Sunday, January 30, 2011

2010 April - Malta

Blue Grotto

On the first Day of April we went to visit Blue Grotto.

The direct bus from Valletta to Hagar Qim stopped near the Blue Grotto. One way ticket costs 1,16 Euro and to get to the small marina with a boat to the Grotto you need to walk down about 1km. We had a car and we parked in a parking near the marina. There is a good place for snorkelling and the 30min boat trip costs 7Euro per person. 

The Blue Grotto is a very interesting and nice place, if the weather is fine , the boat will drive true the grotto. Inside the are many corals and depends on the time period you could see many jelly fish. The boat trip is not only to Blue Grotto because there are few smaller caves near this main one. 

Good Friday’s Procession
Malta is a Catholic country, but it is true that everybody needs to show his own opinion.

However Good Friday’s Procession was really amazing. We saw the one in Mosta. It started at about 5.00pm in The Mosta Church and finished at about 11.00pm in the same place. In the procession participated Roman legionaries, penitent in white hoods with chains attached to the legs, small children’s bearing images and candles, on the special platforms, statues of saints were moved from the church.

There were also three kings, Jesus and other crucified men carrying their crosses. All the time we could hear religious songs. 

All the people around were tourists and Maltese because only special people marched in the procession. All the others were staying or sitting  on the way. At the end children were so tired. Probably the biggest Good Friday’s Procession is in Mosta and the distance is about 4 km. 

They have many stops for a rest of course and I really recomended it.

San Anton Gardens
April was a very active month, at the end we decided to visit San Anton Palace and Gardens in Attard.

Of course like everywhere we need to travel to Valletta and from the bus terminal bus nr 80 to Attard. This is one of few really green places on this island. The Palace is not always open but the Gardens are really nice. Sometimes there are some animations for children, but usually it is very quiet. We found many trees from all over the world and in a small fountain – turtles.

So if you are looking for a green and quiet place go there.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

2010 December - Malta

Quammieh Point
One day in the beginning of December there was a day free of work in Malta. My friends decided to invite me for a small few hour walk trip. They have a car so at 10 am we went somewhere near Mellieha Bay.
You can get there buy bus no 45 from Valletta and in summer time there are so many tourists because here is one of good sandy beaches. 

But this time it wasn’t important for us. This time we also didn’t visit a Bird Sanctuary which is near the beach. We turned left on the way past the beach before the hill and went towards a sewage treatment plant where we left our car. We took a small footpath up the hill, then for about 200m we walked on the road to take another footpath going down. 

When we was near the sea the sun came out from behind the clouds it was so nice. We walked along the rocky coast and admired the sunken shells in the rocks. It is a nice place for a walk and also for climbing from water. 

There are few small boulders excellent for climbing. On the top there were dried layers of clay – probably when it’s raining the clay slips down creating a new landscape. This nice place is called a Quammieh Point and it is good for snorkeling too.

Christmas time
It was so different Christmas than this in Poland. It was hot, about 18 degrees and without snow. In our house we had guests so it was a nice time. When we walked around Qawra and Bugibba we found one very nice house.

It was all decorated and in the evening looked amazing and so pleasant, and it created the athmosphere. We had many walks there and always when we past this house we felt the Christmas atmosphere.

On the second day with our friends we decided to try a go-kart. We found one company near Ta-Qali and Mosta. Without a car it is a good idea to go by bus to Mosta and then walk to Ta-Qali. There are roads signs to Ta-Qali.
It was a good and safe fun. We had there about 15min. it was enough. They have happy hours when it is cheaper and they accept Euro>26 cards.

A dream comes true
I am sure about it. At the end of December I had an amazing surprise – I was a second pilot in a small 4 person aircraft. That was about 30 min  long trial flight. 

What is important the instructor gave me chance to steer an aircraft which is not easy – you steer using pedals. My first task was to steer the aircraft following a yellow line. Normally it is easy when I drive a car, but steering an aircraft was difficult and It looked like as I was drunk – a zigzag ride. I had a headphones and heard whole communication with the navigation tower

Before starting, the instructor ask me if I wanted to take off. He gave me all instructions and I did it. Of course, it wasn’t a normal start because we started going zigzags, but I hope so that it was safe. 

While in the air, the instructor showed us some maneuvers and gave me some directions allowed me to fly. When I when I started to feel more confident in steering and when I was started doing more daring stunts the time was over and the instructor took the steering and landed.

That was my dream, maybe when I earn enough money I will start a pilot course.

