Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Remembering Malta: The Likes and the Not So Likes

My week in Malta has been full of things I liked and (unfortunately) some I didn't like so much. 

THE LIKES  
The warm weather: that was a definite plus! I was happy to walk around sweating (yes!), wearing my summer clothes and having dinner al fresco. Genuine happiness.

Walking the streets of La Valletta: up and down I went. All around as well. Discovering the city. Taking umpteen pictures of the colored doors and the lovely balconies!

Sitting on a bench in the Lower Barrakka Garden enjoying the harbor view: I could have done the same trip in 5 days and not 7 but I had planned it that way because I wanted to have enough time to be. The benches in the Lower Barrakka Garden were ideal for it. I sat there, enjoying the sun and the heat, absorbing the view, letting my thoughts flow. Simply being in the moment.

Getting lost in Mdina's narrow streets: I just loved it! It felt like going back in time!

Talking to the elderlies during bus rides: public transport is free for Malta's elderlies and therefore the buses were full of them. I quickly found out that they loved a good conversation (their English was really good)! Charming and cute. And interesting.

Sitting on the cliffs near the Blue Grotto, absorbing the view of the Sea: simply awesome.

The archaeological excavations of Hagar Qim: mystic.

Bus rides: I loved them! Sitting, looking out of the window, enjoying the surroundings and their rather limited color palette. Wonderful.

The food: Oh my. I loved having breakfast on the patio of my Valletta hotel (the breakfast itself was mediocre but the view made up for everything!!! And being able to actually have breakfast sitting outside in my t-shirt was so cool!) but the food I ate for my lunches and dinners? Heavenly. And please don't let me start on the rabbit stew I had in La Valletta on Saturday night :-)

The history and the art: what a jewel this island is! In the middle of the Meditteranean Sea. Where the Romans have come and gone, same for the Ottomans, the Moors, the Italians, the French and last but not least the English (did I mention everybody??). Every one of them has left something behind (here it be the architecture, the art, the food and you still can hear some influences in the language they speak today). A wonderful place. Really. If it weren't for ...

THE NOT SO LIKES
Mass tourism: I will post some thoughts about this topic in a couple of days ... let's just say that (in some places) there were too many tourists. Masses of them. Hordes. Almost frightening.

Some Maltese I met were not so friendly. But hey, I can't blame them. Too many tourists. Answering the same questions every d*** day, asked by too many rude tourists who left their good manners at home (or maybe they don't know anything about good manners - at home or not?). Understandable. I probably wouldn't be friendly all the time either if I were them.

Gozo: I had read about Gozo. Heard about Gozo. Good words. Wonderful words. The green island. The island of Calypso. How quiet it was there. How I was gonna love it.
I absolutely wanted to visit.
Well, fact is ... the place and I didn't click. Maybe it's just that I had too many expectations. Yes, that's probably it. Too many expectations can be deadly...
What I also should have thought of was that the place couldn't possibly be quiet. The simple fact that the ferries connect the islands of Gozo and Malta every 45 minutes and that the round trip costs only EUR 4.65 should have been revealing! It's the perfect day trip for the thousands of tourists that visit Malta!

Well, now let's imagine the cute little towns of Gozo (they are even smaller than the ones of Malta!) being ambushed by all these tourists.
Quiet?
Cute?
Rather not.
While leaving the island on Wednesday I witnessed the crowd coming to Gozo on one of the first ferries of the day. Hundreds of people streaming out of the boat, "assaulting" the public buses and all the other buses that were waiting for them. I counted 7 (yes, seven) coaches leaving shortly after the ferry arrived. And all of them were pretty full of people (and it wasn't even high season).
Now consider that there are only a couple of places / towns to visit in Gozo.
And that all of them are small. Really small.
Now imagine what these few places look like when being assaulted by 7 coaches full of people.
Quiet?
Cute?
Think again.
What a pity! Fortunately for me, I was able to avoid the big mass of tourists during my days in Malta. And well, for Gozo, ... sigh, it's a pity, really. But hey, you can't love them all (meaning, the places you travel to), right?

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Remembering Malta: Some Impressions

Malta seen from Sliema (on Harbor Tour)
St. John's Cathedral (left) and Carmelite Church (right)

One of the many wonderful buildings in La Valletta

View from Lower Barrakka Garden (one of my favorite places to hang in La Valletta)

and more doors

well, yes!

