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15 Things To Do in Malta

May 29, 2018

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15 Things to do in Malta

Malta made its way onto my travel bucket list when I was living in Qatar and I kept hearing about it from other travel bloggers. It doesn’t hurt that it is an island as I have a weakness for them and there are so many things to do in Malta. Since I was working my way West after Greece, Malta made a logical next stop.

Malta is located in the Mediterranean Sea between Sicily and North Africa. It consists of 18 uninhabited islands and three inhabited that include, Malta, Gozo and Comino. Malta is full of history and beautiful architecture.

Malta is not very big but much of the places to see are spread out and the public transportation is not efficient and many times the buses were very full. This is something to keep in mind when making your plans. If you rent a car, Malta drives on the left!

1. Valletta City Gate

This impressive structure is the fifth gate to be located at this site. It makes for a grand entrance to Valletta, the capital of Malta. As you enter, look down into the ditch and see how deep it is. You can also see the curtain wall that surrounds much of the city of Valletta.

15 Things to do in Malta

The Valletta City Gate takes you to Republic street which runs all the way to the other side of the city to Fort St. Elmo. It is a great street to walk down, see local life and many sites. Since Valletta is small, you can easily walk everywhere you want to go, just beware of the hills.

2. St. John’s Co-Cathedral

St. John’s Co-Cathedral is one of the most ornate cathedrals I have ever seen. It is decorated in the Baroque style. The construction was completed in 1577, however, the Baroque interior wasn’t installed until the 1660s.

15 Things to do in Malta

15 Things to do in Malta

There was a line to get into the cathedral, so go early and be prepared to wait. The cost to get in was €10 for adults. It was very crowded as they don’t seem to limit the number of people they allow inside.

15 Things to do in Malta

3. Fort St. Elmo

Fort St. Elmo is a star fort, meaning it is shaped like a star. While there was a small post present prior to 1552, the current fort was started in 1552 after Malta was attacked by the Ottomans. Malta was attacked again by the Ottomans in 1565.

15 Things to do in Malta

The fort offers stunning views of the surrounding harbors. The fort now contains the National War Museum. It costs €10 to enter for adults.

4. Upper Barrakka Gardens

The gardens offer the best view of the Grand Harbour. They were originally built as a place of recreation for the knights of the Italian language of the Order of St. John. It is a great place to relax and watch boats enter and leave the harbor.

15 Things to do in Malta

For the gardens, you can see the cannons of the Saluting Battery. Twice a day the cannons are fired. Once at noon and again at 5:00 pm. Both the gardens and cannons are free.

15 Things to do in Malta

5. Auberge de Castille

This is the office of the Prime Minister of Malta. The building is in the Baroque style. You can go in on a guided tour. Unfortunately, I didn’t know about this when I was there and so I didn’t get to go inside.

15 Things to do in Malta

Even though I couldn’t go inside, I noticed a crowd gathering outside and guards. I began to ask around as to what was happening and people said Prince Charles was coming! About 45 minutes later, he finally arrived and I was able to get a couple of photos. Just wish I had my telephoto lens! The guards were pretty impressive as well.

6. Grandmaster’s Palace

The Grandmaster’s Palace is one of the most popular things to do in Malta. Built between the 16th and 18th century, the Palace was built for the Grand Master of the Order of St. John. The order ruled Malta from 1530 to 1798. This rule had great effects on Malta, which can still see today in the many forts, bastions, and towers they built.

15 Things to do in Malta

The Palace is home to the State Rooms and the Armoury. Both can be visited for the entrance fee of €10. Be sure to look up and down in the State Rooms as some of the ceilings have great paintings on them. Also, walk around the courtyards to enjoy the architecture.

15 Things to do in Malta

7. National Museum of Archeology

Every history lover will need to stop here to discover the ancient history of Malta. Artifacts inside range from 5000 BC to 400 BC. The museum is not large, but definitely has some interesting things on exhibit. It is located on Republic Street in Valletta.

15 Things to do in Malta

One of the highlights is the “Venus of Malta.” Having seen the real Venus, I was expecting a statue of a woman. It is a statue but it is about three inches tall. It is still stunning, but much smaller than expected!

8. Mdina Gate

Many of you Game of Thrones fans will recognize this gate from the third episode of season one. The Mdina gate is the main entrance into the city of Mdina. Mdina is also known as the ‘quiet city’ because very few cars are allowed to drive inside. If you arrive at Mdina by bus or taxi, the Mdina Gate is the most likely place for them to drop you off.

