The Champs-Élysées is a highlight of Paris and the world over. Fashion, fun, and festivity are frequent within and lovely scenery is constant. "The world's most beautiful avenue" earns its adoring nickname by remaining arguably the hottest tourist spot in all of France.
The Avenue des Champs-Élysées is a city-section, a boulevard 1.9 kilometers long, but also so much more. It is a mecca for attractive people and attractive sights. Lined with gorgeous green trees and luxury shopping, a young dreamer could get lost there for hours. The fanciful street stretches between the Place de la Concorde and the Arc de Triomphe, two amazing tourist destinations in their own right.
To start the comforting walk from either spot is half of the fun. The Place de la Concorde is the largest public square in the French capital. It features lovely foundations and The Obelisk of Luxor, a fantastic column made of yellow granite. The Arc de Triomphe was once the world's tallest triumphal arch and is an iconic monument that remains one of the world's most famous. With intricate sculpture on its every side and a grandiose presence nearly-unmatched, it is a fine way to end one's crossing along Champs-Élysées. Climbing to the top of the arch for a breathtaking view of all Paris may be the perfect end to a perfect day.
Journeying down the walk is to absorb a classic symbol of France, not unlike standing atop the heights of the Eiffel Tower itself. It's string of manicured trees throw shade over memorable dining at restaurants such as the Hard Rock Café and Ledoye. A quaint sight is new tourists trying escargot for the first time as they watch passing strangers. This appetizer dish of cooked land snails in herb-garlic butter sauce seems ever tastier in the outdoors of Champs-Élysées.
Major museums are all located here: the Palais de la Découverte, the Petit Palais, the Espace Culturel Louis Vuitton, and the Grand Palais. Top seasonal events such as the flagship start of the Tour de France, the Christmas lights at night, and the Bastille Day military parade occur year-round. Boutiques for luxury goods are popular in the area. Mont-Blanc, Ferrari, Louis Vuitton, and Guerlain all claim repeat customers. Traditional stores such as Abercrombie, Banana Republic, Sephora, and more make up the difference.
The neighborhood that surrounds it all is cozy also. Old Paris roads for a break from the pure-tourist feeling that can sometimes pervade. Those in the know will explore the entire area and be greatly rewarded for their work.
Champs-Élysées is a favorite spot among tourists and natives, lovers and friends. Dining in an outdoor cafe there amidst the stylish crowds instantly conjures ideas for trendy romance novels or magical movies. One feels like they are a part of just such a movie themselves as they stroll along its wonder. Visitors commit it to memory easily. It remains a place and experience they immediately understand they will never forget.
Brilliant monuments and colors, streaming fountains and lion sculptures, non-stop celebrations and events: this is Trafalgar Square, London. A beautiful open walking space at the heart of the city, visitors find joy here in many forms. Its history is staggering, its hot-spots abundant - this is a set-piece among set-pieces and likely exactly what the pedestrian tourist has longed to find.
Guarded by lions, a statue of Lord Horatio Nelson at 145-feet-high claims the precise place within the square that is considered to be the center of London. Trafalgar itself is the largest square for the city and has been a mainstay meeting place of interesting minds dating back to the Middle Ages. Its four corners are marked by well-known statues of dark-colored stone set atop impressive platforms. These are of an equestrian vision for George IV, a relief of military leader Charles Napier, another of Henry Havelock, and a fourth plinth that now stands with rotating displays of modern art.
Other fresh works of art frequently line the plaza on cultural display for passersby and diners. They may be seen as one eats at the official Cafe in the Square where indoor and outdoor tables are a fine place to have a drink. Perhaps one has just visited the National Gallery museum right behind it as well. This neoclassical city staple brandishes one of finest collections of Western European paintings available worldwide. Marvel at the masterpieces of Michelangelo, Botticelli, Titian, and Raphael.
For hungry taste-buds unsatiated, there is also the Cafe in the Crypt. Under St Martin-in-the-Fields church, one dines while looking up at 18th-century architecture and brick-vaulted ceilings. Tombstones are found beneath the ground, leaving no doubt that it is a unique place to enjoy a bit of fish and chips. Fine Italian dining can be sampled at Bianco43. A touch of mystery might be found at the Sherlock Holmes Pub & Restaurant. In any case, one's stomach will exit in happiness.
Admiration of the romantic fountains at Trafalgar is commonplace. All were installed during the square's development by John Nash in the 1820s and 30s. There are new additions since 1939, as tribute to Royal Navy admirals David Beatty and John Rushworth Jellicoe. With architectural design by Edwin Lutyens, these fountains are adorned lavishly with sculpture of dolphins, mermaids, and small sharks.
Several Harry Potter film locations are within walking distance of the square but the entire stretch holds its own magic. It houses riotous celebrations for New Year's or whenever England scores a point in the World Cup. It is the site of political demonstrations that generate real changes for an overseeing government nationwide.
If one were teleported to the center of Trafalgar tomorrow, they'd receive every taste of the British experience in short order. The shiny red double-decker buses pass on the left as the storied English accent assails on the right. There is dignity and dreams within this entertaining confluence of adventure. It is quite easy to recommend booking a trip tomorrow, especially if that teleporter is unavailable.
