A Travellerspoint blog

homebound again


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Since we were going to be picked up at noon, we just enjoyed our time with sleeping in, eating breakfast or should I say brunch and as soon as we were checked out, we had one last look at the rocky coastline.

I must admit, it was a lazy holiday and we weren’t always very active, but it was fun enough for me.
Malta is really worth visiting and together with nice memories and thousands of pictures, this for me was a trip well worth it.

We arrived back in Brussels early in the evening where my brother awaited us to bring us back home.

The first thing my mum and I did when we were back home, was making coffee and reminisce about the past week … it's the little things that make life worth living for that's for sure!

Posted by Ils1976 05:44 Archived in Malta Comments (0)

Valetta seen from above


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Unfortunately it was our last full day here on the island and since we didn’t immediately knew where to go to, my mum offered to go back to Valetta again.

Instead of going by ferry, this time around we took the local bus and once it arrived, we were surprised to hear that we didn't need to pay. What the heck???

Seconds later we found out why the ride was free.

It turned out that the driver only recently had his driver’s license and since he was new, he had to learn how to drive with the bus and learn his route at the same time. How cool is that, I don’t think they would do something like that in Belgium … money is money, but obviously not in Malta.
Half an hour later the “rookie” dropped us of at the bus station of Valetta and the three of us congratulated him with his safe driving. I have never seen a person smile so much … I guess it was his first compliment of the day.

Since the last time we were here, we didn’t actually visited the different bastions of this fortified city, so this was something interesting as well.

First runner up was St. John bastion and while we were walking through the little garden of Hastings garden we ended up at St. Michael bastion, where you had a nice view on the surroundings of the city.

After walking for a while we ended up at the Republic street again and of course we couldn’t resist the many ice cream vendors. We just had to try it and like all the ice cream stands here on the island, this one was nice as well, but the best we had eaten all week long was at a small stall at Exciles Bay … boy that is what I call ice cream!

Walking down the hill we arrived back at Fort Saint Elmo, hoping it was open already but nope, it was still closed, so we slowly walked up again passing Mercant street with its markets and from there we decided it was time to go and find a nice enough place for a bite to eat.
Not that this is a big problem in this city, the huge problem is choosing which eatery. There are just so many, but after going through some menus, we finally found one to our liking and it was delicious so what more do we need.

With our tummies filled we walked in a slow pace towards the Upper Barakka Gardens and if I have to be honest, we really saved the best for last coz this is truly my favourite “hang-out” place. The views are incredible and the garden is so nice and there is even a stand where you can buy a few drinks … the ultimate place!

It was still early in the afternoon when we arrived back in Sliema and since we were still on time to catch the last cruise boat, we have let ourselves be persuaded to sail with Captain Morgan Cruises for the Grand Harbour cruise.
Since we arrived at the nick of time we got a discount and were still able to sit on the upper deck … sublime and the best thing about arriving late … you don’t have to wait all that long, only 5 minutes to be more precise.

From the water you have a nice view on the capital city as well as the Three Cities and I was even amazed to see that there was also an industrial area where they make amonst many things also drilling rigs. Never knew that at all. Interesting indeed, as well as the loads of information you get from the crew. Thumbs up!

Once back at the harbour of Sliema, we did just the same thing as when we arrived on the first day … we simply walked the boulevard till we were tired of watching at the rocky coastline and the thousands of waves … and than sadly enough, it was time to pack and prepare ourselves for our trip back home, but not before we enjoyed our last evening as well!

Posted by Ils1976 05:43 Archived in Malta Comments (0)

the incredible island that is Gozo


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One of the perks of getting out of bed early is the chance of seeing a really beautiful sunrise. I think it is just so sad that it is over so quickly, maybe that is why everyone enjoys that moment so much. I certainly do.

Since we had an early pick up today, we made sure we had something in our stomachs before our trip to the island of Gozo and I must say, we made it to the meet-up point in the nick of time. Are we good or are we good!

