It’s been three and a half months since I’ve moved to sunny Lisboa. Okay, I admit, it’s not always sunny here. But winter is packing its bags and spring is just around the corner.
A lot of people ask me: do you sometimes have regrets about moving to Lisbon? My answer is: I miss my family, friends, and familiar surroundings, but that doesn’t mean I regret this decision. I knew that travelling and moving around places requires some gut and courage. I am making the best out of my time here and that’s all that matters now.
So, let’s move on from the boring chitchat and move on to the real purpose of this blog: Lisbon city.
Lisbon really surprised me. The authentic city has not only a coffee place on every corner, but also hidden rooftop bars and gems of (cheap) restaurants that will leave you rollin’ right out of the door.
Besides the delicious food and bruising bars, Lisbon has a cool and chill nightlife too. There is a neighbourhood called Bairro Alto where all the youngsters come together at night on the colourfully decorated streets to celebrate life.
What I love most about this modest city, is the views. Wether it’s out of your own window, the famous Castelo de Sao Jorge, or one of the beautiful miradouro’s, Lisbon has some really relaxing and cool views to show you.
Another thing I learned about Lisbon is: don’t be afraid to go out there and explore things on your own. The city has tourists of course, but also a lot of locals and expats. Who knows who you will meet and have a greattime with!
Furthermore, I’d like to show you my favourite spots in this city – but that will be for my next blog.
One of the main reasons I booked a trip to Curacao were the pearlwhite beaches covered by the lagoon blue waves and the deepblue, endless ocean.
Those aspects did not disappoint me.
What everybody should know before heading to Curacao, is that in the touristic parts, you almost feel like you’re on a set up beach in Holland. I did expect Dutch people there, but not so many.
However, if you go to the less touristy areas and decide to blend in between the locals, you may find yourself between a mixture of Latinos and Antilleans. Party guaranteed!
Another main reason I went to Curacao was to scuba dive. I got my PADI Open Water Certificate there. Yay me! I wasn’t the only one, and how could you even blame us? The coral riffs, the special species of underwater organisms, all together with a ocean so blue and warm it’s almost unreal.
I recommend to take diving lessons or diving trips at diving center Pietermaai, I am really satisfied on all aspects and I am sure the crew will welcome you with open arms and you will have amazing dives.
Now, let’s talk about beaches. All the beautiful beaches are at the West Coast, but just before the centre of Punda you will find a small piece of beach with a dock, if you don’t feel like traveling far for a swim.
If you didn’t rent a car like I did, it is pretty hard to go to the West Coast. So unless you know somebody with a car, your best option is to do a West Coast Tour. See all the beaches in one day. The lagoon beach, the pig beach, Cas Abao, Grote Knip, Kleine Knip, Porto Mari, the turtle beach, etc. A must see is the blue room. There is a funny and crazy captain who is happy to welcome you on board of hi ship to the blue room, an underwater shipwreck and underwater Buddha statue. As I said, really worth it!
“So what is there to do at night?”
“Well, it depends on what you want and what night of the week you want to do something. You see, every day there is something else to do on the island.”
That answer was the one I got at least three times. And it’s true. You have beach bars, beach clubs, music bars, dance clubs, festivals,… I can suggest you some places like Mambo Beach and City Beach 88, but it’s best if you check Facebook while you’re there or just ask around.
You can have two types of vacations in Curacao: you can book a luxury vacation and don’t come out of your hotel or resort, or book a hostel and meet new people and build a social life in no time. I choose the second option. Claro.
So we have the beautiful nature, different areas and a nice social life. What else could you want?
The city centre’s colourful and picturesque architecture definitely left a fun impression behind. You find cute stories and even bank offices around ever corners, and the locals have an amazing sense of decorational styles.
I had to admit that I didn’t have high hopes when visiting Venice. When I asked others about their experiences, the top three answers I got were: too touristy, too hot and too expensive. In other words; Venice didn’t sound to charming. Still, I went on a solo trip to the small island and I have to admit, I’m pleasantly surprised.
What I do recommend, if you’re on a budget, is to stay in Mestre. Mestre is not located in Venice itself, but on the mainland of Italy, at the other side of the bridge that connects Venice to the mainland. From Mestre, you can easily take the train for €1,30 single ride and you’ll be in Venice in 10 minutes.
Venice is a surreal city. Imagine hopping on and off bridges all the time, wandering your way through the very small streets in the charming city. Once in a while you interrupt your wanderings with a stop in a local bar for a glass of homemade prosecco, or you treat yourself a delicious Italian spaghetti carbonara in a restaurant at the waterside.
I got seduced by the smell of fresh pizza and made a stop at a local yet popular pizza place where they let their pizza dough rise for at least 24 hours. The current count when I was there was 32 hours. You can only imagine what the pizza tasted like.
