Lucca, Italy

After all the farewells and the packing up of our London Life, we traveled to Italy to recharge before returning to the US.  Relaxation was on our minds and Lucca, Florence, and Pisa were on the itinerary.  We began in Lucca.  Here are the highlights from this charming, Tuscan city…

City Walls

Lucca’s City Walls

Passeggiata

La Passeggiata della Mura (The Walk of the Walls)

One of Lucca’s main attractions is its city walls surrounding the historic center.  Atop these 39ft/12m high walls sits the unique, tree-lined footpath, Passeggiata della Mura, offering 4km/2.5 miles of picturesque scenery.

Rabarama Sculpture

Rabarama Sculpture along the city walls

Currently on display in Lucca are the amazing sculptures of Rabaramathe immensely talented Italian contemporary artist.

Duomo di San Martino

Facade and bell tower of the Duomo di San Martino

Lucca’s magnificent Cathedral of St. Martin, (Duomo di San Martino) with its grand, marble façade, dates back to the 11th century.  The Volto Santo (Holy Face of Lucca), a large wooden crucifix believed to be carved by Nicodemus, is a highlight inside.

Piazza dell'Anfiteatro

Piazza dell’Anfiteatro

The oval Piazza dell’Anfiteatro was built on the site of the Roman amphitheater. Today it is home to restaurants, shops and cafes.  A great place to park your bike and unwind…

Chiesa e Battistero di SS Giovanni e Reparata

Back of Chiesa e Battistero di SS Giovanni e Reparata

The striking Church and Baptistry of St. Giovanni and Santa Reparata was built upon several layers of past civilizations, providing a unique insight into Lucca’s history. 

I Don' t Like Chocolate

And, finally, a “chocolate lie” brings this short yet relaxing visit to a close.  We enjoyed our time in this lovely city.  Molte Grazie, Lucca!   

Now, off to Florence…

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Farewell, London

Yes, it’s true.  Our time in London has come to a close and we’ve since returned to the US.  Our three years there were three of the best.  From the Royal Wedding to the 2012 Summer Olympics, the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee to the birth of Prince George, we couldn’t have picked a better time to be there.  With so many memories and cultural experiences to take away, along with an addition to our family (our very own Prince), our lives are forever changed. 

Thank you, London.  Here’s to you…

Cheers.

The Mall

Oslo, Norway

Located within the innermost part of the Oslofjord,  Norway’s capital is relaxed, friendly, and green.  With plenty of sights, history, art, and Nordic culture to experience, it is a pleasant city to explore on foot.  Our visit was a short one, but we managed to see as much as we could within the time we had.
Here are the highlights…

Vigeland Sculpture Park

Vigeland Sculpture Park in Frogner Park

The Monolith

The Monolith by Gustav Vigeland

Dancing Young Woman

Dancing Young Woman by Gustav Vigeland

Inside the beautiful Frogner Park (Frognerparken) lies the extraordinary Vigeland Sculpture Park.  This popular tourist attraction features the work of Norway’s most-revered sculpture, Gustav Vigeland.  More than 200 of his unique sculptures are on display.

Nobel Peace Center

Nobel Peace Center

Opened in 2005, the Nobel Peace Center features the history of the Nobel Peace Prize and its laureates. The Peace Prize is awarded in Oslo each year while the prizes in Chemistry, Literature, Physics, Physiology or Medicine, and Economic Sciences are awarded annually in Stockholm, Sweden.

National Gallery

National Gallery (Nasjonalmuseet)

Oslo’s National Gallery (Nasjonalmuseet) houses a vast collection of Norwegian art along with an impressive collection of European art.  The museum is currently celebrating the 150th anniversary of the birth of Edvard Munch, together with the Munch Museum, until mid October 2013.

Oslo Opera House

Oslo Opera House (Operahuset)

Home to The Norwegian National Opera and Ballet, the contemporary Oslo Opera House (Operahuset) opened its doors in 2008.  The angled roof is pedestrian-friendly and provides some lovely views of the city.

Viking Ship Museum

Viking Ship Museum (Vikingskipshuset)

The Viking Ship Museum (Vikingskipshuset), located in Bygdøy, is a fascinating place to learn more about the seafaring masters and the ships they once sailed.  The Oseberg ship, Gokstad ship, and the Tune ship are on display along with several other interesting archaeological finds.

We had a lovely time exploring Norway’s capital city and its charming neighborhoods.  Takk, Oslo!

 

Stockholm, Sweden

A couple of weeks ago, we traveled north to visit two Scandinavian cities—Stockholm, Sweden and Oslo, Norway.  Stockholm was first on the itinerary…

As the capital of Sweden and Scandinavia, Stockholm is the country’s most populous city.  It spreads out over 14 islands, making its waterways a popular place to cruise.  With simply spectacular weather during our visit, we spent time on the water admiring the city and its attractive landscape. Here are the highlights from land and lake…

Old Town

In Old Town (Gamla Stan)

Old Town
The narrow, cobblestone alleys and striking architecture make Stockholm’s Old Town (Gamla Stan) a favorite with tourists.  This medieval center dates back to the 13th century and offers plenty of cafés, restaurants, and retail shops, along with churches and museums.

Stockholm Cathedral

Stockholm Cathedral (Storkyrkan)

Founded in the 13th century, Stockholm Cathedral (Storkyrkan) is the oldest church in Old Town (Gamla Stan).  It is home to several treasures, including the well-known statue of Saint George and the Dragon and The Candle Globe below.

The Candle Globe

The Candle Globe

The Candle Globe, representing the world, is an assembly point for prayers within the Cathedral.

Stockholm City Hall

Stockholm City Hall

Stockholm City Hall (Stockholms Stadshus) is a unique city hall.  Not only does it contain the usual office space, but a major tourist attraction―restaurant Stadshuskällaren, the venue of the Nobel Prize banquet each year.

Vasa Museum

Vasa Museum (Vasamuseet)

The Vasa Warship

The Vasa Warship

The Vasa Museum (Vasamuseet) contains one of the best preserved ships salvaged from a shipwreck.  The 17th century Vasa warship sank on its first journey minutes after departure.  It was raised in 1961 and pieced together like a puzzle.

Skansen

Skansen

Owl

Owl at Skansen

Sheep

Sheep at Skansen

Founded in 1891 by Artur Hazelius, Skansen is an open-air museum and zoo.  It represents a living history of Sweden through the centuries, complete with traditional buildings, farmsteads and guides dressed in costume.  It is (how they phrase it) “Sweden in miniature.”

Water ViewWater Views
Cruising around Stockholm’s waterways in perfect weather was definitely a high-point of our visit.  Our boat tour explored a number of the city’s bridges and the locks that connect Lake Mälaren with the Baltic Sea.  It was a great way to end our visit.  Tack, Stockholm!

And now, off to Oslo…