Welcome to New York and it's focal point for massive, crowd-heavy entertainment. It's only one of the most recognizable spots in all of the natural universe. Few have forgotten that Spider-man swings through it in his movies by Sony Pictures. Paramount has had the Transformers fight here. Everyone remembers Captain America taking his first steps on modern turf here upon his awakening at the end of First Avenger. Heroes, both real and imagined, walk the ground here; a future visit may drive home the fact that anyone can share in their footsteps.
Times Square is where over 300,000 folks cross through its streets daily. They gaze up a huge panels of digital advertising walls hung from skyscrapers and billboards that show off only the best of the entire American marketing industry. Celebrities are spotted as a routine and Broadway shows set local conversation on fire. Rockefeller Center contains an ice rink, Art Deco murals, fanciful statues; luxury shopping appears to border every inch of the multi-block complex.
The square's commercial intersections of Midtown Manhattan house the headquarters of the Bank of America Tower, the Paramount Theatre, and MTV Networks. Show-floors at Madame Tussauds and the Museum of Modern Art display the fun or fantastic in equal measure. At night, one may sleep on the pillows of famous hotels, the 414 or Chambers are available, and they'll find hearty laughs beforehand at the Comedy Cellar.
When it's chow-time, the restaurants available are endless, yet one might simply want to settle on the classic New York City food-cart. Purchasing a hot dog from a chrome-cart vendor will remind that gluttonous ghoul Slimer destroyed the very same in Ghostbusters. Standing by a flashing street sign with hand-tossed pizza recalls the notion that Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles enjoy similar slices in the sewers directly below. If one is loath to stick to the basics, they will quickly find full-fledged menus at restaurants such as Le Bernadin, Keen's Steakhouse, Esca, and Sushi Zen.
The annual New Year's Eve ball drop in the square may be the largest celebration in the free world. One million of the festive block traffic in every direction where over two million did so during the millennium change. Christmas is another yearly event that turns every corner into an image of fascination. A giant traditional tree looms high as parades and lights shatter the senses. Off-season or on, the best in the music industry choose the area to perform their tremendous hits as TV and film crews shoot scenes for the hottest shows.
New York Times Square is rock and roll, pure Americana. Arguably, it is the number one destination that foreigners want to plant their shoes across. Recreations of it have lingered in art, film, and even virtual video games. One does not need to settle for virtual reality however; travel there via any method that makes sense and don't hesitate to join the party.
St. Mark's Square or "the Piazza San Marco" is a Renaissance oil painting made real. It's where James Bond has chased down international terrorists; it's what Napoleon called "the finest drawing room of Europe". It is a square practically unrivaled for churches, museums, and landmarks. All is romantic under it's ceiling of the sky.
The square's foremost attraction is the great church of St. Mark which completely consumes the entire plaza's eastern end. It is a dazzling work of arches and marble with Romanesque carvings and horse statues that overlook the territory as permanent sentries. "The church of gold" is also frequently referred to as St. Mark's Basilica and is well-regarded as a lavish symbol of pride and power for all Venetians. It's gold ground mosaics and stunning design have been a status symbol that dates back to the 11th century.
After taking a photo of the Campanile di San Marco, the basilica's bell tower, one might take on the Doges' Palace. This high-traffic landmark, also known as the Palazzo Ducale, is a giant Gothic palace that was former headquarters to the Doges rulers of Venice. Its exterior, courtyard, and inner chambers are all an astonishing sight to behold. Colonnades mix with highlights of crimson Verona marble and intricate Istrian stonework. A museum is inside and the shimmering canals flow past its borders.
Leading out from the palace is a famous "L"-shaped section of paving described as the Piazzetta, little square, and the Molo, a jetty. Here, there are often waves of innumerable pigeons that cluster and beg for food from the tourists who would feed them. If one is ready to treat themselves after the wildlife, the options stretch out in either direction. Trattoria San Trovaso provides gourmet pizza for a reasonable ten euros. Try polenta and risotto at Osteria da Carla or settle at one of a great many historical coffee houses. Fine wine is sipped at the Cavatappi bar and creamy pastas await over the Rialto bridge.
The shopping choices range from anything to everything. It is nearly mandatory that one peek inside several well-known leather shops or boutiques that blow Murano-style glassware by demonstration. Bookshops are bountiful and there are ornate lace designs from Burano. One may want to try on a Venetian mask to pre-prepare for Carnival or find a street seller that otherwise will negotiate for more souvenirs in all shapes and sizes. Art studio watercolors and modern sculpture are also tasteful purchases worthy of hanging above the fireplace.
Centuries of history and heartache have swept into the atmosphere of St. Mark's Square. A fine "drawing room of Europe" certainly, yet it draws modern crowds with the same frenzy that inspired the classical artists of ages past. "La Piazza" for short, it is pure Venice and it is ready and waiting. No trip to Italy may ever be complete without a lengthy stopover.
