to fun museums for families to enjoy.

  • Botanic Gardens—a beautiful attraction with grass, trees, flowers, curving paths, and wrought-iron benches that was laid out in 1827 on land that slopes down to the Lagan River and includes the curved-iron and glass Palm House that is a conservatory designed in 1839 which has exotic plants such as the bird of paradise flower and the scented frangipani; the Tropical Ravine House; an arboretum; a tree trail that leads visitors around 20 trees such as the Tree-of-Heaven and Japanese red cedar; located on Stranmillis Road
  • City Hall—built between 1898 and 1906 and modeled on St. Paul’s Cathedral in London, this building was designed by Brumwell Thomas and is in the midst of Donegall Square which has statues of Queen Victoria and a column that honors the US Expeditionary Force, the first contingent of the US Army to arrive in Europe during World War II; inside is the 173-foot-high Great Dome with a magnificent view upwards from the entrance hall, beautiful stained-glass windows and arches, a café, an exhibition that describes the history of Belfast’s industrial development, and a photographic exhibition that celebrates 68 inspirational people of the past 100 years; Donegall Square
  • Crumlin Road Gaol—a major tourist attraction that formerly was a prison that opened in 1846 and had over 500 prisoners at its peak and held some of Northern Ireland’s most infamous murderers between 1969 and 1996 when the prison closed; tours of the jail are 75 minutes long and show the holding, punishment, and condemned prisoner cells as well as the execution chamber which is behind a moving bookcase and a museum with exhibits such as handcuffs, uniforms, a flogging rack, photographs, and maps; 53-55 Crumlin Road
  • Custom House—a creation of the 19th century architect Charles Lanyon that is not open to the public but features a pediment of Britannia, Mercury, and Neptune on the front and a blue plaque recording the fact that the 19th century novelist Anthony Trollope worked in the building as a post-office surveyor as well as a life-size bronze statue with arms raised commemorating the orator Jim Larkin who addressed crowds during the Dockers’ Strike of 1907 from the steps of the Custom House; Donegall Quay
  • Grand Opera House—Belfast’s opera house that is Victorian in design with ornamentation, opulent gilt moldings, and intricate plasterwork and was designed by the well-known theater architect Frank Matcham in 1894 featuring bars on all floors, a café on the ground floor, a party room, and an angel-and-cherub fresco over the auditorium ceiling; 2 Great Victoria Street
  • Knockbreda Parish Church—the oldest house of worship in Belfast that is dark and has large 18th century tombs in the churchyard; Church Road off A24
  • Lagan Boat Company N.I. Ltd.—a boat company that takes passengers on a 75-minute Titanic harbor tour of the shipyard where the liner was built; 66 Donegall Quay
  • Linen Hall Library—a distinctive gray-yellow brick library that is the oldest subscription library in Ireland with a huge collection of 80,000 documents and books relating to the Troubles regarded as the most definitive archive that attracts scholars from around the world and the original document recording the first ever acts passed by the American Congress in New York on March 4, 1789; 17 Donegall Square North
  • Metropolitan Arts Centre—Northern Ireland’s flagship home for the arts and an energetic fixture of the Cathedral Quarter’s creative scene that is six stories tall with two theaters, three art galleries, and artists’ studios along with a café, bar, and restaurant and galleries presenting current Northern Irish artists; St. Anne’s Square, Exchange Street
  • Northern Ireland War Memorial—a memorial building that has an interactive exhibition about World War II as the area was bombed by the Luftwaffe in April 1941 resulting in more than a thousand deaths and features the American Wall of Friendship that contains a copper frieze expressing the wartime bonds created between Northern Ireland and the United States; 21 Talbot Street
  • Queen’s University Belfast—a historic university with its main buildings modeled on Oxford University’s Magdalen College and designed by Charles Lanyon in 1849 in the Tudor Revival style with a redbrick and sandstone façade for the main building; the Seamus Heaney Library named after the Ulster-born 1997 Nobel Prize-winning poet who died in 2013; the McClay library in College Park with a multi-story open atrium, 1.5 million volumes, and the Brian Friel Theatre named in honor of one of Ireland’s most famous playwrights; and the C.S. Lewis reading room on the first floor that has a replica of the wardrobe door used in The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe; University Road
  • Sinclair Seamen’s Church—another Charles Lanyon building that has served seafarers since 1857 with a pulpit shaped like a ship’s prow, the bell from the HMS Hood sunk in 1916, and collection plates shaped like lifeboats; Corporation Square off Donegall Quay
  • Titanic Belfast Visitor Centre—a major attraction that is the headliner for the “Titanic Experience” exhibition with nine linked interpretive galleries that illustrate the Titanic’s history as well as Belfast’s seafaring and industrial heritage; a bow-shaped façade for the six-story building reflecting the lines of the Titanic; a ride through the reconstruction of the shipyard with the sounds and sensations of the past century; and a current view of the Titanic’s story with the discovery of its wreckage and live links to contemporary undersea exploration; Olympic Way, 6 Queen’s Road, Titanic Quarter
  • Titanic’s Dock and Pump-House Tour—one of the top attractions in Northern Ireland that has been accessible to visitors since 2012 and allows visitors to take steps down to the floor of the Titanic’s dock otherwise known as the Thompson Dry Dock which is a relic of the ship’s legacy and its physical footprint and taking a guided walk will allow visitors to reflect on the ship’s history and the importance of shipbuilding to Belfast’s history; Queen’s Road
  • Ulster Museum—a renovated museum that is popular with visitors for its light-filled atrium and polished steel and inside features exhibitions that trace the rise of Belfast’s crafts, trade, and industry and offers a photographic archive of the Troubles as well as a large natural history section with a famous skeleton of the extinct Irish giant deer, jewelry and gold ornaments recovered from the Spanish Armada vessel Girona; a great collection of 19th and 20th century art from Europe, Britain, and America; a modern history gallery which tells the story of Ulster from 1500 to 1968; and art, history, and nature discovery zones with hands-on activities for children; Stranmillis Road
  • W5: whowhatwherewhenwhy: a science discovery center with a high-tech focus that interprets science and creativity for adults and children with video displays and flashing lights that add to the futuristic atmosphere, Discovery exhibits for children under eight covering subjects such as spying and forensics, and a huge multistory climbing structure in the atrium which provides a great view of the city and beyond from the top; 2 Queen’s Quay

