Artistic Brilliance Shines in Florence!

We are proud to offer exciting excursions all over the globe, from places deep in the jungle to some of the greatest cities man has ever dreamed to build. We like to share our passion with others so that they can see why we are so invested in the places we go. The world is remarkably big, and there are more amazing sights to see than can be imagined. Today we take a trip to one of the most artistic places in the entire world, Florence, Italy!

The Bargello, also known as the Palazzo del Bargello, Museo Nazionale del Bargello, or Palazzo del Popolo (which translates as “Palace of the People in English”) is a former prison and barracks which now serves as an art museum. The term Bargello is derived from Latin and means “fortified tower” or “castle” and was a term that was applied to military captains of Italy during the middle ages who were in charge of keeping the peace. Because these captains stayed in fortifications such as this one the name eventually stuck to the building as well. The original two stories of the building were finished in 1256 with the third story being added in 1323. In modern times the museum is home to masterpieces by such renowned artists as Michelangelo, Donatello, and Vincenzo Gemito.

The Catterale di Santa Maria del Fiore, Cathedral of Saint Mary of the Flower in English, is the main church of the city. Construction of this beautiful building started in 1296 in the Gothic style and was completed in 1436 when the dome was finished and it was consecrated that same year. The outside is lined with multicolored marble panels in numerous shades of pink and green that give the building its beautiful sense of majesty. The cathedral is the mother church of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Florence. The current archbishop if Giuseppe Betori. The inside of the cathedral is home to some stunning artwork, perhaps none more provoking than the Last Judgment, seen above, that is underneath the dome. There are few places in the world which can rival the beauty of this wonderful monument dedicated to faith.

Giotto’s Campanile is a standalone bell tower that is a part of the Florence Cathedral. The tower was first started in 1334 after the original Master of Works of the Cathedral passed away and was completed in 1359 after the title passed through multiple people’s hands during that period. It stands adjacent to Santa Maria del Fiore, and the tower is one of the finest examples of Florentine Gothic architecture with its design by Giotto. It features multicolored marble encrustations that give it a fantastic sheen and fabulously rich sculptural decorations! The inside houses multiple works of art, including the famous “Euclid” by Nino Pisano!

Florence is an amazing city, with such as rich history in both the arts as well as religious ceremony, it makes a great adventure for anyone wishing to explore a lively city. The architecture can’t be beat, either! We’re so proud to be taking our travelers all around the beautiful country of Italy as a part of our Gay Taste of Italy Tour, which features other such cities as Rome and Venice! For all of the information on this amazing trip, go here.

 

 

Grabbing Pieces of Pizza in Rome!

One of the great things about traveling is the chance to experience different cultures around the world first hand, and there are few better ways to do that then to take a bite of someone’s food. Like music, food is a universal language. We all eat, we enjoy food in vastly different ways, and one person’s supreme meal is another person’s garbage.  I have been doing a lot of research lately when it comes to the highlights of the world, and quite a bit of that time has been devoted to various eateries.

Pinsere Roma is a pizzeria that specializes in something referred to as “grips”, which are small hand held pizzas meant to be enjoyed in a single setting. The experience here doesn’t start with the food, it starts with the people. The owners of the establishment started it on the belief that food can be amazing without being too expensive or taking a long time to prepare, and always with a smile. The service at Pinsere Roma is fantastic, with customers often noting that the warm atmosphere is almost as inviting as the aroma that carries easily to the streets out in front of the eatery. The small storefront is constantly packed with eager customers who are vying to try one of the many combinations in this very popular place. It has consistently been rated as one of the best places to eat in all of Rome!

The pizza here is absolutely fantastic, with a variety that is almost unmatched in the entire world! Customers rave about the fresh ingredients and interesting combinations. One of the best aspects of the pizzas is the crust. It has a doughy quality to it that is topped off with just enough crispiness to melt in anyone’s mouth. One of the more popular pizzas there includes bacon, figs, and the surprising honey! It shouldn’t work, but the skilled chefs are talented at pulling off the unexpected time and time again. Of course, they can do traditional pizza just as well, with their Sicilian Meats pizza being another favorite among customers. Tourists and locals agree that for pizza there is no place better in all of Rome!

