Stop Having a Boring Life http://stophavingaboringlife.com You'll never know unless you go Sat, 19 Apr 2014 12:36:18 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.9 Keeping Busy in Berlin, Germany http://stophavingaboringlife.com/keeping-busy-in-berlin-germany/ http://stophavingaboringlife.com/keeping-busy-in-berlin-germany/#comments Sat, 19 Apr 2014 10:06:40 +0000 http://stophavingaboringlife.com/?p=19520 close_up_cathedral_berlin_germany
Greetings,

The sun is shining and I’m fully enjoying my late checkout before hitting the road once more. My short but sweet stay in Berlin is coming to an end so I want to share some photos and stories with you from my time here. Yesterday was a little cooler than the day before but it didn’t stop myself and new friends from linking up with some older ones and exploring the city / seeing the sights and mixing lots of laughs in along the way.

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I was on this tour with three other bloggers and it turns out Caspar and Mike are in Germany shooting some video for the tourism board. I had the pleasure of meeting Caspar in Mauritius and Mike in Canada so when I heard they were in town; it was a no brainer to link up. We went for some lunch before cruising around and seeing the sights. Since it’s Easter weekend, Berlin is packed. It’s so packed that most hotels are booked out solid.

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When hotels get booked out solid, you can bet your last buck that the streets are filled with streams of citizens here for a good time; not a long time. As a result it was a lot of fun, really tough to get good shots of places without too many people and a cue for this gent to have to get a move on. If I could have found a hotel room here easily, probably would have stayed a few more days but such is life, yes? Good news is I’ll be back in Berlin soon.

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Of all the sights we saw, the Holocaust Memorial is what sticks out the most in my mind. It’s a beautiful but eerie place and from what I’ve heard, has lots more meaning than meets the eye. There are 2700+ concrete pillars ranging in height… On the outsides they are all very low but when you get into the middle, it feels like a trap and you can’t find your way out and sort of wonder how you got there. Supposedly this is to represent how many Jewish people felt; when the Nazi movement started they couldn’t see where it was going until they were in the middle and it was too late…

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After that we made our way to several more sights which can all be seen here. I’ll mention that the Berlin Cathedral is something else and to call it behemoth would be an understatement. Also, the attention to detail is positively mind-blowing. The photos I’m sharing don’t do it justice and it has to be seen if you’re in Berlin. Like the rest of town, it was packed here too and I quite liked the energy. Quick note; there is real no downtown core as Berlin is really spread out and it’s roughly 9 times the size of Paris with countless more bridges than Venice… Just thought I’d throw that out there.

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Later we went to De Berliner Republik for some traditional German dishes. I had the pig knuckles as it’s their most popular dish and it was tasty but not for the queasy. The portion is behemoth and you need to cut through lots of fat to get to the meat. Let’s just say that if you have some vegetarian friends who are going to come to dinner with you; don’t order this dish or they will surely be disturbed. That said, the restaurant / pub was incredibly lively and they had a cool stock market game where prices of drinks went up and down based on consumption. A rather novel idea, I dare say.

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Soon I’m off to Potsdam to meet up with my friends from yesterday as they are staying there the next few days. It only makes sense as I’ve had a busy couple of weeks and some rest and relaxation involving little more than feeding / bathing myself as well as playing on the internet is in order. Potsdam has some incredible parks and castles; I love castles and can’t wait to explore them before sharing them with you here.

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Goodbye for now Berlin but we’ll be seeing lots more of each other in the coming weeks.

Happy Easter everyone, wherever you are…

Tips hat,

P.S: Top right of photo with busy crowd is hotel where MJ held baby over balcony…

P.P.S: Below is some of Caspar and Mike’s Previous work for the city of Dresden.

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Gastro Rally in Berlin, Germany http://stophavingaboringlife.com/gastro-rally-in-berlin-germany/ http://stophavingaboringlife.com/gastro-rally-in-berlin-germany/#comments Fri, 18 Apr 2014 09:47:52 +0000 http://stophavingaboringlife.com/?p=19496 dinner_district_mot

Good day,

I’m writing this from my office aka bed at Motel One in Berlin, Germany. This city is an undeniably hip spot which I had the pleasure of cruising through in the most egregious summer of 2010. Life is moving so fast right now, I think my mind is still in Malta; that or I lost it in Leipzig? I’m not sure but I do know that last night I went on a Gastro Rally with the one and only Lollie Barr from BerlinAgenten. To simply say it was a wonderful evening would be an understatement…

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We met up with a lady named Julia from Visit Berlin and made our way to meet Lollie who would be our tour guide. She’s a gregarious Australian lady who came here 5 years ago to write a guide called “48 hours in Berlin” and never left. She’s since turned her 48 hours into more than 48 months and it’s fair to say that Berlin is just that kind of place. Seems like there are countless creative souls wandering the streets who are happily stuck in this spot. The tour brought us to a few places as well as gave us an idea of what it was like living in Berlin.

