The Journey of the Gray Man
All photos by Mark Greaney except “Geneva”, where my computer crashed and I lost all my pics.
Since the fall of the Iron Curtain, Prague has become one of Europe’s (and the world’s) most popular tourist destinations. It is the sixth most-visited European city after London, Paris, Rome, Madrid and Berlin. Prague suffered considerably less damage during World War II than some other major cities in the region, allowing most of its historic architecture to stay true to form. It contains one of the world’s most pristine and varied collections of architecture, from Art Nouveau to Baroque, Renaissance, Cubist, Gothic, Neo-Classical and ultra-modern.
That Budapest – one of the most beautiful cities in the world – has developed where it is, is not down to some historical accident. Take a look at Gellért Hill, right next to the River Danube as it flows majestically through the centre of the modern city. It was precisely the combination of the relative ease of crossing the River here and the natural protection the hill offered against invasion that decided the earliest settlers it was the ideal place to build a town. The Eravisci, a tribe of highly cultured Celts, had already settled at Gellért Hill in the third and fourth centuries B.C. They worked with iron, decorated their earthenware pots and even minted their own coins. Later, the Romans built a settlement at today’s Óbuda. They called it Aquincum and it was an important station along the limes which ran alongside the River Danube.
Guarda is a small village located high above the lower part of the valley Engadin (or “Engiadina” in Romansh) in the canton Graubünden at an elevation of 1650 meters above sea level (5413 feet). Once an almost deserted place due to its remote location, it has been revived after most houses have been renovated and sold at attractive prices. Today, Guarda is an attractive place for people seeking quietness and room for outdoor activities. In addition, the village is situated close to the Swiss national park.
Zurich is the largest city of the Helvetian Confederation (Switzerland) by land area and population. It’s the financial center of Switzerland, houses the stock exchange and the headquarters of a large number of national and international companies. National and international media agencies as well as most of the national TV channel companies are also located here. As Zurich is the central node of the Swiss-wide train network and also runs the biggest and busiest international airport of the country, it generally is the first place for tourists to go to. Because of the city’s close distance to tourist resorts in the Swiss Alps and its mountainous scenery, it often gets referred to as the “portal to the alps”.
Contrary to some belief, Zurich is not the capital of Switzerland– that honor falls to Berne. Zurich has long been known for being clean and efficient. Due to this, it has been continuously ranked as the city with the highest living standard world-wide for many years. However, it is only for the last ten years has it truly become a fascinating and worthwhile travel destination. This is mostly thanks to the liberalization of the cultural, party and gastronomy sectors. An increasingly cosmopolitan population has helped, as well, though more button-down Geneva remains Switzerland’s most culturally heterogeneous city.
Geneva is the second-most-populous city in Switzerland (after Zürich) and is the most populous city of Romandie (the French-speaking part of Switzerland). Situated where the Rhône River exits Lake Geneva (in French known as Lac Léman), it is the capital of the Republic and Canton of Geneva.
The city proper had a population of 186,825 in June 2008, and the metropolitan area had 812,000 residents, according to a 2007 census. The Geneva metropolitan area extends partly over Switzerland (517,000 inhabitants) and partly over France (293,000 inhabitants).
Geneva is a worldwide centre for diplomacy and international cooperation, and is widely regarded as a global city, mainly because of the presence of numerous international organisations, including the headquarters of many of the agencies of the United Nations and the Red Cross. It is also the place where the Geneva Conventions were signed, which chiefly concern the treatment of wartime non-combatants and prisoners of war.
Geneva has been described as the world’s sixth most important financial centre by the Global Financial Centres Index, ahead of Tokyo, Chicago, Frankfurt and Sydney, and a 2009 survey by Mercer found Geneva to have the third-highest quality of life in the world (narrowly outranked by Zürich). The city has been referred to as the world’s most compact metropolis and the “Peace Capital”.
Paris is the capital of France and the country’s largest city. It is situated on the river Seine, in northern France, at the heart of the Île-de-France region. The city of Paris, within its limits largely unchanged since 1860, has an estimated population of 2,167,994 (January 2006), but the Paris aire urbaine (or metropolitan area) has a population of nearly 13 million, and is one of the most populated metropolitan areas in Europe.
An important settlement for more than two millennia, Paris is today one of the world’s leading business and cultural centres, and its influence in politics, education, entertainment, media, fashion, science and the arts all contribute to its status as one of the world’s major global cities. According to 2005 estimates, the Paris urban area is Europe’s biggest city economy, and is fifth in the world’s list of cities by GDP.
Paris is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the world, with 45 million tourists every year in the Paris Region, 60% of whom are foreign visitors. There are numerous iconic landmarks among its many attractions, along with world-famous institutions and popular parks.
Bayeux is located seven kilometers from the coast of La Manche (English Channel) and 30 km north-west of Caen. The city is bisected by the Aure. Bayeaux is the capital of the Bessin, which extends north-west of Calvados.
Bayeux is a major tourist attraction, best known to British and French visitors for the Bayeux tapestry, made to commemorate the Norman conquest of England in 1066. The tapestry is believed to have been woven in England. It is displayed in a museum in the town centre. The large Norman-Romanesque Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Bayeux, consecrated in 1077, was the original home of the tapestry.