15 Things to do in Malta

The Mdina Gate was built in 1724 as the new entrance to Mdina. To the right of the gate, you can see the walled up medieval gate that was the entrance before. You can also get a good look at the city walls from the bridge to the gate.

9. St. Paul’s Cathedral

The official name of this cathedral is the Metropolitan Cathedral of St. Paul. It is located inside the city of Mdina. The current cathedral was built from 1696 to 1705 after the previous one was severely damaged in an earthquake in 1693.

15 Things to do in Malta

The exterior is built in the Baroque style, like many of the historic building in Malta. It has a commanding presence in the square it occupies. While not as gilded as St. John’s Co-Cathedral, St. Paul’s has some beautiful frescos on the ceiling. Several frescos have adorned the ceiling and been destroyed in earthquakes and repair work.

10. Cathedral Museum

Right next door to the Cathedral is the museum. Unfortunately, no photography was allowed inside but the artifacts were stunning. Some of the silver pieces were bigger than me. There are also silver and gold statues of the apostles. The museum also houses a rare coin collection that spans 2000 years.

The building the museum is located in is the former Seminary. It was built between 1733 and 1742. The museum was moved from the cathedral to the Seminary in 1969. The entrance fee includes the museum and the Cathedral. When I went you had to buy your ticket at the museum first then go to the Cathedral.

11. Palazzo Falson

This was one of those gems I found by accident. I passed the entrance to this house and the courtyard caught my eye. It was then that I realized I could go inside. I really had no idea what it was all about but I love a historic house.

15 Things to do in Malta

The house was likely built in 1495 incorporating a synagogue that was next to the site. This makes it the second oldest house in Mdina. There is some doubt as to if the Falsone family ever lived in the house or if it was just named after them. Now it operates as a museum that represents a house, which is divided into 17 rooms. My favorites were the library and the kitchen. An audio tour is included in the entrance fee.

15 Things to do in Malta

12. Bastion Square

A short walk from Palazzo Falson is Bastion Square. It is the perfect place to rest a bit and eat a gelato! There is a gelato shop right in the square. Not only that but it offers amazing views of Malta! You can also get a sense of the thickness of the city walls here.

15 Things to do in Malta

13. Eat a Pastizzi at Crystal Palace

A Maltese pastry, called a pastizzi is a must eat while at Mdina. The Crystal Palace, probably the oldest pastizzi shop on the island, is located right outside Mdina in Rabat. The pastizzi, flaky pastry puffs, comes with either ricotta cheese or mushy peas inside.

15 Things to do in Malta

I ordered two because they are so cheap, but if you aren’t that hungry just get one. They are bigger than they look. Mine was very hot as they had just come out of the oven. One was a perfect cheesy snack!

14. Sliema Beach

Going to the beach is what most people come to do in Malta. You can swim right off the rocks in Sliema. There are places to lay out and sunbath there as well. However, it is all flat rock in this part of Malta so you might want to bring something soft to lay on.

What I thought was great was the small pools that had been carved into the rocks to sit in. There were also several beach clubs along the beach. It was too chilly for me to swim, but I enjoyed watching the water from here. Plus you can walk along the street above the beach get great views of the coast.

15 Things to do in Malta

15 Things to do in Malta

15. Take the Sliema Ferry

When the weather is good, you can take the Sliema Ferry to Valletta. It is the more time efficient way to get to Valletta than the bus. Best of all it offers great views of Valletta from the water. Some of the most iconic views can be seen this way. When you arrive in Valletta, you can walk up the hill to Valletta or take a mini bus to the center, which is an extra charge. Then on the return, you get great views of Sliema.

15 Things to do in Malta

There is so much more to do in Malta and on the other two islands, but I was only there for three days and as I mentioned two were rainy so I didn’t get to Gozo or Comino. Have you been to Malta? What is your favorite part?

 

Europe, Montenegro, Museums, Travel

Visiting the Old Towns of Montenegro

September 18, 2017

Old Towns of Montenegro

This post may contain affiliate links. If you click on the link and make a purchase, I may earn a commission at no additional cost to you.

When most people think of Montenegro, they think of the town of Kotor. However, Kotor is more than the just the town and includes much of the areas surrounding the Bay of Kotor. Montenegro also has so much more to see than just Kotor.