Shopping in Athens

Athens has interesting shops to browse at and many family-owned businesses which add a cultural appeal to the city. It is definitely a city filled with stores worth checking out.

  • Andronikos Sagiannos—a family-owned jewelry shop and gallery with modern and unique jewelry inspired by everyday objects; Makriyianni 3
  • Benaki Museum Gift Shop—the museum shop of the Benaki Museum that sells copies of Greek icons, jewelry, folk art, embroideries, ceramics, stationery, art books, reliefs, and sculpture pieces; Koumbari 1
  • Center of Hellenic Tradition—a store that sells handicrafts including ceramics, weavings, sheep bells, wood carvings, prints, and paintings; Mitropoleos 59 and Pandrossou 36
  • Diplous Pelekys—a store run by weavers that have a long family history that sells handwoven pieces, folk art, ceramics, and jewelry; Bolani Arcade, Voulis 7and Kolokotroni 3
  • Ellniko Spiti—run by an art restorer, this store sells picture frames, wooden boats, chairs, and decorative objects; Kekropos 14
  • Fanourakis—a jewelry shop selling gold pieces designed by Athenian jewelry designers under the direction of Lina Fanouraki; Patriarchou Ioakeim 23
  • Fine Wine—a traditional wine shop that sells a large selection of Greek wines and liqueurs; Lyskiratous 3
  • Forget Me Not—a cultural store that sells modern Greek designs such as beach towels with good luck charms, scarves, and sunglasses; Adrianou 100
  • Fresh Line—a beauty shop with shampoo cakes, body oils, face masks, and organic Greek-designed soaps; Ermou 30
  • Kombologadiko—a bead emporium that sells a huge variety of beads to design komboloi (worry beads); Amerikis 9
  • Koukoutsi—a t-shirt store that sells clothes that honor the Greek economic crisis; Skoufa 81
  • Lalaounis—a world-renowned jeweler that has experimental jewelry designs in gold and silver such as decorative pieces inspired by ancient Greek housewares; Panepistimiou 6 at Voukourestiou
  • Martinos—an antique shop selling items such as dowry chests, swords, fabrics, and Venetian glass; Pandrossou 50
  • Museum of Cycladic Art Shop—the museum’s store that sells modern versions of older jewelry designs as well as replicas and ceramics; Neofitou Douka 4
  • Occhi Concept Store—a gallery-style store that sells art, clothing, jewelry, and accessories by modern Greek designers; Ipitou 5 and Voulis 40
  • Old Market—an antique shop with old coins from around the world, stamps, engravings, toys and radios, musical instruments, and medals; Normanou 7
  • Parthenis—a family-owned boutique that sells stylish bohemian-style clothing with fibers such as wool, silk, and cotton along with an eyewear collection and wedding collection; Dimokritou 20 and Tsakalof
  • Pentheroudakis—a jeweler with gold, diamond, and gem designs as well as customizable silver worry beads; Voukourestiou 19
  • Pylarinos—an antique shop with stamps, coins, and 19th century engravings; Panepistimiou 18
  • Taste of Greece—a Greek grocery store with delicacies from the country including mastiha liqueur and truffle-flavored extra virgin olive oil; Adrianou 67
  • The Olive Tree Store—a specialty shop with items made from olive wood like salad bowls and tongs, wall clocks, jewelry, and backgammon sets; Adrianou 67
  • Thiamis—run by an iconographer, this store sells gold-leaf hand-painted icons in wood and stone as well as handmade model ships and custom items; Asklipiou 71
  • Xanthopoulos—a jeweler with pearl, diamond, and ruby pieces; Voukourestiou 4
  • Zoumboulakis Art-Design-Antiques—an art shop inside a private art gallery with silk-screens by famous Greek painters; Kriezotou 6

