Palace of Versailles
Facts: The Palace of Versailles is a royal château in Versailles in the Île-de-France region of France. In French, it is known as the Château de Versailles. The Palace of Versailles was the official residence of the Kings of France from 1682 until 1790. It was originally a hunting lodge, built in 1624, by Louis XIII. It was expanded by Louis XIV beginning in 1669. He used it as a little lodge as a secret refuge for his amorous trysts with the lovely Louise de la Valliere and built a fairy tale park around it. Jules Hardouin Mansart, the king's principal architect, drew the plans to enlarge what was turning more and more into a palace from A Thousand and One Nights.
My experience: The palace and gardens at Versailles are truly breathtaking. It actually was crowded and hot the day that I was there and while my friend and I did explore the gardens and enjoy some time at the Bassin du Mirror, we did not go into the water and get kicked out. Sorry to disappoint you! If you are ever in Paris, the palace is definitely worht a visit.
Bassin du Mirror
The Bassin du Mirror is a music synced fountain located in the Palace gardens. It was commissioned by Lousi XIV in 1702.
My experience: The fountain really did catch me by surprise. I thought it was just a lovely little pond and then out of no where it started spraying water everywhere. Finding that nice quiet corner of the gardens when the palace and the rest of the grounds, well so much of Europe in the summer, is so crowded, really was like stumbling on a little tranquil paradise.
Facts: Rome (pronounced Roma) is the capital of Italy and also of the Province of Rome and of the region of Lazio. With 2.9 million residents it is also the country's largest and most populated city. The city is located in the central-western portion of the Italian Peninsula, within Lazio (Latium), along the shores of Tiber river. Vatican City is an independent country within the city boundaries of Rome, the only existing example of a country within a city: for this reason Rome has been often defined as capital of two states. Rome's history spans more than two and a half thousand years, since its legendary founding in 753 BC. Rome is one of the oldest continuously occupied cities in Europe. It is referred to as "The Eternal City.”
My experience: There is something so surreal about visiting historical places that you have read so much about and for me, there was never more true than with Roma. I have always loved Ancient Greek and Roman history so to actually be in the Eternal City defies description. I really did do a walking tour of the city, just like Jordan and Anna, and I did have gelato for breakfast and it was fantastic! On my first trip to Italy I did indeed meet some members of the Guardia di Finanza, however, it was actually in Naples. The way my friend and I met them was actually very much like how Jordan and Anna meet them in the book. We were sitting outside at a restaurant and two less than classy Italian men, one of whom did look like George Clooney's worn out twin brother, wouldn't leave us alone. When they kept harassing us to allow them to show us "Naples by night," on their motorcycles we made friends with a group of guys at an adajacent table. Turns out the group of guys were all Guardians of Finance! The creepy guys bailed and we did hang out with our new friends who were "making big party" that night. Needless to say, it was an interesting evening.
Facts: The Colosseum or Coliseum, also known as the Flavian Amphitheatre is an elliptical amphitheatre in the centre of the city of Rome, Italy. Built of concrete and stone, it was the largest amphitheatre of the Roman Empire, and is considered one of the greatest works of Roman architecture and engineering. The Colosseum is situated just east of the Roman Forum. Construction began under the emperor Vespasian in 70 AD, and was completed in 80 AD under his successor and heir Titus. The Colosseum could hold, it is estimated, between 50,000 and 80,000 spectators, and was used for gladiatorial contests and public spectacles such as mock sea battles, animal hunts, executions, re-enactments of famous battles, and dramas based on Classical mythology.
My experience: In Trigger there is a scene at the Colosseum where a dodgy Italian man approaches Jordan and at one point slaps his hand on her bare leg. This really happened to me while my friend and I took a brief rest outside of this famous landmark. I have no idea what the guy wanted, but after he started trying to chat us up and we were less than friendly in return, he grabbed my leg. I was infuriated, very much like Jordan was in that scene, and I grabbed his hand and threw it off of my leg. We both stood up and I was ready for him to physcially come at me. Luckily he didn't. He backed off and my friend and I took off and went into the Colosseum to get away from him. I am glad that the situation didn't escalate, but I also would not have minded if a good looking backpacker would have come to my "rescue" like Chase does for Jordan.
