To be a tourist guide in your own country!

My holiday back in Malta included a 5 day break for my friends in the UK to visit the island I had been talking about so much, my home. As I was to find out, advertising your home town has its responsibilities and pressure!

We were rather unfair on our respective boyfriends, having hardly ever met each other before, so one obstacle was whether they would get on or whether the trip would be fraught with awkward silences. They were angels (for the most part, punctuality was another issue!) and really got on well with each other. As a group we were perfect.

Malta to me is seen through different eyes than a tourist. This is one thing I immediately had to come to terms with when planning the trip. What I thought they should see was not necessarily what they would be keen to see. Knowing them so well and having planned the trip together I knew what they were looking for. A good time, a relaxing time. When you have a group of 6 people you are unsure whether they would want the same thing at the same time but that was also ultra smooth!

I was so happy that there were no moments of tension, no hanging around and not a moment of boredom. Malta is full of exquisite things to see but having only 5 days, I wanted to be selective. September is also risky but we were blessed with sunny weather hot enough to swim, if I bit too humid (Sophie, Emily and Amy didn’t seem to mind!)

Day 1: They arrived in the morning which was great as it gave them enough time to settle and even enjoy their lovely apartment in Tigne!

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They went for a dip in the pool with a fantastic view and therefore immediately settled into Malta holiday mode. In the evening we took them to Mdina, a sight I didn’t want them to miss. They were captivated by the Silent city, the dark side streets and the views. I was happy with my first decision to take them there. It is a pity we did not have the energy for Fontanella chocolate cake!

mdina gate

Day 2: This was a Gozo dedicated day. I felt my friends would be missing out if they didn;t visit the sister Island. It was good since Emanuel and I love the place so much so it would be a good stop before Emanuel left for Bournemouth. Having Game of Thrones fans with us we first went to Dwejra where Sophie and Rhys could (try to) re-enact the Dothraki wedding. This was followed by a ponder around the market known as It-Tokk after tasting some Maltese food at Cafe Jubilee. The sun was beating down on us and the best place to be was by the sea on the orange sand in a beach known as Ir-Ramla l-Hamra. After being harassed by sunbed hawkers and building sand forts, we all had a swim and a rest.

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The best way to finish a Gozo day trip is with traditional Gozitan Pizza by none other than a lady known as Maxokka. Yum!

Day 3: Waking up late after a night of drinks and chats I felt Valletta was worth a visit. We went for a late lunch at Crave at the Valletta Waterfront and then went up to see the Saluting Battery from the picturesque Upper Barakka.

saluting batteryAfter walking through the grid like city and passing the President’s Palace, the law courts and St. Johns Co-Cathedral we sat down and had lots of Cisk, their favourite beer!

In the evening, my group of friends were in for a gaudy treat. The last feast of the season in Malta is the one in Haz-Zabbar.  I had been talking about feasts and fireworks and Catherine wheels for ages (ironic considering I cannot stand them!) and they were so curious! They were flabbergasted at the loudness of the fireworks, the church decorated with colourful bulbs. One thing that really impressed them was our Maltese gigifogu – an array of mechanised Catherine wheels and other shapes. The lack of health and safety was also a shock as they were lit by 14-year-old boys and sparks were flying and landing at their feet!

Day 4: On Sunday, it was the gospel day of rest and having gone in at 2am the previous night, it was a time to catch up on sleep. Emanuel and I on the other hand were busy doing last-minute jobs and catching up with old friends and relatives before Emanuel left for Bournemouth the following day. The surrealism of my UK friends being in Malta and Emanuel leaving for the UK was not lost on me.

Day 5: With Sadness we couldn’t believe it was the last day of the holiday. It was mostly another day of rest where they were treated to Maltese Hospitality in the form of my parents who feed them and gave an endless source of Cisk. We did manage to pop into Palazzo Parisio gardens, sneak a visit to the Rotunda and also take them to see a Maltese glass blowing demonstration.mdina glass

 

All in all, being a tourist guide was successful. This success was mostly due to having fantastic friends to enjoy it with! Thanks Sophie, Amy, Emily, Nate, Paul and Rhys!

Till next time x

 

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‘Roar!’ and my family’s gifts.

Have you heard Katy Perry’s new song? Roar! I seriously love it and it is my main packing song. Makes me feel like I’m going to be my “own hero” in Cardiff! It gives me motivation and drive. Not such a fan of the video though, I’ve seen better coming from her (Wide Awake must be one of her best!)

Yesterday was family day; making the most of my family before I bugger off. It is truly amazing how much they know me because their gifts consisted of:

–          A recipe book for salads! (Yum!)

–          A photo frame of the whole family for my new desk with the beautiful words “Family- a patchwork of love” AND

–          An OWL keychain! (squee)

We went to Il-Veduta restaurant in Mdina/Rabat and the food there is always lovely. It is a special place for my family because my grandfather used to love it. It was also the place where my Dad let us know he was leaving to Bahrain for a brilliant opportunity that gave so much to each member of our family! The view from the restaurant is another magnificent plus, hence the Maltese name of the restaurant ‘Veduta’ meaning view in English!

 

A great night to treasure during any lonely nights in Cymru!

 

The Maltese Cross

Flag of Malta
Flag of Malta (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Cross of the Knights Hospitaller, called the M...
Cross of the Knights Hospitaller, called the Maltese Cross (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The day is getting closer. It is now less than a month until I’m in Cardiff.

I was thinking the other day, of what I should take with me to remind me of Malta. Not that I will need remembering what with my parents skyping everyday!

While walking in Mdina the other night, Emanuel (the boyfriend) pointed out a lace parasol hanging out of a souvenir shop. I fell in love with it and thought it would be a nice reminder of home. Emanuel has been abroad on studies before and explained to me that all international students had something that reminded them of home.

I passed through the shop and my eyes fell on some dish cloths – terribly tacky and kitsch dish cloths mind you. But I got a glimpse of the flag – not the Maltese flag, but the KnightsHospitallers flag. This flag has a beautiful depiction of what is known as the Maltese cross. In the mid 16th century, when the Knights were in Malta, the cross (then known as the Amalfi cross) became known as the Maltese cross. The irony of coming across this symbol in Mdina is that the Knights never liked Mdina (the old capital) and built Valletta instead of it!

You might be asking why the Maltese cross flag rather than the Maltese flag. I have always fancied the Knights’ flag more than my own flag though why this is , I cannot really pinpoint! So I bought this 90×150 cm flag and it will be proudly on display in my tiny room once I take residence.

What have you taken from your home town when you travelled for long periods of time?