Sights in Athens, Greece

Athens was a pivotal city in the birth of civilization and is filled with archaeological sites, museums, and landmarks such as the Acropolis and Hadrian’s Arch. If you’re a history buff like I am, Athens seems like it would be a perfect place to visit.

  • Acropolis—a landmark monument that pays homage to ancient Greek history with newly restored temples, the Parthenon, and the Propylaea that has played various roles over the years including as a Florentine palace, an Islamic mosque, a Turkish harem, and a landing site for British paratroopers during WWII; Dionyssiou Areopagitou
  • Acropolis Museum—a modernly designed museum that features glass walkways, high ceilings, and panoramic views of the Acropolis with exhibits about the artifacts around the Acropolis, statues from the Archaic period, and many marble decorations; Dionyssiou Areopagitou 15
  • Ancient Agora—the ancient side of the commercial center of Athens that was once filled with statues and expensive stores with long colonnades and arches under which Socrates and Zeno convened and home to the Museum of Agora Excavations, a two-story museum, that contains well-known sculptures of historic and mythological figures, as well as more about the history of the agora
  • Benaki Museum—Greece’s oldest museum that was recently expanded with a very modern new addition that adds to the architectural appeal of the main complex which is a large neoclassical mansion and traces the history of Greece from prehistoric times to the present with artifacts such as a 5,000-year-old hammered bowl, Lord Byron’s pistols, and costumed mannequins among several others; Koumbari 1
  • Benaki Museum of Islamic Art—home to a large and significant Islamic art collection, this museum has 8,000 pieces of art from a wide variety of geographic regions including ceramics, gold, metalwork, weaponry, and textiles; Dipilou 12
  • Byzantine and Christian Museum—a museum that displays Byzantine and Christian icons, mosaics, tapestries, and sculptural fragments from Byzantine times (4th-15th century AD) to the present; Vasilissis Sofias 22
  • Greek Folk Art Museum—a four building museum that has folk art from the 1650s to the present with embroideries, stone and wood carvings, costumes, and shadow player figures among others; Kidathineon 17
  • Hadrian’s Arch—an Athenian landmark that is one of the most significant surviving Roman monuments built in AD 131 with Corinthian details that was designed to honor Hadrian, a Hellenic emperor; Vasilissis Amalias at Dionyssiou Areopagitou
  • Ilias Lalaounis Jewelry Museum—a museum featuring the vast creations of world-renowned artist and jeweler, Ilias Lalaounis, with fifty collections that include pieces inspired by diverse subjects such as Greek wildflowers and the Treasure of Priam of Troy; Kallisperi 12
  • Lycabettus—Athens’s highest hill that offers one ride every half hour on what is known as the teleferique (funicular) to the summit where Ayios Georgios chapel and bell tower is located along with coin-operated telescopes that allow you to view Aegina Island; there is also a small shrine to Ayios Isidoros, an 1859 site where students prayed for Greeks fighting against Austrians, French, and Sardinians that King Otho supported
  • Museum of Cycladic Art—a museum home to 350 Cycladic artifacts that date back to the Bronze Age, Cypriot art, art from other eras dating from the Bronze Age to the 6th century AD, and an exhibition on scenes from the past along with a skylit café in a courtyard, an art shop, and children’s activities; Neofitou Douka 4
  • Museum of Greek Popular Musical Instruments—a museum dedicated to the history of Greek music with three floors of instruments and headphones so you can listen to their diverse sounds; Diogenous 1-3
  • National Archaeological Museum—Greece’s most significant museum that displays major ancient Greek sculptures and paintings and has been recently renovated so that works previously left unseen are now publicly viewable and displays have English translations; the most noteworthy pieces are the Mycenaean Antiquities found in 1876 during an excavation of Mycenaean royal tombs; 28 Oktovriou 44
  • National Garden—a beautiful garden built in 1860 that has 500 species of trees and plants, a café and open-air theater, track area, playgrounds, a duck pond, and small zoo
  • National Historical Museum—a museum that traces Greek history from the mid-16th century through WWII with paintings, costumes, and artifacts that include arms to flags and ships’ figureheads; Stadiou 13
  • New Municipal Gallery of Athens—one of Athens’s oldest classical buildings housed in a former silk factory designed in 1833 by a Danish architect that has almost 3,000 art works from 19th and 20th century Greek artists; Leonidou and Myllerou
  • Numismatic Museum Iliou Melathron—a coin museum in the former home of Heinrich Schliemann who excavated Troy and Mycenae in the 19th century with artifacts such as colored marbles, wall paintings, over 600,000 coins from the archaeologist’s personal collection to 4th century BC coins used as measures against forgers; Panepistimiou 12
  • Roman Agora—Athens’s commercial center from the 1st century BC to the 4th century AD that now includes the Gate of Athena Archegetis completed around 2 AD, the late 15th century Fethiye Mosque, and the world-renowned Tower of the Winds that has kept time since the 1st century BC and has eight sides that face the direction of the eight winds that the compass was divided into; Pelopidas and Aiolou
  • Technopolis—a 19th century gasworks complex transformed into an arts complex that is home to the Industrial Gas Museum, exhibition spaces, and a large courtyard with a coffee shop; Pireos 100
  • Temple of Olympian Zeus—a sprawling temple completed in AD 132 by Hadrian that has a large gold-and-ivory statue of Zeus; Vasilissis Olgas 1


