London is loved because of its rich history. With remnants of every type of architecture since Roman times to be found, and more historic sights than the average city, it’s easy to get lost in the romanticism of ‘Ye olde’ London. However, London is not just a place for historians to get excited about old buildings. London is actually a city where its past lives can catch up with you. In fact, it’s said that you are never more than a few metres away from a body buried deep underground, as many of the green spaces in London were once cemeteries. With Halloween approaching and a ghoulish atmosphere sweeping over the city, we investigate the best – or worst – of Haunted London…
The tunnel to the Heathrow Express - Image © Tim Caynes
London’s most famous cemetery is Highgate Cemetery because of the well-known figures buried there, which include Karl Marx, Lucian Freud and Michael Faraday. Stretching over 37 acres, the East and West Cemeteries are the resting places for over 170,000 people. Take a guided tour to see the most famous graves… and to ensure you come out unscathed.
Highgate cemetery © Pietro Izzo
50 Berkeley Square is said to be the most haunted house in London, and when this is the opinion of an author who has studied the spooky goings on of London for nearly 30 years, who are we to disagree? Richard Jones has found evidence that this Georgian property has been an attraction to visitors fascinated by the afterlife since as early as 1913. Once reportedly left to fall into a state of disrepair by the then occupant Mr Myers – jilted by his bride to be in the mid 19th century – he lived only in one room during the day, coming out at night to move from room to room by candlelight – thus giving the appearance to those outside of a ghost zipping about. And when Mr Myers died in the property, it was reported that the same spirit-like movements didn’t stop… Now a smart looking property housing an antiquarian bookshop, we dare you to visit at night and draw your own conclusions…
Berkeley Square © Mark Hillary
Still in central London over on the Strand is The George, a fairly non-descript typical British pub. However during a refurbishment in the 1970s a decorator came face to face with “the laughing cavalier”, a man dressed in full 17th century dress laughing at his best painting efforts. As the poor chap explained to the landlord what he had seen, he was even more shocked by his boss’ reply; “Ah yes, my wife sees him all the time,”. Similar regular sightings of a ghost have been reported at The Viaduct Tavern on Newgate Street opposite the Old Bailey’s Central Criminal Courts. In the 1990s, a poltergeist spirit is believed to be responsible for locking the pub manager in the cellar and moving carpets and tools around when two electricians were carrying out work in an upstairs room. It’s not clear if this is the same ghost who is often seen at trials taking place in the courts of the Old Bailey as reported by men and women of the law. And you wouldn’t expect them to lie would you?
If you’re starting to feel a little uncomfortably spooked by all this, one thing you don’t want to do is relax by taking in a show in London’s West End, as most of the theatres have their own ghost or two. Theatre Royal on Drury Lane is reported to be the city’s most haunted theatre, dominated by the spirits of an actor who died during a stage fright in the 18th century, a onetime famous clown called Grimaldi who directs nervous actors and an old music hall entertainer who can be heard dancing in unoccupied dressing rooms.
Image © THOR
And that’s before we even mention the gang of ghosts who have been seen at the Tower of London, including the headless bodies of Anne Boleyn, Lady Jane Grey, Thomas Becket and Richard III’s nephews and the Princes of the Tower; all of whom lost their lives there. Visit at your peril…
Tower of London © Edward Simpson
St Paul’s at night header photo – Image © markspokes49
In this week’s Flickr Friday we take a trip to a city that was most certainly not built in a day, Rome. Widely regarded as one of the birthplaces of western civilisation, the ancient capital of the Roman Empire has much to offer the modern visitor. Its antiquated elements have been tempered over millenia, and today Rome is a delightful reminder of our heritage and a stunning portrait of how far we have come.
Please enjoy this eclectic collection of images, and have a first-rate weekend.
Castel Sant’Angelo – Image © AHT
Piazza Barberini - Image © Giuseppe Moscato
Castel Sant’Angelo - Image © Giuseppe Moscato
The Arch of Titus in the Forum Romanum – Image © Sebastian Bergmann
Image © Stefano Corso
Pantheon - Image © Martino’s doodles
Piazza Navona - Image © Luca Biada
Saint Peter’s Square (Vatican City) – The papal enclave within Rome. Image © Gaspar Serrano
Stairs at Vatican Museums - Image © Alfonso GonzÃ¡lez
Image © Stefano Corso
Fontana di Trevi - Image © ZeroOne
Image © Giuseppe Moscato
Image © Massimo Camussi
Image © José Manuel Ríos Valiente
Santissimo Nome di Maria © Giuseppe Moscato
…or should we have said “in the Fall”? Well, whether you call it fall or autumn, it doesn’t change the fact that this is one of the best times to visit New York City. Here are ten reasons why.
