St Stephen’s Basilica Panorama Tower

MacLaine_Panorama_Szent_Istvan_52I’ve been battling a nasty cold this past week, which has lead to the past seven days‚ being pretty much a write off. I was fed up with staying home all day long and‚ decided to get out of my apartment to‚ cross off a must-see attraction in Budapest by climbing up‚ St Stephen’s Basilica for the panoramic views.

St. Stephen’s, it can be argued, is the spiritual centre of Hungary and one of the city’s top tourist spots. For the very reasonable price of 500 HUF (about $2.25 CDN) you can climb the 320 steps up to the observatory and enjoy spectacular views of the entire city. To the west, you’ll see the Danube River, the Castle district and the mountains of Buda. To the East, you’ll see sprawling Pest, which goes to seems to go on forever.

I brought my DSLR camera and took some photos. Click on the photos themselves for a high-res look.

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Visiting Nice, city on the French Riviera

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The South of France is one of my favourite spots in Europe. I much prefer it to Paris. The region and its people are much more relaxed. Things happen at a slower pace, the weather is always fantastic, but you still get to enjoy the best of French culture and cuisine.

Visiting Nice is something I consider a must-do on any trip to France. Along with its surrounding towns and cities like Cannes, Antibes and St. Tropez, it’s the summer playground for European vacationers.

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Downtown Nice is very walkable, with the majority of the streets being pedestrian zones. The city is built right on the water, where you’ll find a large stretch of beach. The beach here differs from most, instead of sand, you’ll find large rocks.

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The main square in town, Place Massena, is filled with people, walking slowly, soaking up the vibe, in no particular hurry to get anywhere.

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Just to the east of downtown is the Colline du Chateau, which offers a hilltop view of all of Nice and its sprawling shoreline. It’s well worth the climb up.

Getting in and around Nice is simple. The town has an international airport served by low-cost carrier Eastjet and also features direct flights to and from Montreal in summer time. The train station is also well-connected, with Monte Carlo and Italy a short trip away on the commuter train. There’s also a reliable tram system to help you get around town.

If you plan on heading to France, make sure you take a detour from Paris and head south, you won’t be disappointed.