Rome is a fantastic city that has many great places to visit. There are landmarks, holy sites, and many places traveler should go on a trip to the city, as well as many other places to enjoy great food beyond the wonderful Pinsere Roma. You can experience all Rome has to offer, as well as other amazing destinations in Italy, as part of our fantastic Italy vacation! For all of the details on this amazing trip, please click here.

Five times the Fine Dining Experience in London!

One of the great things about traveling is the chance to experience different cultures around the world first hand, and there are few better ways to do that then to take a bite of someone’s food. Like music, food is a universal language. We all eat, we enjoy food in vastly different ways, and one person’s supreme meal is another person’s garbage.  I have been doing a lot of research lately when it comes to the highlights of the world, and quite a bit of that time has been devoted to various eateries. Today we’ll be going to London Englandwhere the food is delicious five times over!

The Five Fields is an exquisite restaurant that is one of the best regarded places to eat in all of London, which is no easy feat to manage. The two principle food makers, Chef Patron Taylor Bonnyman and Head Chef Marguerite Keogh, offer up, in their own words, “elegant and playful modern British cooking with an emphasis on native British artisanal produce.” The pair of them have worked in some of the best kitchens in London, New York, and Paris to bring together influences that dazzle the senses and put on full display the wide breadth of amazing ingredients they use. Their aim is to strike a balance between indulgence and fresh simplicity, and according to just about everyone who stops in they do an amazing job of it. The dining room is magnificently done as well, creating an intimate space that takes inspiration from the flora of the surrounding area with the pale green and ivory colors dominating the room. The restaurant is renowned for its atmosphere and great service, with a very friendly wait staff who are exceptionally attentive to guest’s needs. If you’re interested in dining here make sure you book a table quickly, as you won’t be able to just walk in and get one off the street, the demand is quite high!

 

 

Of course, atmosphere and friendliness of staff wouldn’t mean a whole lot if the food wasn’t delicious. I’m going to be anti-climactic: the food is amazingly well regarded and all anyone who eats here appears capable of talking about even days after they have finished dining here. Meals are served in three courses with a starter, a main, and a dessert. One of the more popular starters is the Rock Pool, which combines smoked eel, Caviar, and Tuna for an amazing and unique seafood blend that makes the mouth water. There is also the very popular Orkney Scallop, which comes from the Orkney Islands off the north coast of Great Britain, which is served with tomatoes, Peaches, and Avocado for a spectacular flavor explosion that is greater than the delicious sum of its parts. As for mains many people rave about their John Dory, which is a brilliant combination of chickpea, chorizo, and a surprisingly delectable octopus! Don’t be shy about giving it a try, it gets rave reviews! The desserts are delectable as well, with the Ginger option that comes with plums and vanilla ice cream being a huge hit. If you aren’t looking for anything too sweet they also offer a selection of amazing British and Irish cheeses, which again are extremely beloved! There aren’t many items on the movie that aren’t pleasing to taste though, so if you stop in let your heart and stomach guide your path. They also have a very fine cocktail menu, which I am sure is relevant to a lot of people!

 

London has a lot to offer any foodie, and this is an amazing restaurant that is guaranteed to not disappoint! Fresh ingredients, superb skill, and a welcoming atmosphere make for an amazing dining experience that people owe to themselves to check out first hand. We’re proud to take our travelers to London as part of our 7 Day Taste of Europe pre-stay which leads into our FABULOUS Drag Stars at Sea: Europe Allstars! For all of the information on this upcoming trip, please go here.

 

 

 

 

 

Imperial and Religious Landmarks in Rome!

We are very proud to offer trips all around the world, and we are invested in letting others see why we are so passionate about the places we go. The world is a very big place, and within it are numerous sights to see that are unique as they are beautiful, historically significant, or both. Here is a look into Rome, Italy, whose historical significance is unmatched in all of western civilization! 

