Milan | An Afternoon at Lake Como – La Dolce Vita

August is probably one of the best months (if not the busiest) of the year to visit Lago di Como, the beautiful Como Lake just one hour north by train from the bustling fashion capital Milan. Continue reading

Costa Cruises | MS Costa Pacifica Ship Tour

Being currently the second largest vessel amongst the Costa Cruise ships, Costa Pacifica is called “The Ship of Music”. This is mainly due to the musically interior theme that the ship was designed in, but it also reflects in the fact that Pacifica holds an exclusive recording studio where passengers may record their own songs. She has also been dedicated a personal tune upon entering service. Discover her with this detailed interior view photo gallery. Continue reading

Costa Pacifica | Western Mediterranean – Cagliari (Sardinia), Italy

There were quite some things that I could recall of Sardinia when I last visited the island with my parents about three decades ago as a child. The beautiful turquoise sea, for example, the rocky silhouette of the Northern shoreline or the elegant fisher villages like Santa Teresa Gallura or Porto Cervo. I remembered the brisk ocean breeze that even on sunny days made you hold your hat while wandering the beautiful island and the extremely friendly local people who made you feel welcome straight from the beginning.

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Costa Pacifica | Western Mediterranean – Day 1: Barcelona

Day 1: Boarding Costa Pacifica

If you asked me if I would take a Costa mini cruise in May in the Mediterranean, I would say: Hell yeah! Surely it is not a cruise in the style of Silversea, Windstar or Oceania, but having done over 41 cruises in total so far, I would almost go on any cruise and on any ship when I have the chance. Because in the end, they all float. Some a little more luxuriously and some in disco style, yet the feeling to be close to the ocean remains the same. Continue reading

Rome | Hotel Duca d´Alba

Finding the perfect hotel in Rome for one can be quite difficult. My goal is always the ideal balance between location, comfort and price. Four star hotel Duca d´Alba was the ultimate choice for our two nights pre-cruise stay in late May.

Situated only 300 metres away from the Coliseum and the Roman Forum, the hotel lies in the bustling heart of the beautiful Suburra neighbourhood (also known as Monti). With an array of stylish Italian trattorie, a wide selection of other restaurants and many inviting wine bars, Suburra has it all when it comes to fine dining and local delicacies. Continue reading

Rome | How to make the most out of your pre / post cruise stay

IMG_3853Rome, the Eternal City is one of those places in the world that EVERYBODY simply has to visit at least once. While most people come here to gather for religious reasons, others dive into the rich (and sometimes overwhelming) historical and cultural heritage that has been well-preserved and that takes you onto a journey thousands and thousands of years back in time. Continue reading

Europe Fast forward | Rome, Lisbon, Hamburg and London in four days

Visiting four European hotspots in only four days sounds more like the typical travel itinerary of any Asian visitor to Continental Europe, but indeed, as horrifying and stressful this may sound to some of you, it has been an intense, exhilarating and up-lifting experience overall. And something that I would not want to miss once in a while.

It helps you focus on what is most important for you to see and experience within the available time (that ain´t much!!!), and it definitely eliminates boredom while on the road. If you should get bored, you absolutely do something wrong.

So come along on this journey, that shows you in high-speed, how hideously beautiful just a few hours in these amazing cities can be. Getting a fabulous cardio workout at the same time!

The only things that you will need are will and discipline!

Day 1: Rome, Italy

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My European adventure begins in Bella Italia, in the city of love: Roma. Rome is peppered with so many sights and places worth seeing, that even a week may not be enough to check out all of them. Nevertheless, eight hours will leave you with colorful and unique impressions of one of the most beautiful cities in the world.

I am staying at the Crowne Plaza St. Peter´s in the Aurelio District, about 45 walking minutes west (or 3.7 kilometers) of Vatican City. To save some time in the morning, I always carry instant coffee, dry muesli and oatmeal with me when traveling. That surely is no Haute Cuisine, but delivers prompt and lasting energy for the start into the day.

Otherwise, the Pasticceria Fratelli Maurizi serves some of the best Italian cornetti (with vanilla creme filled croissants) in this area and is only 10 minutes from the hotel. Best thing: You can buy them already the night before, warm out of the oven. Absolutely to die for!!!

The walk into downtown is long, but not difficult. Click here for the routing or check out the bus schedules here.

IMG_4297When you reach the Vatican, a stand on Piazza San Pietro is a must. For some splendid panoramic views, it is absolutely recommendable to circle Viale Vaticano, the street which orbits the Vatican. If you are short on time, like we are today, spare this for your next visit.

Castel Sant´Angelo (Castle of the Holy Angel) comes up next. The view from here onto the river Tiber, St. Peter´s Dome and the beautiful bridges is fantastic. At some spots, you can descend very close to the water. If the sun is shining, this is a very popular spot for young Romans to soak up the warmth, if only for a moment.

Ponte Sant´Angelo leads to two of my favourite districts in Rome, Ponte and Pigna. Stroll through the small back- and side streets of these beautifully appointed neighbourhoods. There are lots of art galleries, bars and restaurants available.

IMG_4312Piazza Navona is a great place to watch people. I love the Farmer´s Market, that takes place there on Saturdays. Although there are tons of outdoor cafés, I rather have my cappuccino a little further on Piazza della Rotonda. The fountain there is beautiful and you can enjoy the view onto the Pantheon.

The next stop is Piazza Venezia. A photo of the most impressive Altare della Patria (Altar of the Fatherland) is a must! If you can´t leave Rome without having seen the Colosseum, you can do the 15 minutes walk down Via dei Fori Imperiali, which leads straight to the extraordinary monument.

Otherwise, it is time to pay visit to the world-famous Fontana di Trevi. As of April 2015, the fountain is pretty much scaffolded and panoramic photos may not be possible at the moment. Yet it is worth passing by and enjoying the beauty of this part of town.

IMG_4317Not too far away, and another must see, lie the Spanish Stairs. Climb up these historic steps and enjoy a gorgeous view from the top.

As time comes slowly to an end, lets head back to Ponte for a proper Italian meal. I have made great experiences during earlier visits at Trattoria da Luigi, I Sofà at the Indigo Hotel (fantastic rooftop terrace) and Osteria 140.

Re-energized and full of extraordinary impressions, it is time to return to the hotel. As another exciting city is on the list, let us close the chapter on Rome for this time. Having left so many blank spaces on the map, one thing is absolutely clear to me while I am on my way to the airport: A day in Rome is like a trip back in time.

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And that is why I always enjoy to come back…

Stay tuned for the next amazing stop: Lisbon, Portugal.