Venturing into Europe…stop 1: Vienna!

The next stop on this tour of the world is the wonderfully diverse Europe. The first place we’ll be exploring is Vienna, the capital of Austria and a very historic and interesting city. There is a wealth of museums, gardens, parks, and tourist attractions to check out in this city. Here is a good handful of the attractions worth checking out.

  • Schonbrunn Palace—a cultural world heritage site and Austria’s most frequently visited tourist attraction with state and residential rooms with traditional furniture and decorations along with a park and gardens surrounding the palace; Schlosstrasse 47
  • Kunsthistorisches Museum—an art museum with works from five millennia from Ancient Egypt to the present day including the world’s largest collection of Bruegel paintings; Maria-Theresien-Platz
  • Zoo Vienna—the oldest existing zoo in the world founded in 1752 and featuring more than 700 species of animals including giant pandas, tigers, orangutans, koalas, and elephants; Vienna 1130
  • Natural History Museum—a natural history museum that includes a large collection of dinosaur skeletons, meteorites, and insects from around the world; Burgring 7
  • Technisches Museum—a museum that depicts Austria’s contributions to the birth of modern technology with multimedia shows and exhibits illustrating our dependence on technology in our daily lives; Mariahilfer Strasse 212
  • Heeresgeschichtliches Museum—a military history museum situated in the center of the Arsenal depicting 500 years of Austrian and European history including the history of the Hapsburg Empire from the 16th century until 1918; Ghegastrasse
  • Austrian Museum of Applied Arts and Contemporary Art—founded in 1863 as the Royal Austrian Museum of Art and Industry, this museum is considered an important art museum featuring art from around the world and from various fields of art; Stubenring 5
  • Imperial Treasury—an elegant building home to 1,000 years of treasures including the Holy Lance, the Imperial Crown, the sable of Charlemagne, and the Burgundian treasures; Scheweizer Hof
  • 21er Haus—Vienna’s newest museum of modern art housed in a building that was built for the 1958 World Expo that was renovated and reopened in 2011 to highlight Austria’s best modern art including the largest collection and archive of Austrian sculptor Fritz Wotruba; Arsenalstrasse 1
  • Belvedere Palace—a magnificent example of Baroque architecture that was originally the summer palace of Prince Eugene of Savoy and later the home of Archduke Franz Ferdinand with 17th century salons, frescoes, and museums dedicated to Austrian painting with the primary attraction a collection of 19th and 20th century Austrian paintings by early 20th century artists such as Gustav Klimt, Egon Schiele, and Oskar Kokoschka; Prinz-Eugen Strasse 27
  • Freud Haus—Sigmund Freud’s residence from 1891 to 1938 with five rooms of memorabilia including documents, photographs, telegrams, and waiting-room furniture; Berggasse 19
  • Haus der Muzik (House of Music)—a high-tech music museum located on several floors of an early 19th century palace that features rooms dedicated to great Viennese composers such as Haydn, Mozart, Beethoven, Schubert, and Strauss among others as well as exhibits that trace the development of sound and illustrate how the ear works and interactive computer games including one that allows you to conduct the Vienna Philharmonic; Seilerstatte 30
  • Albertina Museum—an art museum home to almost 65,000 paintings and almost a million prints include works by Leonardo Da Vinci, Durer, Michelangelo, Raphael, and Rembrandt; Augustinerstrasse 1
  • Architekturzentrum Wien (Vienna Architecture Center)—an architectural exhibition with exhibits on Austrian architecture in the 20th and 21st centuries; MuseumsQuartier, Museumsplatz 1
  • Burggarten—a garden oasis with a statue of Franz Josef and a statue of Mozart as well as a butterfly house with tropical trees, waterfalls, a butterfly nursery, and over 150 species on display; Opernring
  • Collection of Arms and Armor—one of the most extensive arms and armor collections in the world with a triumphal arch entrance; Neue Burg, Heldenplatz
  • Collection of Historical Musical Instruments—a collection of musical instruments such as pianos once owned by Brahms, Schumann, and Mahler; Neue Berg, Heldenplatz
  • Ephesus Museum—a museum in the Neue Berg with Roman antiquities discovered by Austrian archaeologists; Neue Berg, Heldenplatz
