guest post: five historic libraries to turn you into a reader

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We love travel and we are sure everyone who visits us here knows that. But other than travel, our other love is reading. And so we couldn’t resist this opportunity when we were approached to feature a guest post about libraries.


Shhhhh. From monastic reading rooms to an astonishing everyman’s book trove, Holiday Lettings takes a temporary vow of silence and explores five of the most historic libraries on the planet.

George Peabody Library, Baltimore

George Peabody LibraryPhoto credit: By Matthew Petroff (license) via Wikimedia Commons

From its marble floor to the decorative iron balconies all the way up to its vertiginous 61-foot roof, this labour of love is undeniably impressive.

Founded by philanthropist George Peabody for the people of Baltimore to enjoy, and now part of John Hopkins University, this huge temple of learning contains around 300,000 books. These mostly date from the 18th to 20th centuries and cover a broad range of reference topics, including history, art, religion and travel.

Trinity College Library, Dublin

Trinity CollegePhoto credit: Superchilum (license) via Wikimedia Commons

Trinity College’s Old Library is Ireland’s largest. It specialises in early printed works and dominates this attractive city-centre campus. The main attraction for visitors is the impressive Long Room (65 metres long, to be exact). Here you can marvel at the extravagant illustrations and graceful calligraphy of the Book of Kells, an ancient illuminated manuscript dating back to 800 AD.

See if you can spot writer Jonathan Swift among the pale marble busts. Then check out the barrel ceiling, a later development devised when the library’s groaning shelves called for an extra level to be added.

Bodleian Library, Oxford

BodleianPhoto credit: Koen de Geus (license) via

Part of the prestigious University of Oxford, the Bodleian is a must-see attraction on a visit to this genteel city. Walk the hallowed halls, from the hushed reading rooms to the Divinity School, to the Exhibition Room, then step back out into the quadrangles to admire the elegant frontage.

On your tour you may think you recognise certain spots – that’s because parts of the Bodleian featured in the Harry Potter films. Check online before making a special trip, as certain rooms close for university ceremonies and private events.

The Royal Portuguese Reading Room, Rio de Janeiro

The Royal Portugese Reading RoomPhoto credit: Os Rúpias (license) via

The pale limestone facade here reveals a stunning interior heaving with around 350,000 volumes of Portuguese literature. It’s the largest assemblage of Portuguese works outside of Portugal itself.

Chandelier-lit, adorned with carved wooden arches and packed almost up to its soaring, ornate ceiling with valuable literature and New World maps, grand doesn’t quite cover the magnificence of this reading room. Time to take a seat at one of the dark wooden desks and put on your most studious face…

Strahov Monastery Library, Prague

StrahovPhoto credit: Pascal Hassenforder (license) via

Head to the imposing Strahov Monastery to see its two historic library spaces, lined with around 200,000 texts. The 17th-century Theological Hall is dotted with antique globes and features an entire wall of Bibles in various editions and languages. All of this is overlooked by a jaw-dropping ceiling fresco by painter Siard Nosecký.
Move on to the Philosophical Hall, a newer 18th-century addition, which sports another ceiling fresco by Vienna’s Anton Maulbertsch. You won’t be able to tell, but false book spines hide secret staircases up to the higher levels here. Be sure to book in advance onto a guided library tour to guarantee a glimpse of these awe-inspiring rooms.


Disclaimer: This is not a sponsored post, it was selected by us to be featured. This is a guest post written by Holiday Lettings, a company. 


how we spent 24 hours in rio

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The sweet smell of warm air and the clear blue sky letting the glorious sun shine down on us – Rio, we love you already! This marks officially our second summer for 2014 (even though it was June and technically still winter in Brazil).

With only 24 hours in Rio, we had to be prepared. Glad to be in our shorts, despite shivering when we left Curitiba in the early hours, we threw off our jackets, pulled out our Havianas from the backpack and slapped those to our feet.

Our two weeks in Brazil was predominantly made up of football so on the day we were flying out, we had a full day in Rio to be “tourists”.