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The first place we went to was called W-Der Imbiss and they had delicious pizzas with all sorts of terrific toppings. My favorite was the one heavily loaded with avocado and sun-dried tomatoes. I just overdid it on a breakfast buffet but simply typing that combo makes me hungry again. I should have known better than to have 4-5 slices as the next stop simply blew my mind, waist-line and nearly broke my belt. We hit up District Mot and it turned into steamboat city.

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steamboat_life

Steamboats are basically where you get a large pot filled with boiling broth and you add your ingredients as you please, at your leisure. They really held nothing back and I was having pleasant flashbacks to my time in SE Asia, particularly my recent jaunts which usually bring me to Singapore. Steamboats and that whole style of cuisine is without a doubt my favorite on this planet. We all eat like there was no tomorrow and this captain most certainly went down with the ship.

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Next it was off to Mani Restaurant where we ended our sophisticated soiree. We enjoyed some dessert,  wine and and a most delicious rhubarb-vodka night cap. This restaurant wasn’t only classy but it was also edgy which is always a great mix in my mind. Mani is also a hotel and in the front lobby they have a most amusing poster which sort of sums up the place. I kind of like to think I’m the guy in the top hat but let’s be real, I’m the guy coming from underneath that table and  at the end of the day… Who cares as long as you’re happily at the party, yes?

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I had only breezed through Berlin last time and now I’m really realizing that this place sorta has it all. The cheaper you live, the richer your options and Berlin is affordable while affording you the opportunity to mingle with other bright minds; what’s not to like? I’m not sure how much longer I’ll be in Berlin but do know that I need to come back at the end of the month for a few days before catching a flight south. Seriously people, Berlin has something for everyone and at a price point that is easy on your pocket.

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mani_restaurant_berlin

I’d continue but I need a break; off to get a Kit-Kat.

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If you do come to Berlin, look into the Gastro Rally from BerlinAgenten; especially if Lollie is the lady in charge. Big thanks to Visit Berlin for their hospitality; loving your fine city and eager to get to know it more. Berlin also seems like a great city for someone who has no need to remember the days of the week; enough characters floating around with loose job descriptions to make any night a big one.

Tips hat,

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Good Times in Leipzig, Germany http://stophavingaboringlife.com/good-times-in-leipzig-germany/ http://stophavingaboringlife.com/good-times-in-leipzig-germany/#comments Thu, 17 Apr 2014 04:07:50 +0000 http://stophavingaboringlife.com/?p=19444 leipzig_germany_relaxing
Good day,

I’ve had a most wonderful time in Leipzig, Germany.

I could bore you with conference details from the Social Travel Summit but I won’t because that would be boring. I realize you love to travel but don’t need to hear the details regarding developments in the industry, yes? That said, it was a great time and I ran a table at the industry think tank which I think will lead to some positive outcomes.

Below are some pictures of my brief time in Leipzig.

This city has an incredible history and silly number of students.

I’d come back to Leipzig anytime; good people and good scene.

Much respect to all new and old friends who made it what it was.

Tips hat,

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whatever

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Getting a Taste of Leipzig, Germany http://stophavingaboringlife.com/getting-a-taste-of-leipzig-germany/ http://stophavingaboringlife.com/getting-a-taste-of-leipzig-germany/#comments Tue, 15 Apr 2014 15:37:16 +0000 http://stophavingaboringlife.com/?p=19430 leipzig_night

Greetings,

The Social Travel Summit in Leipzig, Germany is well underway and I can’t get over how many interesting people I’ve had the pleasure of meeting. I’m a big fan of more exclusive events like this because everyone here knows their stuff and as a result, the conversations which ensue are all incredibly informative and inspiring. People from all over the world are here and it seems there is a somewhat even number of people from both the blogger and industry sides; good times.

