Snippets of my Travel Writing

Here are a few samples of my writing that I produced for TravelBird (travelbird.com), a Dutch travel company based in Amsterdam, the Netherlands.

Amsterdam  

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Summer in Amsterdam. Credit: Johnny Byrnes

With its intricate canal network, breathtaking architecture, and passion for creativity, the Dutch capital of Amsterdam has been welcoming intrepid travellers for centuries and you too can follow in the footsteps of some famous names during your visit. Firstly, you can embark on a cruise of the 17th century canal ring of Amsterdam, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and learn how the business activities of Golden Age merchants shaped the cityscape and diversity of the city.

You can then take a stroll to the Anne Frank House for a poignant look into one of the world’s most famous and indeed tragic tales, or instead to the impressive Rijksmuseum and admire the handiwork of esteemed Dutch artists like Van Gogh, Vermeer and Rembrandt. Finally, an evening spent in one of the city’s theatres, concert halls, comedy clubs, or restaurants is a great way to sample Amsterdam’s famous nightlife and also a good opportunity to spot a celebrity or two!

Berlin

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Alexanderplatz. Credit: Johnny Byrnes

Berlin is a city with an unrivalled history. Divided by rebellion and war yet ultimately unified to form the modern-day German capital that we all recognise – a thriving cultural treasure with a handful of truly iconic landmarks – walking through Berlin’s 12 very distinguishable districts can at times feel like you are in one of Europe’s finest open-air museums.

If the walls of the German capital’s impressive architecture could talk, you would want to listen into the early hours of the morning. A city of world-famous
attractions (the Brandenburg Gate, the Bundestag and Museum Island to name just a few), a trip to Berlin offers you the chance to step back in time and appreciate just why this city found itself at the heart of many groundbreaking events.

The opportunity to wander through the wondrous Tiergarten, window-shop at the prestigious KaDeWe department store, and marvel at the graffiti-adorned remains of the Berlin Wall are all possible here, whilst you can also look forward to dining on some the world’s finest cuisine thanks to the multi-cultural influence that flows through the German capital.

Bucharest 

Bucharest

The Romanian capital’s Palace of Justice. Credit: Andreiscurei

A cultural destination where Eastern traditions meet Western innovations, Bucharest – located to the south of Romania’s famous Transylvania region – is a city whose history speaks for itself. Offering visitors an intriguing insight into what was once a Communist capital, Bucharest’s magnificent churches, museums and parks hold many secrets that only a few intrepid travellers have discovered thus far. A city whose fascinating past has often been studied from afar, why not buck the regular city trip trend and instead take a chance to admire the absorbing city of Bucharest up close!

From the enchanting beauty of its Old Town to the peace and serenity that can be enjoyed in one of a number of the city’s green outdoor spaces, the Romanian capital of Bucharest – and its many highlights – will definitely surprise you. The city’s most notable landmark is the imposing Palace of the Parliament, an enormous Communist structure that is officially the second largest governmental building in the world. Known for its ornate interior, tours of this building are eagerly sought after by tourists looking to learn more about its importance and that of its former tenant Nicolae Ceaușescu.

The Romanian Athenaeum, a stunning concert hall built in the late 19th century, and the National Museum of Art, housed in a former royal palace in Revolution Square, are also well worth a visit. An attractive mix of chic cafes, authentic taverns, affordable restaurants can also be found in Bucharest’s Old Town, whilst literature enthusiasts should make a beeline for the Cărturești Carusel – a fantastic bookshop spread over a number of floors.

Budapest

Budapest

Budapest’s Parliament Building. Credit: Maurice

Home to the world’s third-largest parliament building, Europe’s second-oldest metro line, and to more thermal springs than any other capital city on the planet, Budapest – commonly known as the ‘The Queen of the Danube’ – is a metropolis blessed with an eclectic mix of influences from both East and West. Whether you want to learn more about the city’s fascinating UNESCO World Heritage Sites or experience the Hungarian capital’s energetic cultural scene including the Palace of Arts, you’ll soon realise why Budapest is one of the most exciting destinations on the continent!

Ibiza

Ibiza

Cala d’Hort. Credit: athinaf

With long sandy beaches, UNESCO-recognized old towns and a world-famous nightlife scene, Ibiza could easily be termed the life and soul of the Mediterranean Sea. The laid back lifestyle of the island’s locals – added to the hours of guaranteed sunshine and delicious Spanish cuisine on offer – make this destination an attractive option for families and friends alike. Although most associated with the bright lights and high-tempo music of electronic dance, the true natural beauty of Ibiza will soon become apparent to you as the sun begins to rise, whether you are an early morning riser or a late-night reveller.

Lecce

Lecce

Church of San Giovanni Battista. Credit: Tango7174

If the southern, sun-soaked Italian region of Puglia was compared to a menu befitting its culinary prowess and produce, the beautiful city of Lecce would be worthy of being named the main course. Nicknamed the ‘Florence of the South’ due to the perfusion of baroque architecture that shape the city – a prime example being the ornate 17th-century Basilica di Santa Croce – Lecce is also an esteemed destination for lovers of the ceramic and papier-mâché crafts. So if you are a connoisseur of Italian food, drink and culture, why not travel to a city of opulent wines and organic olive oils and learn first-hand some skills from masters of the trade!

