1.STARY RYNEK: EUROPE’S MOST WHIMSICAL AND VISUALLY STRIKING MAIN SQUARE
However, as a general rule, dining at restaurants in most main squares can come with a price tag that would make any meal taste sour, no matter how plumped up with sugar and spice it is. You only need to look at the cost of afternoon tea in St. Mark’s Square in Venice and it’s enough to make your head spin. But when eating in Stary Rynek, this is thankfully not the case.
Eating at Stary Rynek was a default option; actually it was the only choice I had after losing track of time and finding my stomach crying out to be fed at 11pm. I was annoyed with myself at the thought of parting with money in such a wasteful way, but with emptiness in my stomach getting heavier by the second there was no way I could go to sleep without eating. Bringing a little remedy to the matter, I decided I would spend less the following day to balance out my finances.
Walking up to the restaurant to look at the menu, I closed my eyes and opened them slowly as though preparing myself for the worse (like when I’m opening my monthly bank statement), but to my surprise I found many dishes on the menu very affordable. And I mean affordable for the average person on a budget.
Poland is one of Europe’s most pocket-friendly countries, and it doesn’t compromise on quality either, the standard of food that you’ll find in a typical restaurant ranges from good to impressive – you get more than what you pay for which can’t always be said for big cities like London, Paris and Rome. I ordered a delicious seafood soup for about 25zl (£5) and a main course of baked duck with red-wine stewed cabbage and puff dumplings for approximately 40zl (£8).
The most spectacular aspect of Poznan’s main square is, of course, the strikingly colourful buildings which any photograph will tell you. It’s one of those places that transports you somewhere magical, reviving childhood wonder; this is no ordinary urbanised city centre, but a place imaginable inside a Walt Disney film.
No two buildings are completed with the same design or painted in the same colour, so strolling around and whittling away the hours by admiring each one from the next is a pleasurable way to spend time. Whether it’s a mural or elaborate portico over a doorway there is something to enjoy. The Mannerist style façade of the Old Town Hall which is also home to the Historical Museum of Poznan should not be missed, as well as the Merchant houses which are as charming as they are colourful and fanciful. Others places surrounding the square which should not be missed are the National Museum with an impressive art collection, and the Parish Church of Poznan, the Archaeological Museum is worth a visit too.
One of the best things about this main square is it doesn’t feel very touristy, which is hard to believe when you see it, but it’s distinctly devoid of people trying to sell things or take you to places. Instead it has a laid-back atmosphere filled with people enjoying themselves, the sound of music, kids having fun, people talking, and revelling in their colourful surrounding. I guess tourism in Poland is still trying to gain momentum outside of Krakow, Gdansk and Warsaw, so this makes Poznan a perfect place to go without feeling overwhelmed by crowds. Also notable, is the distinctly ‘young’ vibe of the city, not only in the vibrancy of the buildings and luxury retail shops, but in the people, which is not so surprising when you hear 1 in 4 people who live in Poznan are students.
2. Street artists paint Mexican town colourful
Painted by the collective, German Crew, over 209 houses on a hill in the depressed neighbourhood of Palmitas in Pachuca, Mexico, the work was designed to reduce violence among young people.
The mural covers some 20,000 square meters and the artists used around 20,000 litres of paint to create the impressive piece called 'El Macro Mural Barrio de Palmitas'.
The government-sponsored rich, colourful creation has taken the group more than two and half months to complete.
They hope the project will help inspire young people in the area to use art as a means of self-expression. As German Crew member Uriel del Rio told Al-Jazeera: "Graffiti, art, and its history have transformed us and allowed us to avoid...bad decisions. From our experience, we propose it can change the lives of others."
3. Most colorful bridge - Alkaff Bridge (Singapore)
4. A Look at Palm Springs's Very Colorful New Saguaro Hotel
5. Santa Marta favela - the first pacified favela in Rio
Santa Marta is one of the pacified favelas, making it one of the safest to visit. It has seen its fair share of famous visitors from around the world. Nevertheless, you should visit it with a local guide. In any favela you need to know the current situation, not to get in the middle of a shootout. As a local guide put it: “After the pacification the guns and the shootings are still there. The only thing that changed was who has the guns – before the drug lords, now the police.” The pictures from Santa Marta usually show the colorful houses, but this is just a fraction, one square, of the huge community. So don´t expect a stroll in a colorful fairytale village.
