What to Do in Rome off the Beaten Path

Rome off the beaten path: Giant foot in the Capitoline Museums

With over 10 million tourists a year, Rome is the third most visited city in Europe after London and Paris. And for good reason. It is a treasure trove of ancient monuments, history and art. Unfortunately, Rome is also one of those cities with a disproportionate focus on a handful of obvious sights such as the Colosseum or St. Peter’s Basilica. But what makes Rome so fantastic is not just the classics, it’s the sum of everything that lies in between.

Finding the not-so-obvious, however, can be quite daunting. Many Rome off the beaten path attractions are literally underground. If you wonder what to do in Rome beyond the well-trodden trail, you’ll be surprised that there’s a lot to discover. After first introducing our top things to do in Rome in a previous post, here are some of our favorite off-the-beaten-path attractions in and around Rome to get you started. Continue…

Extraordinary Nazca – Much More Than Lines

Extraordinary Nazca Lines: Nazca Hummingbird

The Nazca Lines have been associated with everything from aliens to Atlantis; they are certainly one of the world’s most mysterious creations. All that fame, intrigue and media attention means that the name Nazca has now become synonymous with the lines. But many people don’t realize that Nazca refers to a town, a region, and even an ancient culture. That culture left behind much more than lines.

Bucketlisters and speedy travelers shooting through Peru often spend half a day in Nazca, do a quick flight over the Nazca Lines, and hightail it on to Arequipa, Cusco or Lima. GIGANTIC MISTAKE. Nazca is a fascinating region which deserves far more attention. Thomas and I spent six days here, and this is just a bit of what we discovered Continue…

Plan your Visit to Leonardo da Vinci’s The Last Supper

Leonardo Da Vinci's The Last Supper in Milan

The Last Supper by Leonardo da Vinci is arguably the second most famous painting in the world after that other da Vinci masterpiece, the Mona Lisa. The superstar 15th-century mural is probably the most duplicated painting on the planet. It shows up on posters, placemats, calendars, coffee cups, mouse pads and any other flat surface humanity can print a picture on. It’s everywhere, and it has become one of Milan’s most famous attractions. For that reason, The Last Supper tickets are in high demand. Unfortunately, many visitors never get to see this artwork.

When da Vinci was asked to paint The Last Supper on a wall in the refectory of the Convent of Santa Maria delle Grazie, he chose to paint on dry wall rather than on wet plaster as is traditionally done in frescoes. This meant that the famous painting started to deteriorate almost immediately after he finished it.

As if that weren’t problem enough, The Last Supper has a history of abuse which would be laughable if it weren’t so sad. French troops actually Continue…

Ait Benhaddou and the Oases

If our lead picture looks familiar, it’s probably because it is one of the most filmed locations in Morocco. The ksar (fortified village) of Ait Benhaddou has been popping up in movies for decades. From The Man Who Would Be King to The Mummy to Gladiator, Ait Benhaddou is arguably Morocco’s most celebrated big screen legend. And if you are a Game of Thrones fan, this is the epic city of Yunkai (minus the giant CGI pyramids.) Can you believe it, we’ve visited Yunkai and Astapor in the same trip?

The UNESCO world heritage site was our entry point to the river valleys and remote oases of the Moroccan Sahara. The whole region is a playground for culture junkies and adventure travel fans. We grabbed another rental car in Ouarzazate, Morocco’s desert take on Hollywood, and set out on an epic seven-day exploration winding and bumping our way from ksar to ksar, kasbah to kasbah. I would officially like to thank Thomas for Continue…

Kicking Back in Essaouira

Just a few hours to the west, the walled city of Essaouira has a much more relaxed vibe than frenetic Marrakesh. Perhaps, it’s the seaside setting, or quite possibly its the town’s history as a key destination on the hippie trail. Both Jimi Hendrix and Cat Stevens found their way here in the ’60s, and – more importantly – I happened through in the late ’80s. If those ramparts look a little familiar, that might be because they were used in Orson Welles’ Othello and they pop up in Continue…

Marrakesh Madness

Twenty-seven years ago, I told my parents I was going on a camping trip to Wisconsin with my friend Robin. Instead, I secretly took off on a wild adventure to Morocco, which marked the beginning of a lifetime of independent travel. Now, I have returned with Thomas to relive a bit of those early days and dive back into one of the craziest, most colorful adventure travel destinations on the planet. Continue…

Top 10 Castles in and around Lisbon

Lisbon is prime territory for people like us, devoted castle hunters who long for turrets and palatial grandeur. The moment we arrived in the city, the impressive stone walls of the Moorish Castle San Jorge looming over the city announced we had come to the right place. The capital of Portugal and the surrounding region boast so many extraordinary fortresses, palaces and royal villas that you can literally spend weeks bouncing from one to another. Actually, psycho architecture junkies that we are, we did just that.

What surprised us most was the diversity of what we found. You can literally go to every castle because they are Continue…

Mallorca Highlights for Adventurers

Palma cathedral, Mallorca

Twenty-five years after my first visit to Mallorca, I returned to the Mediterranean island in October with Tony in tow. Like many visitors, my first experience here was a rushed trip spent on the busy tourist beaches near Palma. It was only later, through a German magazine article, that I learnt just how many adventurous activities I had missed. So this time around, I wanted to do it right. During our two weeks on the island, Tony and I set out together to discover the best of what the largest Balearic island has to offer. Continue…

Tony and Larry’s Awesome Istanbul Adventure

Tony and Larry walking the Theodosian Walls

Sometimes, you just have to grab your dad and go have an adventure, right? This trip was something special, something very different. In my years of travel blogging, this stands WAY out as one of my favorite travel moments. Because of the way it began, and the epic dad & son experience it became.

So how did we end up in Istanbul?

In 2013, Thomas and I joined a group of friends from Berlin in our favorite city on the planet, Istanbul. I had been to Istanbul twice before and had seen most of the tourist attractions there, but there was one thing I had never done, one thing I insisted we do: I wanted to Continue…

Hanging out in Rio de Janeiro

Ipanema Beach, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

After spending a year and a half in Latin America, Rio de Janeiro was our final stop in the Americas before heading back to Europe. Rio is one of those epic, world-famous cities we always knew we wanted to spend some time in. While it is neither the capital nor the biggest city in Brazil (that would be Brasilia and São Paulo), Rio attracts the highest number of visitors of any city in the country. And we wanted to be part of that.

In my tourist fantasy, Rio was all about caipirinhas on Copacabana Beach, rhythmic samba music, boundless zest for life, and gorgeous Brazilians strutting their stuff on the powdery sands. And – oh my god – it’s all true! Continue…