Other than probably waiting in queues for about 3-4 of those hours AND sitting in traffic, gondolas and furniculars for another 2 hours or so. This is how we spent, it actually seeing a few main sights of Rio de Janeiro.

Sugarloaf Mountain

It got its name from a direct Portuguese translation. The mountain looked like a sugarloaf mould…. To get atop Sugarloaf, it requires two cable cars. From the ticket booth, we could get a clear view of the mountain. Great to look at but it is the view from the top that is worth waiting for!

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Copacabana Beach

A beach of that size is just begging to be enjoyed. There was samba music playing, there was people cheering, there was people blowing horns and whistles. Everything is happening – you name it, we saw it! There are vendors selling hats, bags, souvenirs and food (sandwiches from cooler bags, coconut drinks and prawns on skewers). There are bodies littering the beach, sunbathing or building sandcastles, swimming, playing beach soccer or beach volleyball. Everyone wearing not much, we were possibly the two most overdressed on the beach. We are not big on beaches but Copacabana alone has made us want to come back to Rio!

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Christ the Redeemer

We were at Corcovado in the late afternoon. Our tickets for the furnicular were to be at the top by sunset. But thanks to the crowd numbers, we were delayed and so missed seeing Rio during the day and at night which is what we had hoped for. Oh well, we will just have to come back again and see it for ourselves during the day. Not that the views at night was a problem. Far from it…..

A furnicular ride, an elevator ride and 2 escalator rides later, we see the ONE thing that we wanted to see in Rio: the statue of Christ, illuminated at night. What hits us first is the size of it…. Our eyes start at the base of the statue and work up and up and up. Craning our necks, we finally see his outstretched arms. And yes, it does bring a tear to our eyes.


What a magnificent way to end our time in Brazil; standing above Rio at the feet of Jesus! The place is teeming with tourists but we take the time to look out into the city’s lights below and just reflect on how lucky we are to have made it here, to experience one of David’s biggest dreams ever and to see one of the world’s most renowned monuments.



Admittedly, the three things we saw were touristy but all three provided an experience that was unique and memorable to us in their own way! The added World Cup football fever may have also contributed to the atmosphere and the vibe of the city. And we know one thing is for certain, Brazil, you will be seeing us again!

Have you been to Rio de Janeiro? 

Share your experiences.

during brazil world cup – our top 8

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The World Cup in Brazil is now rolling towards the quarter finals, only 8 of 32 teams will remain – the top 8! So we figured we will have our very own top 8… our top 8 moments from this visit to Brazil.

8.  Brazilian BBQ – we have eaten it countless times in Australia but finally trying it in its country of origin. The meat is so tender and succulent albeit salty at times!


7. Curitiba Markets was such a surprise package. We love strolling through markets so this was our little pearl.


6. Singing our National Anthem, loud and proud at all three Australian matches. The first one was quite emotional and surreal, the realisation that we were really in Brazil for the World Cup!


5. Where else can you kick a soccer ball around with a stranger in an airport or on the street? Brazil!! Unfortunately, we didn’t have our camera ready for these random yet memorable moments.

4. Churros with dulce de leche – the churros in Brazil is so much chunkier than what we get in Australia and the sauce is just heavenly! The guys that sold it to us were so excited we were Australians, they want a photo with us 🙂 Don’t miss churros, when visiting Brazil!


3. The Socceroos captain prepares for the penalty goal that will have Australia lead Netherlands 2-1 (even if it is only for several minutes, we were still ahead at one point of this game 😉 )


2.  The sense of camaraderie amongst the supporters – with countries competing on the field, there is no sense of rivalry anywhere! We enjoyed meeting and mingling with people of all nations here for the same reason as us 🙂

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1. At the feet of Christ the Redeemer, feeling truly small and insignificant yet ever so humbled.


Have you been to Brazil? Tell us what you love about Brazil!





weekly photo challenge: contrast

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Michelle from the Daily Post asked for a photo that shows contrast!

Only a few days ago, visiting Christ the Redeemer in Rio De Janeiro at night time…. to us, this was a “contrast”.