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The top photo was taken last night while some of us went on a brief photo tour of Leipzig before finding a comfortable pub to enjoy a pint or so before the conference began today. I’d go on but I’m as busy as ever and simply wanted to share this with you before heading out for the evening. I’m really liking Leipzig and wish I had more time to explore the city but one can’t eat a slice of everywhere on earth so I’m glad to at least be getting a taste…

Yesterday some of us did a tour of the Porsche factory; stay tuned for a high speed video.

Tips hat,

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In Leipzig, Germany for the Social Travel Summit http://stophavingaboringlife.com/in-leipzig-germany-for-the-social-travel-summit/ http://stophavingaboringlife.com/in-leipzig-germany-for-the-social-travel-summit/#comments Mon, 14 Apr 2014 10:09:26 +0000 http://stophavingaboringlife.com/?p=19422 train_leipzig

Good day,

I’m writing this from my room at Pentahotel in Leipzig, Germany. It’s been a long 24 hour trip from Malta but I’ve finally arrived and couldn’t be more thrilled about it. Today I’m off to the Porsche factory for some fun and over the next two days there will be plenty of workshops, seminars and networking opportunities for some of the brightest minds in the travel social media space, excited! We’re all here for the inaugural Social Travel Summit.

I flew with Air Malta to Frankfurt and it was a pleasant flight. I quickly realized I was back on the mainland and far away from the sunshine of Malta when I exited the plane to a rather cool grey old day. That said, I wasn’t in Frankfurt long as I immediately began the train journey to Leipzig. I landed in Frankfurt at 6:15pm and not long after midnight, I was in Leipzig.

The train journey was interesting because as I always like to say, it’s the journey and not the destination. It was a routine ride until the gent across from me went for a beer and offered me one; I said but of course then returned the favor. Time flew by as fast as the landscape and in no time I was nearing my destination and saying goodbye to my new friend.

That’s when an older lady who now lives in Canada got in and we began chatting. She was just at her sister’s funeral and works in nursing. We discussed health and a wide arrange of topics. Something I love about travel is the social aspect of it and I’m not talking about online here. I’m talking about meeting new people, getting a glimpse of the world through other people’s perspectives and ultimately learning a little more about the world and your role in it.

If you take a look at the Social Travel Summit’s program, you can quickly see that my hardest decisions for the next few days are what sessions to attend. I’ve got a few in mind but that is always open to change last minute when new information presents itself. I’d continue but I’ve got plenty to do as the next few days promise to be most productive and pleasurable.

If you’re keen on social media and travel, do follow #STSLeipzig on all major networks and join in on the conversation.

Tips hat,

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Regal Round at The Royal Malta Golf Club http://stophavingaboringlife.com/regal-round-at-the-royal-malta-golf-club/ http://stophavingaboringlife.com/regal-round-at-the-royal-malta-golf-club/#comments Sat, 12 Apr 2014 23:54:00 +0000 http://stophavingaboringlife.com/?p=19399 loving_royal_malta_golf_club

Greetings,

Today I had the distinct pleasure of playing the Royal Malta Golf Club in near perfect weather. The clouds were out which added drama to the photos and shielded yours truly and all the other players from the sun. It also wasn’t that hot or that cold so shorts and golf shirts were all one would need. I got paired up with some very cool people and played a course that could best be described as classic and filled with character; it’s a royal golf course after all…

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The course is 18 holes and no more than 4km outside of Valletta; this means that if you rented a spot in Valletta you could easily play there with a short cab or even better, a short bus ride away. The course was unique if there was one way to describe it. You could tell that it was built long, long ago. Turns out the Brits first started playing golf in the ditches between the walls of Valletta when they first came. In 1888 the course was built and today it still stands. The 100th anniversary was ages ago and the course was flooded so the club waited until last year which was the 125th to really celebrate. Supposedly it was great times with members of other royal clubs from around the world coming to join.

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I arrived, got setup and when I got to the first tee I met a distinguished German gent who asked what time my tee off was. I told him and then we decided to play together. Turns out we had roughly the same handicap and much in common so a really fun game ensued. There are lots of long par 4′s and there are plenty of mature trees lining the fairway to penalize one with the odd errant tee-shot. That said, it’s also quite open without a lot of serious trouble so it is quite forgiving if you miss hit your shot. What I’m saying is that it’s fair but if you want to score well; you need to control your ball flight and putt well.

