Posts for Europe Category

Best Things to do in Paris

France, Travel Blog - Ross French - October 27, 2022

Best Things to do in Paris

When it comes to people’s dream destinations, Paris has always been a top choice for most travel enthusiasts worldwide. However, as there are no limits on what you can do here, a Paris visit is often very confusing to many tourists, especially, first-timers. If you are a first-timer as well, this article is for you. Because in this brief guide, we will tell you about a few best things to do in Paris.So, read on. Continue Reading

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5 Hidden Gems In Europe No Globetrotter Should Miss

Europe - Ross French - August 31, 2022

The holiday season is beckoning, and it is time to start planning for your next trip. Europe has for ages been one of the most sought-after travel destinations for tourists across the world. What makes it more interesting is that it offers a plethora of places to visit, including the best of picturesque mountains, stunning beaches, enthralling valleys and so much more.

What’s best is that other than the popular destinations, there are many hidden gems that are yet to be discovered by the crowds. So what better than visiting holidu to discover some of these offbeat destinations and plan a perfect fuss-free holiday. Continue Reading

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Top Reasons to Include Gothenburg in Your Sweden Itinerary

Sweden - Ross French - March 30, 2022

Gothenburg is located on the west coast of Sweden and it was voted by the Swedish as the most popular city in their country with more than 60% of them wanting to live here. Gothenburg has a reputation of being friendlier than Stockholm and whoever is planning a trip to this northern European country should add the city to their itinerary.

The city combines culture and class with nature and urbanity and has a rich and intriguing history. There’s no shortage of things to do in Gothenburg; it will keep you as busy or as relaxed as you wish no matter your age.

Gothenburg is the capital of the Vastra Gotaland county and it is situated by the sea at the mouth of Gota river, which runs through the city and is the largest sea port in the Nordic countries. The city remains proud of its fishing heritage and offers high quality seafood. Being Sweden’s second city, it can be easily reached by various forms of transport both from Sweden and from around the world.

At Bonzah we’d love to encourage you to enjoy this Swedish city. You can easily organise a road trip from Stockholm to Gothenburg and admire the wonders that both cities have to offer. To inspire you, here we’ve listed the most interesting highlights that you can’t miss in Gothenburg.

Haga

Haga is Gothenburg’s historic district and a great starting point of your stay in the city. The area is well known for its markets, boutiques and cafes nestled along cobbled streets and beautiful old buildings. It’s the bohemian heart of the city and it stands out with its amazingly well preserved houses with their district design of a stone or brick ground floor and wooden stories above.

Haga was originally a working class suburb with a rather bad reputation but it was gradually transformed into a popular visiting place for locals and tourists. The area lies within walking distance of Gothernburg’s centre heading southwest. One of the best things to do here is to stop for a traditional fika break and enjoy a cup of coffee with a cinnamon bun; you can even taste a Hagabullen, which is a plate sized cinnamon bun.

Haga is easy to walk around but you can also explore it by bike. Gothenburg has an excellent rental bike system that allows you to visit almost anything.

There are two main landmarks you can’t miss here: the Skansen Kronan _ an old fortress towering above the neighbourhood_ and the Hagakyrkan _a historic church_.

Admire the views from Skansen Kronan

Skansen Kronan is a fortress built in 1687 and it was never drawn into battle. In the mid 1800s the fortress was used as a prison and later as emergency housing. Today, it’s a military museum and offers one of the best panoramic views of Gothenburg. It’s one of those locations you can’t miss visiting Skansen Kronan if you’re a history buff.

Skansen Kronan was originally built to defend the Swedes from the incursions of the Danes and over the years it has been variously used as a prison and a military museum. Today it’s home to a restaurant and a conference centre. It’s a bit of a workout to get to the top, but once you’re there you’ll be rewarded with striking panoramic views of the city and the Haga district. Next to the fortress there are old army barracks where you can find a summer café.

The fortress has 4-5 metre thick walls of granite, gneiss and diabase. It was never attacked and the cannons on the inside have never been used. There are guided tours offered in different languages as well as thematic tours on the history of the redoubt and the city’s military affairs. Walk around the six-sided shape and dappled granite walls of Skansen Kronan to appreciate how much effort it must have taken to build it. It is located on the Risasberget or Skansberget in the Haga district and the hill is accessible year round free of charge. To reach the fortress you can take the staircase from Frigangsgatan or the footpath from Lilla Risasgatan.