2010 May - Malta

The Valletta Grand Prix

At the beginning of May there was the Valletta Grand Prix. The start for the old cars race was near the ferry terminal and Finish was in the bus terminal. All streets around the old city were closed. The distance was really short, because always they had only one lap, then a break and another lap. This event took all day, so it was good to change a place and take some pictures.

A good place to take a nice photo was the Lower Barracca Gardens, from where on the top there was a nice view for cars going on Barriera Wharf Street. Another good place was crosseroad between San Bastian Street and Fontanna Street which cars were approaching in a high speed.  On Marsamxett Street cars were going really fast. 

The last good place was the finish line at the bus terminal. This event was really nice, but there wasn’t any information about which car was on a first position. Maybe it was near the ferry terminal, but when we walked around no one didn’t know.

This event was 3 day long and we were only on the main race during the last day.

Around Marsaxlokk
On one Sunday we decided to visit Marsaxlokk where is the Fish Market. Unfortunately, we were there too late so everything was closed and people left this place. We walked around this small town and decided to walk to Tarxien. 

On our map was a historical place called ‘Tas Silg’, but when we got there we found only information about the Ruins of Roman Tample.

Everything was closed and looked like an abandoned construction site. 

We stopped there for a moment to make many pictures of a pirckly pear cactus and we went near St. Thomas Bay to see the Mamo Tower which was mark on our map as something interesting.

The Mamo Tower is a small tower built in 1657 by the Mamo family to protect them from Thomas Bay against Turks. We weren’t inside but it is possibility to go inside.
Our last stop was at Fort Leonardo. 

This fort was built between 1872 and 1878 by the British.

At this moment there is a private area and inside there is a farm, so it is not open to the public. But it is still in a good condition.

We started snorkeling in April, but in May I bought an underwater camera to take pictures.

Water here is clear and salty, there are not many sandy beaches but for snorkeling better when is rock beach. We bought special shoes in which we can walk on the rocks and swim, we had masks and pipes already. The nearest good for snorkeling for us is Qawra Point – a small spit in Qawra. 

There is something like a ‘swimming pool’ deep up to maximum 2 m., long for about 15m. and wide for about 4m. When the sea is stormy, the ‘swimming pool’ is usually quiet. 

At the end of this ‘swimming pool’ is a small island, not many people decide to swim or go there. It is so nice place and in the middle there is a ‘cave’ in which if the weather is good enough you can swim. In this clear water we saw octopuses, sea urchins, crabs,  sea snakes, worms and jelly fishes of course. 

Another good place is near Popey Village and anywhere where is rocky beach.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

2010 December - Trip

One Day we opened Internet website. Like many other advertisements there was something about cheap flight tickets. From Malta ‘everywhere’ for only 8 Euro one way. Why not? But of course when we found something from Malta for 8 Euro the return ticket was always more expensive. The next idea was – why not try a trip around Europe? And we started searching for cheap flights. That’s how our Christmas trip idea was planned.
 Girona - Spain

The first stop was in Girona cheap flight from Malta and a beautiful sun welcomed us at the airport. We had the option to get a bus to Barcelona – the cost was 12 Euro one way and the return 21 Euro. But we chose the bus to Girona, 2,30 Euro one way. Our flight was in Girona about 9.30 am, so we had the whole day to spend in this small city.

The bus from the airport gets to the city in about 30 min. We stopped at bus and railway terminal near the centre. Firstly we checked the train to Barcelona, bought tickets and went for a walk. The train ticket to Girona costs 6,55 Euro one way. It cost us less and we had some time in Girona. On the main street ‘Barcelona Street’ is Lidl market, but we went to ‘Place Marques de Camps’ and to the old town. One side of the city is surrounded by an old wall. There is a footpath and we walked all the wall way. It was so nice, the sun was high and we felt like in summer time. One tower was good enough to have on its top a small picnic.

We decided to be in Barcelona when the sun will be still high, so we were in Girona for only 4 hours. It was enough to walk into the old town and spend a few minutes in the park.
Barcelona -Catalonia

The same day we travelled by train to Barcelona. We left the train on ‘Place de Gracia’, quite near to Rambla Street. Our plan was to see all the works by Gaudi in this city. Near the train station we found Casa Batllo and Casa Mila probably the most popular Gaudi buildings.
Rambla Street was all the time full of people, many of them were artists. It was a good idea to go to the sea, and being Christmas time, in a big shopping centre, we found the caganer.

A typical symbol of Catalonia is the "caganer" (Catalan for "shitter"), a figure depicted in the act of defecation that stands close to the nativity scene. He is no parody of any clerical traditions but a symbol of a healthy body that fertilizes the ground and thereby provides a good harvest.