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My putter was on fire for the front 9 and then went back to its usual ice-block self on the back 9. What’s different is that it’s one of the only course I’ve ever seen that has a chapel. It as built in 1489 so how could they even think of moving it? Supposedly there is still mass once a year just for the heck of it. When we got to the 9th hole, we met a group of two gents and joined them as there was foursome in front and it just made sense; if not we’d all be spending more time waiting than playing.

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What I really liked was that every hole was unique. Also, the greens in general were quite fast so you had to really dial in your short-game. I haven’t played in a while but my wedge was either red-hot or ice-cold; what else is new? I’d say the back 9 is easier than the front but I still scored better on the front with a 43. That said, if you’re paying to play, score is secondary to the time you have. When you’re strolling a quality course, the whole world melts away and that’s why you play. Make a few great swings and score well? That’s a bonus.

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After the 18 was finished myself and my friend from Germany whom I played the whole round with went for the 19th hole as it’s the only civilized thing to do. We were also joined by a gregarious French gent who sailed here on a yacht and was excited that there was a golf course on this small island. We drank cold beers while discussing the course, the world and life. Golf is one of those games that reminds me a lot about life; it’s not about the destination or the outcome but the journey.

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If you come to Malta and like playing golf; play the Royal Malta Golf Course as it’s a unique golfing experience. Also, the green fees are roughly 75E for a round with rentals and a cart. Supposedly memberships are quite reasonable and I’m really loving Malta so the idea of renting a flat in Valletta a month o so a year and getting a membership has most certainly run though my mind. If you do come and need to rent clubs, don’t worry as all the sets looked to be of decent quality. I had alright clubs but my new French friend had another set which were prime-time.

Big thanks to the Royal Malta Golf Club for their hospitality; a fantastic afternoon.

Later this evening, went to La Mere for dinner then Paceville to indulge in the island’s nightlife but more on that later…

This post was made possible as a result of the Blog Island Malta campaign which was created and managed by iambassador in partnership with the Malta Tourism Authority and the support of Air Malta.  As always, I’d like to thank them for putting this initiative together and including Stop Having a Boring Life in the action; obviously all opinions are my own.

Tips hat,

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Day Trip to the Maltese Island of Gozo http://stophavingaboringlife.com/day-trip-to-the-island-of-gozo/ http://stophavingaboringlife.com/day-trip-to-the-island-of-gozo/#comments Sat, 12 Apr 2014 06:03:45 +0000 http://stophavingaboringlife.com/?p=19356 azure_window_gozo_game_of_thrones

Good day,

I just got back from a really fun filled evening out and about in Valletta but more on that later. Let’s discuss a day trip to the Island of Gozo, yes? It’s a small island next to Malta with a population of roughly 30,000 people.  It has some stunning sights as well as countless churches that will make your jaw drop. It’s not far and only a 25 minute ferry ride from Malta so why not go visit it if you’re in the area? We arrived, jumped on one of those hop on hop off buses and took the ride…

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The buses leave the harbour  and make their way to a few big churches. In fact lots of the attractions are churches and I’d say it’s got an unreal number of massive churches for the population. That said, they are all spectacular and worth visiting in their own right. We got off to a late start and it was only a day trip so we had to simply gaze at several spots instead of get fully involved. That said, still got a great feel for the place, met a few cool people from the area and saw some sights that I won’t soon forget.

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If you’re going and you really want to get a full day in, I suggest you catch an early ferry. We took the one slightly later than expected and there were large lines. Not only does it cramp your style but it also means that at all the attractions there will be countless other people in your shots. Also, if you want to see everything or at least get an idea of what it’s all about; you’ll need a full day as there is lots to see and do.

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We made our way to Victoria which is the capital of Gozo and hopped off for a good stroll. Birgu has some great narrow roads filled with character but believe it or not; the roads in Gozo seemed even more narrow and almost labyrinth like. It was abundantly clear that there was no grid system in place or even a spec of town planning; it simply expanded naturally and what is now Victoria was the result. The area had some cool little shops and markets; strolled into one with my video camera and made a new friend named Joe who is pictured sitting below.

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While you’re in Victoria, don’t miss the Citadel. It’s massive and strategically placed on top of a hill. From there you can see the entire island of Gozo and it also has a really great restaurant called Ta Rikardu. The restaurant is located to the left of the Citadel and has phenomenal goats cheese. It also has bottles of house wine for 7.50E; the first glass might be a bit of a struggle but it’s smooth sailing from there. I suggest you make your way to the roof and enjoy sights of the island while enjoying your meal. It’s old school and believe it or not, the first floor used to be used to hold animals, check for the grain storage to the left when you walk in.

