Two Cities of Love

Two beautiful cities, both beginning with V, and only 75 miles apart, 1 hour and 20 minutes by train. Two cities synonymous with romance and epic love stories, each filled with magical and mysterious tales. If you are staying at the nearby Lake Garda and you are interested in culture and city sightseeing they are the perfect addition to your visit whilst holidaying in the region.

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I first fell in love with Venice when I visited on a school trip. I love the water, so to be able to explore a beautiful city literally floating on water was a dream in itself. With countless bridges, the lapping of water against stone walls and the beautiful balconies, there’s a vibe about this city that is so mysterious and magical. There is also a peacefulness that lingers over the city. Masks loom from independent shop windows and little pathways between tall houses break open into courtyards home to beautiful, pristine churches.

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“Venice never quite seems real, but rather an ornate film set suspended on the water.” – Frida Giannini

The main difference between my first trip and my second, almost ten years later, was the full on tourist trap that is has become. I would say it’s a shame, but not for the people of Venice who of course would welcome tourism as a vital source for the economy. Whilst there is the odd tourist with a shiny new selfie stick looming on bridges and in gondolas on the canals, there is also a calmness and to even take one turning off the tourist track leads you to the serenity of residential Venice. For those who want the unique Italian experience, even just for a weekend, this would be the place to go.

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“What about damp? What about flooding? Wouldn’t it make sense to have a little lawn or garden as a sort of buffer zone between the house and the water? But then it wouldn’t be Venice, said Connie’s voice in my head. Then it would be Staines.”- David Nicholls, Us

More recently I visited the gorgeous city of Verona. This ancient walled city was one that I had only briefly thought about visiting and now I am so glad that I had the opportunity. I am a huge fan of Romeo and Juliet, so to be able to visit Juliet’s balcony was a dream come true. It was truly incredible to see just how many names and padlocks were there, as well as the number of people that can fit in one courtyard! There’s so much love in the world but it seemed like it had all accumulated in this one place!

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“Two households, both alike in dignity, In fair Verona, where we lay our scene, From ancient grudge break to new mutiny, Where civil blood makes civil hands unclean.”William Shakespeare, Romeo & Juliet

I was amazed at the stunning architecture of the city. Walking through the walls of the city it was amazing to see the cobbled streets and the huge Roman amphitheatre, Arena di Verona, towering over the city and its citizens and visitors, famous for its opera which fills with over 15,000 spectators per performance.

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I was pleasently surprised by Verona and plan to return to this beautiful, intriguing city soon to explore it further. Would love to hear about any particular places you have explored in Verona! I’m looking for some more places to adventure to which are off the beaten track. Feel free to tweet me @prettyandpetit

Have you visited the cities? Did you have a preferred city? Let me know in the comments below!

Becky

Pretty & Petit

 

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#SendMeAway with IceLolly.com – My Dream Destination for 2016

In 2016, this Olympic year, my dream destination would have to be Rio de Janeiro in Brazil! This city has everything a perfect holiday destination has to offer; sun, sea, beautiful beaches along with some truly magnificent cultural sites to visit. Not only that but there are some truly amazing photo opportunities to be taken, with vibrant, colourful scenery, beautiful views and fabulous people! It would be the perfect place to visit in Summer 2016.

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Check out my top 5 things to do whilst visiting Rio de Janeiro below and let me know if you have any more hidden gems!

Visit Christ the Redeemer and Sugarloaf Mountain. Christ the Redeemer, an icon of Rio, stands tall above the city and is best seen either from a helicopter or by making the climb up to it. It was completed in 1931 and is 30 metres in height (not including the base) and was beautifully designed in an art deco style by French sculptor, Paul Landowski. Another fantastic site to behold is Sugarloaf Mountain. Sugarloaf Mountain, stands tall opposite the Christ the Redeemer statue and is rated to be one of the top sites to see on a trip to Rio and with it’s fantastic views it’s easy to see why! Located on a peninsula out in the Atlantic Ocean it is widely known for its cable cars as a way to reach the top for the most spectacular 360 degree views over the city of Rio de Janeiro.