Santa Marta is located in Botafogo and Laranjeiras neighbrohoods on Dona Marta hill and has about 6000 residents. In 2008 Santa Marta became the first pacified favela in Rio de Janeiro.
Dona Marta hill got its name already in the 17th century, when a priest bought its lands and named the hill in honor of his mother Marta. The origin of Santa Marta name dates back to early 20th centry, when a devotee of Santa Marta took the saint's picture to the top of the hill. A chapel was built there and people started to settle down around it, thus the slum was formed.
6. Buenos Aires' Most Colorful District - La Boca (Argentina)
The centerpiece is the cobblestone strip, El Caminito, or little walkway. The one-time railway route is lined with the bright facades that make La Boca postcard perfect. Named for a 1926 tango song, the pedestrian lane features an outdoor fair where artists sell their wares and tango dancers prance along the sidewalk in between photo ops with tourists.
But there’s much more to La Boca than what meets the casual tourist’s eye. Like New York City’s Lower East Side and London’s East End, La Boca was the neighborhood where new immigrants first established themselves when they arrived in Buenos Aires.
The neighborhood may derive its name from its location at ‘La Boca’ (the mouth) of the Riochuelo, as the Mantanza River is usually called. The port-side barrio is an obvious point for boats to come ashore and historians say the Spanish first landed in La Boca as early as 1536.
During their early colonial expansion the colonizers housed African slaves in this area. After Argentina gained independence many of the freed stayed. With the arrival of the industrial revolution La Boca grew into a gritty shipyard area with meat curing plants and tanneries.
Xeneizes, Tango and Lunfardo
Mass settlement in La Boca began in 1830, with an influx of immigrants from Genoa, Italy. Coming from a port city, it was natural for the Genoese to settle along the Buenos Aires waterfront. There were so many Genoese in La Boca at that time that some say the name is a spin-off of the name Boccadasse, a neighborhood in Genoa.
The new arrivals constructed tenements made of scrap metal and painted the shacks with bright leftover marine paint to liven up the one-time wasteland. Soon the Italians were joined by immigrants from Spain, France, England, Ireland, Eastern Europe and Greece and among others. The cross-cultural mix gave birth to tango, although the term wouldn’t be coined until the end of the 1890’s. Factory and port workers would gather to dance in the central halls of the tenements and vie to grab the attention of the few women available at the time.
La Boca also played a fundamental part in the creation of the Argentine slang, lunfardo. The vocabulary grew out of cocoliche, a mix of Italian dialects that immigrants used to communicate with each other. Even the barrio’s famous soccer team, La Boca Juniors are also called Los Xeneizes, derived from the word for ‘Genoese’ in the Italian dialect.
By the turn of the 19th century the area was the second most populated zone in Buenos Aires but the construction of a new port in Puerto Madero meant the shipping industry would move northward. As Argentina entered its golden era, residents moved further inland and La Boca began to decline.
La Boca’s Revival
A revival of El Caminito and La Boca in the 1950’s was lead by artist, Quinquela Martín. The famed La Boca orphan was abandoned at birth, adopted and spent a good portion of his childhood in La Boca. After studying drawing at a La Boca night school, he ended up becoming one of Argentina’s most famous painters and a major neighborhood philanthropist.
After the General Roca railway train line, which ran through here shut down in 1954, Martín set to work to save the barrio. He gathered neighbors to paint the houses bright colors, emulating the early immigrants. The artists began to host theater here utilizing the colorful houses as part of the backdrop.
At the urging of Martín, in 1959 the city government officially declared the street El Caminto an open-air museum. It’s named in honor of Martín’s friend, Juan de Dios Filibrito, a former La Boca resident who co-authored the tango tune of the same name.
