Animal travels: It’s funny what you see walking down the road …

Animal travels: A goat in Lithuania near the Paneriai train

I met this Lithuanian goat near the train to Paneriai.

My endless folders of photos from my trips show up a common theme: I love meeting animals on my travels! Perhaps it’s a variation on meeting the locals. After my recent heavy post on the Auschwitz and Birkenau concentration camps, I felt the need to get a bit more light-hearted and remember some of the really fun parts of travelling, too. So: animals.

Meeting Lithuanian goats and cats in Vilnius

I’m not straying 100% from the concentration camp theme, though, because this particular Lithuanian goat (if you’re wondering, he’s saying hello – sveiki – in Lithuanian) greeted me when I disembarked from the local train to Paneriai on the outskirts of Vilnius. Very sadly, it is the place where around 100,000 people were massacred by the Nazis, and I went there to see the memorial and museum. Let me tell you, the goat was pretty much the only fun moment of that day.

That’s not quite true – I have very fond memories of the hostel in Vilnius where I returned to after that outing. In particular, the hostel cat (every good hostel has a cat, right?) was a friendly one who gave me endless cuddles. The funny thing is that a decade later I am the proud owner of a very similar-looking cat.

Black cat at Filaretai Hostel, Vilnius, Lithuania

This gorgeous cat greeted me at the Filaretai Hostel in Vilnius

Settling in to a new hometown: Dogs in Bratislava

I have this theory that tracking down non-zoo animals on your travels makes you feel at home. It’s the ultimate version of meeting the locals because the animals will (nearly) always be nice to you. I’m sure that’s one of the reasons I trekked across the Novy Most bridge in Bratislava on a rainy day about a week after I’d arrived, searching for and finally finding the Euro Dog show. It was a totally non-touristy affair and was full of noise (barking, clapping, not from the same species) and lots of locals. It was a proper experience of what Bratislavans might go and do on the weekend. Oh, and I met my future dog mate. I guess I will need a descendant of this one by the time I’m ready for a dog, but you know what I mean.

Airedale Terrier at Bratislava Euro Dog show

Isn’t he gorgeous? This Airedale Terrier was on display at the Euro Dog show in Bratislava.

My obsession with Airedale Terriers began before the Euro Dog show but it continues, I just have to work on convincing my husband that this is THE dog to have!

Animals wandering across Tunisia

During my Christmas holidays in Bratislava, I decided to escape the cold and rather randomly went backpacking in Tunisia. This proved to be one of my favourite trips ever for so, so many reasons. When I look through my photos, I see it’s a country where stumbling across various animals just living their lives in the midst of the desert or even in town is a commonplace affair. There were cats everywhere, camels in the desert, sheep and goats rambling through ancient monuments, and then near Matmata, a desert town, I came across this donkey. I’m sure he is smiling in this picture.

Donkey in Matmata, Tunisia, Africa

Smile, donkey: hanging around near Matmata, southern Tunisia

What animals have you met on your travels?

Travelling isn’t always about ticking off seeing the Eiffel Tower or the Statue of Liberty, right? Sometimes it’s about small encounters that make you smile. That’s what all of these animals (and many, many more) did for me. Do you have a fun story to share about meeting the local animals? I’d love to hear it.

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This post is part of the Instagram Travel Thursday link up for June. You’ll find some other great travel posts with gorgeous Instagram pictures in the links below.

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