We spent 3 very nice days in Barcelona. We decided to buy 10 journey ticket valid for everything. Of course we saw the Sagrada Familia Church, Gaudi Park. And all Gaudi buildings. We were so lucky, because at this time there was a football match. In my opinion it is better to go to the football match than to a museum in Camp Nou.

The atmosphere was amazing, people very friendly and it was a good show.

Lisbon - Portugal


We spent in Lisbon next 2 nights. There was a cheap flight from Barcelona and we were in Lisbon in the evening. Lisbon is so busy and there is much traffic. People are very helpful but not everyone speaks English.

We couldn’t find a good free map of Lisbon, on the map from the tourist information we could find only the underground station plan, but no trams or buses. Here a good idea is buy a day ticket valid for all transport in Lisbon. We had only one problem – the fog, there was a thick fog we couldn’t see the Tag River even from the ‘Tore de Belem’.

Firstly we got tram 28 and went to Basilica de Estrela, near there we stayed for a moment in a nice park. On way back to the centre we stopped for a moment near Parliament building, and at  R.Moeda Street we found our first lift (a special tram in Lisbon). It took us near Caise do Sodre where we took tram nr 15 to Belem district. Most important for us was visiting the ‘Café Paseis de Belem’ to eat ‘pasties de belem’ which are delicious.
After eating we decided to visit Jeronimos Monastery, Belem Tower and Discovery Monument. We walked to Point 25th April Bridge but everything was in a thick fog.

We heard trains, cars and ships but we didn’t see anything. We came back to the city centre and near Rosa Atalaia street we got another lift. The last lift which we found was Santa Justa Lift at the end of St Justa street. This lift is more than one hundred years old.

What maybe not everybody knows – I was in shock when you order something in a restaurant they firstly give you a starter – even if you don’t order it. So the bill was higher than I expected.

The last place very important for us to visit was the oriente district – it is a new district built especially for Expo in 1998. The railway station has a modern roof made out of glass and metal, shaped as gothic cathedrals roofs. Still under construction is Vasco da Gama Tower. We saw one of the biggest Oceanarium in Europe. The easiest way to get to this district is to use red line underground.

We spent our last night in Alfama – the oldest district in Lisbon listening to Fado in a pub which used to be a small chapel.

 Carcassonne - France
From Lisbon we decided to go to Carcassonne in France, but there wasn’t a direct flight. For us the cheapest way was to fly to Toulouse and from Toulouse, to take a train to Carcassonne – the train costs 14,4 Euro. It was so cold and snowing. But when we got to Carcassonne in the evening, we walked round the fortification and inside this stronghold. This is such a huge stronghold, and its looks amazing.

The walls are always illuminated, inside it is really a nice atmosphere, like back in the Middle Ages. Everything here was so close to another, and of course the main tourist attraction is the castle. From the railway station to the castle it is about 2km, but it is a nice walk. The information Office at Bringer Street is excellent to help tourists with accommodation. It is about 6km to the airport, so for us it was a short distance. The airport is open only when they have a flight – usually they close it at 5 pm – that was in December.

A nice place where we took a super night picture was Bridge ‘Pont Neuf’ Phillipe Leclerc street.

The main castle entrance ticket cost about 8 Euro and in my opinion there is nothing interesting. Probably not everyone knows that there is a board game called Carcassonne - it is very interesting and never boring, we tried to have a game inside the castle, but it was too cold for us.

 Venice - Italy

From Carcassonne Airport we flew to Charleroi near Brussels, of course on the ticket there was Brussels (Charleroi) but it was far from Brussels. Here we only changed flights, we had about 3 hours in this airport and then we flew to Venice – Treviso. The return bus to Venice costs 9 Euro and takes us to Rome Square, where there is not such a good Tourist Information Office, but we got a map. 

About Venice we know, that we need to go back there, because we didn’t see everything. Firstly we found some place to sleep, and in the evening we walked and ate something. In Venice they charge you for service, one extra plate and for the fact that you eat inside. I know that someone can say that Venice is dirty, stinks, but in December it was ok, and for us it was an amazing place.

This time their offered a gondola for 50 Euro, we were only a couple but for 4 people it is a good price. We didn’t use water taxi and water transport, we walked everywhere. What was important for me was to see fire brigade building which is near Santa Margherita Square and the water bus station called ‘Ca Rezzonico’, 

Hospital – the biggest one is near ‘San Giovanni e Paolo’ Square, Bridge Rialto, San Marc Square, Arsenal, Puente de los Suspiros – bridge of sighs. And our main objective was walking along streets, crossing canals and have a good time.

9 days for that trip was not enough, but we had a good time.

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