Karnak & Luxor Temples

Luxor is often called the world’s greatest open-air museum and there might be nothing in the world that compares to the scale and grandeur of the monuments that have survived from ancient Thebes. After the pyramids of Giza, Karnak is Egypt’s most important pharaonic site. Excavations over the years have gradually uncovered the original structure of the temple complex, which was built over a 1,300-year period. Luxor Temple is an elegant example of Pharaonic temple architecture. The temple was largely completed by the 18th-Dynasty pharaoh Amenhotep III and added to during the reign of Ramses II in the 19th Dynasty.

Thebes

Modern Luxor grew out of the ruins of Thebes, once the capital of ancient Egypt’s New Kingdom (1550–1069 BC). The Temple of Hatshepsut rises out of the desert in a series of terraces that merge with the sheer limestone cliffs behind. Discovered only in the mid-19th century, and still being restored by the Polish Mission.

Luxor

Luxor has the greatest concentration of ancient monuments in Egypt. An hour’s flight from Cairo, one can spend a week here, although I was only able to spend a full day. The remote, barren Valley of the Kings was the necropolis of the New Kingdom pharaohs. The dramatic corridors and burial chambers are adorned with symbolic accounts of the journey through the underworld and ritual paintings to assist the pharaohs in the afterlife. The Valley of the Queens lies to the southwest of the Valley of the Kings and holds the tombs of many royal wives and children.

Cairo

Set on the Nile River, Cairo is a mega-city of of more than 20 million people, making it the most populous city in the Middle East and the second most populous in Africa — and it feels like it. The capital of Egypt is not an easy city, as it is loud, clogged and frenetic – and it might take a while to get used to the cacophony. But it is a small price to pay to experience the energy of the Mother of the World.

Giza & Saqqara

For nearly 4,000 years, the extraordinary shape, the perfect geometry, and sheer size of the Pyramids of Giza have invited tons of questions and awe. The last remaining intact Wonder of the Ancient World is indeed a sight to behold. No other monuments are so instantly recognized around the world, yet only a few realize that there are at least 115 further pyramids spread across 70 kms of desert. Covering a 7km stretch of the Western Desert, Saqqara, the huge necropolis of the Ancient Egypt Capital of Memphis, was an active burial ground for more than 3500 years and is…

24 Hours in Vienna

I am back in Vienna for 24 hours before I catch my flight back home. I had nothing specific planned for this stop over and decided to just play it by ear. I came upon the Österreichische Nationalbibliothek or the Austrian National Library. It’s State Hall is one of the most beautiful library halls in the world and is the biggest Baroque library in Europe.  There were a couple more of restaurants that I was not able to visit when I was in Vienna a couple of months ago that I wanted to try. First stop for a late breakfast…

Perast

The peaceful village of Perast is located in one of the most beautiful bays in the Adriatic that dates back from the Venetian period (1420 – 1797). Declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1979, Perast looks like a chunk of Venice — with its outstanding Venetian architecture — that floated down the Adriatic and anchored itself onto the Bay of Kotor. Opposite Perast, across the water, rise the much-photographed twin islets of Our Lady of the Rocks and St. George, each capped by a church. It is said that the island of Our Lady of the Rocks is…

Vielen Dank, Wien

“Thank you very much, Vienna“ It was a short visit, but sweet, as they say, to what many refer to as “The City of Dreams” (because it was home to the world’s first psycho-analyst Sigmund Freud). There is no shortage of excellent eateries and coffee houses in Vienna. Cafe Museum is a traditional Viennese cafe that opened in 1899 and designed by the famous Adolf Loos. It is also here that the famous Thonet chairs can be found. Erich was named the best restaurant in Vienna by Time Out Magazine. Located in a subterranean bar-restaurant, they serve breakfast, lunch and…

The Belvedere

The Belvedere was built by Prince Eugene of Savoy upon his arrival at the Habsburg court from Paris at the age of nineteen as a summer home. It consists of two palatial buildings, the Unteres Belvedere (Lower Belvedere) built in 1714 to 1716 and Oberes Belvedere (Upper Belvedere) built between 1721 and 1723. During the reign of Maria Theresa, the Upper Belvedere was used for the first time as a picture gallery to feature works from the imperial collection. Masterpieces by Gustav Klimt and Egon Schiele can be found in the Gallery.

Stari Grad

The “Pearl of the Adriatic” became an important Mediterranean sea power from the 13th century onwards. Although it was severely damaged by an earthquake in 1667, Dubrovnik managed to preserve its beautiful Gothic, Renaissance and Baroque churches, monasteries, palaces and fountains. Damaged agin in the 1990s by armed conflict, it is now the focus of a major restoration co-ordinated by UNESCO, as it has been designated as a World Heritage site. The entire Stari Grad, or Old Town, is surrounded by the medieval ramparts and city walls, which is Dubrovnik’s main claim to fame. One is able to stroll the…