  • Falschermuseum (Museum of Art Fakes)—a unique museum with forged pieces including Chagall and Rembrandt paintings and a fake diary written by Adolf Hitler; Lowengasse 28
  • Globe Museum—a museum featuring a collection of over 400 terrestrial and celestial globes with the oldest an earth globe from 1536 and a ground floor level exhibit on the history of Esperanto; Herrengasse 9
  • Hofbibliotek (National Library)—a majestic baroque library with a grand hall featuring treasured books and biannual special exhibits in the hall displaying some of the rare books in German and English; Josefsplatz 1
  • Hofmobiliendepot (Furniture Museum)—a museum that displays the furniture of the royal court and re-created rooms that illustrate the history of furniture making in Vienna; Mariahilferstrasse 88
  • Judenplatz Museum—formerly the Jewish ghetto and the remains of a 13th-century synagogue that is dedicated to Austrian Jews who died during World War II; inside are three exhibition rooms that describe medieval Jewish life and excavations of the synagogue; Judenplatz 8
  • Judisches Museum der Stadt Wien—situated within the former Eskeles Palace is the Jewish Museum of Vienna that features permanent exhibits that illustrate the role Viennese Jews played in their professions from philosophy to music as well as a café and bookstore; Dorotheergasse 11
  • Kaiserappartements (Imperial Apartments)—a suite of eighteen rooms that can be reached by climbing up the marble Emperor’s Staircase that includes the rooms where the ruling family of the Hapsburg Empire conducted their affairs such as the room where Emperor Franz Josef in 1889 was told that his only son, Crown Prince Rudolf, had killed himself and his soulmate; Emperor Franz Josef’s simple iron bed; and Empress Elizabeth’s gymnastics equipment as well as five rooms devoted to Elizabeth’s most valued possessions; Hofburg, Schweizer Hof
  • Karlskirche—a church dedicated to St. Charles Borromeo whose exterior columns portray scenes from Borromeo’s life and the rights of the Hapsburgs to their Spanish territories and interior has fine vault frescoes and a panoramic elevator that takes visitors to the sphere of the dome where they can view the heart of Vienna; Karlsplatz
  • Kunsthaus Wien—an art museum with international exhibitions as well as displays of the artwork of Friedensreich Hundertwasser; Untere Weissgerberstrasse 13
  • Leopold Museum—a museum that features the collection of Rudolf and Elizabeth Leopold including one of the world’s best collections of Austrian painter Egon Schiele’s works and works of art by Gustav Klimt, Oskar Kokoshka, and Richard Gerstl; MuseumsQuartier, Museumsplatz 1
  • Museum Moderner Kunst Stiftung Ludwig (Museum of Modern Art Ludwig Foundation)—Austria’s collection of 20th century art that has eight floors filled with American pop art, Rene Magritte works, Max Ernst, Andy Warhol, Jackson Pollock, and Cy Twombly; MuseumsQuartier, Museumsplat 1
  • Prater—a public park with amusement park rides such as a restored Ferris wheel, a planetarium, and a museum that elaborates on the Prater’s history; Riesenradplatz
  • Romermuseum—a museum with the ruins of a Roman military camp that dates back to the 2nd and 3rd centuries including fragments of buildings, pieces of pottery, children’s toys, statues, idols, and ornaments as well as interactive games for children; Hoher Markt 3
  • Schonbrunn Schlosspark (Palace Park)—on the grounds of the Schonbrunn Palace is this park with a zoo, carriage museum, panoramic views of the city and palace complex, a playground, and maze; Schonbrunner-Schloss-Strasse
  • Uhrenmuseum (Clock Museum)—a clock museum with three floors of clocks and watches dating from the 15th century to the present; Schulhof 2
  • Volksgarten—a park with a rose garden, a Greek temple, and a monument to Empress Elisabeth, Franz Josef’s wife, who was assassinated by an Italian anarchist in 1898; Burgring 1
  • Wien Museums Karlsplatz—a museum with Viennese historical artifacts such as 16th century armor, paintings by Schiele and Klimt, and the preserved façade of Otto Wagner’s Die Zeit offices; Karlsplatz
  • Zoom Kinder Museum (Zoom Children’s Museum)—a children’s museum with a lab where children can explore virtual reality, make screenplays come alive, and play in the imaginary ocean with underwater creatures; MuseumsQuartier, Museumsplatz 1


Sights in Quebec City

Quebec City is the capital of Quebec and is home to a wealth of historic parks and monuments  in addition to interesting museums and cultural attractions.

