Pisa Walking Guide

Pisa is all about the Leaning Tower. Half a Day is sufficient to see the city.

From The train station, take the main artery Corso Italia which is the pedestrian passage to get to Piazza Dei Miracoli. By there you have the Piazza del Duomo, it is a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1987. The Piazza is the place where all the Pisa must see are including the famous leaning tower of Pisa that “had a great influence on monumental art in Italy from the 11th to the 14th century.” You can go inside the tower and while going up you can feel the tower is leaning. You will always be attracted to the walls which make the walking up the stairs a little bit difficult. From the top of the tower, you will have an amazing view of the Piazza and its monuments, the Cathedral, the Baptistery and the Cemetery as well as the whole city.

Exit the Piazza to go see the Cathedral of Saint Caterina d’Allessandria and you can stroll in the park in front of it.

Then head the other main square, the Knights’ Square. On that Cavalieri square, that used to be the political center of the city, you have the Church of Santo Stefano dei  Cavalieri, Palazzo de Corovana, and the Clock Tower. Stand in the middle to have a 360-degree view of that beautiful Piazza.

Finally walk back towards the Arno River. Take a leisure walk along all the colorful houses by the river. By the rover, you will see a very small Gothic church. It is the Church of Santa Maria della Spina. It is very unusual to see that small church in the middle of the city between the River the houses. Unfortunately, we can’t go inside of it.

Pisa is a small walled city and if you are on a busy tourist schedule, it is the perfect city to slow down and just enjoy Italy.

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Prague Walking Guide

Walking Guide 1: Prague Old Town

Start at Old Town Square. You will see there, the Astronomical Clock. You will be in front of the clock at the hour for the “show” that was by the way nominated one of the most deceiving attractions in the world. You can also see the Church of Our Lady before Týn, Nicholas’ Church, Kinský Palace and Statue of Jan Hus.

Head towards Wenceslas Square and pass by the upside-down statue of King Wenceslas on his horse by David Cerny. The Statue is definitely one of the weirdest things you will see in Prague.

Then go to the Old Jewish Quarter to see the Old New Synagogue and the Jewish Cemetery.

Walk back towards the Vltava River,  passing by the Rudolfinum, where performs the Czech Philharmonic. Take a pic inside The National Library; It has an infinite book tower at the entrance.

Finish the walk of the old town by going to up the Powder Tower by Charles Bridge to have a breathtaking view of the old town and the Prague castle

P.S: Have dinner at one of the restaurants in old town square. Try one of the typical Czech foods like Goulash. The beef goulash was my favorite. Have coffee and dessert at Kafka Café right behind St Nicholas Church.

Prague old town walking guide
Prague Old Town Walking Guide

Walking Guide 2:  Prague Castle and Lesser Town

Walk thought Kampa Island. You will discover interesting sculptures by David Cerny in the park. The Cruise of the Vltava starts there, take the relaxing hour tour and enjoy the ride. When back, right before getting to  Charles’ Bridge, check out the John Lennon Wall. Have your sharpie ready, to be able to write down something and leave a mark on that wall.

You can then go under the bridge to get to Kafka Museum. You will again see one of David Cerny’s sculptures.

P.S: Right next to it, don’t miss the narrowest street in the world. It has a crossing light!

From there, you can walk to the castle. There are some stairs that will take you right to the entrance of the castle. It’s a 10 min walk/climbing stairs. Visit the Prague Castle area at your leisure and finish with a walk through the Castle Garden.

P.S: At the entrance, the ceremonial rotation of soldiers starts every day at noon and rotation at the observation posts occurs every hour, on the hour. 

The  Castle Garden offers a panoramic view of Prague all along the way. It ends on a small street. Walk down the stairs; the road leading to the Lesser Town has small shops and galleries tucked into every narrow nook. 

P.S: Finish your day or start your night at one of the restaurants by the river. The view is just gorgeous. I went to Hergetova Cihelna, the view is priceless.

Prague lesser town walking guide
Prague Lesser Town Walking Guide

For the full articles about Prague and more pic check out   https://leilaspassport.com/2015/10/15/prague-2/

Seville Walking Guide

Start your day in the heart of old town Seville. Visit the Cathedral of Seville with its Giralda Tower. After visitant the Dark yet the majestic interior of the Cathedral go towards La Giralda, an old Minaret, right next to the Cathedral. Take the step challenge and you will be rewarded with a breathtaking 360 view of Seville.

Across the square, you can visit Alcazar, the oldest European royal residence still in use (the king and queen stay here when they’re in Seville). The different Palacios are beautiful as well as the gardens. Just wander around and admire the artisan work.

Then, head to Plaza de España, about 15 min walk from old town. It is a crescent-shaped Renaissance-style Plaza designed and supervised by Architect Aníbal González. Get close to the murals; it’s all about the details. You can rent rowboats for excursions on the canal, be ready for some arm workout.