The highlights of Montenegro, for me, are the old towns or stari grads that dot the coastline of Montenegro. Three of these old towns are located on the Bay of Kotor the other two are located further south on the coast heading towards Albania.

Kotor

Kotor is the most well-known town in Montenegro. The region of Kotor itself is a UNESCO world heritage site and includes the old town. The old town dates back to the 13th or 14th century, although much of it was destroyed in the 1667 earthquake. Kotor has been held by many countries and seems to have changed hands back and forth many times even as recently at 1941 when it was part of Italy.

There are several entrances to the old town, and I suggest you explore the town from each one as it gives a different perspective. You can climb up to the walls in some sections as well. If you are ambitious, you can climb to the top of the mountain above to the fortress. If you want an amazing view of the fortress and walls at night, I suggest you eat dinner at the Hotel Hippocampus on their rooftop. It is not very big, so make reservations.

Old Towns of Montenegro

Old Towns of Montenegro

Old Towns of Montenegro

Old Towns of Montenegro

Old Towns of Montenegro

Herceg Novi

Herceg Novi is the first town on the Bay of Kotor. It was founded in the late 14th century. The old town right on the water and it makes a difficult to reach as the new town has built up around it. You have to park and walk down a hill to the old town and then walk up some stairs into the town. There may be another way in, but I couldn’t find it.

Your goal is to get to the Forte Mare or Sea Fort to see the beautiful views. I definitely see why the people chose this spot. Herceg Novi’s old town isn’t as large as some others, but it has several beautiful churches to see.

Old Towns of Montenegro

Old Towns of Montenegro

Old Towns of Montenegro

Old Towns of Montenegro

Old Towns of Montenegro

Perast

Perast is also located in the Bay of Kotor. The drive from Kotor to Perast is short. However, Perast is all old town, and you cannot drive into the town. There are parking lots at each end, which you have to pay to park.

However, Perast was my favorite old town in Montenegro. Perast was easily walkable since is flat. There is a small but good museum as well. Also, this is where the famous churches in the bay are located. Our Lady of the Rocks and Saint George Monastery are two island churches in the bay. Unfortunately, due to forest fires, I could never get a clear picture of them from Perast. You can take a boat to Our Lady of the Rocks. Saint George is private. Perast also has the highest bell tower on the Adriatic Coast.

Old Towns of Montenegro

Old Towns of Montenegro

Old Towns of Montenegro

Old Towns of Montenegro

Budva

Getting out of the Bay of Kotor now we head to Budva. Budva’s old town is walled like Kotor’s. Budva is much older though and dates back to the 5th century. Another stunning location as Budva is right on the Adriatic Sea and has some great beaches even inside the old town and right outside as well. After you explore the old town, visit the Citadela inside the old town to see the old Citadel and have a delicious lunch with a view!

Old Towns of Montenegro

Old Towns of Montenegro

Old Towns of Montenegro

Stari Bar

Further south, we come to Bar. Stari Bar or Old Bar is not in the new town. It is a short drive up the hill from modern Bar. Stari Bar is not as well preserved as some of the other old towns. However, because of its location, it offers stunning views of Bar, and you can see the Adriatic from Stari Bar. Some buildings have been restored, and you do have to pay a small fee to enter, but it goes to conservation.

Old Towns of Montenegro

Old Towns of Montenegro

Old Towns of Montenegro

Old Towns of Montenegro

Sveti Stefan

Sveti Stefan make look familiar to you as it is a frequently used photo when people are writing about Montenegro. The secret is that this old town is now a resort and you can only go there if you have reservations to stay or restaurant reservations. Given the cost was over €800 a night, I wasn’t going to be staying there. However, if you are driving, you can stop at the bus stop on the hill above Sveti Stefan and get a great view of the whole island. You can also walk down the hill to the island and gawk at it!

Old Towns of Montenegro

Have you been to Montenegro? What was your favorite part?

Art, Museums, Travel, UK

10 Things to do in Brighton

September 4, 2017

Brighton

This post may contain affiliate links. If you click on the link and make a purchase, I may earn a commission at no additional cost to you.

Brighton was the highlight of my trip to the UK. This probably has a lot to do with the fact that it is next to the sea. I am always happier when there is an ocean nearby. Having seen photos, I knew I wanted to go. However, I wasn’t sure what there was to do in Brighton. After doing some research, I decided I needed two days in Brighton in order to see everything. Here are 10 things to do in Brighton.