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Form there we made our way to the Azure Window which also known as “The Arch” to some. It’s this massive natural arch carved into the cliffs and a sight not to be missed. It was made even more famous after being featured in the ever popular show called Game of Thrones. Lots to see and do there so you’ll want to spend some time just hanging out, relaxing and soaking it all in. Speaking of soaking, a friend of mine said that when the weather is warmer you can soak in some of the natural pools left from high tide. Speaking of which, I did see some lady who went swimming so who knows; anytime could be a good time.

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At this point we were running out of time as it was simply a day trip and spent the bulk of our time in Victoria. We rode the rest of the course and made our way back to the harbour. There isn’t a lot going on from one perspective but if you’re looking to unwind and really relax; it’s perfect. Also, the kind of place where if you make some local connections I could see it come alive as there is always more than meets the eye to these sleepy type island. There is no wonder it was a favorite of my late uncle as there are countless bars and taverns that seemed to always have room for another character.

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To get to the ferry terminal it’s a ~25 minute ride from Valletta. The ride to Gozo is free but to get back it will cost you 4.50E. This was my first experience with one of these tourist buses and I quite liked it as it really served its purpose. It would come by each stop every 45 minutes so if you just want to take a quick glimpse, perhaps you should stay on the bus. Do make sure you get off in Victoria though as it’s the capital and lots to see, do, and eat.

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This evening was great and I’m going to be writing a piece on the redevelopment of Malta. Lots going on here behind the scenes and a few key areas are being revived as we speak. For dinner we went to Badass Cafe and I had the salmon salad and a double burger. It’s owned by the same people behind STR-EAT which is a cool bistro and whisky bar. Myself and a new friend / fellow blogger discovered STR-EAT a few nights ago and I’ve been back every one since.

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Tomorrow I’m off to play the Royal Malta Golf Club and beyond looking forward to it. Can’t believe I’m leaving soon but such is life and it’s better to have come and left than never come at all. I did take ridiculous quantities of video footage from today so stay tuned for that in the not too distant future. In closing, enjoy these views form the walls of the Citadel in Gozo.

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This post was made possible as a result of the Blog Island Malta campaign which was created and managed by iambassador in partnership with the Malta Tourism Authority and the support of Air Malta.  As always, I’d like to thank them for putting this initiative together and including Stop Having a Boring Life in the action; obviously all opinions are my own.

Tips hat,

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Beautiful Day in Birgu, Malta http://stophavingaboringlife.com/beautiful-day-in-birgu-malta/ http://stophavingaboringlife.com/beautiful-day-in-birgu-malta/#comments Thu, 10 Apr 2014 13:53:19 +0000 http://stophavingaboringlife.com/?p=19312 big_church_birgu_malta

Greetings,

I’m writing this on a simply beautiful day here in Malta; I just finished a day trip to Birgu aka Città Vittoriosa and highly recommend it to anyone visiting Valletta. Birgu is ancient and has been inhabited since Phoenician times. It’s on the other side of the Grand Harbour and the round trip cost of getting there is only 2.80 euro! It’s one of the three ancient cities on the other side of the harbour and I soaked in the street scenes, visited the Inquisitor’s Palace, Fort St. Angelo as well as the Maritime Museum; good times!

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Getting to Birgu from Valletta

Getting to Birgu from Valletta is really easy and all you need to do is go to the Upper Barrakka Gardens and take the lift down. The lift will give you a good idea of how massive the 16th century bastion walls are. To call them massive is actually an understatement; need to see them to believe them really. Once down at sea level you simply walk across the street and wait for the ferry; the schedules are different in winter and summer but they will come at least every half hour and the view while you wait is the Grand Harbour so it’s all good.

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Streets of Birgu

The streets of Birgu are a sight in themselves. You can tell that this city was built long ago. Also, it used to be  the base for the knights until Valletta was completed in 1571 after the Great Siege of 1565. The streets are oozing with character and it’s quite slow if you visit in winter as it’s not high season for tourism so you get to taste a slice of life on a random Thursday as I did today. Everyone I spoke to though was quite nice and more than willing to help answer my many questions.

