Presqu'ile is the French word for peninsula. It is situated along the north shore of Lake Ontario near Brighton and features one of the larger wetlands along the lake. It contains forests, marshes and sand dunes, leading to diverse vegetation, ecosystems and habitats for the flora and fauna in the park. It also features a long sandy beach making this an ideal spot to swim, hike, and camp.
Charleston Lake is located in South Eastern Ontario, just north of the St. Lawrence River. The rocky lake and surrounding forest area are an extension of the Canadian Shield, one of the largest and oldest geologic continental shields in the world. The shores as well as the islands of this lake are a mix between private property and the provincial park. Nevertheless, it is one of the best provincial parks in Ontario that is relatively close to Toronto for fishing, swimming, boating and camping.
Located along the east coast in Maine, Acadia National Park offers a variety of hikes that weave their way up and around mountains, through wooded areas and along a rocky coastline, all the while providing sweeping views overlooking the Atlantic Ocean. Acadia is one of our favourite parks in North America. This trip marked our third visit in the past three years. We visited last year during the same time and the year before in the fall. The hiking (and views) never get old.
Vienna is often referred to as the City of Music and was once home to many famous composers, including Mozart and Beethoven. It is also referred to as the City of Dreams and is regarded for its high quality of life, which may have something to do with its famous Viennese coffee houses and cake, and has been ranked the most liveable city in the world for the past decade. The city centre is free from skyscrapers, dotted with historic buildings, and is great for walking around.
Nestled within the Alps, this charming Austrian city offers breathtaking views of the mountains. Salzburg is also well known for its charming architecture (the historic centre of Salzburg is included as a UNESCO World Heritage Site), being the birthplace of the classical composer Mozart, and for the filming of (one my favourite movies of all time) The Sound of Music. The hills really are alive with the sound of music.
Prague has been a political, cultural, educational and economic centre of central Europe for many centuries. It was the capital of the Kingdom of Bohemia, the Holy Roman Empire, Czechoslovakia and now the Czech Republic. For that reason it is home to a number of historic sites and monuments. The historical centre in Prague with all its charm, beauty, and cobblestoned streets has been included as an UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Brno is the second largest city in the Czech Republic and is the capital of the state of Moravia. It contains a number of historic sites, monuments, and attractions. As an added bonus, located a bit north of the city lies the Moravian Karst, which encompasses just over a thousand caverns and gorges. There are five caves located in the karst that are open to the public and are easily accessible by car from the city centre. Given that the train from Budapest to Prague passes through Brno, it seemed quite fitting to make a detour here for a couple of days.
Budapest: the tale of three cities named Buda, Pest, and Óbuda. Buda is quite hilly, lies on the western bank of the Danube, and features many of Budapest’s medieval structures and monuments, including Castle Hill and Buda Castle. Pest is predominantly flat, consists of the eastern part of the city across the river, and features attractions such as the Hungarian Parliament Building and Heroes’ Square. Óbuda lies north of Buda and isn’t really home to any of the popular tourist attractions, so it’s often forgotten about. Together these three cities united in 1873 to form Budapest, which is now the capital of Hungary.
Bratislava is the capital of Slovakia. It is considered one of the smaller capitals in Europe, so it is therefore quite easy to explore the historic old town by foot. And in a single day. With its close approximation to Vienna (it's only a 45 minute bus ride away), it makes for a perfect day trip. And the perfect way to start our two-week adventure in Europe.
We had such an amazing experience in Iceland back in June 2015 when we came for 20 days. So much so that I couldn't pass at the opportunity to stopover in Iceland on the way to the Netherlands with two of my friends. This time there was no midnight sun. And we were only here for four days. But we did manage to cover a lot of ground. We drove all the way up the southern coast to the Jökulsárlón glacier lagoon and back again. And we managed to catch a glimpse of the rare Northern Lights. All in all, the stopover in Iceland (in low season) was worth it.