  • Aquarium du Quebec—the only aquarium in North America with examples of all five cold-water seal species as well as polar bears, walruses, mollusks, starfish, stingrays, and other fresh and salt-water fish; 1675 av. des hotels
  • Basilique Cathedrale Notre Dame de Quebec (Our Lady of Quebec Basilica Cathedral)—an historic cathedral with a canopied dais over the Episcopal throne; a ceiling decorated with gold leaf; stained glass windows; a large crypt that was Quebec City’s first cemetery; and panels that provide historical context of the church; 16 rue de Buade
  • Boutique des Metiers d’art du Quebec—a boutique that features Quebec’s finest glass art, porcelain, jewelry, and woodworking; 29 rue Notre-Dame
  • Fortifications of Quebec National Historic Site—a French fortified site that began to be built in 1690 by the French to protect against British invaders but could not convince France to take the threat seriously, the walls remained incomplete until after the American Revolution and the War of 1812
  • Grosse Ile National Park—Canada’s version of Ellis Island where between 1832-1937 4.3 million immigrants passed through the port including several Irish refugees from the potato famine some of whom died at the site
  • Henry Stuart House—built in 1849 by the wife of a wealthy businessman, William Henry, this cottage was purchased in 1918 by Adele and Mary Stuart, two philanthropists, who also had an English-style garden behind the house; 82 Grande Allee Ouest
  • Jardin des Gouveneurs (Governors’ Park)—a small park home to the Wolfe-Montcalm Monument, a 50-foot obelisk that memorializes to a successful British and an unsuccessful French general; on the south side of the park are Victorian homes dating from 1850 to 1900 that are now converted into inns, B&Bs, and hotels
  • L’Esclalier Casse-Cou—the city’s first iron stairway was designed in 1893 by Charles Baillairge, a city architect and engineer, and has 59 steps leading to shops and restaurants
  • La Citadelle—the largest occupied fortified base in North America that consists of 25 buildings that were designed to protect Quebec City and act as a refuge and were completed by the British to protect against French and American attacks; since 1920 this has been the base of the French-speaking Royal 22e Regiment and has a museum with weapons, uniforms, and decorations dating back to the 17th century; Cote de la Citadelle
  • Morrin Cultural Centre—a stately building that has served many purposes throughout history including as a prison, the national archives, and one of the city’s first private schools; 44 rue Chaussee des Ecossais
  • Musee de l’Amerique Francophone—a museum that was once a student residence of the Seminaire de Quebec and now focuses on the history of the French in North America through landscape and still-life paintings, French colonial money, scientific instruments, and exhibits; 2 cote de la fabrique
  • Musee de la Civilisation (Museum of Civilization)—a large modern museum with a limestone and glass façade that has two permanent exhibits that explore 400 years of Quebec’s history through artifacts, timelines, films, interviews, and news clips as well as an exhibit on the eleven aboriginal nations in Quebec; 85 rue Dalhousie
  • Musee de la Place Royale—a museum with exhibits and a replica of a 19th century house and a presentation on the history of Quebec; 27 rue Notre-Dame
  • Musee du Fort—a museum providing historical background on soldiers’ weaponry, uniforms, and military insignia worn by Canadian forces during the Battle of the Plains of Abraham and the 1775 attack by American generals Arnold and Montgomery as well as featuring a 400-square-foot replica of the city prepared for battle; 10 rue Ste-Anne
  • Musee National des Beaux-Arts Du Quebec (National Museum of Fine Arts of Quebec)—a beaux arts museum with over 22,000 traditional and modern pieces of art from Quebec with the original building home to pieces by Jean-Paul Riopelle, Jean-Paul Lemieux, Alfred Pellan, and Horatio Walker as well as an abandoned prison exhibit in a 1930s building; Parc des Champs-de-Bataille
  • Observatoire de la Capitale—situated on top of the Edifice Marie-Guyart, Quebec City’s tallest building, with a panoramic view of the city from 31 stories up and features 3-D imagery, audiovisual displays in French and English, and a time-travel element; 1037 rue de Chevrotiere
  • Parc Jeanne D’ Arc—a park featuring a statue of Joan of Arc on a horse that symbolizes military courage and the French honoring the memory of a 1759 battle where New France was lost to the British; this park is also where the Canadian national anthem “O