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There are a few main streets which lead to the center square and lots of local shops lining them. The really old parts I believe are the small streets if you want to call them that which resemble alleys or lanes which jet from the square. The buildings are also ancient and if you do go, I suggest you try and get lost for a bit and just explore. Lots of construction going on right now and I believe it’s because Valletta will be the 2018 European Cultural Capital; must be!

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Inquisitors Palace

The Inquisitors Palace is the spot where all the inquisitors would stay and was a serious palace as it hosted the real powers of the island. You can wander around to get an idea of the opulent lifestyles these gents used to live. You also get to see the prisons where they held people. I was in awe at the quarters but also got some shivers as I strolled through the prisons. Whenever I hear the words inquisitor or inquisition images come to mind and well, we all know what types those are.

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There are tours but I just wandered on my own and I spent a good 30-45 minutes reading up on different things and using my imagination to travel back in time to when the place was inhabited. I do believe there are routine organized tours if that is more your style. Much like the streets, it is also under heavy construction for the anticipated flood of tourists who will start visiting in 2018.

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Maritime Museum

The Maritime Museum was a good time and filled with information of interest to anyone keen on boats and the history of them; particularly in this region. Besides the history of boat construction and propulsion engines they also had all sorts of old relics. Some included massive anchors, old canons used in battle, uniforms and lots of models depicting vessels from yesteryear. They also had a room dedicated to old engines and the like. The longer I live on an island; the more interested I’m becoming in sailing, naturally. That said, sailing takes a lot of work and concentration and is by no means a joy ride but I digress…

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Fort St. Angelo

I was under the impression that I could go in and look around but that is not the case. Fort St. Angelo is situated on a point right across from from Valletta and played a major role in the Great Siege of 1565 when the Ottoman Turks attacked the Grand Harbour with a fleet of 40,000 men against only 8000 defending. The fort fended off the siege because the walls held and the Turks ran out of time and had to return or be stranded. Following the seige, the Maltese fixed things up and it was then that the decision was made to move the capital and stronghold across the harbour to what is now Valletta.

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Valletta is named after the Grand Master Jean de la Vallette who lead the troops when they successfully fended off the Turks. Supposedly it only opens once a year on September 8th which is the day that the Ottoman Turks packed up their artillery and were preparing to leave aka the siege was over. That said, it should be open in 2018 so if you’re coming then; do go inside as it looks incredible. I was unaware that it was closed and a little sad when I realized I couldn’t go in; I love forts and used to build lots as a kid.

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In Closing…

Other then that, I missed my ferry back by a minute; they were leaving as I approached. I walked around further and took some photos of other beautiful churches before heading to a bar which was the recommendation of the ferry captain. I walked in and ordered a pint; I was handed two bottles of Cisk.  This large and potentially intimidating gent was eating snails and offered me some; please I replied. They were actually delicious and I eat them all. I only had 10 minutes until my next ferry to polish off the “pint” if you want to call it that so I made great haste.

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As I was about to leave; the same gentleman with the snails bought me a beer and who would I be not to accept? I drank it at a shocking speed before buying him one in return and jumping on the ferry. There I met a Maltese couple who immigrated to Ontario, Canada 55 years ago and we talked about life. He told me that he is here for 6 weeks and that nothing has changed but everything has changed. When he was a kid there were Maltese, some Brits and a few Italian but now Malta is truly worldwide and he’s all for it.

Here are some more photos and stay tuned for the video!

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Tonight I’m off to dinner at Gululu Restaurant in St. Julians and excited about it!

This post was made possible as a result of the Blog Island Malta campaign which was created and managed by iambassador in partnership with the Malta Tourism Authority and the support of Air Malta.  As always, I’d like to thank them for putting this initiative together and including Stop Having a Boring Life in the action; obviously all opinions are my own.

Tips hat,

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Tour of Valletta, Segways & Sailing Yachts in Malta http://stophavingaboringlife.com/tour-valletta-segways-sailing-yachts-malta/ http://stophavingaboringlife.com/tour-valletta-segways-sailing-yachts-malta/#comments Wed, 09 Apr 2014 21:23:07 +0000 http://stophavingaboringlife.com/?p=19268 sailing_yacht_malta

Good day!