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A visit to Rio isn’t complete without a trip to Copacabana Beach. This beautiful beach, up to 4km long, is one of the many beaches located around the coastline of Rio de Janeiro. The beaches play host to a mix of activity, from beach soccer matches to games of volleyball, through to sun worshippers and swimmers.

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Carnival in Rio is like no other. One of the most famous festivals in the world, the carnival is full of the most vibrant, colourful costumes from the revellers and floats from Samba schools located in Rio. The carnival took place between February 6th and 10th in 2016 and will be taking place between 24th February and 1st March in 2017 if you want to experience it for yourself!

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Brazilian food is a mixture of Portuguese, African and Amazon influenced delicacies, however something you will definitely come across is barbecued meat – and a lot of it! Want to try some Brazilian barbecue before heading there? Why not visit the fabulous Rodizio Preto (so yummy I’m off there for my birthday meal next month!) One of the few foods that you will find wherever you visit in Brazil is Feijoada, a delicious stew of black beans, sausages and pork which is truly a labour of love taking up to 24 hours to cook. It’s definitely worth it though!

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Rio is home to the 2016 Olympics. Last held in London back in 2012 (has it really been 4 years?!), Rio will play host to this fantastic sporting event with everything from swimming and diving through to athletics and cycling. A trip to Barra Olympic Park is essential on a visit to Rio, located to the south of the city. The Olympics will be taking place August 5th to August 21st 2016.

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Make sure you take a trip to icelolly.com to get some inspiration for your next holiday in 2016!

I nominate the following three fabulous bloggers to share their dream destinations as part of the icelolly.com competition #sendmeaway!

  1. Twisted Beauty Blog
  2. Crunch Corner
  3. Cait’s Cozy Corner

Let me know in the comments where your dream destination would be for 2016!

Becky at Pretty & Petit

A View from The Shard

On a warm September evening, we travelled over to London Bridge to visit The Shard, the tallest building in Europe. Watching this gradually being constructed over the last few years, it was amazing to be able to visit this amazing building. Especially as so many of the tallest buildings in London are predominantly housing or office blocks.

The View from The Shard

               The View from The Shard

We paid for our tickets, went through some security and had our photo taken. After being provided with an audio guide we were guided over to the lift. I felt a bit apprehensive prior to going to The Shard as I am afraid of heights but once in the lift this seemed to disappear.

To get to the top you are required to get in two lifts, travelling at 6m per second. They are ultra smooth and it doesn’t feel like you are travelling anywhere at all! The first stops at floor 33 where you head to a second lift to go up to floor 68. This was definitely one of the tallest buildings I’ve ever been in. I don’t think I’ve ever been higher than 8 floors!

Stepping out on the 68th floor (and walking up the stairs to the 69th) we were absolutely mesmorised by the sight before us. Every single part of London, North, South, East and West was laid out before us in a criss-crossing pattern of multi-coloured lights and beautifully lit architecture.

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We enjoyed some champagne and took so many photos of the different views available from the floor to ceiling windows in each angle of the building. Although a sprawling city, it looked so small from that height. The railways snaked across the city like rivers and the Thames itself was adorned by bridges spanning its width as far as the eye could see. It was truly spectacular.

Champagne on the 69th floor!

Champagne on the 69th floor! (It was dark up there!)

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Looking up into the night. Towards the spire of The Shard

If you’re thinking of visiting The Shard on a trip to London it’s an absolutely amazing thing to do! Certainly you pay a price for a view like that (concessions are available for students, senior citizens etc.) and there are some wonderful packages available too. However they have an affordable boutique at the end which is good value for money so handy for souvenirs on your way home.

Some key facts about The Shard!

The Shard is approximately 309 metres high.

The Shard is the tallest building in Western Europe.

A fox was found living on the 72nd floor during construction which staff nicknamed ‘Romeo’.

The Shard is home to Shangri-La Hotel, as well as multiple bars and restaurants and office space.

It takes 3 months to clean the windows of The Shard by some very brave window cleaners!

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Becky at Pretty & Petit