Rome’s Torre Argentina Cat Sanctuary

The Gatti di Roma (Cats of Rome) are well-know and dearly loved as the elegant, adorable, and lazy residents of the city’s grand ruins. These cats are kept happy and healthy by the amazing work of the Torre Argentina Cat Sanctuary, whose volunteers care for them seven days a week. You can visit the sanctuary between noon and 6 pm every day, and play with the furry residents who are fed, sheltered, and given medical care by the dedicated and passionate staff of volunteers.

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Osterfeuer in Blankenese, Hamburg

Have you ever celebrated Easter / the Vernal (Spring) Equinox with a gigantic bonfire on the beach?

I certainly hadn’t, until I visited Blankenese for the first time over the Easter weekend in 2014. This year we went back to Hamburg to celebrate Easter with family, driving up from Frankfurt on Thursday (6 hours on the road!) with the Osterfeuer celebration on Saturday night and an Easter-egg hunt for my nephews on Easter Sunday. Blankenese is about 30 minutes outside of Hamburg city centre – it’s part of the Hamburg-Altona district – and it’s famous for its beautiful historic houses perched on the hills overlooking the Elbe River. Altona was once governed by the Danish monarchy, and you can see a lot of Danish influence in the architecture of the houses. It’s one of my favourite places in Germany!

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Rome Walking Routes – 3 Short and Scenic Walks in the Eternal City

Rome is designed for walking – the multitude of hills, large public parks, narrow, cobblestoned streets, and charming piazzas offer ample opportunities for exploring the city on foot. While it’s always best to wander a bit in-between your tourist itinerary items, it’s also often useful to have an idea of where to walk, and what you can look forward to seeing on your strolls.

So, I’ve compiled a list of 3 Short and Scenic Walking Routes for you to choose from! Most of them are based in the old city centre, going to and from a Metro station. Find links to the Google Maps routes of each walk below the description!

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Travel Quickie – Flying with RyanAir

I am quite used to long-haul flights, since Cape Town is conveniently situated on the bottom tip of Africa (hah!) and it takes at least 10 hours to get anywhere in the Northern Hemisphere! I’ve already written an article about travel packing hacks, which is more for long-haul flights, so I thought I’d write about my recent experience with RyanAir, one of Europe’s budget airlines.

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The Roman Forum & Palatine Hill

The best introduction to the history, architectural marvels, and landmarks of Ancient Rome is a full day spent on the Palatine Hill and exploring the Roman Forums. Whilst it’s already overwhelming just walking among the gargantuan ruins of an ancient civilization, the archaeological sites are also large, complex, and often it is difficult to identify the buildings of interest! So, I’ve decided to highlight some of the most important bits, with some extra history and mythology snippets tacked on for added interest. I fully recommend a comprehensive guide-book as your faithful sightseeing companion – see the end of this post for my top 3 ancient Rome guide-book choices 🙂

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Falling in Love with Rome

Go thou to Rome,—at once the Paradise,
    The grave, the city, and the wilderness;
    And where its wrecks like shattered mountains rise,
    And flowering weeds, and fragrant copses dress
    The bones of Desolation’s nakedness
    Pass, till the spirit of the spot shall lead
    Thy footsteps to a slope of green access
    Where, like an infant’s smile, over the dead
A light of laughing flowers along the grass is spread;
                  Percy Bysshe Shelley, Adonais 49-52
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Roman Imperial Forum

I haven’t seen every city in the world, but in my heart, I know that Rome will always be my favourite city of all time. My first visit to Rome was with my family, in the summer of 2003. I was 13, a full-on self-conscious teenager, and it was my very first time in Europe! (I exclude the 3 months when I was a baby, because I don’t remember that!). Rome simply left me breathless.

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My 5 Worst Travel Experiences!

Despite what instagram and Facebook might tell you, travelling is not always glamorous, exciting, or inspiring. Sometimes you get violently sick, or get precious stuff stolen, or you simply get disappointed when your high expectations are not met. So, in the spirit of sharing some “real” travel stories, I’ve (reluctantly) picked my Top 5 Worst Travel Experiences for your reading pleasure. Enjoy!

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