Tag Archives: travel tips

Malta 101

I’ve stopped counting how many months ago our supposed two day stop in Malta turned into a month which turned our lives around once again, confirmed a third pregnancy, put our boat and home of several years up for sale and sent us of searching for our new destiny. Skip Spain, Morocco, Tenerife and the UK and fast-forward to Sydney where we are now counting week seven since our unexpected return home. Just before Christmas I had bumped into a lovely South African lady who was minding her grand-child at the opening of the fabulous Flying Yogis in Bondi Junction. We got chatting as her daughter was about to leave on a three-year adventure to Malta with her family. This followed by a couple of weeks me trying to pass on the best of the best of that little rock in the Med which we called home for a whole winter of our journey – and to which we’ll always feel connected somewhat having left many beautiful friends and treasured memories behind.

This post is for Gia and her family – and anyone else who’ll be lucky enough to spend some time on the honey island of Melita – now better known as Malta. Google, facebook (it’s big on the island!) or contact us for more details on any of the below and more.

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Connect with Nature

(This could go on and on and only includes our top favourites)

  • The Creativity Vortex – an almost utopia piece of land with veggie gardens for rent, regular holistic workshops and retreats and always a smile and someone to have a hug and a chat with.
  • Dinghli Cliffs hike
  • Trip to Gozo – different land!
  • Shop in a wheel-borrow: Pick your organic veggies up at a local farmer, like Louis on the most northern hammerhead Peninsula, and have a look around traditional buildings, bunkers and farms while you are at it.
  • While you are up there, visit Paradise Beach
  • Spend a day at Salmun Bay hiking and beaching away from the crowds
  • Ghajn Tuffieha – by far our favourite unspoiled beach on the island. Thanks to hundreds of deeps steps leading down to the bay, it kept most developers and some of the masses away. Spectacular Caribbean style views and swimming.
  • Hike starting at Mistral Bay, leading from St Paul’s to Mellieha Bay
  • St Peter’s Pool – amazing natural rock pool, not suitable in rough weather and with small kids, else exceptional and flabbergasting scenery, swim and snorkel.
  • Feeling the lack of green? Head to the place which most comes to resembling a forest on the otherwise barren island: Buskett Gardens.
  • Sail around and away… that must be a Sailing Family thing of our’s…

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Connect with history

(Once again, the list could go on and on…)

  • Valetta – simply impressive and unique fort city and harbour
  • Rabat & Mdina – the walled city and its adjacent neighbour on an elevated plateau in the middle of Malta overlooking the whole island
  • Trip to Gozo
  • Marsaxloxx Sunday markets (go off season, else this picturesque small fishing town in Malta’s East gets too busy and best – if you enjoy movement – cycle or hike there from Kalkara!)
  • Megalithic temples overlooking the straight towards Africa – oldest standing temples in the world!

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Organic shopping

  • Good Earth – organic shop in Balluta Bay
  • Casa Natura – organic shop in Sliema
  • The Veg Box at Villa Bologna’s organic store – buy in or delivery
  • Organic House for home deliveries – sustainable shop in St Paul’s Bay
  • Twice-weekly local fresh produce markets in Ta’Qali

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Delicious and wholesome eating

  • Grassy Hopper – Amazing little Raw Food Café in Gzira
  • Villa Bologna Café & Gardens, too picturesque – take your camera! Just down the road you’ll find the beautiful President’s kitchen with stunning gardens, cafe, playgrounds and little zoo which old and young alike usually adore.
  • Tea times with scones and cream at Palazzo Paraiso for special treats in English Gardens
  • The Mint Café – popular Sydney-style wholesome Café on Sliema’s seafront run by a bunch of kiwis
  • Theobroma – delicious cacao collective in Valletta
  • Good Thaimes, Gzira – most authentic Thai restaurant and German bar on the island. Sounds like a weird combo, but it absolutely works, at super fair prices also!
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Treats for body, mind and soul

  • A massage with world’s best holistic massage therapist, Cat Moyle from Butterfly Therapies. At the same place in Tigne Point you’ll find life alignment session with the lovely Elisendra as well as many other holistic therapies.
  • A yoga class with Kundalini inspired Michelle Bartolo in the beautiful setting of Lily Agius’ Art Gallery
  • Shopping scents at Charlene’s Soap Café in Sliema
  • Soak in healing sound waves at one of the unforgettable kirtans at WhyNot? in Paceville
  • See Robert Grech, THE osteopath of the island for any health issues and spine alignments.
  • Tigne Homeopathic Centre
  • Sip a delicious Japanese green tea in company of fellow mums as your kids play with wooden toys and selected books or grow, enjoy and learn during one of the many music and motion classes at Ludi’s in Mosta

Last but not least, some of these secret tips which will help you get the absolute best out of your Malta experience come from my dear friend and fellow blogging mum, Nadine. Check out her SunshineLoveFood for the most up to date and inspiring recipes and reviews on all you need to know about staying wholesome and happy in Malta;)

Il-gurnata t-tajba! (Maltese: Have a good day!)

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Top tips for travelling with toddlers

I am not claiming to be an expert. But, we have continued to travel pretty much non-stop, even once we hit parenting-land. Noah was a mere few weeks old when we took him for his first camping trip in our baby-blue combi to one of Australia’s stunning national parks in Sydney’s close surroundings. From then on, it was camping-kids fun every weekend until his little brother arrived 1.5 years later. When Gael was a mere three months old, we sold up everything we had in Sydney and left for Europe in search for a boat. The first six months we lived in a caravan and traveled from port to port, along the European Mediterranean coast. After a winter working gig in the UK we then moved aboard Happy Dancer, our Moody 425 now for sale and sailed the Med. Since September 2015 we’ve taken to travelling overland again. With Spain and Morocco in our pocket, we will soon take it further east – to where the sun rises.