1. Brighton Museum & Art Gallery

Even though I had no idea what to expect, I always have to hit the local museum where every I am. Brighton was no exception. The museum is an interesting mix of decorative arts, local history and art. One of my favorite parts was the exhibition of performance. It had pieces from all over the world related to performance. I also discovered an artist I had not heard of before, John Constable and very much enjoyed his work. There was a temporary exhibition focused on his Brighton works. However, I wasn’t allowed to take photos.

Brighton

2. Royal Pavilion

Built by King George IV when he was Prince of Wales as a pleasure palace. The palace was built in an elaborate style with an Asian flair. Although not in actual Asian style. Each room gets more and more ornate. Another place in which no photographs were allowed, although to be fair, it would damage the decorations if everyone was to take photos. Definitely an unexpected surprise and one of the lesser known Royal Palaces in the UK.

Brighton

3. Brighton Beach

You can glimpse the beach as you walk down from the train station, but its true beauty is seen up close. The color of the water is stunning, especially for such a northern sea. The beach itself is pebbles and not sand, which has its advantages such as no sand in your shoes! The only thing you have to look out for is the aggressive seagulls, who will not hesitate to take you Avocado Chicken Pret Sandwich out of your hand! (Yes, I speak from experience!) If you are brave and are warm blooded enough, you can brave a dip in the water.

Brighton

4. Brighton Palace Pier

Whether arcade games are your thing or not, you must take a stroll on the Brighton Pier. It’s construction began in 1881 making it a historic structure as well. There are places to eat and games to play on the pier. I enjoyed looking at the water from this vantage point and watching the beach goers.

Brighton

5. Hove Beach Huts

The Hove Beach Huts are famous and a beautiful. They are quite a walk from Brighton, but you get to enjoy the amazing view of the sea along the way. Most of them were closed up when I was there and I think that was due to my midweek visit. However, it made for great photography opportunities.

Brighton

Brighton

6. Admire the Architecture

Along the way and back from the Hove beach huts, you can admire the architecture of Brighton and Hove. I am no architecture expert, but the terraced houses are pretty however out of place by the ocean they seem to be. Many of them have been turned into hotels now as they are probably hard to maintain as homes. A good reason to stay in one of those hotels so you can see inside.

Brighton

7. Eat Fish & Chips on the Beach

Fish and chips are quintessential British fare and a must on the Brighton Beach. I ate mine so fast I forgot to take a photo! A food blogger I am not.

8. Walk the Boardwalk

The ability to people watch and shop at the same time is a great reason to walk to the boardwalk in Brighton. There are art shops, beach supply shops and tons of gelato shops! Watching people play on the beach was also a fun site. You can also see the British Airways i360 from the Boardwalk and is a great way to see it if you are not brave enough to go up it.

 

Brighton

9. Watch the Sunset

The sunset in Brighton is spectacular. It sets in a way that highlights the boardwalk. Look towards the British Airways i360 and you can’t miss it. I enjoyed it from both the beach and the boardwalk.

Brighton

 

10. Check out the West Pier

You can’t help but notice the derelict pier in Brighton. The West Pier has experienced a series of disasters over the years and was opened before the Brighton Palace Pier in 1866. It is a haunting site and offers an excellent photography opportunity. It was my favorite subject in Brighton.

Brighton

 

I fell in love with Brighton and could have spent several more days there. What is your favorite thing to do in Brighton?

 

Art, Museums, Travel, UK

Museums of London

August 28, 2017

Museums of London

This post may contain affiliate links. If you click on the link and make a purchase, I may earn a commission at no additional cost to you.

There are probably more than one hundred museums in London. It can be hard to see them all in a short visit and I didn’t see them all in the month I was there. So how do you choose which ones to visit? For me, it all depends on my interests. Here are the museums of London I saw and who I recommend each one for.

The British Museum

Museums of London

The British Museum is likely the most famous museum in the world. The museum holds artifacts from around the world, so the name is slightly deceiving. Its most famous artifact is the Rosetta Stone. However, it isn’t all artifacts, there is usually a special exhibition on. When I was there, the special exhibition was The Great Wave by Hokusai. If you enjoy world history or there is a special exhibition you want to see, I recommend a visit. However, it can be very crowded even on weekdays. Admission: Free except for special exhibitions

