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Showing posts with the label solo travel

48 Hours in Chișinău

Cathedral Park Moldova is one of the least visited countries in the world according to the   United Nations World Tourism Organization. It received 174,000 visitors in 2019 and the pandemic effectively slashed the number of visitors to 29,000 in 2020. It’s too bad because Moldova has a lot to offer, especially to wine enthusiasts. But it won’t be long before Moldova will be “rediscovered” by intrepid travelers and then we will whine about how crowded it is. Already the traffic in Chișinău is a growing pain for the country. Thankfully, there are many beautiful parks in the city when you need a break and a cup of coffee. Cathedral of Christ’s Nativity The Nativity Cathedral was built in the 1830s in the Neoclassical style after the design of Adam Melnikov, its chief architect.  It lost its bell tower in 1962 after it was destroyed by local communists. The zinc dome and cross are additions from 1997. Religious worship was banned during the Soviet era and the Cathedral was converted into a

Basilica Cistern - the Sunken Palace of Istanbul

Basilica Cistern (Yerebatan Sarayi ) The Basilica Cistern or the Sunken Palace, has been around since the 6th century when it was constructed as a reservoir for the palace of Constantinople and the surrounding neighborhood. It takes its name from the Stoa Basilica which once stood on the very same site. There are 336 marble columns standing 30 ft. high supporting the ceiling. Many of these columns were recycled from the ruins of other buildings. The vaulted ceiling and rounded arches remind one of the great cathedrals of Europe but the Cistern predates these cathedrals. It has been restored multiple times through the years and earthquake-proofed in 2017. The Cistern was reopened to the public in July 2022. This is the bottom of the cistern with just enough water to reflect the columns and artworks scattered throughout. Visitors walk on raised walkways. Here’s a Corinthian column decorated with acanthus leaves. Peacock Eye or Column of Tears This column may be a tribute to the slaves wh

Helsinki Airport Design Aesthetic

Passing through Helsinki International Airport last May, I was struck by the furnishings I found while waiting for my flight. The benches are clearly different from the standard metal and polyester airport chairs and the minimal look is eye pleasing.  The use of wood is attractive, warm and certainly welcoming. These simple, modern benches are also ideal for stretching out (when no one is around). Maximizing space by adding a seating area here is brilliant while covering up functional but unsightly fixtures underneath. The Spacehub (office space) rents for €5 per half hour and may be reserved in advance.  You can get a lot of work done in a quiet space while waiting for your flight. How to book the Spacehub Another feature of the Helsinki airport is the area dedicated to charging gadgets. They thoughtfully added restrooms nearby so you can easily freshen up before going to your assigned gate. ***** Images by TravelswithCharie 

The safest countries for solo female travelers

Iceland After decades of solo travels around the world, these are the countries where I felt the safest. I’ve visited these places on the list several times except for Finland (which I had the pleasure of visiting once) and didn’t encounter any threatening incidences in any of them. I found instead the people were positively responsive when I approached them for directions or help with the language barrier. I especially remember my experiences in Ireland where I needed to find a plug adapter and a saleslady took time from her work to show me the store that carried it, in Japan where the non-English speaking train ticket agent painstakingly helped me with a smile despite the long line behind me or the restaurant chef who showed me how to order my meal using a strange machine, or in Finland where I met friendly people in church and whose friendship I’ve kept to this day as I have with my friends in the Netherlands and Romania. There are so many beautiful stories from my solo trips which

The Villa of Constantine the Great in Mediana

  River God floor mosaic This floor mosaic is a representation of the river god shown here in a half recumbent position and holding a reed. He is facing Leda and the Swan (Zeus) but this part of the composition is almost washed out. The mosaics are made of stone and glass tesserae in white, black, red, gray, brown, ocher and yellow and measures 9.5 square meters. This mosaic is on the podium at the entrance to the reception room. Constantine the Great Constantine the Great was born in Niš around 280AD. Together with Licinius, he signed the Edict of Milan in 313AD which proclaimed religious toleration within the Roman Empire and decriminalized Christianity. The ruins from his villa in Mediana, about 7 km (4.3 miles) from the city center, is now open to the public after years of restoration. Floor mosaics of varying geometrical designs run the length of the 40-hectare residential complex. Various artifacts from the archeological excavation of the premises are on display in the museum as