A first-time visitor to the Italian city of Lecce will be immediately amazed by the different shades of sunlight that illuminate the city’s famous Leccese stone and Baroque-influenced architecture that line the cobblestoned streets. This quaint destination – free from the noisy tourist groups that often flock to other major Italian cities – boasts some impressive landmarks, including the iconic Roman Amphitheatre and the captivating Basilica di Santa Croce. Known locally as a university town, the relaxed atmosphere of Lecce means you can leisurely stroll through the laneways and squares studying the rustic charm of this Puglian jewel.

Lisbon 

Lisbon

Lisbon from above. Credit: Alexander De Leon Battista

Although prominently situated on the Atlantic coastline of Portugal, Lisbon – and its iconic yellow trams – operates on a more Mediterranean-styled rhythm. With the summer season lasting six months, this city and its colourful neighbourhoods – spread over seven rolling hills – can be enjoyably discovered under the guiding light of a warm sun. Also renowned for its laid-back café culture, reminiscing on the previous days’ events with a delicious Pastel de Nata for company will have you feeling like a local in no time.

With its pastel-coloured buildings, winding cobblestoned lanes and distinctive districts, Lisbon is a city that oozes character. Whether you are admiring the underwater species and inspiring exhibitions at the city’s Oceanarium (Europe’s largest indoor aquarium), marvelling at the architectural wonders of the Belém Tower and the Jerónimos Monastery (both UNESCO World Heritage Sites), or experiencing the cosmopolitan city nightlife in the Alcântara neighbourhood, the Portuguese capital really does tick every box.

Madrid

Madrid

Cybele Palace. Credit: Carlos Delgado

Like a mouth-watering serving of quintessential Spanish tapas, Madrid is a city trip destination that offers travellers a little taste of everything, from breathtaking cuisine and culture to world-class fashion and football. So whether you want to leisurely wander through the verdant Buen Retiro Park, sample some sumptuous food and drink in one of the city’s distinctive barrios, or stand back and admire the artistic genius on show at the Prado Museum, Madrid is a cosmopolitan city that is simply a joy to explore.

Malta 

Malta

Lower Barrakka Gardens, Valletta. Credit: Simon Slator

With English as an official language, Italian as the dominant cuisine and a subtropical, Spanish-like climate, the Mediterranean island of Malta serves as a diverse and alternative destination to areas more typically visited on mainland Europe. Home to quaint little fishing villages, picturesque ports and some of the earliest free-standing stone buildings in the world, this island really does do every picture postcard justice. Whether you sample a local Pastizz (filo pastry filled with either ricotta cheese or mushy peas) by the sea in Sliema or pay a visit to the town of Attard and its booming Ta’ Qali Crafts Village (built out of disused World War Two aircraft hangars), you will be spoilt for choice when it comes to organizing your itinerary!

Paris 

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The Eiffel Tower. Credit: Johnny Byrnes

Paris is a city deserving of all superlatives used to describe it. A metropolis of love, lights, and luxurious fashion boutiques, the passion of Parisians resounds from one arrondissement to the next and those lucky enough to visit the French capital are immediately struck by the grandeur of its iconic architecture and the charm of its intimate cafés. Easy to reach thanks to superb road, rail and air connections from Great Britain, with its iconic landmarks, breathtaking vistas, and sumptuous cuisine, you’ll soon realise that Paris is also a very hard place to leave.

 

Porto 

Porto

Porto and the Douro River. Credit: Rititaneves

Majestically perched on the banks of the River Douro, Portugal’s second city of Porto has an atmosphere and a history that often eclipses the country’s capital Lisbon. An artist’s paradise, the

city’s colourful skyline and breathtaking architecture has served as creative inspiration for a number of notable architects and writers including J.K Rowling, who lived in Porto when she penned the first pages of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone.

If you too would like to discover the many gems of this city, a visit to the Church of São Francisco in the heart of the UNESCO-listed centre to admire its spectacular Baroque design is a great place to start. The Palácio da Bolsa – a 19th century flourish of Portuguese pride – and the Clérigos Church with its iconic bell tower are also important landmarks that add to this city’s romantic appeal. Finally, no visit to Porto would be complete without a visit to the Livraria Lello & Irmão, a bookshop whose ornate interior and winding staircases makes it one of the world’s best.

Prague

Prague

Charles Bridge and Prague Castle. Credit: Moyan Brenn

A city of a thousand spires and one breathtaking hilltop castle, Prague’s beauty and ability to amaze all who set foot on its cobbled streets makes it the envy of many of its European contemporaries. Unlike other bustling capital cities, Prague can be explored at a more leisurely pace and with a diverse mix of awe-inspiring architecture, bridges you’ll want to cross more than twice and bars serving glasses of the delectable Pilsener beer, time – as shown by the city’s famous Astronomical Clock – will be definitely on your side.

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