Bilbao, Biscay, Spain

Bilbao is the capital of the province of Biscay and the comarca of the Greater Bilbao located at the estuary of the river Nervion, in the north of Spain. This is a city that has gone through a lot of development, being other times a harbor and industrial city, with a lot of pollution. Today is a city considered as an example for several other cities that would like to change their urban planning problems. The urbanized part of the city is limited by two small mountains; Pagasarri to the south and Artxanda to the north. The old town has a medieval and Renaissance style, with seven streets leading to the Market Square of La Ribera. To see: the Cathedral of Santiago (14th and 15th century), the Basilica of Begonia (1620), the Convent of the Incarnation, the Academy of the Basque Language, the Guggenheim Museum, the Arriaga Theater (1890), the Town Hall (1892), among others.

Tips

The best time to visit the city and find it full of activities is during the celebration of the Great Week that takes place for 9 days and 8 nights, starting on the first Saturday after August, 15th. Spectacles of street, fairs, concerts, everything is there for the occasion. To get around the city by public transport, get the Creditrans which is a standardized pass that allows you to travel through the different fare zones. To get a nice view of the city, take the funicular that will take you to the mountain of Artxanda where you will also find a park. There are also two metro lines and a tram with which you can reach the Guggenheim Museum.

San Marino

San Marino (or Repubblica di San Marino) is the 3rd smallest state of Europe, after the Vatican and Monaco. Enclosed within Italy, the state counts with a little more than 30,000 citizens (including 5,000 foreigners). It is an integral part of the historic Montefeltro area. It is a small fortified town on top of a hill with a medieval ambience. There is a small university and many museums, the most important of which is the State Museum which is located in the Pergami Belluzzi Palace; it houses thousands of rooms that allow us to know the history of the republic which has become a place highly appreciated by tourism. The state has no natural resources.

Tips

Wear comfortable shoes because the paths and streets are sloping. If you want to visit the 2 towers which are the main tourist attraction of the republic, you can do it in a half day. There is a path that connects the towers but you do not have to wear heels because the towers are 750 meters and the slopes are marked. At the top, you will have an excellent view of the surroundings.

If you like photography, San Marino is a place where you will be glad but if your visit is just passing from one to another Italian city, take at least the time to stay until sunset because your view and your photos will be breathtaking. If ancient weapons interest you, go to the building called Second Tower where you will find the Museum of Ancient Arms exhibiting more than 1500 pieces that go from the fifteenth to the seventeenth century. Another interesting museum is the Museum of Wax and Torture Instruments. It has more than 40 historical scenes and a hundred remarkable characters. There is a special section devoted to melodrama as well as to all the instruments of torture of the time.

 

Tallinn, Estonia

Tallinn is the capital and main port of Estonia; situated on the coast of the Gulf of Finland, forming part of the Baltic Sea. The city contains vestiges of different eras that go from the medieval to the classic. The historical center, fairly well preserved, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The ramparts that surround it are from the 13th century and there are several towers. The Marguerite tower (16th century) now houses the Museum of the Sea. The old town is located between the Lower Town and the Toompea hill or the Upper Town where the Parliament is located in the castle. To see: the Pirita Convent, the Town Hall Square, the Estonian Outdoor Museum, Alexander Nevski Cathedral, St. Mary’s Cathedral, St. Olaf’s Church, St. Nicholas’s Church, Freedom Square; among others. The port of the city also receives many tourists thanks to the cruise ships that have chosen it in their itineraries. Kadriorg Castle, 2 km east of the old town, houses the presidential residence and foreign art department of the country’s art museum. Since 2013, Tallinn has a free transport service for residents.

Tips

An interesting place to see is the oldest pharmacy in Europe still active (15th century) which is located in the Town Hall Square. The building where the National Library is located and the door at 38 Pikk Street are other places it worths visiting.

You can enjoy your visit and take a ferry to Helsinki, just 2 hours from the city. A bus to St. Petersburg or a night train to Moscow.