1. See New York’s Changing Colours
Stroll along the Brownstone-lined streets of Manhattan’s West Village or Brooklyn’s Williamsburg to appreciate how well the soft reds of autumnal trees shedding their leaves goes with the traditional brown-bricked houses. Equally as beautiful at this time of year is Central Park – and the man in charge of the Conservatory at Central Park specifically recommends that you head to the Harlem Meer area of the park to see the gingko trees turning bright yellow.
Trees in Central Park – Image © Matia M
Southeast view, Central Park - Image © Andrew Mace
Manhattan Bridge and Chinatown – Image © Chris Goldberg
Autumn at the UN Headquarters – Image © United Nations Photo
Image © Saccodent
2. Attend a festival. Autumn is the time New York celebrates the best of its modern art, design and theatre; from the world renowned New York Fashion Week in September, to the celebrity packed New York Film Festival in October and the side-splitting New York Comedy Festival in November.
3. Catch an NFL game. The NFL season is well underway come the fall and whether you choose to be a Jet or a Giant, going to watch a (American) football game in action is well worth the queueing. With a game stretching out over a few hours, keep warm by eating hot dogs or checking out the cheerleaders.
MetLife Stadium, East Rutherford, NJ – Image © Matthew D. Britt
4. Experience Halloween. Nobody does Halloween like the USA and New York City doesn’t let the side down. Shops, bars and restaurants adopt Halloween themes and decorations and the smell of spiced pumpkin pie fills the air. To dress up and party like you’ve already turned into a pumpkin, join thousands of revelers enjoying the Annual Village Halloween Parade, which starts at 6th Avenue on the evening of 31st October 2012.
Annual Village Halloween Parade (Greenwich Village, Manhattan NYC) – Image © Asterix611
5. Enjoy Open House New York. For one weekend, many of New York’s most famous, remarkable or secret landmarks, museums and houses open up their doors as part of Open House New York; an impressive program of talks and presentations. With previous years featuring tours of the East River and a climb up the world’s tallest cathedral, check the website to find out what’s on this year’s program.
6. Try some pumpkin beer. So pumpkin pie has already been mentioned, but let’s be honest, that doesn’t sound half as exciting as pumpkin beer. You can find it being brewed at a number of New York’s micro breweries. Smiling Pumpkin Ale is served at all of Heartland Brewery’s locations in Manhattan and the popular Punkin Ale by Dogfish Head is served up at Toast on Broadway.
7. Eat fresh at a farmers’ market. Another name for Fall or Autumn is the harvest season, even in the city, with farmers’ markets proving very popular. There are now over 54 farmers’ markets in New York City. Click here to find your nearest one.
Union Square Greenmarket – Image © Young Yun
Image © Melissa Peffs
8. Skate on not so thin ice. I bet you thought that the famous ice rink at Rockefeller Centre was only open during the long, cold winter months? Not so. You can get your skates on from October 13th onwards and the tickets are even reduced for the first month.
Ice Skating at the Rockefeller Center (Fifth Avenue, Manhattan) - Image © asterix611
9. Eat Thanksgiving Dinner. Of course Thanksgiving is an important affair in the USA and is one that is typically shared with friends and family. However, not all visitors to NYC will have this option but they can still enjoy the treats of a traditional Thanksgiving dinner at many of New York’s restaurants. The elegant Aureole serves a fine dining interpretation of Thanksgiving menu many consider worth ignoring your family for or check out what’s going on at Rosa Mexicano, which is well known for spicing up the traditional turkey with a Mexican twist.
Thanksgiven Parade – Image © asterix611
Image © smcgee
10. Find a flea market. Brooklyn Flea is a website dedicated to informing you where and when to get your vintage or second-hand fix. Post summer months see a definite increase in vendors and buyers and the kinder-than-winter weather means a great atmosphere at every flea market listed.
Brooklyn Flea Market at the Williamsburg Bank building- Image © Rik Panganiban
Brooklyn flea – Image © Scared Panda
Image © Neil Chen
Relaxing on Brooklyn Bridge on a warm autumn day – Image © Tassilo von Parseval
Lastly, another great way you could celebrate Thanksgiving in New York is the traditional American way – at home with the family. Take a look at some of our New York listings and roast a turkey, then serve it with cranberry sauce, pumpkin pie and laughter.
Don’t forget that all passengers travelling to the USA do so under the US Visa Waiver Programme, requiring all those arriving by air or sea to provide details online at least 72 hours before travel. This is known as an ESTA (or Electronic System for Travel Authorisation). Find our more details at www.official-esta.com
Header images – New York in the Autumn at Sunset photography © Trey Ratcliff
Famous for its museums, late medieval buildings and Renaissance churches, Florence has got it all. But if you stick around for a week or so, you’ll also discover a rich contemporary culture compiling many factors like language, gestures and food – simple, daily elements that are not in any museum. In this post, Florence based art historian and blogger Alexandra Korey of Art Trav shines a light on the green spaces of Florence, and how to get to know the city like a local.