The Colosseum, also known as the Flavian Amphitheater, is an elliptical amphitheater in the center of the city, and is built of concrete and stone. It is the largest amphitheater ever build and is widely regarded as one of the greatest works of engineering and architecture that the world has ever known. The construction of the building began under the rule of Emperor Vespasian in 72 AD, and was completed eight years later under his heir Titus. Further additions were made during the reign of Domitian. These three rulers of Rome are known as the Flavian dynasty, and the amphitheater got its Latin name for its association with this family. The Colosseum could hold an estimated 80,000 spectators at any one time, having an average audience of about 65,000. It has gained much of its fame due to it being the home of gladiatorial contests but it was home to many public spectacles including dramas based on myths, re-enactments of famous battles, and public executions. After the fall of the Roman Empire the grounds were repurposed in several ways that included being home to a cemetery and many of the spaces were converted into housing and workshops. These days the Colosseum stays partially ruined due to damage from stone-robbers and horrific earthquakes. Even so, it is an iconic symbol of the Roman Empire and is one of the most visited buildings in the entire world, and is by far Rome’s most popular tourist attraction.

The Arcibasilica Papale di San Giovanni in Laterano (English: Papal Archbasilica of St John in the Lateran) is the cathedral church of the Diocese of Rome and the official ecclesiastical seat of the Bistop of Rome, which is the Pope. Due to its distinction as the cathedral for the Bishop of Rome, it ranks above every other Catholic Church and thus is the only one to be named an Archbasilica. It has often been remarked that the building resembles a palace more than any sort of church, with its beautiful Baroque architecture and resplendent artwork strewn all about the building. One of the more amazing pieces of artistry within the building is the statues of the twelve apostles which were commissioned under the rule of Pope Clement XI in the early 18th century, which are beautifully crafted. 

Rome is a fantastic city with a lot of history to offer. It had one of the greatest empires to ever stretch the world, and is home to some of the most devout religious followers in the entire world with splendid buildings to match. You should visit this city, and we’re glad to bring you an amazing trip that can take you all over Italy! For all of the details on what great experiences await you, click here.

 

You’ll WANT to Sleep with the Fishes in Lisbon!

With approximately three weeks before the start of our Drag Stars at Sea: Europe Allstars there is a lot to be done and planned before our cruisers begin their amazing journey. Each of our destinations within Europe has an overabundance of great activities and sights to take in before people are whisked off to the next leg of their adventure. This article is here to condense some of the information so that you, the ever busy traveler, don’t have to search all over for ingenious ideas on how to spend your time! Today we are in Lisbon, Portugal, where there are dazzling sights to see above and below the water!

The Museu Calouste Gulbenkian is a museum in Lisbon, containing a wide variety of ancient, as well as modern, art. The Museum was founded according to the last wishes of Calouste Gulbenkian, thus the name of the museum, who died in 1955, to display the man’s rich art collection. The exhibition is distributed in geographical and chronological order to create two separate circuits within the tour as a whole. The first focuses on Greco-Roman art from classical antiquity and delves into Egyptian and Persian art as well. The other highlights European art of all kinds, including paintings and sculptures. The museum has a total collection of around 6000, with about 1000 of that on permanent exhibition.

The Oceanario de Lisboa is an oceanarium of enormous size and stands as the largest indoor aquarium in all of Europe! The amount of marine species is as impressive as the size of the aquarium itself with over 16,000 individuals and 450 species! The main exhibit within the building is a massive 180,000 cubic foot tank with four large acrylic windows located on its sides. Sharks, moray eels, and barracudas can be found swimming in this tank to the delight of many travelers! One of the more interesting aspects of this particular aquarium is the fact that it hosts sunfish, which are rare due to the very demanding conditions it takes to keep them healthy.

Chiado is the name of a square and the surrounding area in the heart of Lisbon. The square is considered a traditional shopping center with a lot of popular retail stores as well as cafes. Culturally speaking it is important, as it hosts a number of museums and theaters that offer a wide variety of entertainment options. It is considered to be one of the hippest areas in the entire city, which is saying something, with wine bars and restaurants that are on the cutting edge of European trends. Make sure to bring your walking shoes though, as exploring this great place takes a fair amount of walking!

 

Lisbon is a beautiful city that like so many of its fellow European cities has an amazing wealth of places to explore and have a great time in! Lisbon is just one of the many fantastic cities that we are going to be visiting as part of our Drag Stars at Sea: Europe Allstars! The trip is almost here, everyone! For all of the great details on this wonderful trip that’s just around the corner, please go here.

 

 

Amazing Museums in London!