What a busy day I’ve had! Today started early with a tour of of Valletta stopping in all sorts of interesting spots with the main event most certainly being St. John’s Co-Cathedral. Afterwards it was off to Buskett Forest for a segway tour which included a brief stop at Dingli Cliffs aka the highest point in Malta at 250M above sea-level. Following that it was one of the cooler things I’ve done in quite some time; sailing in the Mediterranean off Malta and even making a stop in the famous Grand Harbour like so many other vessels have gone before…

For the sake of simplicity; we’re going to break this day down into digestible bites.

Walking Tour of Valletta

We met outside the Palazzo Prince d’Orange at 9am, met our guide and hit the streets running. We stopped at many sights and I enjoyed a real slice of life in Valletta. Of the many places we saw, some highlights for this gent included the Prince of Wales Courtyard in the Grand Masters Palace, the National Bibliotheca and St. John’s Co-Cathedral. I’ve seen many spectacular cathedrals in my travels but I’m hard pressed to think of one that can top this place; to say it’s opulent and other worldly would be an understatement.

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A gent named Mattia Preti painted these frescos which will blow your mind on the roof of the cathedral. He did this to join the Order of St. John and this feat took no less than 7 solid years. He even had windows installed to make the 3D characters he painted near them and their shadows look more realistic; seriously the attention to detail and scope of the painting is something to see. Following that, the Co-Cathedral also houses Caravaggio’s largest painting which depicts and is entitled “The Beheading of Saint John the Baptist” places a new meaning on the phrase “a work of art”.

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If you’re in Valletta; this co-cathedral is not to be missed.

Apart from that, seriously enjoyed watching people go about their daily lives. We were on a mission but if I was here on a more leisurely day, I’d stop in at one of the countless cafes along the streets and sample what’s on offer. Apart from that, I kept noticing the arches and incredible architecture. You can tell that the buildings were built with security in mind and that no expense was spared whatsoever; they don’t build them like they used to!

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Segway Tour of Buskett Forest

Following that we went on a mission to the Buskett Forest which is basically near the Dingli Cliffs and the highest point in Malta. It took us no more than 25 minutes as this island is quite narrow at about 14km wide. Malta is one big slope that starts at the cliffs which tower 250m above the sea. The clouds were low so these photos aren’t as good as they could be but will give you an idea.

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Have you ever been on a segway? This was my second time and I found the experience quite fun; anything you could take a bike to visit you could probably do on a segway. Following the Dingli Cliffs we cruised through Buskett Forest making a few stops along the way to sample some local strawberries, take photos of the landscape and smell the flowers; so to speak. The tour lasted about an hour or so and the operator was Segway Malta; recommended.

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Sailing Yacht Charter

Sailing is huge in Malta and why wouldn’t it be? It’s a beautiful island in the Mediterranean. Every year countless yachts come from all corners to enjoy some summer sun. Most of us, myself included probably won’t be doing that anytime soon but it doesn’t mean we can’t get a glimpse of what it’s like for a day. The solution is chartering a sailing yacht and I highly recommend the experience as it’s a LOT of fun. You also don’t have to worry about important stuff like, you know, sailing the yacht…

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We left the harbour and cruised the coast for a while before turning around and pulling into a quiet bay. There we had a delicious spread of classic Maltese food made by our chef. Everything was fresh from the farm and made this morning which added to the time. The appetizer spread consisted of eggplant, zucchini, sun-dried tomatoes, goats cheese, hummus and more. Suffice to say I over did it on this like everyone else and would have been happy calling it a meal. After we had some fresh steamed fish followed by fresh fruit for dessert and healthy quantities of wine throughout; another benefit of not having to sail the boat!

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Afterwards we worked our way back to Valletta and did a quick tour of Grand Harbour before mooring. Seeing Grand Harbour is quite the sight but actually being in it was a surreal feeling. If you have a good imagination which I’m sure you all do; it’s not hard to imagine how many ships have sailed through the very same waters and in a weird way; you’re joining the countless who have gone before you and the infinite number who will follow. It also gives you a wonderful view of the three cities across from Valletta which all seem very interesting in their own right. So much to see and do, so little time!

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Now I’m hanging out in my room still stuffed from today’s meal. Considering I’m leaving on Sunday, the only appropriate thing to do is relax a little longer before taking a shower and strolling the streets with my new friends in search of something light to eat which also have as a good wine list. Anything else would be uncivilized, yes? Today was great and seriously, if you’re in Malta do go into St. John’s Co-Cathedral and do get out there in the Mediterranean Sea for some sailing.