Enjoy a Canal Tour in a Traditional Paddan

Joining a canal tour in traditional paddan boats offers a great opportunity to admire the beauty of Gothenburg from the waterside.It’s a guided tour and it takes you under 20 bridges and out to the harbour. A paddan boat is a sightseeing boat which will pass by famous sights such as the Opera House or the famous fish market Feskekorka. The boats depart two or three times an hour and they are hop on, hop off so you can spend a bit more time at the sights that pique your interest.

Considering Gothenburg’s strong maritime spirit, this activity is a must-do and a great way to get to know the city.

Stroll Slottsskogen

Slottsskogen is a huge, tranquil expanse of parkland with farm animals and birdlife, including pink flamingos in summer. On its south side there’s the impressive Botanical Garden and a vast glasshouse which hold some 16 thousand species of plants including Sweden’s biggest orchids, the summer flower plantations and the adjoining arboretum.

This 1.37 sqkm green area attracts animal lovers with its children’s zoo that is home to Gotland ponies, elk, sheep, seals and penguins. It has a natural forest that is really nice for enjoying natural trails and foraging for wild berries. There’s an observatory on the northern end of the park that organises stargazing events in the summer months.

Slottsskogen is a popular destination amongst families because of the variety of activities it offers. You can see nordic animals in the main zoo and pet friendly creatures in the children’s zoo. There are also different performance areas where you can watch live music, puppet shows and folk dance shows. You can also play a round of mini golf, visit a natural history museum and wander through a butterfly garden. Children will love spending some time at the huge Plitka Playground for an afternoon of fun; here children can scamper across a huge climbing frame in the shape of a whale or participate in games organised in the playground during the summer.On the other side of the park is the exciting playground Naturleken that uses nature to create a fun environment for children.

It’s Gothenburg’s main park and a must-see for tourists, especially if you love outdoor activities. You can go roller skating, biking, jogging and even hiking! Little ones can feed the ducks on the main lake called Stora Dammen, which sits towards the southern end of the park and has a great café serving drinks and snacks right next to it.

Have Fun at Liseberg

Adrenaline and fun seekers can’t leave Gothenburg without visiting Liseberg, an amusement park that opened in 1923 and is amongst the largest one in the Nordic countries, attracting 3 million visitors per year.

One of the most popular attractions is the wooden roller coaster Balder, which was twice voted as Best Wooden Tracked Roller Coaster in the world. “Kanonen” is another popular roller coaster: it reaches a top speed just two seconds after being fired bullet-like from its start point before plummeting 24 m at a 90° angle. There’s also the AtmosFear, Europe’s largest free-fall attraction, or the Mechanica, a 360-degree ride that spins riders around up to 100 feet in the air. The park is open in November, December and during the summer months. In the holiday season, a Christmas market is hosted here.

There are more than thirty attractions here that range from carousels and rides to funhouses and roller coasters. Rides for the children are conveniently scattered throughout the park. Amongst them we can mention: colourful slides and swings at Barnens Paradis playground, boat rides at Kathiresan and a double-decker carousel at Children’s Paradise.

Learn About the World Around You at the Universeum

Universeum is a must-visit attraction for adults and children with curious and inquisitive minds. With 9000 sqm,Universeum is Scandinavia’s biggest scientific centre. This 7-stage high building features plants and animals from all over the world with special focus in the tropical seas and forests. It seduces visitors with a combination of adventure park and hand-on science museum.

The displays cover an indoor tropical forest, how lasers work and criminal and forensics science. Real birds, sloths and monkeys cruise through the branches above as you walk on wooden bridges throughout. But easily the most popular draw is the Ocean Zone, where you can get uncomfortably close to sharks and other creatures from the depths. Kids can even touch various stingrays!

