the City on a Lagoon
The capital of the Veneto Region of Northern Italy, Venice is an ancient city spread 118 small islands separated by a network of canals and connected by over 400 bridges. Situated in a lagoon in the Adriatic Sea, Venice has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1987 and attracts millions of visitors each year with its unique history and a way of life that is almost totally centered on its waterways.
As vehicles are not permitted in Venice it is the perfect walking destination along with the “vaporetti” ferries that ply the canals and open waters between islands.
The Piazza San Marco, or St Mark’s Square, is one of the best starting points to explore Venice, a vast square surrounded by historical treasures that includes St Mark’s Basilica, Palazzo Ducale or Doge’s Palace, and close to the piazza the exquisite La Fenice, the Venetian opera house.
The Grand Canal is the largest canal that can be leisurely explored by vaporetti and disembarking at stops that catch your interest. There are more than 50 museums throughout the city displaying masterpieces from the Venetian Renaissance to modern art at Peggy Guggenheim Collection that contains works by Picasso, Pollock, Kandinsky, Miró, de Chirico and Dalí.
A canal voyage in a traditional Venetian Gondola is for many a highlight of Venice, complete with a musical serenade for romantics at heart, or sharing a gondola with others and enjoying a multilingual audio guide to immerse yourself in the history and tales of the city.
The tiny alleys and grand arcades that thread throughout Venice offer a treasure trove of small local restaurants, chic luxury boutiques and local shops stocked with artisanal products that range with opulent Mardi Gras masks to the uniquely packaged ingredients of Venetian cuisine.
The 2020 Venice Carnevale, or Mardi Gras, is celebrated from February 8th to the 25th, no better time to experience one of the world’s most extravagant celebrations.
the City of Romance
Medieval Paris was centered on the Isle de la Cite and the River Seine and today the river remains a focal point in the world’s most visited capital. A cruise on the Seine is not only a romantic voyage but is also an orientation tour of many of the most recognizable Parisian monuments, the Eiffel Tower, Ile de la Cite and Notre Dame Cathedral, Musee d’Orsay to name a few.
After a river cruise, the city awaits with all its iconic landmarks, The Champs-de-Mars esplanade that leads to the Eiffel Tower, The Louvre home to Leonardo da Vinci’s Mona Lisa and over 300,000 works of art, Musee d’Orsay internationally renowned for its rich collection of Impressionist art, The Arc de Triomphe the magnificent monument at the top of the Champs d’Elysees and the Obelisk Monument at Place de la Concorde Square, one of the largest sundials in the world.
Paris is also the center of French cuisine, from elegant 3-star Michelin restaurants to unique neighborhood bistros and casual sidewalk cafes for quality French fare to suit any wallet.
As one of the fashion capitals of the world, a trip is not complete without going window-shopping at the great couturiers along the Avenue Montaigne, Faubourg Saint-Honore, Place de la Madeleine, Saint-Sulpice quarter or Sevres-Babylone. Department stores Printemps, Galeries Lafayette and Bon Marche are Parisian institutions while bargain hunters can find virtually anything at two of the largest flea markets outside central Paris at Porte de Vanves and Porte de Saint-Ouen.
For romance, culture, art, cuisine and fashion Paris on the banks of the River Seine stands alone.
River City in the Sunshine State
Opened as a free settlement in 1838, Brisbane was and continues to be firmly rooted to its river if the same name. Today, Brisbane is Australia’s third largest city, the capital of the sunshine state, Queensland, and enjoys an almost perfect climate year-round.
Nestled between the ocean and rugged national parks Brisbane is a cosmopolitan hub for arts, culture and dining but still retains a close connection with nature. It’s also the gateway to the beach meccas of the Gold and Sunshine Coasts.
A good start is a river cruise on the Brisbane River, the longest river of South East Queensland, with the landmark and protected Kangaroo Point Cliffs that extend along the river to the mountains and beyond. Learn about the colorful history and local legends through informative and entertaining live commentary before going to explore those places closely. Other noteworthy riverside attractions is Story Bridge, which is certainly worth a climb for the panoramic views, and Brisbane Riverwalk pedestrians and cyclists along the most scenic tract of Brisbane river between New Farm to the Howard St Wharves.
Brisbane has also evolved into one of Australia’s hubs of the arts and culture. Clustered in the South Bank cultural precinct is the Queensland Museum and Sciencentre, famed for its interactive exhibits and the Queensland Gallery of Modern Art. For nature lovers the Brisbane Botanic Gardens high on Mount Coot-tha offers amazing views of the city as well as an exceptional native horticultural experience across 128 acres. Also on the Brisbane River is a compact sanctuary for koalas, kangaroos, wallabies, wombats, snakes and even crocodiles. While not all are cuddly the Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary is a must visit for families.
Any time of year, Brisbane’s long and legendary riverfront will always delight intrepid travelers.
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