Facts: The Cinque Terre is located along the Riviera coastline within the Liguria region (Province of La Spezia) and is made up of the five villages of: Monterosso, Vernazza, Corniglia, Manarola and Riomaggiore. They are listed on the UENSCO World Heritage Site.
My experience: If you are in Italy, go to the Cinque Terre. I almost hate saying that because I don't want such an incredible place to become overcrowded, but it really was one of my favorite spots in Europe. It is more beautiful than the pictures and I do not see how anyone visiting would not love it.
Hiking the Cinque Terre
Facts: The most popular way to enjoy the Cinque Terre on foot is to follow Trail #2 (the Sentiero Azzurro, or “Blue Trail”), which is made up of four individual paths along the coast. You can walk the entire route in about six hours and you can start from either direction (Monterosso, heading south, or Riomaggiore, heading north).
My experience: Incredible hike, a must for anyone who is visiting the area. It is not a difficult trek, but by the end you have earned a double serving of gelato for sure!
Hiking the Cinque Terre
The most famous network of hiking trails in the Cinque Terre: Trail #2, or Sentiero Azzurro
Facts: The most popular way to enjoy the Cinque Terre on foot is to follow Trail #2 which is made up of four individual paths along the coast. You can walk the entire route in about six hours, if you take short breaks—although many hikers prefer to spread the route out over a few days at a strolling pace, stopping to enjoy the towns along the way. You can start from either direction (Monterosso, heading south, or Riomaggiore, heading north). But here’s a tip: Start from Riomaggiore, where the paths are easier and paved, and work your way up to the more challenging trails. That way, you can stop at any time… and head to the nearest train station if you have to! (Here’s an easy guide to using the Cinque Terre train).
Monterosso Al Mare
Monterosso Al Mare train station
Facts: Monterosso is actually two towns, connected by a short road tunnel (used by pedestrians also): 'old' Monterosso and the new town (originally called Fegila) developed from the 50s onwards,which has a number of large, modern apartments and hotels. The new town has a quite large sandy beach with lots of colourful umbrellas, and of course, beach-side restaurants and cafes. The old town is similar to the other Cinque Terre towns, though bigger and not quite as steep and has a number of boutiques and other shops.
My experience: Both times I visited the Cinque Terre I stayed in Monterosso al Mare in lovely little pensiones. No kidnapping attempts thank goodness, but I did make "big party" a couple times with the locals.
Facts: The capital city of the autonomous community of Catalonia in Spain and the country's 2nd largest city. About five million people live in the Barcelona metropolitan area. It is the largest metropolis on the Mediterranean Sea.
My experience: Barcelona is such a culturally enriching destination, from the art to the food, to the architecture. This was another city where my friend and I spent an entire day walking the major sights including La Rambla, La Sagrada Familia, Park Guell and others. You could easily spend an entire summer exploring this city and I hope that I get the chance to some day.
La Sagrada Familia
Facts: La Sagrada Familia is a large Roman Catholic church in Barcelona, Spain, designed by Catalan architect Antoni Gaudí (1852–1926). Although incomplete, the church is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Construction of Sagrada Família had commenced in 1882 and Gaudí became involved in 1883, taking over the project and transforming it with his architectural and engineering style, combining Gothic and curvilinear Art Nouveau forms. Gaudí devoted his last years to the project, and at the time of his death at age 73 in 1926 less than a quarter of the project was complete. Sagrada Família's construction progressed slowly, as it relied on private donations and was interrupted by the Spanish Civil War, only to resume intermittent progress in the 1950s. Construction passed the midpoint in 2010 with some of the project's greatest challenges remaining and an anticipated completion date of 2026, the centenary of Gaudí's death.
My experience: Overwhelming and awe inspriing, enough said!
La Sagrada Familia
A large Roman Catholic church in Barcelona, Spain, designed by Catalan architect Antoni Gaudí (1852–1926). Although incomplete, the church is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and in November 2010 Pope Benedict XVI consecrated and proclaimed it a minor basilica, as distinct from a cathedral which must be the seat of a bishop.