The tour starts with a cute cable car ride to the top floor, from which you can immerse yourself in the various zones available as part of the exhibition. Universeum is organised into six sections, each containing experiment workshops and a collection of reptiles, fish and insects. Exhibits include an Aquarium Hall, which has more than 30 thousand known species of fish, a rainforest boasting monkeys, frogs and birds and an educational health section. There are several dining and coffee options available, including a taco buffet and a vegetarian restaurant.

Other exhibitions that you can enjoy here include life sized dinosaurs, Swedish wilderness, go on a safari with monkeys, the science and forensic laboratory and the space exhibition where you can learn about how astronauts survive without gravity, discover what it’s like to work in space and learn about how quiet it is up there. The Job Land is divided into several theme sections, where kids get to learn how to be builders, doctors and sailors for the day. The Reptilarium has an inclusive collection of venomous snakes and lizards.

Visit Gothenburg Botanical Garden

With 1200 plant species, Gothenburg Botanical Garden is the largest one in Sweden. Herb gardens, bamboo grooves, a Japanese valley, forest plants and tropical greenhouses are all on display. It’s another must-do in the city and a highly popular location amongst tourists. This massive park sprawls over 175 hectares of land and includes an arboretum and nature reserve.

The Gothenburg Botanical Gardens are also home to some 4000 plants kept in greenhouses, where you can find the largest collection of orchids in all of Sweden. The arboretum offers visitors a lovely respite from the city’s energy, with a gorgeous waterfall and a rock garden where some 6000 plants are on display. Don’t forget to add the sophora toromiro or Easter Island tree to your list of Gothenburg attractions: this species is extinct in its native habitat and you’re unlikely to see it anywhere else.

Visit the Gothenburg Museum of Art

Gothenburg Museum of Art stands behind the Poseidon statue in Gotaplatsen. It’s one of the finest museums in the city and it’s easy to spend half a day here taking in the diverse and extensive collections that are housed here. A delightful little park lies just behind the museum; with its late-spring rhododendrons and big duck-fillled pond, it’s a lovely place for a stroll.

The collections of European art date from the XV to the XVII centuries and fill a total of six rooms. Pride of place is taken by Knight with Falcon by Rembrandt, although Rubens is also well represented. Elsewhere, you’ll find paintings by the celebrated masters of French Impressionism and artists closely linked to them: Gauguin, Renoir, Monet, Van Gogh and Cezanne for example. Collections of Swedish art are dominated by Alexander Roslin.

The main reason to visit the Gothenburg Museum of Art are the Fürstenberg Galleries on the top floor, which celebrate the work of some of Scandinavia’s most prolific and admired early XX century artists. There you can admire works by Carl Wilhelmson, Edvard Munch, Anders Zorn, Carl Larsson and others.

On a curious note, what makes this museum stand out from other major national art museums is that it doesn’t have its origin in royal or princely collections. It’s the people of Gothenburg themselves who have created the museum through donations of works and resources.

Explore Gothenburg’s Archipelago

There are over 20 islands in the Gothenburg archipelago that you can access on a day trip from Gothenburg. It’s definitely one of the best things to do here when the weather is warm as many of the islands have beautiful beaches and scenic lookouts.

Gothenburg archipelago stretches along the coast like a string of pearls. Hönö is one of the most popular islands. It’s home to the Fishing Museum and there are excellent seafood restaurants.

The northern archipelago is accessible by car while the southern archipelago is largely car-free and accessible by boat or tram. The archipelago is a great setting for hiking and cycling.

Are You a Car Lover? Don’t Miss the Volvo Museum

The Volvo museum is on the waterfront along the Göta älv river and showcases everything you ever wanted to know about the beloved car manufacturer, which was founded here in Gothenburg in 1927. You can see vintage cars and trucks as well as concept vehicles that were never brought into production. There are also exhibitions on the Volvo Ocean Race and the Volvo Golf Experience that you can visit. It’s a great place to visit for car enthusiasts and Volvo fans.

The Maritiman

The Maritiman is the world’s largest floating maritime museum. Here you’ll find modern naval vessels including a destroyer, submarines, a lightship, cargo vessels and various tugboats, providing an insight into Gothenburg’s historic role as a major port. The main attraction is a huge naval destroyer called Samalan, complete with a medical room in which a leg amputation operation is graphically re-created, with mannequins standing in for medical personnel.