Canada” was played for the first time on June 24, 1880; Avs. Laurier and Tache

  • Plains of Abraham—a park named after Abraham Martin who used the plains as pasture for his cows and where a famous 1759 battle occurred that determined New France’s fate; the park also has a museum depicting 400 years of Canadian history; 835 Av. Wilfrid-Laurier
  • Quebec-Levis Ferry—a ferry that crosses the St. Lawrence River and provides great views of the Quebec City skyline and landmarks such as the Chateau Frontenac and the Quebec Seminary; 10 rue des Traversiers
  • St-Louis Forts and Chateaux National Historic Site—an archaeological site that allows visitors to see artifacts from the former official residence and base of the French and British governors such as wine bottles, kitchenware, walls, and door frames; Terrasse Dufferin
  • Seminaire de Quebec—a seminary founded by Francois de Montmorency Laval, the first bishop of New France, to train priests in the new colony, and where the Universite Laval, the first French university in North America, was situated until the 1950s; 1 cote de la Fabrique
  • Wolfe Monument—a monument that marks the spot where British general James Wolfe died in 1759 during the battle on the Plains of Abraham; Rue de Bernieres and av. Wolfe-Montcalm

Sights in Cape Town, South Africa

Cape Town is the capital of South Africa and has a rich maritime history and more somber history of apartheid and discrimination. It is certainly a place worth exploring for its wealth of museums, natural attractions, and family-friendly attractions.

  • Table Mountain—a mountain with excellent views and multiple hiking areas; Table Mountain National Park
  • Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden—internationally recognized as one of the seven most magnificent botanical gardens in the world with 528 acres that includes a garden and nature reserve as well as restaurants, a nursery, a gift shop, a bookshop, and a permanent Zimbabwean stone sculpture collection; Rhodes Drive
  • Cape Point Nature Reserve—located within the southern section of Table Mountain National Park and declared a World Heritage site with rugged rocks, cliffs towering more than 200 meters above the sea, and a storied maritime history; Cape Town Central
  • Green Point Park and Biodiversity Garden—adjacent to the Cape Town Stadium with views of the stadium and Signal Hill and themed areas within the garden; Bay Road
  • District Six Museum—a memorial museum to a neighborhood destroyed during South Africa’s apartheid period with maps, photos, and other artifacts from the old neighborhood; 15 25a Buitenkant Street
  • First South African Perfume Museum—includes a permanent collection that provides a glimpse into the world of perfumes; 3 Viola Road
  • Two Oceans Aquarium—provides a glimpse into the oceans surrounding the South African coast with sea creatures such as Knysna seahorses, sea turtles, and giant spider crabs as well as a touch pool and full ocean tunnel; Alfred Basin, Dock Road
  • Company’s Gardens—beautiful gardens with a national gallery, rose garden, vegetable garden, trees, and wildlife; 19 Queen Victoria Street
  • The Springbok Experience Rugby Museum—tells South Africa’s story through its most popular sport with more than 60 audiovisual displays where visitors can watch the history of South African rugby unfold as well as interactive activities for children; Portswood House, Portswood Ridge, Portswood Road
  • Cape Town Diamond Museum—illustrates the evolution of the diamond over time and the most famous South African diamonds; Level 1 The Clock Tower
  • Bugz Family Playpark—a large amusement park for young children with an indoor play area and outdoor playground; 56 Tarentaal Street
  • Simon’s Town Museum—a former Dutch East India Company property owned by the former governor contains crafts and artifacts that depict the cultural history of Cape Town and South Africa; Court Road
  • Chavonnes Battery Museum—home to international photography exhibitions and archaeology exhibits, models, displays, and information panels; Clock Tower
  • Warrior Toy Museum—home to a toy collection that includes model cars, dolls, soldiers, ships, and matchbox trains; St. George’s Street
  • Arderne Gardens—a collection of hundreds of species of trees and shrubs that is the best collection of exotic plants in South Africa; 222 Main Road
  • Cape Town Science Centre—home to science exhibits, workshops, puzzles, and games; 370B Main Road
  • Bishopsford Bonsai Garden—offers bonsai planting courses in the largest bonsai nursery in the Western Cape; 3 Muscat Lane South
  • Museum of Gems and Jewelry—shows the evolution of diamonds over time and teaches visitors about unique and rare gemstones as well as the history of jewelry; Huguenot House
  • Blouberg Beach—a popular beach divided into two bays that provide areas for surfers, sunbathers, families, and for activities such as kite flying and kite surfing
  • Bo-Kaap Museum—built in the 18th century, this museum was once the home of Abu Bakr Effendi, a Turkish scholar and Muslim leader, who wrote one of the first books in Afrikaans, and now recreates the lifestyle of a Malay family in the 19th century; 71 Wale Street
  • Boulders Beach—part of Table Mountain National Park, this beach is known for its colony of African penguins which can be viewed at their breeding beach which is not open to visitors and on penguin-viewing platforms; Kleintuin Road, Sea Forth, Simon’s Town
  • Cape Point—a park with incredible views from a platform of False Bay and the Hottentots Holland Mountains and an old and new revolving lighthouse are able to be viewed; off the M65 (Plateau Road)
  • Cape Town Holocaust Centre—a memorial to the victims of the Holocaust as well as an education center that reminds us of the dangers of prejudice, racism, and discrimination; 88 Hatfield Street
  • Castle of Good Hope—South Africa’s oldest building that was built between 1665 and 1676 by the Dutch East India Company that was designed as a fortress to replace an earlier fort erected in 1652 and has served as the headquarters of the Dutch East India Company and the governor’s residence; 1 Buitenkant Street
  • Groote Kerk—a Gothic church that is one of South Africa’s most famous churches and was built in 1841 on the foundation of a Dutch Reformed church built in 1704 featuring enclosed pews for wealthy families with doors, a large pulpit, and an enormous organ that is the largest in the Southern Hemisphere; Church Square, Parliament Street
  • Irma Stern Museum—a small museum featuring the paintings of Irma Stern, one of the greatest painters from South Africa, with paintings inspired by her trips to the Congo and Zanzibar and a collection of African artifacts; Cecil Road
  • Old Town House—a building designed in the Cape Dutch style that is home to the Michaelis Collection which is a 17th-century collection of Dutch paintings including some by Rembrandt; Greenmarket Square
  • Rhodes Memorial—a memorial dedicated to the memory of the prime minister who presided over the Cape from 1890 to 1896 whose vision was to develop a Cape-Cairo railway; the memorial is set atop Rhodes’s old estate, Groote Schuur; off Rhodes Drive
  • Robben Island—this island has had a long history in various incarnations as a prison where Nelson Mandela was imprisoned, leper colony, mental institution, and military base that is now a museum and a World Heritage site featuring an embarkation center and conference center named after Mandela with interactive exhibits that display photos of life in the prison and boat rides across the water; Nelson Mandela Gateway
  • Scratch Patch—a gemstone factory that allows visitors to buy and fill bags with gemstones picked from a garden deeply filled with gemstones such as rare blue lace agate with an attached store that sells gemstone jewelry; Dido Valley Road, Simon’s Town
  • Slave Lodge—built in 1697 by the Dutch East India Company as a home for slaves, convicts, and the mentally ill, it became the supreme court from 1815 to 1914 and is now a museum that depicts slavery in Cape Town with temporary exhibits that delve into apartheid and racism; 49 Wale Street
  • South African Jewish Museum—this museum has its home in South Africa’s first synagogue and is adjacent to the Cape Town Holocaust Centre with interactive and multimedia exhibits about the Jewish population in South Africa, an active synagogue, a Discovery Center for tracing family histories, a gallery for rotating exhibits, an auditorium, a restaurant, and a shop; 88 Hatfield Street
  • South African Museum—a museum featuring rock art from ancient Khoisan culture, fossils of prehistoric reptiles and other animals, exhibits on sharks in Shark World, a planetarium, and photography exhibits; 25 Queen Victoria Street
  • South African National Gallery—an art museum with a collection of 19th and 20th century European art, South African pieces, and regularly rotating exhibitions on topics such as South African struggles with HIV/AIDS or documentary photography; Government Avenue
  • South African Naval Museum—a naval museum with model ships, navigational equipment, old diving equipment, life-size boats, and a submarine; Naval Dockyard, St. George’s Street, Simon’s Town
  • George’s Cathedral—once the seat of Archbishop Desmond Tutu, the country’s first black archbishop of Cape Town who criticized apartheid and strove for a democratic government, this cathedral contains the largest stained-glass window in the country and a 1,000-year-old Coptic cross; 5 Wale Street

