Word of the day: Cats

Of all the creatures of the Animal Kingdom, cats are by far the most interesting, intense and funny. Sometimes even I believe that they are Satan’s spawn but then they give you “the look” that makes your head explode of a cuteness overload.

Recently on my quest for LOL cats and kitties I discovered this site, where mother cat Miranda takes care of her kittens live on the Foster Cat Cam (Needless to say, the first time I opened the page I got stuck there for several hours and now I try to sneak in without getting caught at work).

I grew up petting cats – and sometimes, turtles and dogs – and I can’t see my life without a feline in it, even if I’m highly allergic to their fur. I got used to change the cat litter, to have countless little toys all around the apartment ready to slip under my foot, to be suddenly attacked by a pair of claws out of nowhere, and to be observed in the dark without getting jumpy. Of course, having a cat is much more than that: you also get a very independent and furry companion that will come purring by night to give you some warmth, and that will give you loads – believe me, LOADS – of cuteness.

One of my latest plans for conquering the world is to open a cat cafe in Paris. Already successful in Japan, this concept is about a place (a bar, for instance) where the customers go to relax, have a drink, and interact with cats. Usually, in cities with high population densities such as Tokyo and Paris people can’t keep pets themselves, which is quite sad in my opinion.

Travelling abroad I noticed that Istanbul is a cat-friendly city. When walking around the Hagia Sophia, you won’t miss the stray cats – and their plastic containers of water discreetly placed on sidewalks. Even universities organize the feeding of strays! And as they say in the old imperial capital, “If you’ve killed a cat, you need to build a mosque to be forgiven by God.”

Picture of the day: The Golden Horn

Credits: FlâneuseMag

 

When in Istanbul, one thing you will have to bear in mind is that you have two main divisions: the “old” and the “new” parts of the European side, and the Asian (or Anatolian) side of Istanbul, right across the Bosphorus.

When in the European side… go by the Galata Bridge (Eminönü) and buy a balik-ekmek (fish sandwich) from a fishing boat.

And enjoy!

Favourite spot #3: Cemeteries

I am sure I’m not the only person in the world who likes to walk around cemeteries.

There are two main reasons why I like them: first, old cemeteries are hidden jems, witnesses of history and often, an art gallery in itself. And second, the silence. Going for a walk in a cemetery helps me focus and put some order in my head, and even if I don’t go there every week, it’s a highly appreciated promenade.

Old cemeteries are filled with surprises. Not only because of the famous guests you can find there – at Highgate cemetery in London there is Marx, at Père Lachaise in Paris there is Jim Morrison – but also because of the pieces of art that are built in memory of the loved ones. Most of the time, when visiting a new place, first thing on the list I will check is whereabouts is the oldest cemetery and how to get there. Of course, not always there will be an old fashioned cemetery to visit because some cities rather have the aseptic and “modern” version – with the white head-stones lying and the endless green park.

Among my personal favourites, Vyšehrad cemetery (Prague) and Montmartre (Paris) are on top of the list (the other two I mentioned above are fine too). Vyšehrad was a pleasant surprise because a) it’s on top of the hill; b) it’s filled with sculptures and pieces of art; and c) many people from the world of arts and sciences are buried there (like the composer Anton Dvořák). I got there by chance, just walking around and getting lost, but I had the perfect afternoon learning a bit more about the Czech culture.

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Then, Montmartre cemetery is a special one for me. Probably because the first time I was there it was snowing and it was the first time I experienced the snowy cemetery visit. What I also like is the geography of the place – the alleys are in different levels, so you go up and down the whole time, and there is a bridge outside and above from where you get a nice view of the cemetery. Although there are not as many ‘stars’ as in Père Lachaise, Montmartre has a list of interesting characters to pay a visit: Berlioz (composer), Degas (painter), Sacha Guitry (actor & director), Emile Zola (writer) and François Truffaut, to count some. Since it’s kind of a small cemetery, you can go there in the morning and afterwards walk ten minutes towards the Basilique du Sacré Coeur, to watch the sunset in Paris.

You can check here some pictures of the Montmartre cemetery under the snow.

What do you think? Are there other cemeteries you would recommend to visit?

Tasty stuff #1: Chocolate

Dark or white, filled or just tablets, chocolate is one of the most delicious things that Mother Nature could provide us (although technically she only gave us the cacao beans). Some people become addict, some others are allergic to it but, truth be told, the world would not be the same without it. Oh, chocolate…

I must say that the best chocolate I have ever had was Belgian, and I got it from Bruges, the small city made famous for it’s canals (no wonder they call it “The Venice of the North”), and for the movie starring Colin Firth. My mouth still remembers the truffled flavour that got me to the moon and back – and I’m not exagerating. Of course, you can always find good chocolate shops in the big cities, and in my personal experience that is an important factor when it comes to decide where to live.

If you are as fond as I am for this sweet pleasure of Gods, you may find interesting the Schokoladen Museum in Cologne, Germany. Located by the Rhein river, nearby the city center, it’s the perfect hangout for a Sunday afternoon with its giant chocolate fountain (…) and the chocolate cakes they sell at the Café (and if you’re lucky and have good weather, you can also enjoy the sight of the Rhein at the terrace).

But then, if you’re rather into more warm latitudes, Spain is always a good option for having churros con chocolate in Madrid. After a night out, a short stick of fried dough dipped into thick bittersweet hot chocolate it’s just the right thing for going to bed happy and fully sated.

Finally, turn on your speakers and listen to some of this songs while you let it melt in your mouth!