We booked this trip through our travel agency and I was curious if we were going to get the Dutch speaking guide we asked for coz my parents don’t speak any other language than Dutch and sign language for dummies.

Upon our arrival our guide greeted us in English so I was a bit worried, but he soon made everyone feel at ease and told us the Dutch speaking guide was going to meet us at the ferry terminal.
I heard relieve sighs while I was translating the bit coz it turned out not only my parents didn’t speak English, we also had 3 older couples from the Netherlands who didn’t speak anything else but their native language.

As soon as we arrived at the last pick up point, I or should I say, we found out why we had an English speaking guide on board. A group of 10 British people were going to join us as well and as soon as we all got introduced to each other, the long trip of a few hours towards the ferry terminal in Cirkewwa could finally begin.

“Shaken not stirred” is the sentence I thought of more than once as we were driving along the coastline.

20 people in a small minivan with a big guide and an even bigger driver … this is nothing but adventure in one way, but on the other hand, my stomach wasn’t always that happy and I was more than happy to see the ferry terminal so that I could get out of that sardine tin they call tourist bus and be able to breath in some fresh air again.
Once inside the terminal it seemed like to whole island had come to one place and one place only, Cirkewwa!

I have never seen so much people together in one place since I visited China a few years back and it was a difficult task finding our Dutch guide between hundreds maybe not thousands of people, but we managed to find her! Talking about a needle in a haystack!

Serves me right of course for chosing this day coz just like Belgium, Malta has a public holiday on the 1st of May and it seemed that not only tourists, but also the Maltese people wanted to have a break away from work or took the chance to visit some relatives or simply went back home.

Upon our arrival we couldn’t get on the first one, so we had to wait for the other one to arrive and as it did, we were amongst the first ones to get on … perfect for choosing a nice spot.
As soon as the limit was reached, we could leave as well and cross over. Half an hour goes by so very fast and before we even realised it, we are at the port of Mgarr.

It only took us mere minutes to get of the ferry and once outside again we met up with our guides again and said hi to our driver as well, who by the way, organised a very big coach for us. Now this is traveling in style!

First up on the agenda as soon as we left the port, were the temples of Ggantija. This megalithic temple is said to be the earliest one ever to be found of the neolithic age. I don’t know if this is true, but we first visited a small museum where a few artefacts were on display and than it was onwards towards the temple itself.

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I was really surprised to see how much was left. It wasn’t just a bunch of stones scattered around a hill. You could really see the temple and thanks to our guide who could talk very passionate about that period of time in history, we got more of an inside on how those days must have been as well.

From here it was on the bus again towards the capital city of Victoria or Rabat for the locals, but not before we had one last look at the more than beautiful surroundings. These neolitic people sure knew how to pick there spot.

Victoria doesn’t look all that big to me, the centre of it anyway, but it makes all up for it by its beauty.

Our guides first let us watch a movie so that we had a better view on the city as well as its past and after a quick lunch we had some time to visit the citadel. Basically this is also some kind of fortified castle and guess what … they were renovating the place! Just our luck!

We weren’t able to see the lot, but could walk a few metres on the city walls as well as have a quick peek at the impressive interior of the Cathedral of Assumption.

After getting a few minutes of free time, our group walked all the way back towards the coach parking and from here we left for that other highlight of the day, the Azure window.

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Booking a trip through a travel agency also means you get those compulsory stops at locals to sell all kinds of stuff and this wouldn’t be a “good” tour if it didn’t do that as well … so halfway up to the Azure window we had a quick stop at a local shop who sold all kinds of typical things from Gozo. It goes without saying, almost nobody bought something simply because everything was way overprized … there goes our guides commision!

A good thing however was that half an hour later we arrived at Dwerja Bay and once passing the many food and souvenir stalls, we could walk up to the cliffs, but not before first going on a small boat from where you have an excellent view on this wonder of nature.
If you value your life … don’t take such a boat! No, I am just kidding!

