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FLORENCE     Florence –  the capital of the Tuscany region and the cradle of Renaissance   We opted for Flix Bus while traveling from Venice to Florence. The road journey takes about three and a half-hour. In Florence, it terminates at the rear end of Santa Maria Novella (SMN) train station. One of Italy’s busiest stations, it got its name from Santa Maria Novella Church just across the plaza from the main entrance. We debarked at the station and refreshed ourselves at McDonald's before hiring a cab for our hotel. Florence, popularly known as ‘Firenze’ by the Italians, is located in central Italy. This dreamy city with a romantic name is the regional capital of the lovely Tuscany region.   Columbus Hotel, where we stayed, is located in Lugarno District. We always prefer to book our hotels through as we always land up getting good hotels at good locations. Despite being a little away from the heart of the city and Santa Maria Novella station

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BARCELONA 2   Sagrada Familia- the amazing, still unfinished cathedral   Barcelona is proud of Antoni Gaudi. It is Gaudi's city. The two seem to be almost indivisible after Gaudi delivered some architectural wonders to the city he loved. Park Guell and Sagrada Familia are two architectural masterpieces he created and gifted to his city. Though Sagrada Familia is now in UNESCO World Heritage sites, I perceived it as one of the Seven Wonders of the World. I was stumped when the temple fa├žade loomed up for the first time. Awesome! It is an incredible beauty! The only similarity to the Gothic architecture was the Latin Cross Floor Plan which Gaudi maintained in his design. The core in the Plan is occupied by four aisles of 7.5 M wide each and a nave of 15 M wide totaling 45 M The complex geometries developed by Gaudi deviated significantly from the Gothic designs. Such as introducing a system of angled columns and hyperboloidal vaults to do away with the need for flyi

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Barcelona SPAIN  A fascinating country. An engrossing history. And exotic in every sphere. The thrilling story of the Spanish Armada; the chivalric romances of the errant knight Don Quixote; the daredevilry of the brave Matadors in tackling the bulls continue to fascinate me. The Romans, the romantic Moors who ruled for almost 800 years, the swashbuckling Spaniards who demonstrated their prowess as conquerors, explorers, bullfighters, flamenco dancers, football players all seemed to be beckoning me to unravel the mysteries of this captivating land. Finally, in 2019, we chalked our visit to Spain. My traveling companion (my wife) is an ardent learner of Spanish, which proved to be a forte during our journey to Spain. Our adventure in Spain started with Barcelona.  We flew into this city from Frankfurt. Surprisingly Barcelona's El Prat International Airport (also known as BCN) wore an ordinary look, in unexpected contrast to the jazzy name and character of the pla