Dating back to the year 973, Skofja Loka, Slovenia was built on the confluence of two rivers – Poljanska Sora and Selska Sora. The city center consists of the upper town square, Plac, and the lower town square, Lontrg, both of which are situated under the hill-topping castle, The Castle of Skofja Loka. From the 14th century until the late 18th century, the town was protected by walls, portions of which are still standing. Though earthquakes, fire and war have marked the city, Skofja Loka remains one of the best preserved medieval towns in Slovenia. Located just 23 km northwest of Slovenia’s capital, Ljubljana, we took a day trip to get a firsthand look at the sights in Skofja Loka.
During our research for our day trip to Krka National Park, the city of Sibenik gained our attention. The seaside city is located just 11 miles from Skradin, the main entrance to the park, and we had read that a stop in Sibenik may be required. With an hour (or longer) bus connection we could add a quick tour of Sibenik – a city boasting forts and historic churches – to our day trip itinerary, which was an appealing option. In the end, we rode a direct bus from Zadar to Skradin, eliminating the stop. However, it did not diffuse our desire to see the town so we planned a specific day trip to Sibenik from Zadar to take in the city’s sights.
Sydney Road has long been the main thoroughfare in Brunswick and it is lined with shops, eateries, government buildings and churches. Gentrification of the area has spurred the remodeling of historic hotels (which are pubs) and the adaptive reuse of many of the buildings along Sydney Road. The diverse culture of the area brings an assortment of cuisine. The street is also home to many second-hand and vintage shops that could easily provide hours of entertainment. But, it’s the many pubs along the street that make a Sydney Road pub crawl so enticing.
We took the train into the Melbourne CBD with a specific plan in mind – one that did not include a day trip to Williamstown, Australia. Our afternoon itinerary included a visit to Parliament to watch the action from the public gallery followed by a late picnic lunch in Carlton Gardens. (*No one here understands our fascination with local politics, but the lively shouting in such a dignified environment captivates us!) But, when we arrived at the Parliament door, we were informed that the session had been postponed and we – along with about 20 other people – were turned away.
We are hardly architecture aficionados, but when Melbourne dedicated an entire weekend to opening the doors to more than 100 of its architectural gems for free, we showed up. Armed with a map and a bit of knowledge I’d garnered from the Open House Melbourne website, we set out to see the interior of some of Melbourne’s most historic buildings.
Rather than try to cover a large area, we stuck to the Central Business District. With the help of the orange flags at each entrance, we made our way into several of Melbourne’s iconic buildings and came away with our top 3 picks from Open House Melbourne: Melbourne Town Hall and Offices, The Old Treasury and The Hotel Windsor.
We could have easily spent our three days in Dublin seeing nothing more than the inside of pubs, but there’s a lot more to the city than just downing pints of Guinness goodness. Many of the historic sights are condensed within the city center, which makes for an easy Dublin, Ireland self-guided walking tour – and helped keep us out of the bars, if only for a few hours. (Map below.)
Dublin, Ireland Self-Guided Walking Tour to 11 Sights
#1 St. Patrick’s Cathedral
It was on this site that in 450 AD St. Patrick baptized the first Irish converts. St. Patrick’s Cathedral was completed in 1191 and is the largest church in Ireland. The spire reaches 140 feet.
As much as we loved seeing sights in Split, Croatia, we decided to split town for a day trip. We hopped a bus at the main bus station, traveled about 15 miles west and landed in yet another UNESCO Heritage Site, Trogir. The historic town blankets the small island that is a stone’s throw from the mainland and accessible via a short bridge. We walked the circumference in about 30 minutes, but spent longer aimlessly wandering the narrow alleyways of the town center. Here’s a look at the picturesque town during our day trip to Trogir:
Traveling to Kotor can seem a bit like traveling back in time. Within historic Kotor, which is surrounded by thick protective walls from the harbor to the hills, the maze of nameless streets lead to openings that are not true squares, but irregular in shape. Stone buildings and orange tile rooftops have centuries of moss growing on them.
The church bells keep the time, clanging every hour from 6:00am until 10 at night and more robustly at 7:00am, noon and 7:00pm. The historic look of the town is preserved and void of anything flashy or modern, yet looking closely we can see the wires and boxed air conditioners that indicate the town isn’t lacking in modern conveniences.
The Bay of Kotor, commonly called Boka Bay, is the largest bay on the Adriatic Sea and Europe’s southernmost fjord. The dramatic mountains plunge into the deep, tranquil waters of the bay. From the Adriatic Sea, a channel opens into an expansive inlet and on the north side is a narrow passage – only 340 meters across – called the Verige Straight that leads into an equally large body of water and directly to Perast.
The city of Kotor is hidden in the furthest southern alcove of the bay, providing the town with natural protection from weather and invaders (for a time in history, a much coveted position). Many other small, historic towns dot the coast along the bay and a road conveniently connects the 66 miles of shoreline. A visit to the seaside town of Perast, a town north of Kotor and located directly across from the Verige Straight, was highly recommended by our Airbnb host.
The historic Piazza del Duomo in Lecce, Italy is the religious center of the town. The piazza is home to some of the most ornately decorated Baroque buildings in Lecce: the Duomo Cathedral, the Bishop’s Palace, the Seminary and the soaring bell tower. Unlike most piazzas, this one is enclosed on three sides with only a narrow, north side entrance off the main street, Via G. Libertini.
Piazza del Duomo in Lecce, Italy: Duomo
The first church on this site was built in 1114, followed by subsequent additions in the year 1230 and fully embellished in the Baroque style (that remains today) between 1659 and 1670. Unlike most churches, the Cathedral (Duomo) has two facades; the main one facing the square and a secondary one to honor Lecce’s patron saint, Oronzo, facing west. Both are elaborately decorated by the works of Leccese sculptures.