Harbor from Lower Barrakka Garden

!!

:-)


Marsaxlokk

Boats of Marsaxlokk

Blue Grotto

Arch near Blue Grotto

Mdina

Mdina

Cathedral St. Peter and St. Paul, Mdina

Streets Mdina

Mdina

Azur Window, Gozo

Rabat, Gozo (Citadella)

Friday, October 23, 2015

Malta: Good Bye!

I am back home!
Temperature wise it has been a shock. I went from 30°C to some 10°C within a couple of hours.
It has been tough!
Otherwise, I am doing good. I have enjoyed my days away and my sun tan makes me look good and healthy :-)
Unfortunately, my last two days in Gozo were strange. The Gods of Travel abandoned me :-) Gozo and I ... we didn't click.  A few places so far, in all my travels, did not speak to me. The last place was Hong Kong. And now Gozo. No emotions. No idea why. Well, that's part of traveling, isn't it? You can't love ALL the places you visit.
The next couple of days I will share some more pictures I have taken. And I will post some words about ... mass tourism as well. I thought a lot about mass tourism during my visit to Malta (thank you crowds!! SMILE) and want to share some thoughts with you later on.

Monday, October 19, 2015

Arrived in Gozo

What a strange day! A very strange day. I left La Valletta by bus heading to the Gozo ferries. The bus was super crowded and me with my luggage. Well, let's just say that the more than an hour drive was hell (on Wednesday on my way back to the airport I'll take a cab and I don't care how expensive that's gonna be! I am sick and tired of crowds!). The next crowd was standing in line to get into the ferry and on the ferry no peace either, obviously. I decided to take a cab to my hotel in Gozo because, yes you got it, the crowd in the bus station was ... crazy. I checked in and decided to visit the azure window. And? Yes! Next crowd. On the bus. On the site. On the bus back. Crazy!! Back in Rabat I decided to visit the citadel and found out that both access roads are closed on Mondays. Hilarious. Obviously today the Gods of Travel are not with me.
What to do?
Sometimes there's just nothing you can do.
I went back to the hotel and am now sitting on my balcony, enjoying some fruit and a cold drink, the view and my ereader! And I even decided to have dinner at the hotel!
Hopefully the Gods of Travel will be back with me tomorrow!

Mdina Impressions



Saturday, October 17, 2015

Malta: an Easy Day

Today was all about taking it easy. Spent some hours in Hagar Qim, an archeological site. No pictures, I am sorry!!! How do you capture the energy of a place that is more than 5000 years old on photo? You don't or at least I don't SMILE
I took the bus back to La Valletta before the crowd of tourists appeared!!
The afternoon was lazy, hanging around in my, in the meantime, favorite places of the capital. And then I had an aperitif  and later a very lovely rabbit stew a la Maltese. What a perfect day...


Friday, October 16, 2015

Malta: Day Three ... on the Road

Some days are just like ... well, bizzarre. I started my day feeling good. The sun was shining, I had had a wonderful and resting night and I was looking forward to discover Malta some more.

I made it to Marsaxlokk by bus. A cute little town, a cute little bay.

Right? Well, yes but only seen from this side. Would I have taken a picture standing in front of the church, you would have seen
a) on the right hand side a waste inceneration plant and
b) on the left hand side the Malta Freeport with its giant cranes.
Not idyllic at all. A pity actually.
I wanted to go on a walk (as described in my guide) but the place was so surreal that ... I decided to take the bus back to Valletta.
Some days are like these...

My next destination. The Blue Grotto. It was a bit tricky to actually get there. I had to change buses and I find that people are not always helpful (too many tourists can do that to you, I suppose). Well, I got there and recognized the place because ... of the hordes of tourists hahaha
But the Grotto was nice and the Arch (while traveling back) was magnificent.
That made up for my rather shitty start into my third day :-)



To finish what turned out to be a good day nevertheless, I decided to go on a La Valletta Harbor Tour. You know that I love going on boat trips but a boat trip with these views??? Amazing. Awesome. Wonderful.


the harbor is not only for tourist ... it's about business as well!
Another hot and sunny day in Malta, I'd say (don't let the clouds fool you - it's still summer!)

