The 6th TripAdvisor city was, no surprise, Venice, Italy. Its 3 don’t miss attractions were, no surprise, Grand Canal, Palazzo Ducale, and Saint Mark’s Basilica. The Doge’s Palace, Palazzo Ducale, in St. Mark’s Square has been an art museum for 90 years. Like the Victoria and Albert Museum, I haven’t been in it or the Basilica. When Ruth and I were there, a transportation strike was on and it was hard to get around. We did make it to the Peggy Guggenheim Museum and rode any Vaporettos that were still operating up and down the Grand Canal. We saw the sadly graffitied Rialto Bridge, stupendous St. Mark’s square that was marred by hustlers, city-sized ocean liners sliding by, etc. But what I most enjoyed was just wandering around getting lost, which is very easy to do in Venice, a city I like a lot more than Ruth. She looked at Murano glass while I hunted for Bigoli pasta.
#7 was San Francisco with the Cable Car Museum, Golden Gate Bridge, and Alcatraz the top 3 attractions. It’s hard to fault these, especially the Bridge. We’ve been to Alcatraz, a major must-see, twice as tourists, not inmates. I’d add Muir Woods, the Legion of Honor, and Filoli. Legion of Honor was built to commemorate WWI soldiers but soon became a fine arts museum dedicated to their memory. It has a spectacular setting in Lincoln Park on a headland above the Golden Gate and specializes in really fine temporary exhibits like the upcoming “Intimate Impressionism from the National Gallery…” from 3/29/14 to 8/3/14. Muir and Filoli require travel outside the city. NPS’s Muir Woods, 12 miles north, is a National Monument where you can walk among old growth Coast Redwoods, a rare experience in the Bay Area. Filoli is about 30 miles south of San Francisco and just off I-280 near San Carlos. See the February, 2013 blog, “Our Downton Abbey”, for details.
#8 is Florence, Italy with the Statue of David, Piazza del Duomo, and Palazzo Vecchio as the best attractions. Since Ruth and I will be there on our final trip of 2013, I’ll hold off on personal recommendations for now.
#9 is Prague, Czech Republic. TripAdvisor’s “Don’t miss” attractions are Old Town Square, Charles Bridge, and Prague Castle. Try to visit all 3 either off-season or off-times to avoid crowds. I recommend the Dancing House, Loreta, and the Jewish Museum, truly one of the world’s best attractions. The Dancing House, nicknamed Fred and Ginger, was co-designed by Frank Gehry. Loreta was a major religious cloister. Now its chapel contains a jaw-dropping collection of liturgical objects, especially monstrances. The Jewish Museum is an all-day endeavor covering several attractions, all worthwhile, that affords a vivid picture of Prague’s historic Jewish Community. If you don’t have a lot of time, at least see the Spanish Synagogue.
Ah, Sydney, #10, our 2nd home. The Sydney Harbor Bridge, nicknamed the Old Coathanger, the Bondi to Coogee Beach Coastal Walk, and the Opera House are TripAdvisor’s top choices. There’s a good museum in the Bridge about its construction. The Coastal Walk is relatively new. See May, 2012’s blog “Coogee to Bondi” for details. If you don’t get into the Opera House for a performance–opera, theater, etc.–take the tour of this architectural landmark. Ironically, its Danish architect, Jørn Utzon, died 5 years ago without seeing it. I’d add Doyle’s Restaurant. Take the ferry from Circular Quay right to its entrance. The Museum of Sydney is about 2 block from Circular Quay and excellent. The Manley Scenic Walkway begins at the entrance to the world’s best harbor.