With approximately three weeks before the start of our Drag Stars at Sea: Europe Allstars there is a lot to be done and planned before our cruisers begin their amazing journey. Each of our destinations within Europe has an overabundance of great activities and sights to take in before people are whisked off to the next leg of their adventure. This article is here to condense some of the information so that you, the ever busy traveler, don’t have to search all over for ingenious ideas on how to spend your time! Today’s stop is London, England!

The British Museum is a museum dedicated to culture, art, and the history of humanity. The museum opened in 1759 and was largely based on the collections of the scientist Sir Hans Sloane. The architecture of the building draws obvious inspiration from the ancient Greeks, which was a signature design choice of the architect who designed it. The breadth of its collection is staggering, with over 8 million pieces all told! The size of the collection makes it one of the largest in the entire world as well as one of the most varied, with origins from all continents. The departments within the museum include ancient Egypt, Greece and Rome, the Middle East, and Asia! One of the most famous pieces that is housed there is the Rosetta Stone, pictured above, which was vital to deciphering hieroglyphics.

The Churchill War Rooms is a museum that is comprised of two portions: the first is the Cabinet War Rooms, an underground facility that was home to a British government command center throughout World War II and the Churchill Museum, a biographical museum about the life and times of Winston Churchill. The Cabinet War Rooms were in use from 1939 until August of 1945, when Japan surrendered and effectively ended the Second World War. It was evident after the war that there was historical value to be found in such a command center and the preservation of the site fell to the Ministry of Works before the Department for the Environment took over. The museums opened for the first time in 1984 after years where the sites were not open to the public at all and have since had redevelopments in both 2005 and 2010.

The Wallace Collection is renowned around the world for its wide range of decorative and fine arts from 15th to the 19th centuries. The collection as a whole is split up into 25 large galleries. The museum was established in 1897 with a great deal of the collection coming from the private stores of one Richard Seymour-Conway who left it all to his illegitimate son, Sir Richard Wallace, whose widow gave it all to the nation. The only condition of the act of generosity was that nothing ever leave the collection, even on loan. In total there are over 5,000 pieces now on display, with over 2,000 of that being fine examples of European and Oriental arms and armor! Perhaps the best part of the museum is that admission to this amazing collection is free!

London is a great city with so much history to explore! No matter where you turn there is something fantastic to do there. The museums that were talked about today are just one of the enjoyable aspects of the city! You can enjoy it all as part of the 7 Day Taste of Europe pre-stay as part of our Drag Stars at Sea: Europe Allstars! For all of the information on this stellar trip, go here.

 

Learning to Love the Louvre and the Luxembourg Garden!

With approximately four weeks before the start of our Drag Stars at Sea: Europe Allstars there is a lot to be done and planned before our cruisers begin their amazing journey. Each of our destinations within Europe has an overabundance of great activities and sights to take in before people are whisked off to the next leg of their adventure. This article is here to condense some of the information so that you, the ever busy traveler, don’t have to search all over for ingenious ideas on how to spend your time! Today we talk about Paris, France, where art and nature collide beautifully!

The Louvre is one of the world’s largest and most splendid museums as well as being a prominent historic landmark in Paris. Roughly 35,000 pieces from prehistory all the way up to the 21st century are on exhibit in the museum’s expansive 652,300 square feet! Comfortable walking shoes are a must for anyone who wants to transverse this amazing place! The Louvre also holds the distinction for being the most visited museum in the world and only getting more popular: the past decade has seen the number of visitors annually rise from roughly 8 million to now well over 9 million, with the number expected to continue to rise! Originally the museum opened in 1793 with a scant 537 painting. Throughout the years various kings invested time and resources into expanding the museum as well as a number of donations throughout the years. Some of the most impressive expansions of the collection came during the reign of Napoleon, who through many successful military campaigns managed to acquire a staggering amount of items. Napoleon was also responsible for appointing the museum’s very first director, one Dominique Vivant Denon. These days the collection is divided into eight curatorial divisions: Egyptian Antiquities; Near Eastern Antiquities; Greek, Etruscan, and Roman Antiquities; Islamic Art; Sculpture; Decorative Arts; Paintings; Prints and Drawings. By far the most famous piece in the museum, and the most famous painting in the entire world, is the Mona Lisa by Leonardo da Vinci pictured above. Other famous pieces include “Nike of Samothrace”, a beautiful depiction of the Greek goddess of Victory, and the “Venus de Milo”, an amazing sculpture of the goddess of love that shows the beauty of the female form.