Didn’t take many photos but do stay tuned for a video; below is sunrise this morning.

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This post was made possible as a result of the Blog Island Malta campaign which was created and managed by iambassador in partnership with the Malta Tourism Authority and the support of Air Malta.  As always, I’d like to thank them for putting this initiative together and including Stop Having a Boring Life in the action; obviously all opinions are my own.

Tips hat,

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Getting to Know The Fortified City of Valletta, Malta http://stophavingaboringlife.com/fortified-city-valletta-malta/ http://stophavingaboringlife.com/fortified-city-valletta-malta/#comments Tue, 08 Apr 2014 22:23:51 +0000 http://stophavingaboringlife.com/?p=19234 valletta_grand_harbour_malta_sunset

Greetings,

I’m writing this from a penthouse in the fortified city of Valletta, Malta. This city is also the capital and a UNESCO World Heritage site.  The architecture is incredible and so is its history; I’ve been here less than a day but it’s already a spot that resonates with this gent. I arrived in the afternoon and immediately did a quick video tour of where I’m staying; it’s the stunning penthouse in the Palazzo Prince d’Orange which is located in Valletta’s city center.  Afterwards it was time to start getting acquainted with my new surroundings.

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Valletta was built after the Great Siege of 1565 in which the Ottoman Turks nearly took control of the Grand Harbour. It’s called that because it’s a natural harbour that is near perfect for a fleet of almost any size. Just looking out at the harbour makes me think of all the different ships which have occupied its waters since time immemorial. When you think about it, makes you realize how short all of our time is here. Also, can imagine the Turks invading the surrounding cities or boatloads of British sailors strolling the streets after months at sea without a care in the world and pockets filed with currency.

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There are three other cities (Cospicua, Vittoriosa, and Senglea) across the harbor which are considerably older but Valletta is without a doubt the stronghold. Sadly, lots of what was of the other cities was lost as they were bombed fiercely in World War II since Malta was a British colony. The city is surrounded with 16th century bastion walls which need to be seen to believe. At some points they are roughly 60 meets high. The bottoms are pure limestone and then what was excavated was built on top; this fortified city was literally an impenetrable fortress and unlike anything I’ve ever seen, anywhere.

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Myself and fellow bloggers decided to take a quick tour today with our new friend Dan aka “Encyclopedia” who is the house master here. We stopped in at St. Paul’s Church, strolled down Republic Street, visited the old opera house, Upper Barrakka Gardens and more. St. Paul’s Church is a work of art and it holds relics such as the wrist bone of St. Paul himself as well as the column in which he was be-headed. Tomorrow we’re off to further explore our surroundings and visit some other churches but more on that later.

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Republic Street is the main walking street through Valletta filled with interesting stores and characters. Afterward we made our way to the old Opera House which was bombed in World War II; what’s left has been converted into an open air theater. Following that was one of my favorite places which is the Upper Barrakka Gardens which used to be a place where the knights would let loose and enjoy in all the pleasures in which they were entitled too;  use your imagination. Today, it still offers great views of the three-cities and the Grand Harbour itself. You can also get a great glimpse of the bastion walls in all their splendor.

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To finish off my first impressions of this place we had several delicious Maltese dishes cooked by some gents from Gululu Restaurant. Myself and another one of the bloggers enjoyed it so much; we may be going to the restaurant itself in the next few days if time permits. We had countless dishes but some of my favorites were the rabbit, olive dip and fresh calamari. This wasn’t the type of food you’d find in a typical restaurant but the type of authentic Maltese food that locals grew up eating at Grandma’s house. The more I travel the more my interest in food is growing; how could it not with experiences like this?

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Turns out I’m here until the 13th and tomorrow I’m going on two tours of the city before an afternoon of sailing. I was told you can’t come to Malta without doing some sailing from my flight attendant on Air Malta so very excited about that.  Later in the week I will most likely be visiting Gozo and a few other places so stay tuned. What’s cool about this trip is that it’s a mix of organized tours and free time to explore the area on my own aka the best of both worlds in my opinion.

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Have you been to Malta? I’ve got some free time and want to hear your thoughts!

This post was made possible as a result of the Blog Island Malta campaign which was created and managed by iambassador in partnership with the Malta Tourism Authority and the support of Air Malta.  As always, I’d like to thank them for putting this initiative together and including Stop Having a Boring Life in the action; obviously all opinions are my own.

Tips hat,

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