Right across, walk through Maria Luisa Park to go to  Torre del Oro and Plaza de Toros de la Real Maestranza de Caballería de Sevilla. It is worth taking a tour of the magnificent Bullring with its impressive Baroque façade and the main entrance Puerta del Príncipe with beautiful 16th-century iron gates. Unfortunately, it is not possible to step into the ring.

In the late afternoon, cross the bridge and found yourself at  Barrio de Triana. It is the working class neighborhood, where you can do some not touristy shopping. This is the best area to head for early evening tapas.

Seville Walking Guide
Seville Walking Guide

 

For more details and pics check out the complete Guide to Seville  https://leilaspassport.com/2016/06/24/colors-of-seville/

Budapest Walking Guide

Here is how to see the city by foot, sink in History and Beauty.

Budapest by Foot Day 1:

Start by the Danube Promenade by the little princess statue. “I modeled it after my own daughter – says László Marton in his studio (2007) – she was maybe six years old and playing in the garden. She dressed as a princess: laid a bathrobe on her shoulders and put a crown on her head. I managed to capture this moment and immediately felt that this was a successful work of art. Years later, the capital requested a statue from me. I immediately thought of the “Little Princess” and luckily we managed to find the place where the statue feels good.”. You will have a beautiful view of the Buda Castle and the Danube.

Then walk towards the Vorosmarty Square and the Lion Fountain. That Square is at the end of the Parisian Arcade. Built in the early 20th Century, the Parisian Arcade was once an ornate and lavish shopping center and it hasn’t changed; you can found all the stores there. It’s a great meeting point for shopping or to grab a coffee.

P.S: Indeed, in that square, you will found the famous Gerbeau Café. That café is a must go to grab a coffee or to have dinner. What a beautiful and romantic setting that place is. Next to it, there is a pastry place called Cafe Dorortya; try one of their Hungarian pastries Malnas Turotorta or Dobos Torta.

Next stop, St Stephen’s Basilica. It is named in honor of Stephen, the first King of Hungary. No need to climb stairs, you can just get elevator tickets and go up by the bells to have a 360 view of the city. From the top, you can see the small streets of Pest that will take you to the Chain Bridge.

Before getting to the bridge, go towards the Hungarian Parliament Building, one of Europe’s oldest legislative buildings. If you want to go inside, you need to book a tour one day ahead. The outside of it is breathtaking. You will have a chance to see it again from the Chain Bridge and the Castle.

Take the Bridge now. Szechenyi Chain Bridge is the longest suspension bridge in Europe, and the first permanent bridge to connect Buda and Pest.

Welcome to Buda. Take the Funicular and found yourself in the Castle District Area. Visit the Royal Palace which is the historical castle of the Hungarian kings in Budapest, the Matthias Church and the Fisherman Bastion. You need tickets for the Church and the Fisherman Bastion. You have to go inside of the Church, all the walls are covered by decorations. The Bastion takes its name from the guild of fishermen that was responsible for defending this stretch of the city walls in the Middle Ages and its terrace offers the most spectacular panoramic view of the Danube and the city.

P.S: In the alleys from the Palace to the Church, you will see the sign for the Labyrinth. The Labyrinth of Buda Castle is situated in a complex of caves and cellars underneath the Buda Castle district. The Labyrinth has four circled mini-labyrinths and even a cafe and a restaurant.

Once done, you can walk down to the city. There is nothing to do on the Buda side which is the old part of the town. Come back to the Pest side for dinner and drinks.

Budapest walking guide
Budapest by Foot Day 1

Budapest by Foot Day 2:

Start your day at the Gellért Hill. The Walk to the top, start with the visit to the Gellért Hill cave with its Church inside of the Mountain. Then you can continue for 20 minutes and you will get to the Liberty Statue a symbol of the city. The Citadel that was once behind there is not anymore.

P.S.: Budapest is famous for is thermal paths and one of the best one is  Gellért Fürdő (Gellért Spa & Bath). I also suggest  Rudas that was just renovated. It has a covered pool but you can go on the roof and have a great view of Gellert Hill. You can rent everything there from the towel, to shower cap. They offer massage services. Just know they don’t accept euros but only Florin and credit cards.

For Lunch head to the Great Market. You can buy all of your souvenirs on the 1st floor and have traditional food for lunch. Have a Langos, which is fried bread with cream cheese and anything else you want on it.

Continue your walk towards the National Museum and the Great Synagogue. Then you can walk or take a metro to the Hungarian State Opera House and tour the inside that ends with a special mini-opera show. Not too far from there, you will pass by the House of Terror. The building is a museum functioning as a memorial to the victims of both Fascism and Communism. Take the metro to Heroes Square, located at the end of Budapest’s main shopping street, Andrássy Avenue. Heroes Square is a UNESCO World Heritage site memorable for its statues that represents the Seven Chieftains of the Magyars and other important national leaders. Finally, go to the Vajdahunyad Castle and garden.