The Jardin du Luxembourg, or the Luxembourg Garden, is located in the 6th administrative district in Paris and was formed in 1612 by the window of King Henry IV of France, Marie de’ Medici, for her new residence the Luxembourg Palace. The park covers over 23 hectares and is known for its gorgeous lawns, flowerbeds, and most famously the Medici Fountain, pictured above, which was built in 1630. The garden also features over one hundred states all across its ground. Among these many statues is a central space where twenty figures of French queens and other famous women stand on pedestals. The garden is one of the more popular spots in the entire city and serves as a nice respite from the hustle and bustle of Paris, which can be overwhelming at times for all of its beauty.

Paris is an amazing city, as beautiful as it is interesting, with so much to discover. The Louvre alone could take someone days to explore, much less anything else in this vast city. We love Paris, and it is why we’re so happy to be able to take people there as part of our 7 Day Taste of Europe pre tour as part of our Drag Stars at Sea: Europe Allstars! For all of the information on this great trip, go here.

 

Where Art thou Art? In Venice!

We are very proud to offer trips all around the world, and we are invested in letting others see why we are so passionate about the places we go. The world is a very big place, and within it are numerous sights to see that are unique as they are beautiful, historically significant, or both. Today we stop in on Venice, Italy, where the visionaries of the past still live on today!

The Doge’s Palace, or Palazzo Ducale in Italian, is a palace built in the Venetian Gothic style. The Palace is named after its former resident, the Doge of Venice, who served as the supreme authority when Venice was still a republic. The first building to house the Doge was built in the 9th century at the behest of Angelo Partecipazio, who moved the seat of government from the island of Malamocco. This building wouldgo on to be destroyed by a fire a century later and it would not be until 1340 before the current Doge’s Palace was completed. Several more fires would ravage the palace throughout the centuries requiring several reconstructions. Eventually the Republic of Venice would fold due to occupations from the French and Austrians in the 18th and 19th centuries before becoming a part of Italy in the 1866. These days the palace is one of 11 museums run by the Fondazione Musei Civci di Venezia and is considered to be one of the most popular tourist attractions in the city. The palace is noted for its various paintings such as Neptune Offering Gifts to Venice, which was finished in 1750, pictured above. People who visit the museum these days remark often about how beautiful everything within its halls are as well as the excellent audio guides which are offered to enrich people’s experience! It is a must visit in the city of Venice!

 

The Basilica di Santa Maria Gloriosa dei Frari, shortened to Frari often, is one of the greatest churches in the city of Venice. The rights to the land that the church now stands on were given in 1250 but it was another 88 years before the church would finally be completed. It is one of several notable church in the city that was built in the Italian Gothic style of architecture. Perhaps the most important feature of the church is all of the amazing works of art stored within it as well as all of the famous artists who are interred there. Titian, who is widely considered to be the most important member of the 16th century Venetian school of painting and whose self-portrait is seen above, is interred here.

It is evident that Venice’s history when it comes to artistry is intrinsic to the city still today. Venice is a remarkable city with so much to explore and experience! You can go there though as part of our Gay Taste of Italy Tour! We’ve for Venice, we’ve got Tuscany, we’ve got Sorrento, and of course we’ve got Rome! For all of the details on this AMAZING trip, go here.

 

 

Exploring Amsterdam’s Landmarks!

With approximately six weeks before the start of our Drag Stars at Sea: Europe Allstars there is a lot to be done and planned before our cruisers begin their amazing journey. Each of our destinations within Europe has an overabundance of great activities and sights to take in before people are whisked off to the next leg of their adventure. This article is here to condense some of the information so that you, the ever busy traveler, don’t have to search all over for ingenious ideas on how to spend your time.

