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Highlights

Top Photos of 2013: Europe

Europe seems to be on everyone’s travel bucket list (assuming they don’t live there), and it’s easy to see why. The variety in culture, language, food, attire and customs is perceptible with just a 30-minute drive down the road. Go for a little longer and you’ll find yourself in a completely different country! Our whirlwind trip covered Italy, Greece, France, Monaco, Spain, Ireland, United Kingdom and Czech Republic in just 3 short months.

From the thousands of photos taken in 2013, here’s my favourites of Europe.

Italy

Ponte Vecchio, Florence

Watching the golden sunset on the most romantic bridge in the most romantic city in the most romantic country in the world is pretty… well, romantic.

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Florence from above

 The view from the Villa San Michele hotel was incredible. Perched high on top of a hill overlooking Florence, surrounded with a lush garden is definitely the closest thing to heaven on earth.

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Villa San Michele

 More of the beautiful gardens, with the hotel rooms in the background shrouded by creeping vines. 

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Il Domo di Firenze

 Inside the main church in Florence, with it’s ornate and intricate paintings. Built between 1296 and 1436, the dome used to be the largest in the world.

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Colosseum

 One of the most iconic buildings in Italy, and home to the original death sports in ancient Rome.

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Matera

 I took a sunrise walk around the gorgeous town of Matera and this church-with-a-view captured my imagination.

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Amalfi Coast

The twisting and death-defying road along the insanely scenic Amalfi Coast will be forever etched in my mind – for both the breathtaking beauty and white-knuckled experiences.

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Amphitheatre in Pompeii

 The curves and textures of this restored ancient ruin contrast with my 3-year-old’s bright red shirt. A sole figure climbing the seemingly insurmountable number of steps to the top. Grit and determination won the day.

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Trulli houses in Alberobello

 Perhaps gnomes or hobbits live in these peculiar-shaped dwellings?

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Greece

We spent such little time here, and the photos taken didn’t make the cut in my top list. However, we are excited to be heading back to Greece in 2014 and will be sure to take some spectacular snaps.

France

On a road trip through southern France, we came across this small, scenic river very much by chance. As I so often do, I threw myself out of a moving car to immortalise this memory before hastily jumping back in.

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French country cottage

 On our way to Aven Armand in the south of France, this delightful countryside cottage caught my eye as the morning sun breached the nearby mountain.

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Mirrored waters

 Also captured in the south of France, the waters of this tranquil river were like a mirror for the mountains.

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Spain

Sagrada Família

The most recognisable building in Barcelona is like eye candy. I could stare at it for hours and still not discover all the intricate design nuances and features. This is truly a work of art by the master Antoni Gaudí.

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Chocolate cake for breakfast

 This was truly a treat for the senses at Mercer Hotel. A rare lapse in self-control afforded me the opportunity to eat a slice of decadent chocolate cake on our last day in Barcelona. 

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Ireland

Rock of Dunamaise

 This ancient ruin near the main highway between Dublin and Limerick was an unexpected treat for us. Definitely off the beaten path, but well worth the stop.

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Thistle

 Shot at the Rock of Dunamaise, this intimidating looking flower cladded with bright magenta.

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O’Brien’s Tower

 Perched on the edge of the “Cliffs of Insanity” (from The Princess Bride fame), this structure offers the best views of the Cliffs of Moher.

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Cliffs of Moher

 It’s easy to see why this is the 2nd most popular attraction in Ireland (after the Guinness Brewery). The rugged landscape was just one part of the experience. But our surprise was the warm, hearty, delicious food at the cafe nearby.

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Ring of Kerry

 Finding a high lookout provided the perfect opportunity to capture the surreal natural beauty of County Kerry.

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Classic Ring of Kerry

 This part of Ireland is without a doubt one of the most beautiful locations we’ve ever visited. The rolling emerald hills and lush paddocks are the perfect backdrop to cute country cottages. 

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Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge

 The original bridge is over 300 years old – fortunately it’s been renovated several times. Below in the icy cold Atlantic Ocean I spotted a dorsal fin gliding above the surface. That was enough motivation to pay close attention when crossing this wobbly bridge.

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United Kingdom

St Paul’s Cathedral

 A British institution without peer. The winter sun was low on the horizon even though it was only the middle of the afternoon, but it provided a gorgeous glow on this beautiful church.

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On top of The Eye

 Hanging high above the London landscape, this is probably the best view of the city centre, Houses of Parliament, Thames River and Tower Bridge. The glass and steel cacoon was our home for 30 minutes as took in the sights of one of the most influential cities on earth.

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Buckingham Palace

 The British royal crest and coat of arms, coated in real gold (yes, it’s real), stands guard out the front of one of the Queen’s residences. Oh, and so do those chaps with the funny, tall, furry hats.

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Tower Bridge

 Crossing the most famous bridge in the world on top of a double-decker bus. Well worth a photo.

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Houses of Parliament

At sunset the iconic “Big Ben” (although it’s not technically called that – only the bells within the tower hold that name), stands tall against the patch quilt clouded sky. 

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Tower Bridge From The Thames

 View of the bridge from a river cruise boat on a chilly autumn afternoon.

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Autumn trees

 The golden amber colours of these deciduous trees in Kensington Gardens glowed as if they were on fire, with hues of red, orange and yellow.

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Czech Republic

Fiddler in Prague

 Walking through the middle of town I spotted a talented street performer who looked like he had been on that corner for many decades. 

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Astronomical Clock

 The bright metallic colours of this giant clock in the middle of Prague demand attention, and nothing less.  

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The Bone Chapel, Kutna Hora

 What do you get when you elaborately decorate an old church with tens of thousands of human bones? Something uber creepy.

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