Here’s the simplest tips which have been making our family travels a hundred times more enjoyable.

Slow down

Whilst as a young, single and carefree traveller you might be able to cramp a whole country’s itinerary into two weeks, doing the same won’t bring you any joy when traveling with youngsters. Slowing down and stopping for at least three nights, if not more, in a place will. Soon you’ll notice that it’s not only the kids who need time to adjust, but staying a tad longer than all the rest actually allows you to see beyond the first superficial imprints of a place and learn about its depth and personality. Going back to your favourite backstreet restaurant for the second or third time will give you a completely different treatment and feel than just rushing by as another stranger on your first visit. Seeing the same locals over and over again stroking your kids hair will earn them one or the other heart-felt freeby, instead of just treating them as a welcome add on to you as a walking dollar sign. Seeing more than just the most famous sights and museums often reveals more of a place’s soul than its most famous highlights.

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Less is more

Even though you might be used to seeing all of the latest Lonely Planet, now Trip Advisor’s, recommendations from your pre-kids travelling days, trying to see it all won’t give much pleasure to anyone. Instead chose a few things which make the whole family happy. For us this includes things like markets, forts, castles, palaces, abandoned ruins, mountain tracks and beaches. Museums have to have a special touch to it to make the list. For instance, in Madrid this time the Prado was a no-go as two and four year olds are simply hard to impress with Velázquez and Goya and the like. However, the (free!) maritime museum next door with plenty of real canons, old galley replicas and videos of the golden days of the Spanish conquistadores was a new and enjoyable discovery for the whole family. Less can also mean spending a whole day in a park or somewhere out in nature, rather than making it just a quick picnic stop before rushing on.

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Always have snacks handy

Travelling sometimes means a long quest for the next food place. Especially if, like us, you try to avoid tourist cramped places with high prices and disgusting food like the pest. Kids (and some dads) are not good at appreciating how much better a meal can taste if your tummy is really longing for it. If they are hungry, they want some food NOW. Having a few healthy and handy snacks at hand not only keeps everyone happy, but also healthily travelling along. Here’s a few recipes which work well for us, together with Nori (Japanese seaweed), rice crackers and fresh fruit.

KALE CRISPS, CHOCOLATE MOUSSE, GINGERBREAD MEN, CHOCOLATE BROWNIES

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Have breakfast on stand-by in a travel esky/cool-box

While my whole morning can sometimes go by without even thinking of food, one of our toddlers is the kind of person who has barely left bed and needs some breakfast straight away. Unless you always stay in big resorts or five star accommodation where breakfast is waiting for you at the touch of dawn, be prepared. Same thing obviously counts for rental apartments. In Morocco, never expect breakfast before 9h30. Thus having some pieces of fruit, some cereals, crackers or whatever else will satisfy your little one’s first and urgent breakfast cravings will make the time till proper breakfast much more enjoyable.

Whilst in Spain we have pretty much always rented apartments (Be wary of Airbnb – we used to be big fans until we realized they often charge up to 100 Euros more for THE SAME property than other pages like bookings.com!), in Morocco it was mostly riads and mountain lodges – all a variety of B&B. Apart from our word wide favourite place, Riad Dalia in Tetuan, where we spent the first night and almost regreted them having set the standards too high, we asked for breakfast around 8h30am every morning. We were never actually served before 9h30am, and most often not until 10am when things slowly start moving. The one morning we had run out of standby brekky for little Noah, waking up and having to wait for hours was not only a nightmare for him, but also for us, the other guests (try keeping a hungry toddler calm and quiet…) and the staff who was woken ways earlier than their usual 9h30am!

If you like the idea of strolling through town to grab breakfast on the go, again, it might be all more enjoyable if the kids have something in their tummies before you head of in search for the best croissant, Café con leche or mint tea and omelette.

Meet locals

Just as much as we love meeting all sorts of character throughout our voyages and making new friends, so do the kids. Luckily ours always have each other to play and with a mere age gap of 1.5 years they have been best buddies since Noah first made his six month old brother laugh like no one else could. Nevertheless, they love playing with other. Culture or language boundaries don’t exist in their world. The best places we’ve stayed at, like Riad Dalia in Tetuan, came with their own child who made ours feel welcome and kept them cheerful and busy while happy parents enjoyed a rare undisturbed meal or two. Else, we often do go through the effort of seeking out parks and playgrounds where local kids hang out so we can put up our feet for a while and sip a quiet mint-tea with local almond sweets while the kids can get rid of their access energy spinning and running around with the other children like the last space ship two seconds after launch. It’s worth every effort as the rest of the day then tends to develop so much more calmly.

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Have a few toys handy

Waiting is part of travelling, whether it’s for an airplane, the next train, a taxi or a dude to show you to your hotel if you are lost in an ancient medina. Whilst grown-ups, and especially curious writers in constant search for interesting content, unique stories and attention-grabbing faces like me, can find any opportunity to stand and gaze into the crowds for minutes turned hours on end, kids generally don’t. Having a few light favourite toys of theirs handy gives you the time to gaze and keeps them happy. We try and avoid all the screen gadgets. So for us, this includes small balls, little books, but mainly a few pencils and pieces of white paper to draw, write and make paper planes. Last used a few moments ago as we arrived in our new lodge, happy but exhausted, and needed to put our feet up for two seconds while the kids, who had slept the whole journey, were full of beans.

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In every real man a child is hidden who wants to play.

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For all travel-savy readers, please do share your very own special tips in a comment here below or on our Facebook page. Share the love – make travelling more accessible and fun for everyone. Reduce misunderstandings. Diminish cultural boundaries. Help make the world become one.