Germany is home to a delightful bevy of high-profile destinations, but it would be a shame if Kurfürstendamm was ever underrated for an instance. At its height, it was a zone of pure affluence. The wealthy and cultured transformed its streets into naught but vintage art and architecture. World War II sadly destroyed over half of its magnificent works, yet its raw energy has never diminished. Hearty Berliners and happy tourists drink of that energy everyday and often.
A mixture of different designs for fantastic variety, Kurfürstendamm is a 2.2-mile-long boulevard lined with facades of grand buildings. Huge bay windows, gables, columns, towers, and other intricacies of decor have been strewn about by the hands of masters long-practiced. A structure known as Iduna-Haus is the oldest housing section of the villa. Built in 1905, history fanatics point tourists to it as a reminder of old-school construction. Now, many of the beautiful residential works that surround it are the bases of business, but they are no less stunning to admire.
Buffs of history may also note that the expansion of Kurfürstendamm was a personal initiative of chancellor Otto von Bismarck, who began the project in 1875. It was his proposal that raised the terrific edifices of the Grunewald mansions colony in the sector's east end. Seven years later, experimental trolley buses were staged on an innovative track system that crisscrossed the pavement. Nightlife and leisure time found new meanings as more and more bars crept up and social events became planned. Performers and critical thinkers would meet to discuss concepts of free expression and artistic merit. It shortly became a congregation place of the decades for those with visionary minds.
Today, modern storefronts mingle with old haunts. To satisfy impulsive hungers, the simpler selections are often preferred. One might try sauerkraut or currywurst, slices of steamed pork sausage in a special ketchup sauce. These favorites along with fresh potato salad and German rolls may be found at an Imbiss, a small deli-style installation built along walking paths. More exquisite taste-buds will seek out the Beersaloon am Ku'damm restaurant. The biggest and best schnitzels are available late into the night. This boneless meat slab, often made of veal, satisfies visitors who order it with extra gravy and mushrooms.
For shopping, Kurfürstendamm is still dubbed "the 5th Avenue of Berlin". Select exclusive shops share space with familiar chains and souvenirs can be purchases all over. Louis Vuitton, Yves Saint Laurent, Karstadt, and Steiff Shop Berlin are but a few of the high-end places where browsing and second glances take hold.
History is thick within the walls of Kurfürstendamm. Copious amounts of fine food, fashion, and friendliness helped pave its roads. Its oxygen is good conversation and elegance whispers down every side-street. If this is "the Champs-Élysée of Berlin", then these hard-working Germans have built genius. Marking this destination as a date on one's calendar is a smart decision of equal intelligence.
Words alone are not easily able to describe the wonder one is bound to find surrounding Trevi Fountain. The breezy days and warm-glow nights are the stuff of tourist legend. Many claim it the very highlight of Rome, a city whose majesty knows no bounds, and it is hard to disagree. This is a fountain and walking section unlike any other on Earth.
Alas, first: the fountain. When one gazes up at it from its forefront, the sight is akin to witnessing fairytale description come-to-life. Designed by Nicola Salvi in 1762, it is the largest Baroque fountain in the city at 26 meters high. Its backdrop is the Palazzo Poli, an entire palace where lavish parties were thrown by princes and princesses. Corinthian columns are stage for a still life play performed by monolithic statues of Greek Triton gods. These mythical messengers of the sea are shown enacting a theme entitled "taming of the waters". The god Oceanus is seen driving a chariot of shells and Abundance spills water from an urn.
It is all a brilliant mixture of rock-work, stone sculpture, and fountain foam. As one nears the attraction, rising volumes of rushing water seduce the ears as mist-spray droplets float before the eyes. It is easy to feel swept away in the daytime, but the nights where the entire relief is under-lit in golden bulbs are remembered as twice as potent.
Tradition holds that coins are thrown in with the right hand over the left shoulder. This grants return to the otherworldly city and great luck in the future. 3,000 euros are collected every day and then distributed to each of Rome’s charities.
The excitement hardly ends at the fountain. Musicians, tricksters, and speed-painters put on shows among the alleyways for tips. Every surrounding wall and nearby corner features specialty stores and restaurants. One's hunger is instantly quenched with a slice of fair-priced lasagna or dessert of crêpe pancakes. Italian gelato ice cream is enjoyed by adults and children alike.
Each block along the route contains sit-down eateries that vie for tourist attention. Waiters will competitively try to out-sell one another, offering four-course meals at a surprisingly-low cost. Once the belly is full, a return to walking may result in purchases as eclectic as silly remote-controlled toys or custom-engineered Italian timepieces.
The sights and sounds drive on at all hours, thanks to well-dressed strangers and live band rehearsals. Newbies and natives both will circle the blocks once, then twice, then a third time to catch a glimpse of everything.
The most cold and unromantic find their heartstrings singing under the clouds of Trevi. This is the place where husbands will want to take wives, where wives will ever-fantasize over the dreams that it gave them. The sights of Rome are so endless that one could actually miss it completely. Yet those who stumble upon it by accident or hunt for it on purpose share one thing: a memory that will last for a lifetime.
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