A Good Taste of What’s to Come: Buzz Books Spring/Summer 2013

Buzz Books 2013: Spring/Summer was a great taste of what to expect for the spring and summer season in books. Included were 28 excerpts from books in various genres and while some were books I can’t wait to read, others did not appeal to me as much. I felt it was a good mix of genres and could appeal to a diverse readership.

What was included within the book were excerpts from books by debut authors which provides readers of this book the opportunity to get a good feel for the writing style of the author. One favorite was Anton DiSclafani’s The Yonahlossee Riding Camp for Girls which was about a 15 year old girl whose involvement in a family tragedy caused her to be sent in the late summer to the camp which will be released in June. This is a period novel so those who enjoy history may be interested in the book.

There were also some interesting nonfiction selections including Lily Koppel’s The Astronaut Wives Club which is already in film development about a group of wives of the first American astronauts beginning in 1961 with Mercury 7 to the Apollo mission of 1969. This provided a glimpse into their world which is filled with magazine covers, reporters converging on their front lawns, and visits to the developing Cape Canaveral. Decisive by Chip Heath and Dan Heath helps readers with their decision-making processes.

This was the first sampler from a publisher that I have tried and I liked how it provided lengthy excerpts from the books so you could make an educated decision on whether you wanted to purchase the book when it was released. I would definitely recommend this to anyone who wants to find out about noteworthy books before they are released. I received a digital copy of this book from the publisher, Publishers Lunch.