Construction of Sagrada Família had commenced in 1882 and Gaudí became involved in 1883, taking over the project and transforming it with his architectural and engineering style, combining Gothic and curvilinear Art Nouveau forms. Gaudí devoted his last years to the project, and at the time of his death at age 73 in 1926 less than a quarter of the project was complete. Sagrada Família's construction progressed slowly, as it relied on private donations and was interrupted by the Spanish Civil War, only to resume intermittent progress in the 1950s. Construction passed the midpoint in 2010 with some of the project's greatest challenges remaining and an anticipated completion date of 2026, the centenary of Gaudí's death.
Facts: Park Guell is a garden complex with architectural elements situated on the hill of El Carmel in the Gràcia district of Barcelona, Catalonia, Spain. It was designed by the Catalan architect Antoni Gaudí and built in the years 1900 to 1914. It has an extension of 17.18 ha (0.1718 km²), which makes it one of the largest architectural works in south Europe. It is part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site "Works of Antoni Gaudí.
My experience: When I included Barcelona as a location in Trigger I knew that there had to be a scene at Park Guell. How could there not be one there? It has everything you can ever think of and more to offer visually and the views of the city from the look out are unsurpassed.
Facts: La Rambla is a street in central Barcelona, popular with tourists and locals alike. A tree-lined pedestrian mall, it stretches for 1.2 kilometres (0.75 mi) connecting Plaça de Catalunya in the centre with the Christopher Columbus Monument at Port Vell. La Rambla forms the boundary between the quarters of Barri Gòtic, to the east, and El Raval, to the west.
My experience: One of my favorite past times is people watching and this is easily accomplished in Europe with all their pedestrian friendly cities. La Rambla offers some of the best people watching I have ever experienced.
Facts: Sevilla, is the capital and largest city of the autonomous community of Andalusia and the province of Seville, Spain. It is situated on the plain of the River Guadalquivir. The inhabitants of the city are known as sevillanos (feminine form: sevillanas) or hispalenses, after the Roman name of the city, Hispalis. Seville is the fourth-largest city in Spain. Its Old Town, the third largest in Europe with an area of 4 square kilometres (2 sq mi), contains three UNESCO World Heritage Sites: the Alcázar palace complex, the Cathedral and the General Archive of the Indies. The Seville harbour, located about 80 kilometres (50 miles) from the Atlantic Ocean, is the only river port in Spain. Seville is also the hottest major metropolitan area in Europe, with summer average temperatures of above 35°C.
My experience: Sevilla holds a singular spot in my heart. I enjoyed so many of the amazing places I visited in Europe, but Sevilla is special and if you have been there then you know exactly what I am talking. I spent several days here and easily could have stayed for weeks. I loved everything about it from the cobblestone streets, moorish influenced architecture and artwork, the colorful flowers and wrought iron, to the food, wine and the people. I have fond memories of late night strolls, right by the Cathedral de Sevilla and the first time I saw the Patio de los Naranjas. I may have to have a scene in the sequel just so I can spend some visually this lovely city again, or have an excuse to go visit it again in real life!
Cathedral de Sevilla
Facts: The Cathedral of Saint Mary of the See (Spanish: Catedral de Santa María de la Sede), better known as Cathedral de Sevilla, is the largest Gothic cathedral and the third-largest church in the world. It is also the largest cathedral in the world, as the two larger churches, the Basilica of the National Shrine of Our Lady of Aparecida and St Peter's Basilica, are not the seats of bishops. It was completed in the early 16th century and is the burial site of Christopher Columbus.
My experience: Great place to visit and wonderful location for the scenes it is in for Trigger.
Patio de los Naranjas
Facts: The area of the Patio de los Naranjos is thought to correspond approximately to that of the old mosque, which two of the exterior walls belonged to. There is a large fountain in the center, the basin of which is one of the few remnants of the Visigoth period. In the eastern area, or cloister, known as “La Granada”, stands the famous stone pulpit from which Vicente Ferrer, Francisco de Borja, Fernando de Contreras, Fray Diego, José de Cádiz and Juan de Ávila are said to have preached. The Orange Tree Courtyard is so named because, as Rodrigo Caro wrote in the 16th century, “it has orange trees from many centuries ago, and some palms and cypresses.”
My experience: Could I have picked a more perfect spot for the epic battle? I don't think so!