It’s a must do for marine enthusiasts of all ages. Moored next to Packhuskajen on the Göta river in the heart of the port city. You can go below deck on the Nordkaparen submarine.

The Sea Lab offers exciting challenges and experiments for adventure lovers that include mechanisms of a submarine, ways to protect seals from pollution, how heavy steel ships float on the ocean waters and many more things.

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As Europe Reopens, Spain Remain a Favourite For Retirees

Europe - Ross French - March 15, 2022

A wonderland to unleash all the worries decked with impressive landscapes, woodlands, and calming beauty of the coral reefs is the amazing Spain. It is most likely on the list for every traveler to visit this joyful place. Today most people from all over the world look forward to living in this place after retirement. Thus it makes it a hot spot for retirees to settle in Spain, yet there are few pros and cons of living in Spain.

Let us see how this wonderful destination, which is the most popular in entire Europe, draws so much traction. Continue Reading

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Rosslyn Chapel Travel Guide

Destinations, United Kingdom - Ross French - March 7, 2022

Rosslyn Chapel Travel Guide

Scotland is a country where one will never run out of places to visit and things to see. The Rosslyn Chapel or the Collegiate Church of St. Matthew is a very popular place among them. Brought into popular culture by Dan Brown in ‘The Da Vinci Code,’ the chapel brings in tourists from everywhere. In this article, we will try to explore it in-depth.

Brief History and Importance of Rosslyn Chapel

William Sinclair – the 1st Earl of Caithness of the Scoto-Norman Sinclair Family – was the one who built the chapel. He established it on a small hill atop Roslin Glen as a Catholic collegiate church in the 15th century. If you were unaware, this church is third on the list of Sinclair places of worship at Roslin. The first and the second ones are Roslin Castle and what is today known as Roslin Cemetery, respectively. One can still see the latter’s buttresses (though collapsing) at Roslin Cemetery even today.

Sinclair’s motive behind founding the college was to celebrate the Divine Office 24/7. He also wished to celebrate Masses for all faithfully departed individuals. These included the Sinclair family members as well. During this time, the use of plainsong or polyphony was rampant to enhance the liturgy singing. William Sinclair also decided to fund the priests and choristers forever. The priests, however, had to fulfill their parochial responsibilities.

The year 1560 saw the Catholic worship in the chapel come to an end after the Scottish Reformation occurred. The Sinclair family never deserted their Catholic beliefs until the early 18th century. But they had to stop public worship in the abbey. It was until 1861 that it reopened based on the rites of the Scottish Episcopal Church.

Sacred Messengers of God:

In 1914, this place was subject to a terrorist bombing. During this period, suffragettes started bombing and arson attacks throughout the country to campaign for women’s suffrage. As a result, on 11th July, a bomb exploded inside the building.

The chapel is not pretty small. However, the intricate stone carvings on the building have brought it a lot of fame worldwide. The place is vibrant and seems to tell its story itself through these striking stone carvings. Such carvings have given rise to many conspiracy theories. We will talk about some of those later.

In those times, bees were regarded as the sacred messengers of God. Thus, a concealed beehive was made high up the roof so that the bees could come and reside there.

Secrets and Mysteries Surrounding Rosslyn Chapel:

RosslynInteriorThe place has been a hot topic among mystery enthusiasts and conspiracy theorists throughout the years. It is because the place is surrounded by mystery. For example, some people believe that the chapel has the Holy Grail buried under it. They say that if we take a look at historical and religious texts, we can find evidence supporting this claim. Also, it is a fact that the church had ties with freemasonry and the Knights Templar. The members of the Knights Templar fled to Scotland after they faced a deadly uprising. For your info, the Sinclair family had close ties with these members.

Here’s another interesting fact. While the claim was long rejected, there has been enough evidence to prove the Freemason-Knights Templar tie. After fleeing their country, the knights who came to Scotland were known to reside a few miles away from Rosslyn. Thus, their known location was close to the Sinclair family’s allies.

The Da Vinci Code:

There are some people who believe that the building was indeed a hiding spot for some mysterious treasure. They believe it could have even been the Holy Grail and that the crypts and underground chambers have the answers. Some scenes from ‘The Da Vinci Code’ movie have been shot in an underground chamber here. Visitors can freely enter this chamber. Nonetheless, the building contains yet another underground crypt that has stayed sealed for centuries.

