L’Ile de Gorée is one of the most beautiful places in Senegal. The colorful houses and quaint narrow streets are unbelievably charming. The artisan’s markets are beautiful to browse, and the variety of the handmade art is surprising, given how small the island is. It’s more diverse than most markets in Dakar, at least as far as art and jewelry. In spite of its beauty, Gorée has a dark history. It played a central role in the slave trade out of Africa. At least 100 million slaves passed through Gorée, through the Maison des Esclaves.
All the way through high school French, whenever we talked about French Africa, we talked about Dakar. And every time we read a textbook chapter about Dakar, it was accompanied by a photo of the “Porte du Troisième Millénaire, whose name translates to “door of the third millennium.” It’s safe to say it’s pretty important! Built in 2001, it symbolizes the opening of Africa to a new millennium, and represents hope, communication, and unity. You can find it overlooking the ocean along the Corniche-Ouest, by avenue Malick Sy. The views of the ocean are incredible.
Once I found out that there were essentially secret tunnels underneath the city, filled with bones and other potentially creepy/cool things, I knew I absolutely had to see them for myself. Of course, for safety reasons, the French authorities don’t allow the general public to go snorkeling and exploring on their own in the catacombs. There is, however, a section that is open to people like you or me. I’ve been twice, so it’s safe to say it’s pretty cool.
At the risk of stating the obvious, Copenhagen is pretty darn cold in the winter! Especially if you’re used to walking around outside most of the day. In the other places I’ve visited, I’ve spent large chunks of the daylight hours just walking around, getting to know the city, and taking pictures. In Copenhagen, I tried to do the same but I just felt so cold all the time! So I came up with a list of things to do in Copenhagen in the winter. A lot of these things you can do after dark as well, which is helpful since in late November in Denmark, the sun sets as early as 4 pm. These are things that will still give you a taste of this fascinating Danish city, but will also let you take breaks inside warm buildings and trendy restaurants.
Plan your visit to the Louvre in the evening. Check the closing times on the days you want to be there, and show up a few hours before it closes. See everything else on your list first. Then, go see the Wedding of Cana. It’s on the wall opposite the Mona Lisa, and is one of the biggest and most impressive pieces of art in the museum (or in any museum, for that matter). Then wait for the crowd on the other side of the room to start dissipating. Once it does, take some time to appreciate Da Vinci’s masterpiece.
Like the rest of Ireland, Dublin has a lot of history, and not much of it is happy. Kilmainham Gaol, Dublin’s former prison, is no exception; many leaders and revolutionaries were imprisoned and executed there. It’s one of the most interesting historical sites in Ireland, and one of the most visually appealing. Several films have featured it, including The Italian Job from 1969.