Rain & Fog

April showers bring May flowers. Except when global warming hits. And the winter holidays were spent in the sun. And it’s May showers that will be bringing June flowers. I happen to be a lover of the rain and enjoy it very much (except when I am my way to school or work and need to stay dry). However, weekends are fair game. And the weekends lately have been full of days in the rain.

So recently, on one of those rainy days,  I made my way upwards. And the higher up you go when it is raining, the thicker the fog gets. To see that view, that thick fog surrounding me, to the point where I almost couldn’t see past a few steps in front of me, was glorious. See for yourself:

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New York City Lately

As I go about I always tend to take snapshots of random and different things around the city. Habit? While they usually get posted on Instagram or Snapchat, I decided to provide a little visual story here on my blog.

General Grant National Memorial and the immediate surrounding area.

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The High Line

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Harlem

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Central Park

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Grand Central Station

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Extra Random Stuff

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Sleepy Hollow

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I’ve been searching up a lot of lists lately that indicate different places around the world book lovers should visit. I noticed that many places or sites are located in my general area. In fact, one location, Sleepy Hollow from The Legend of Sleepy Hollow by Washington Irving was not too far from me. So one morning I decided to give the town a visit.

Sleepy Hollow Cemetery The first place I got to see was the Sleepy Hollow Cemetery which is often visited by the spooky headless horseman. I managed to find Washington Irving’s grave, although it isn’t that hard to miss.

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Kingsland Point County Park I initially wanted to visit either the Philipsburg Manor or Kykuit, but they were both closed on the particular day we went. Instead, we decide to take some down time and enjoy the warm weather at the park.

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The Horseman To finish off the trip we grabbed some lunch at a local dinner that was very appropriately named.

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Although I very much enjoyed my trip, I will like to come back to visit the two manors I didn’t get to see during this visit. I also think this would be one of the BEST places to visit during Halloween. Perhaps a future blog post?

The Town of a Thousand and One Windows

I have traveled to quite a few places. Some highlights include my adventures throughout Germany, Austria, and Switzerland. And yet, it is a small town in Albania that has me determined to retire there.

I had never heard of Berat before. In fact, when I mentioned it to Albanians that I knew, they had never heard of it either. Or had known of it but assumed it was just another town and had no understanding of how special it truly was. In fact, I discovered the town of Berat from skyscrappercity. This is a chat forum where urban development enthusiasts post photographs of the new structures that are being built and developed in cities all over the world. I am actually a very frequent visitor on this blog because I love following the way developing cities are growing and improving.

While looking through all the different cities and towns in Albania to see how the country is improving, I found the thread on Berat. I couldn’t stop looking at the photographs. There was something so charming and special about this town that kept calling me to it. So when I made the decision to road trip Albania this summer, I was determined to visit the town known as the town of a thousand and one windows. I did have to drag my travel buddies to go out of our way to visit it. And I mean drag. But in the end it was absolutely worth it.

The first thing we did once arriving was visit the Berat Fortress. What I was NOT prepared for was how the fortress is still in use! People were living in homes surrounded by ancient stone walls. Restaurant chairs stood on top of timeworn stone pavements. And the view of the town from the top of the fortress was incredible. 

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The next thing we did (which ironically was not my doing but rather a request of my travel buddies – looks like Berat was winning them over too) was visit the University of Berat. This university is among many that the Albanian government has created in an attempt to encourage education in Albania. For those of you who do not know, Albania was ruled by a communist dictator who disallowed intellectual thinking. In fact, the communist government killed those who they believed to be intellectuals. As a result, the glorification the west has on education, particularly college education, is not as prevalent in the country.

Today, grand and impressive universities are being built all over Albania to encourage the people to find value in intellectual thinking. Other cities that have had these grand universities built include Tirana, Durres, and Fier. Once I saw how massive and stunning the University of Berat was, I wanted to march right on inside and force them get into contact with other colleges around the world. I don’t know about you, but I’m thinking this would make an amazing study abroad/student exchange opportunity.

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Finally, the big reveal! The actual windows. I have mentioned already in this post that Berat is known as the town of a thousand and one windows. That is because of the unique architectural style of the homes. These houses each have endless windows in order to brighten them up with as much natural light as possible. This area of the large city of Berat is actually called the old town (the new town which is composed of modern infrastructure) and is much more expansive than what you see in the photographs. The old town is an UNESCO World Heritage Site.