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The sea was kind of rough and once again the term milkshake came up and not only by me, but it was well worth it all.

We got a good half hour of free time before we needed to be back at the bus because otherwise we were going to miss our ferry and looking at the expression of our guide, this ment a serious NO – NO, so we all made sure we were there at the appointed hour and just for that, the 20 of us got a big smile and an applause from our 2 guides and driver … how sweet!

Because we were so good boys and girls we even got a little bonus coz just before we arrived at the port of Mgarr, our driver drove up the hill to the highest point from where we had a more than beautiful view on the blue lagoon. The water was really blue, so nice to see that and also a nice way to end a perfect day on the island of Gozo.

Once back in the ferry terminal, we had the same problem like in the morning, lots and lots of people pushing, shouting, ... trying to get on that ferry back to Malta, what a picture!

We arrived back at our hotel by 8 PM but weren’t exactly in the mood for having dinner at the hotel restaurant, so instead we just went across the street and went for burgers and fries at Fortizza, a local fort which was turned into an eatery … it was yummy and also a perfect ending for a fantastic day. That, and one last night cap on the boulevard of course!

Posted by Ils1976 05:42 Archived in Malta Comments (1)

it’s all about boats today!


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One of the main reasons for me coming to this island, was because of those beautiful tiny fishing boats Malta is so famous for. They are just way beautiful in my book and now that I was on the island, I sure wanted to see lots of them.

According to my guidebook as well as the talk of the locals, the best place to see them is at the tiny fishing village of Marsaxlokk, so this was definitely the place for us.

Like yesterday, we once again took a bus from across the hotel, but this time around, we had to change busses at the capital city.

We found the right bus towards Marsaxlokk in no time, but the worse part of it all was the waiting. It seemed that this wasn’t a bus where you could hop on every 5 minutes or so. In total we had to wait almost half an hour, of which I made the most of just looking up a few things in my guidebook.

Our driver towards the south-east was an older chap, but a very friendly one. Besides a few locals, we were the only ones on the bus, so we had a more than pleasant drive with a great view on the local fields and yet again huge cacti … it just kept on amazing me how big they really are, there are no words for it.

It took us almost an hour to get to the tiny traditional fishing village and once there you could smell the fish already. We were definitely in the right place!

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We just had to walk one street down and there they were. I could easily say that there were hundreds of small fishing boats, but that would be exaggerating of course!

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Nevertheless, there were many of them and they came in all shapes and sizes. It was just beautiful seeing so many boats together and we even saw such a tiny boat that I could easily believe that it was especially made for little children. I don’t know if this was true, but it was so cute.

We first visited the local market with it’s thousand and one souvenirs and afterwards, the fishing boats got all my attention … need I say, that more than hundred pictures were taking … I think not!

It really is a beautiful fishing village, but it is also a tiny one, so we just relaxed for a while on one of the many terraces before we walked down the boulevard of the village and watched how the fishermen repaired their nets.

Looking at all that hard work made us hungry after a while and now that we were at the right place to taste some fish, we did just that. It took a bit for the fish to arrive, but once it did … yummy was the only word that popped up in my head.

After lunch we decided to go back to Valetta and take another bus towards Vittoriosa or Birgu like it is called in Maltese, where we arrived in no time really.

It was still early in the afternoon and as we were walking through the streets of this old fortified city, I couldn’t help but noticing that nobody was around except for the many street workers with more than a good mood.

We walked up to the main square and from there it was down again towards the marina. If you want to see boats, this is definitely the place to be!

A few days ago my father saw a huge yacht and he hoped to have a closer look of the vessel, but it was no where to be found. On the other hand, there were hundreds of other boats going from being petit, to small, to large … to what the hell !?

I can’t help but noticing that there are still people on this world who just have too much money on their hands. This is not normal in my book!