Safety in La Boca
As in most places where a popular tourist attraction sits in the middle of an economically disadvantaged neighborhood, La Boca can be dangerous for visitors who stray off the tourist path.
Most just see El Caminito, its the few surrounding streets and La Bombonera the stadium where Diego Maradona became ‘God’ for his fans. For low-profile travelers who want to explore more of the neighborhood, there are many interesting sites here, just don’t carry anything you can’t afford to lose. A nice way to explore a La Boca with relative anonymity is on bicycle or go for strength in numbers and take a tour. If you are headed to La Boca at night to eat in one of its many cantinas or dance tango, the usual advice is to take a taxi to and from your destination.
7. Most photographed street in Copenhagen – Nyhavn (Denmark)
The Nyhavn (New Harbor) area of Copenhagen dates back to the 17th century. By the early 1900s it had become a run-down waterfront, but Nyhavn is now a modern entertainment precinct full of popular restaurants. Stroll along the harbor’s edge to see some of the historic ships that still call the strait home. Then try local flavors in one of the many restaurants and bars.
Once frequented by sailors and packed with seedy taverns, Copenhagen’s harbor has a history as colorful as its present-day buildings. Today Nyhavn is a modern hub where locals come to relax and families mix with designers and artists.
The waterfront precinct is linked by a series of canals feeding from the harbor. Cobblestone roads are lined with double-story townhouses in pastel colors, providing a charming backdrop. Restaurants, taverns and live music venues are gradually taking over the ground floors of the former residential townhouses. The famous author Hans Christian Anderson once resided here.
Since 1977, the Danish National Museum has preserved part of the area as the Veteran Ship and Museum Harbor, and dozens of classic boats are still in use. Visit the Memorial Anchor, located at the end of the harbor. The anchor is a national monument and honors the 1,700 Danish servicemen who lost their lives during World War II.
The northern side of the harbor offers outdoor dining and is a great place for people-watching on a sunny day. Try some of the pickled fish that Scandinavia is famous for or enjoy a freshly grilled seafood dish with a cold beer. Danish beer is enjoyed around the world, but many say the famous Copenhagen lager Carlsberg somehow tastes better in the place where it comes from.
Nyhavn is located on the eastern edge of the city center and is best reached by bike or on foot. Visitors arriving by car will have difficulty finding a spot to park nearby, since the city center is primarily for pedestrians. Four bus routes serve Nyhavn daily, so there are public transportation options.
8. Little India (Singapore)
9. Colourful Nuuk - GRL241
10. The island that always looks on the bright side: Take a tour of the Venetian town of Burano which is one of the most colourful places in the world
Burano's traditional industry is fishing and used to be its biggest business. As a result, there were lots of fishing boats sailing in and out of its harbour on fishing expeditions.
Legend has it that population began painting their homes luminous colours so that the fishermen could see them even in in thick fog and avoid crashing into the shore after a voyage at sea.
Since then, the Italian town has kept up the tradition and continues to paint its houses in a huge variety of different shades.
Lumi Toma, a professional photographer, was blown away by the multicoloured island as soon as she set foot on shore.
The 36-year-old said: 'With the very first steps on the island I immediately felt a burst of positive energy
'My brain started reacting to what my eyes were seeing, and a feeling of happiness overpowered me.
'Instantaneously I felt a hunger to see more, so I started walking at a fast pace along the beautiful, narrow streets and channels.
'It definitively ranks very high in the world's most colourful towns.'
According to the photographer, from Aosta in Northern Italy, the town's unique completion is actually the result of a rigidly controlled colour scheme.
She said: 'The houses follow a special colour pattern, based on a specific system that has been in place since the village was founding.
'If you live on the island, and wish to paint your house, you must send a request to the government, which responds by making a note of the colours permitted for that specific lot of houses.'
The incredible town is the small island of Burano, in Venice, Italy, and is very proud of it's brightly coloured heritage.
Ms Toma said: 'The people of Burano love their island and want to retain their culture, although life on the island is not easy.
'I imagine that living on a small island in the shadow of a cultural giant like Venice is simultaneously rewarding and difficult.'