Duomo di Firenze – Image © Martin Sojka
The secret to learning and living like a local is to get out and observe the city’s residents, and the best place to do so is in the parks of residential areas like the Oltrarno, Campo di Marte, and Ponte Rosso.
Campo di Marte - Image © Yahti
Especially in the summer, life in Italy takes place very much out of doors. In the evenings, windows and balcony doors are thrown open and the sounds of televisions, clinking plates and animated conversation fill residential areas. You will see neighbours conversing over balconies and greeting each other on the street. In the evenings, people go out for strolls and sit around in the nearest neighbourhood park, while kids run around with a ball or play on swings. Locate the park closest to you and do a little hanging around. Engage with people through their dogs or children and you’re likely to pick up some colourful local language or make some new friends!
Image © Matt Morrison
This is an almost French style garden in the Ponte Rosso / Piazza della Libertà area, developed in the late 19th century when Florence looked to international examples, and is thus worth visiting for its aesthetic value. Nicely cared for squares of lawn and flowers can be observed from crunchy gravel paths. A children’s play area is at one end, with a fountain, while at the other side of the park is a beautiful late 19th century glass and iron greenhouse (currently closed for restoration).
Giardino dell’Orticoltura - Image © Aldo Cavini Benedetti.
(Address: via Bolognese 7, entrance from the piazza on the other side)
Image © Matteo123
Twice a year, from April 25 to May 1 and during the first week of October, the garden hosts an historic plant show and sale (since 1855), making it particularly picturesque, colourful and crowded at that time. During the rest of the year, the best time to visit is late afternoon, since this park closes its gates at 8pm in the summer, and earlier in the winter months.
Image © Matteo123
Villa il Ventaglio
Tucked down a side street between the Campo di Marte and Le Cure residential areas, this is a very large terraced park that was developed in the 1850s to lead up to a villa at its highest point. The park is the work of Giuseppe Poggi, the architect responsible for much of Florence’s modernization at that period, including the creation of the dreaded, highly trafficked “viali” (ring roads). The park consists of wide open lawn, a winding uphill path often used by joggers, and large shady trees under which you will always find people reading. Its distinguishing feature is the duck pond near the entrance, a rare glimpse of nature in the city.
Parco di Villa Ventaglio – Image © Numb
(Address: via Aldini 12)
Come here for a breath of fresh air and some quiet, as well as for an excellent vista of the city from the top. Sneak up to the windows of the villa and pretend you have discovered something new – chances are you will be the only person there. The park gates close at 7:30pm in the summer, earlier during the winter.
Florence from Piazzale Michelangelo – Image © Erik Drost
In probably the most vibrant part of the Oltrarno, the area in Florence known for its high population of artisans and what they say are “real Florentines”, this large and shady piazza is the only free green space. Open at night (it has no gates), the park fills up during and after dinner time.
View of Oltrarno from the top of Brunelleschi’s dome of the Duomo – Image © Laura Padgett
Florentine hills of Oltrarno – Image © Laura Padgett
When the weather is nice this piazza’s benches are filled with residents that mix the new immigrant population with the Florentine elderly. A “calcetto” (5 on 5 football) court in the centre provides entertainment, while picnic tables are usually occupied by Filipino families. Go here to see the melting pot the city is becoming. At one side of the park is the Circolo Aurora, a members-only bar tucked into the medieval city’s walls, with outdoor seating and funky clientele. It is worth paying the 5 euro membership card just to hang out and sip a cocktail in this highly local atmosphere.
In this weeks Flickr Friday series we’re in Budapest. A city famed for being one of the most beautiful in Europe, the Hungarian capital is a vibrant place; alive with art, culture and history. A fusion of old and new, it’s quite easy to find oneself stepping from beneath the vaults of a neo-gothic church to a beautiful square speckled with trendy gay-friendly bars and modern art.
Enjoy the photography and have a great weekend.
Palace of Arts cafe - Image © Istvan
Image © Brian Colson
Across the Danube from Pest to Buda - Image © Joiseyshowaa
Image © Magdalena
Millennium Monument - Image © Dennis Jarvis
River cruise on the Danube - Image © Dennis Jarvis
The Széchenyi Thermal Bath - Image © Alex Proimos
Széchenyi hot baths - Image © Éole Wind
Image © Allen Skyy
Széchenyi Chain Bridge - Image © Dennis Jarvis
Image © Zsolt Halasi
Image © Sam Javanrouh
Image © Leoplus