November, Belgium, Antwerp. Rubens, Churches, and Diamonds

 

Antwerp, Belgium.

Antwerp, Belgium.

You immediately fall in love with this city. I don’t like autumn and big cities, but Antwerp was an exception. Early November twilight and drops of rain on the windows of cafes suit this city. In the rainy autumn evening in Belgian Antwerp, when the day and the year come to an end, you want to listen to a chorus of sisters of mercy, sit and drink wine by candlelight without any hurry.

However, in Antwerp, you must hurry, especially if you came here only for one day. It is not possible to visit all the interesting places of the city in one day, but at least, we tried.

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Abandoned Estate, Bazhenov’s Church, and Abandoned Aircraft: All in One Place

By Irina

Abandoned aircraft in the former Bykovo Airport. Moscow, Russia.

The abandoned aircraft in the former Bykovo Airport, Moscow.

What do you know about Russia? Moscow and St Petersburg, the Red Square and Peterhof, the Kremlin and the Winter Palace? That’s all? Boring. We wanted to find something unusual near Moscow, and since we love abandoned homes, we googled and found an abandoned Russian mansion and abandoned soviet aircraft in one place.

The former Bykovo airport is located just 32 kilometers from Moscow, Russia. It was the second airport built in the Soviet Union. Right in front of it, we found the slowly falling apart historical estate of Mikhail Izmailov in the village of Bykovo. It’s a pity, but it seems after 50 -100 years, only the unique church by the famous Russian architect Vasili Bazhenov will be preserved in the old estate where Russian Empress Catherine the Great liked to drink a cup of tea.

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Castles of the Knights Templar in Portugal’s History

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Templar's convent and castle in Tomar, Portugal.

Templar’s convent and castle in Tomar, Portugal.

Upon arrival at the Lisbon airport on January 5th, we stayed there only long enough to claim our baggage; a very eventful 10-day car trip around Portugal’s cities awaited us. Our GPS navigator calculated a course and we moved to a little-known Portuguese village, Alvega. Ninety minutes later, our rented Citroen was already parked at the Manor House Solar de Alvega.

That ancient house was chosen to be the starting point for our fascinating acquaintance with Portuguese history. The best places to visit in Portugal we had already identified at home, in advance. Judge for yourself. Within a radius of a hundred kilometers around Alvega, there were such historic Portuguese cities as:

  • Alcobaca with the gravestone of the most popular Portuguese Queen, Ines de Castro;
  • Tomar which has been the capital of the Portuguese Knights Templar since the 12th century;
  • the Almourol Castle, the Templars’ outpost on the Tejo River;
  • Coimbra, one of the first Portuguese capitals;
  • and the unique Portuguese village of Monsanto which would surprise us a bit later.

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