As expected, this sealed chamber has given rise to curiosity among people. Some even claim that they are certain that this chamber hides something valuable and mysterious. Unfortunately, the location of this crypt sometimes makes visitors miss it. So, remember to look straight down to the left side of the entrance. Their official website says they get flooded with one question a lot. Why not investigate the vaults and put an end to the speculation of what lies underneath? Their answer to this question is that the vaults beneath the building are burial grounds of several Barons of Rosslyn. It’s no surprise that the Earl of Rosslyn has zero intention to perturb the final resting place of his ancestors.

Holy Grail

Moreover, they say that it would harm the chapel’s structural integrity if they conducted such an excavation. But, as we all know, the building has been restored multiple times already. So, they can’t take any such risk.

William The Cat:

Another mystery was the appearance of William the Cat. A cat, really? Yes, a cat. For many years, William was a resident and the feline guardian of the chapel. The local tour guides explained that William came from a bloodline comprised cats coming to the abbey for decades. The locals had seen William frequenting the place for over 14 years, just like his father did before him. Sometimes the cat slept on the church pews. He seemed unfazed by the hundreds of visitors who assembled inside the church every day. Other times, he was seen walking under the cherry blossom trees. Nobody could answer why the cat or his ancestors visited the church.

Interestingly, he had a home in Roslin village, and his owners used to adore and care for him. Still, William the Cat showed up day in, day out to guard the mystifying abbey. Unfortunately, the cat died last year. But it is still a mystery even today.

Let us now take a look at the exact location of this architectural wonder to make things easier for you.

Location of Rosslyn Chapel:

Chapel Loan, Roslin EH25 9PU, United Kingdom

How to Reach the Chapel?

Residing close to Edinburgh, the church stays open every day all year long save Christmas and New Year’s. The church timings are 9:30 AM to 5:30 PM (6 PM in the summer). However, you got to remember that you have to enter half an hour before the church closes. Otherwise, you won’t be able to enter it at all. Adults have to pay 9 GBP as an entry fee, while kids can enter the place free of cost.

You can find six guided tours (only three on Sunday) throughout the day. Therefore, you can avail such a tour if you want answers to the many questions you have in mind. FYI, the tour schedule is subject to change. So, it would be best to check their official site for the most current schedule. If you don’t own a car, you can take either bus 37 or 40 from Edinburgh. Don’t worry. It would take about 45 to 60 minutes to reach the place, depending on the traffic.

Best Time to Visit Rosslyn Chapel

As we mentioned earlier, the chapel stays open all year long except Christmas and New Year’s. So, you can visit the church any time you want. However, if you wish to get a better view of the church’s exterior, it’s best to choose summertime. It is because, in summer, the weather is more likely to be in your favor than winter or monsoon. Additionally, summer is the perfect time of the year for exploring the grounds as well. Also, try to visit the chapel on weekday mornings to get some peace of mind. Again, it’s because, during this time, the area remains very pleasant and tranquil.

Frequently Asked Questions:

  • What is buried under Rosslyn Chapel?

Inside the chapel, a Spartan stone crypt has given rise to many myths and legends. Some even believe that the treasure of the mythical Knights Templar is stored in a deep vault whose entrance is sealed.

  • Is the Holy Grail in Rosslyn Chapel?

Some people believe that the church is home to many hidden treasures, one among them being the Holy Grail. While there has been no evidence of the Holy Grail being kept there, they still believe so.

  • Was The Da Vinci Code filmed in the Collegiate Church of St. Matthew?  

Yes, it was. The church was selected as a location for ‘The Da Vinci Code,’ adapted from the novel of the same name. It was chosen for its ambiance and the mysterious aura that surrounds it.

Conclusion

As you can see, the Rosslyn Chapel is one of the most popular places to visit in all of the UK. The architecture’s popularity was its amazing stone carvings and the mystery surrounding it. The mysterious vibe it emits results in it being a subject to uncountable myths, legends, and conspiracy theories. So, don’t wait any longer. Visit it ASAP to experience first-hand what it has to offer.

 

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