The Anne Frank House is a historic house and biographical museum which honors the Jewish wartime diary writer Anne Frank. During the war Anne Frank hid from the Nazis with her family and four other people at the rear of a canal house, known as the Secret Annex. While Anne Frank did not survive the war her diary was published in 1947 to great acclaim. It has been said that Anne Frank represents the millions of lives lost during the holocaust, giving a face and words to an event perhaps too horrible to fully accept at first blush. In 1957 the Anne Frank Foundation was established to protect the house from developers who wanted to demolish it. The house is one of the most well regarded sites in all of Amsterdam, with visitors noting how well the museum retells the history of Anne Frank’s journey. It is also a popular site, with well over a million people visiting it each year.

The Royal Concertgebouw is a concert hall in Amsterdam. Construction of the hall began in 1883, inspired by the Gewandhaus in Leipzig, and it opened in 1888 to an inaugural concert which featured 120 musicians and a chorus of 500 singers! In 2013 in honor of the building’s 125th year Queen Beatrix gave the building the Royal Title of “Koninklijk.” The concert hall is considered one of the finest in the entire world due to its very impressive acoustics, being rivaled only by places such as Boston’s Symphony Hall. The main hall seats almost 2,000 people! Nearly a million people visit the hall each year, with nothing but glowing reviews for the amazing sounds produced within its halls.

Royal Palace of Amsterdam is one of three palaces in the country which can be used by the monarchy as per the order of the Parliament. Originally a city hall during the Dutch Golden Age in the 17th century, the building became a royal palace of King Louis Napoleon in the early stages of the 19th century, he himself probably most famous for being Napoleon Bonaparte’s brother. When the Netherlands were annexed by France in 1810 it was once again used as a town hall and would not be returned to the Dutch royalty until King William I took the crown.

Amsterdam has a lot of amazing landmarks. Some are filled with a tragic beauty, while others uplift the spirit and remind us of our place in history. Amsterdam is part of our AMAZING 7 Day Taste of Europe pre-tour which leads into our sensational Drag Stars at Sea: Europe Allstars! For all of the information on this trip, go here.

 

 

Going a nautical mile for fun in Southampton!

With approximately five weeks before the start of our Drag Stars at Sea: Europe Allstars there is a lot to be done and planned before our cruisers begin their amazing journey. Each of our destinations within Europe has an overabundance of great activities and sights to take in before people are whisked off to the next leg of their adventure. This article is here to condense some of the information so that you, the ever busy traveler, don’t have to search all over for ingenious ideas on how to spend your time! Today we stop in Southampton, England, where ships tell the tale! 

The SS Shieldhall is a preserved steamship that operates from the city and is a major tourist attraction! She was built in October 1954 and weighs in at 1,972 tons! Before she was preserved for tourist purposes the boat was used a sludge boat, going regularly from Shieldhall in Glasgow, Scotland down the River Clyde to dump treated sewage sludge at sea. These types of ships regularly welcomed aboard day trippers and parties or passengers who wanted to tour the ships during these trips down river. To accommodate for this the Shieldhall was given open-crank engines which allow passengers to see all of the inner workings, which according to a lot of the people who visit the ship say is really fun. Those who take the day trip these days are allowed to explore all parts of the ship and people remark all the time just how friendly and welcoming all of the crew on board are. From seeing the engines in action up close to going to the bridge and talking to the captain of the ship, there’s a lot of fun to be had on the SS Shieldhall!

 

 

Titanic Engineer Officers Memorial is, as the name suggests, a memorial to the 35 engineer officers who steadfastly stood at their posts as the Titanic was critically struck by an Iceberg in 1912. The monument was unveiled on a sunny day in April of 1914 where over 100,000 people gathered in remembrance of the brave souls who gave their lives to buy the fleeing passengers precious moments to safely get to their lifeboats. The statue consists of bronze and granite and features Nuke, the Greek Winged Goddess of Victory. Many people visit this memorial yearly, and those that do remark how stunning the display is in person. It serves as a haunting reminder of the tragedy that struck so close to the heart of Southampton a century ago, many of those engineers living only a few miles at most away from the monument, and reminds all who visit of the sacrifice that was made.

Southampton is a fun place to explore with a lot of emphasis on the sea and the ocean, as the above locations indicate. We too are interested in the sea! It is why we are proud to present Southampton and so many other places as part of our Drag Stars at Sea: Europe Allstars! Be sure to check out all of the great information on this exciting trip by going here.