The Victoria and Albert Museum

Museums of London

The next most famous museum in London. I visited the V&A in high school with my Mom and we both remember it being our favorite place in London, so I just had to go back. This museum is an eclectic mix of art, fashion, architecture and decorative arts.  Since they collect in so many areas, there may be several special exhibitions going on at the same time. Anyone who enjoys fashion, architecture or design will enjoy this museum. It can be crowded in some sections of the museum and some were completely empty! Admission: Free except for special exhibitions

Textile and Fashion Museum

Museums of London

A friend recommended the Textile and Fashion Museum to me because of my interest in fashion. What I didn’t realize is they don’t have a permanent collection, so you only see one exhibition. When I was there, the exhibit was about fashion designer Anna Sui. So my advice is to check out the current exhibition before you go. This museum is probably only for the die-hard fashion fan. Admission: £9.90 with gift aid

The Geffrye Museum

Museums of London

The Geffrye Museum is billed as the museum of the home. I have always been curious as to the home lives of people of the past and this peaked my interest. Given the size of the museum, I expected more of a mock-up of each period. However, each mock-up was just the formal living room of each period. While still impressive, I was slightly disappointed. The museum also runs along a long narrow hallway, so it can be difficult to pass people in the museum. I recommend going around the back of the museum to the gardens. I only recommend this museum if you are very interested in historic homes. Admission: Free

The National Gallery

Museums of London

I managed to make it to the National Gallery on my last full day in London and it did not disappoint! It is full of historic masterpieces including, Monet, Van Gogh and Da Vinci. What I was really glad about is that each section was based on a time period and the highlights were listed on the map. Anyone who loves art or has an interest in a specific artist should visit the National Gallery. Admission: Free

Cutty Sark

Museums of London

Some may not call this a museum, but the Cutty Sark is a part of the Royal Museums Greenwich and is a separate entrance fee. I love boats and to be able to visit a historic clipper ship, I had to go! If you are a boat or maritime fan, then this is a must-see for you. Keep in mind that you have to climb up stairs to enter and get around the Cutty Sark. Admission: £13.50

The Queens Gallery

Museums of London

Right next door to the entrance to Buckingham Palace is the Queen’s Gallery. This museum offers rotating exhibitions throughout the year, which are sourced from the Royal Collection. This is another place that you will need to check the current exhibition to see if it is something you are interested in, but I recommend it if you have an interest in art. Due to it being the Queen’s Gallery, I recommend you get advance tickets otherwise you may have to wait sometime to get in. Admission: £11

Royal Academy of Arts

Museums of London

The draw of the Royal Academy of Art for me was the Summer Exhibition. This exhibit takes place annually and displays current artist’s work. This exhibit was huge and inspiring. There were all kinds of art on display. There was also another exhibition taking place. Each exhibition is a separate admission. This museum is an art lover’s dream museum. Admission: Varies

The Charterhouse

Museums of London

I actually saw a brochure for The Charterhouse in a pub! So those flyers in hotels and bars do work. The Charterhouse brochure caught my eye because it has been living the nation’s history since 1348! As a history lover, I had to go check it out. The Charterhouse is a working almshouse still today. The members have to be over 60 and in financial need. They help out in the museum and give tours. The members have kept excellent records over the years and they have a small museum. Tours are offered on a reservation basis. The Charterhouse just opened its doors to the public in January 2017, so it is a hidden gem among the museums of London. Admission: Free, tours are a fee

The London Wall

Museums of London

While technically this is not a museum, I am including The London Wall as I think it is a must see while in London. The London Wall is located just outside the Museum of London and that is how I ended up finding it. I never made it to the Museum of London. The wall was built by the Romans around 200 AD and is about two miles long. You can walk most of it, but the day I was there the gate at one of the towers was locked so I only saw a small portion. I could have walked around to the other side but it was getting dark and I thought I would get lost. Any history buff or Roman history expert will love this ruin. Admission: Free

The Tate Modern

Tate Modern

The Tate Modern was my first museum stop in London and I wrote a whole blog post about it here. I am not usually a fan of modern art, but I wanted to see the building. The art was excellent and I really enjoyed my time there. I recommend it for all art enthusiasts even if modern art isn’t your thing. Admission: Free except for special exhibitions

The Postal Museum

I had heard about the Postal Museum and wanted to visit. Unfortunately, it doesn’t open until September 4th, 2017! The museum is about mail delivery via subway trains in London. You will even be able to ride the mail train, which is what I really wanted to do. So if you get to London, go do this for me, please! Admission: Entry and Mail Rail ride £16, includes donation, entry only £11

What museums in London are your favorites?