P.S: During the summer and fall, you can boat leisurely on the lake, while in winter it becomes an ice skating ring. The Castle is open from 10 am to 5pm and it’s free.

Budapest walking guide 2
Budapest by Foot Day 2

 

For more info and pics check out my full article on Budapest  https://leilaspassport.com/2015/09/21/budapest/

New Orleans in 3 days

Mardi Gras is on Feb 9th and that is one of the best time to go New Orleans and see its famous Mardi Gras Festival. Here is a guide on what to see in 3 days in that lively city.

I followed the great walking tour provided by Frommers for New Orleans in 2 days.

Day 1: The French Quarter 

It is best to stay in this neighborhood since it is the one with the most attractions and it is the place to be at night.

Start the day at Café du Monde. Don’t get scared by the line, it advances pretty fast. You must have a cup of café au lait (coffee with milk) and beignets covered in powdered sugar. You can also go around back, get your beignets to go, and walk across to Jackson Square to enjoy them from a park bench.

After that breakfast, start your Frommers walking tour. You will pass by:

  • Lalaurie Mansion aka Madame Lalaurie’s House of Horrors. You maybe saw that house in the show American Horror Story: Coven. That season was shot in New Orleans and when you walk around you can see different locations that you saw in the show.

LaLaurie Story:
“Two-time widow Madame Delphine Macarty de Lopez Blanque wed Dr. Louis Lalaurie, moved into this residence in 1832, and the two were soon impressing the city with extravagant parties. One night in 1834 fire broke out. Neighbors crashed through a locked door to find seven starving slaves chained in painful positions. The sight, combined with Delphine’s stories of past slaves having “committed suicide” and rumors of hideous live-subject medical experiments conducted within, enraged her neighbors. Madame Lalaurie and her family escaped a mob’s wrath and fled to Paris. After her death, her body was returned to New Orleans—and even then she had to be buried in secrecy. Tales of hauntings persist, especially that of a slave child who fell from the roof trying to escape Delphine’s cruelties.”

  • Tennessee Williams House – This is where Tennessee Williams wrote the famous A Streetcar Named Desire.
  • Esplanade Avenue

The French district has a lot of hunted places. For example the Andrew Jackson Hotel where school children haunt the place. They say an old woman’s ghost sits on hotel beds at Le Pavilion Hotel and dead doctors and soldiers roam the Hotel Provincial.

For Lunch stop by the Central Grocery to try the best Muffuletta. It is a sandwich filled with olive salad, Italian cold cuts, and cheese. You can seat inside or again go to Jackson Square and enjoy your lunch in the park.

Don’t forget to go to Marie Laveau’s house of voodoo shop. You have to buy a souvenir from that shop, whether it’s a voodoo doll or a candle.

Take a walk along Woldenberg Park (the pedestrian walkway adjacent to the river) toward the Moonwalk overlooking Jackson Square.

The MUST Bourbon Street at night

Bourbon Street gets loud and sometimes even gross but it is a must.

Start the night at the Bourbon St., Lafitte’s Blacksmith Shop, the oldest continually operating bar in the country. “Legend is that it was the headquarters of Jean Lafitte and his pirates, who posed as blacksmiths and used it to fence goods they’d plundered on the high seas.”

 

Day 2: The Garden District

Have Brunch at Commander’s Palace. That Victorian Structure restaurant has the best Sunday brunch with Jazz music.

Across the street, you have the Lafayette Cemetery No. 1. Established in 1833, this “city of the dead” is one of New Orleans’s oldest cemeteries.

Follow the Frommers Walking Tour of the Garden District.  This is the rich neighborhood of New Orleans and you can feel the lush while admiring the houses.

Don’t miss out the Miss Robicheaux’s Academy aka Buckner Mansion that you can see in American Horror Story: Coven. It is on Jackson Ave.

Then, head to Magazine Street. Explore the boutiques, antiques, and galleries along the street. Pick up the streetcar to go back to the French Quarter for the night festivities.

For dinner, you can go to Muriel’s restaurant in Jackson Square. The restaurant is said to be hunted and if you get lucky you can get a tour of the hunted rooms of the restaurant.

 

Day3: Swamp Tour

These are the 2 best options:

It is Approximately 1.5-hour tour by boat and they have the hotel pick up.

After the swamp tour, get back to the French Quarter to have dinner at Napoleon House. They have the best Po Boy Sandwich.

For the last night, you can get away from Bourbon Street and try an upscale bar like the Carousel Bar at the Hotel Monteleone where they have amazing cocktails.

 

Additional tours if you stay longer:

  • Plantations tour at Oak Alley

http://www.oakalleyplantation.com/plan-your-visit/map-directions

  • Haunted Places tours: the tours do not take inside the places.
  • The Algiers Ferry: The ferry takes you to the Algiers residential neighborhood You will find yourself in a 19th-century village full of cafes and pubs and you can stroll the Jazz Walk of Fame along with the levee.
  • Mississippi River Cruise