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What do I regret the most about this visit? I didn’t manage to do all I wished to do. It’s the kind of thing that happens when you travel in a group. At the top of my list was to visit the two wineries in the area. Berat is known for them. The first, Cobo Winery, has been passed down in the Cobo family since the early 1900s. The second, Nurellari Winery, is newer yet still worth a visit. Berat also has a few museums such as: Ethnographic Museum, Iconographic Museum, and The Edward Lear Art Gallery. A great way to finish off the trip would have been by exploring the river with the Albania Rafting Group located in the city.

Missing out on these experiences is not the only thing that disappoints me. Mostly, I wish I had the opportunity to just explore the many streets and alleyways of the town slowly and leisurely. These pictures do not capture the actual town, just the highlights that I visited. I need more time in Berat. I want to go one summer and rent out one of those traditional homes for a month or two. I want to spend my days taking strolls along the ancient stone streets and my evenings enjoying some Albanian cheese and local wine.

Butrint

When you think of ancient ruins what countries come to mind? Greece? Italy? Perhaps even Turkey. But I’m going to bet you didn’t think of Albania. But how could a country next to Greece and across the water from Italy not also have ancient ruins?

Once of Albania’s most famous ruin sites is Butrint National Park. What makes this particular ruin site, or city, so interesting is the way in which two thousand years of history are all presented and emerged together. There is a 4th century BC sanctuary dedicated to the healing god, Asclepius while at the same time a Venetian castle built in the 14th-16th century – all in one city. Butrint itself was mentioned in Virgil’s epic poem The Aeneid describing Aeneas visiting the city of Butrint. For all you history buffs out there like myself, visiting Butrint should be on you list.

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There was also an archaeological museum located on the site that was lovely to see. I didn’t manage to take any pictures of the inside of the museum, but plenty of the outside!

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Vienna at Night

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I adored exploring Vienna in the evening. The city is just as beautiful at night than it is during the day. Here are some of the photos I took.

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I did manage to do two activities during the evenings.

Wiener Prater

First, I visited the amusement park. When traveling, I always get distracted by the museums and beautiful sights that I sometimes forget to just have fun. That was why this was the perfect thing to do! At the best part? I took a ride on Prater Turm, the world’s highest chained carousal at 117 meters! How is it possible to be so afraid yet feel so free at the same time?

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Hundertwasserhaus

As I’ve mentioned, I simply cannot stop looking at architecture. That was why visiting these buildings was one of the things I was the most excited to visit in Vienna. I clearly did not plan very well and ended up going too late in the evening to even see them properly. The next time I come to Vienna, I will make certain to take better pictures.

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Vienna

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This is not the first time I am visiting Vienna. In fact, I visited Vienna almost half a dozen times when I was younger. I used to love this city and always asked my parents to go there for a week or so during the summer. However, its been years since I’ve been back.

That is why I was so excited to visit Vienna again this past summer. This time around, I saw the city from a new light. I explored her castles. I strolled along her streets. I tasted her cakes. And I remembered what it was about Vienna that I loved so much as a little girl.

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Here are a few places I recommend you visit:

Belvedere Museum 

Vienna is a city of art. And her best collection of art is at the Belvedere Museum. It is here that will you find the collection of Gustav Klimt’s gorgeous gold paintings. This place should be at the top of the list of any art lover or Vienna visitor. Unfortunately, I was not allowed to take pictures of the paintings inside.

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Schonbrunn Palace

This palace is the former imperial summer palace. It is easily Austria’s most beautiful. I, personally, adore the yellow color. It reminds me of the sun – very suitable for a summer palace. We had such a great time exploring the gardens!

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Hofburg Palace

In retrospect, I sincerely regret not having enough time to go inside this one and see the lovely apartments of the royals. I only managed to admire the architecture from the outside. At least this gives me an excuse to come back to Vienna….again!

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And finally…shopping!

Vienna is loaded with lovely boutiques both international and local for you to shop away. I personally have an adoration for menswear. And Vienna knows menswear like no other city in the world.

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I leave you with a few more pics of other locations around the city that I managed to take snaps of…

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