At the end of the marina, we saw another fortified castle called St. Angelo which was also being renovated. It seems we were not going to be able to visit one single fort this holiday.

On the other hand, there was always a terrace in the vicinity of which we were more than happy to make use of, especially when they have divine cakes!

After this moment of indulgence, we just walked back towards the busstop and found our way back again to Valetta and half an hour later even to Sliema.
Because it was still a bit early to have dinner, we decided that this evening we had a drink at the bar of the hotel. We saw a few other Belgians and from one came another, it seems that we all had lots to talk about.

Dinner was special this evening, the hotel organised a Maltese night, with Maltese food and music and so on … it was fun, but I have to admit that not all the typical dishes were something for me … at least I gave it a try so to speak.

Since we had an early day tomorrow, we just skipped our daily night cap and went to bed at a decent hour coz tomorrow we had another island to visit, a smaller one, but nevertheless still an island!

Posted by Ils1976 05:41 Archived in Malta Comments (0)

Mdina, the not so silent city


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Unlike the past few days, today we decided to leave at a more decent hour, so after breakfast we walked towards the bus stop across the street and a little past 9 AM our bus towards the city of Mdina arrived.

I read somewhere that it is best to visit the city early in the morning or late in the afternoon, but since we were quite awake now, it was better to visit it in the morning. Carpe Diem it is!

The busride was quite fun and although at times it was completely packed with people, it was nice for a change to have a different scenery. I don’t know what it is, but I can’t but seem to love the outdoors and more particularly the country side. It reminds me of home I guess.
One minute you are looking at the ocean and about an hour later you are looking at lots of fields and huge cacti … quite amazing!

As soon as we arrived at Mdina, our friendly busdriver told us how to go to the entrance gate and I was amazed on how quite it was, the first few minutes that is.
We went through the gate and it really feld like walking inside a ghost town, but I guess it must have been just a few minutes later when we heard all kinds of noices and we soon realised that the peace and quite was over.

Lots of tour groups as well as school kids found their way towards this more than beautiful city. At some times the noice was unbearable, so it was quite fun to try and avoid them in one of the many, many small streets of this ancient city.

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But from all this hide and seek you get thirsty and thanks to the good advice from Allie (jeminigirl), the three of us looked for the Fontanella tea garden and were lucky enough to have found a nice spot on the terrace of the place where we indeed had a more than amazing view on the countryside. THANKS ALLIE!!!

Together with a more than delicious piece of cake, we were more than ready to go and see that other amazing city, Rabat.
Once outside Mdina, we suddenly spotted a tiny tourist train and although it sounds tacky, to us it seemed like a great way to have a different look at both cities.

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Although it lasted about half an hour, it was quite fun and in the mean time I learned a little bit more about this two cities as well. Quite handy coz now I didn’t need my guidebook anymore.

The small city of Rabat is mostly know for it’s catacombs, but unfortunately we didn’t visit any of them. I guess we really are lazy tourists, because we walked through different streets only to end up at the small square and enjoyed a late Maltese lunch. Life can be great if you let it be!

In the later hours of the afternoon we took a bus back home and got out at the boardwalk of Sliema again.
Me and my mum wanted to visit the new shopping Mall, The Point. Last time we past this place, only a handful of cafés were open, but now we were in luck coz the stores were open as well.

Windowshopping it is! :)

After looking at all those different stores, my dad was more than glad to be outside again and since it was already time for dinner anyway, we just walked back to the hotel and went upstairs to see what for delicious things the chef prepared for us.

Once again we didn’t want to have a night cap at the bar of the hotel and instead we went outside again and walked a bit till we found a nice enough place to have one last drink or two.

Back at our room a few hours later, I instantly fell asleep. I don’t know if it has something to do with being at the seaside or maybe I just have an excellent foldable bed, but damn, I have never slept this good since I arrived on the island.

Posted by Ils1976 05:40 Archived in Malta Comments (1)

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