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Malta: La Valletta

It's 7.30 pm and I am sitting here in my hotel room ... tired but oh so tired, you have no idea. I have spent the last 10 hours walking around like a crazy lady, just taking a short break for lunch and a shorter one for diner (I was falling asleep on my chair - I had to leave before it would get awkward hahaha). Well, I said, it's 7.30 pm and I am sitting here in my sleeping shorts, the window wide open and it's still warm. Very warm.
Ladies and gents, I am back to summer temperatures.
yay!!
I was hoping for nice weather but such high temperatures? That comes as a surprise!!!!A nice one :-)

La Valletta is no longer what it was 20 years ago (obviously). What they didn't have back then were the cruise ships. Small towns, someone said today. Right! Up to 4000 people getting out in the mornings, visiting the place and going back to the ship in the evening. Wow. It leaves me breathless. Yesterday, apparently, there were four (yes 4!!!!!) in the harbor and that explains why it was so crowded everywhere. Today, there was just one (haha) so the crowd was smaller. I visited the museum and the cathedral early in the morning though ... to avoid even this smaller crowd. I spent my afternoon on the other side of the bay in Vittoriosa. Lovely! I had lunch in a not crowded place and when I walked around there were almost no people around. Just the way I like it :-)

Tomorrow I am going to Marsaxlokk (pronounced: Marschaschlok). I got my bus ticket for 7 days today (standing in line for over 30 minutes in the head - but hey, this is the south. Time goes by slowlier here). so, I will go to Marsaxlokk by bus and keep you updated tomorrow night.


Malta - First Impressions

The Harbor

The Streets ... up and down ... reminds me a bit of San Francisco

And the balconies ... just wonderful



Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Impressions on my Flight to Malta

1) Sicilia 2) Isole borromee 3 and 4) Swiss Alps


Malta

Here I am! let's just say that, for a first impression, it's as beautiful as I remember and, even more important... it's summer here!!! I'll post some first pictures of La Valletta tomorrow after my first real day. 
Can't wait it discover more!

Sunday, October 11, 2015

My World - My Travels: Saugatuck (on Lake Michigan), MI, USA

Walking up...

...and down.
It happened during my road trip around Lake Michigan. I decided to stop in Saugatuck. A cute little town. An adorable little down. Even though it rained two out of three days I liked it very much. On my second day, wandering around like I usually do in a place I don't know, I happend upon these wooden stairs. Being a curious person, I decided to walk up just to see what the view from the top would be. Well, the view wasn't breathtaking but I was pretty proud to have made it to the top.
The surprise came the next day, getting up. My legs felt ... oh I can't hardly describe it. Let's just say that I almost didn't make it to the bathroom. Sore muscles!
Totally sore muscles! Oh my, my calves felt like they were made of steel, and let's not talk about my tighes and my back! One sore poor me! For the next couple of days I walked around like an old lady! hahaha
I never have been and probably never will be an athletic person :-)

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Summer and Winter

It's a funny week ... fashion wise. :-)

On the one hand I am mentally packing my bag for my week in Malta. My weather app says it's 27 °C there (yay!!!!) and I am thinking summer clothes: what do I take? What not? What needs som ironing? Do I still have suncream left? Well, you know, the usual questions...

Then, on the other hand, my mind is on my winter outfits. Especially since I bought the new book of The Sartorialist (www.thesartorialist.com) and going through all the wonderful outfits I start dreaming about ... how to dress this upcoming (hopefully not so cold) winter. I have been avoiding the shops so far (read above - my upcoming Malta trip AND the new car I just bought SMILE) but as soon as I will be back ... there will be some serious shopping (and going places like Milan and Como!). I am quite happy with my "winter" closet and I won't need that many new pieces.
Maybe some new trousers (with patterns or colored ones would be nice).
Maybe some new boots with small heels like the ones I just saw on my second favorite blog (www.garancedore.fr):

Oh well, these are Stella McCartney and I definitively CANNOT afford Stella McCartney but then, maybe, I will be lucky enough to find some similar-looking ones????

And what about these?
Miu Miu - not suitable for my bank account either, so totally not, but aren't those cute???

Let's head for Malta first and on my return deal with winter fashion...

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Malta ... I'm Coming ... Soon!

Next week, at this time of the day, I will be in Malta. Can you believe it? I can't - time goes by so quickly!
I realized this morning, during my commute to work, that I am ready for some "on the road time". I am ready
for new impressions. For new people. New places. Unknown situations. And some serious me time.

Oh yes, I am sooo ready!


Sunday, October 4, 2015