Okay, now I’m wandering off too much to the food-side. Views-side, there is a lot to see in Venice. I was afraid I couldn’t see everything in two days, so I booked a Tripadvisor-tour. Unfortunately, I am a free spirit. A free bird. And you can’t lock a free bird in a cage. So, when people started to approach me asking if I was the tour guide, a little alarm bell rang in my head. I’m so different from these people, why am I here?
When the tour began, we all had our headset on and the tour guide had a stick with a flag (yes, really) and, at that moment, another alarm bell rang in my head. Should I turn around and leave right away? I actually want to explore this city on my own and freedom calls me!
I stuck around a little but more and then I escaped the tour. I told the tour guide I was sick, gave the headset back and took off.
Freedom never tasted so good.
I ran into the little streets and where tourists went right, I went left.
I decided for myself that was the way I was going to explore Venice. Just as I did in Malta.
When sunset fell, I fell too. For Venice. Piazza San Marco lights up with magical colourful gradients of light as the night fell.
The vivid nightlife of Venice charms the floating city. At night, when most of the tourists went back to their accommodation, all the locals come outside, and go to bars and restaurants. Many little shops are still open and the atmosphere is so much different than during the day – Venice during the night has a calm vibe, yet it’s vivid, and so authentic.
Are you going to Marrakech? Cool! Oh wait… Alone? Why? Are you sure? What are you doing to do there? Aren’t you afraid something might happen?
These reactions might seem familiar to some solo (female) travellers. I can’t really say my friends and family were happy with my decision of going on a holiday to Marrakech by myself. However, this is your life and you should do whatever it is that you want. Of course, a basic thing to do before a trip is research in the culture and ways of the country. So, my message to you is: seas the day, go for it. And so I went. And I didn’t regret it at all.
I only spent four days in Morocco and luckily, I had arranged everything through the Riad I was staying at. I booked three full day tours with them for a bargain (in total €110).
On day 1, I stepped into my first adventure one: a tour by a local through the old centre of Marrakech. This 5- hour tour was completely private and I was accompanied by an old, local tour guide who explained me everything about the palaces, tombs and traditions of Marrakech. The perfect way to start discovering Marrakech.
If I should describe Morocco, and more specifically Marrakech, in a one word, it would be: authentic. I was surprised by how the locals called this city “touristy” since there wasn’t a single shop there wherethe products weren’t handcrafted.
I don’t think any traveler in modern history has successfully went to Marrakesh without buying anything in one of these original shops. You just can resist them! Handmade jewellery, bags, shoes, lamps, carpets,… In the beginning, you don’t think you need these stuff. You are wrong.
One of the things that was definitely on my to-do list when in Morocco was experiencing a camel ride. My dream would be to ride on a camel trough the Sahara desert, but unfortunately, due to my short citytrip, that location got adapted to the palmtree forest just outside Marrakech.
If you feel like escaping the crowded Marrakech, you can get a glimpse of the real Morocco by taking a day trip to Essaouira, a picturesque, little town located at the West coast of Morocco.
During the three-hour car ride to Essaouira, it’s common that you have two stops on the way. The first stop is at an argan oil “factory”, where lovely ladies are handcrafting argan oil and you can buy lots of argan oil based products.
Fun fact: these ladies can explain you everything in English, French, Italian, Arabic, … Moroccan people are very multilingual and, for some reason, this is a quite unknown fact to others. In Morocco, you can learn up to 8 languages during your school career.
The second stop on your way to Essaouira is at argan berry trees. This was the most funniest thing I’ve ever seen. The tradition is all about goats. Goats are literally standing in the trees, on the tranches, and chewing on the berries of the trees. Then, they spit out the berries, and the people collect them and process them in the argan oil. This is what makes argan oil the GOAT of all oil products. – Get it, the goat?
Essaouira basically consists out of a cozy centre with small, crowded, beautiful ornamented streets full of decorated shops. Don’t expect any factory made products: everything is hand crafted; clothing, shoes, cosmetic products, medicines, musical instruments, etc.
When traveling alone, it’s important to be open to meet new people and hang out with them. It makes your journey so special and fun! Don’t get me wrong, you need your time alone as well. But it’s fun to travel in groups now and then and experience new things. Thats what traveling is all about. New places, new feelings, new people, new experiences.
The most memorable thing of my trip to Morocco was definitely visiting the Ouzoud waterfalls. Be prepared for a three to four hour hike through the Atlas mountains, starting from the top of the waterfalls, going to the bottom and ending back at the top. Don’t stress out: you will have some time to rest in between and have a local, freshly prepared tangine with some delicious, sweet moroccan tea.
You’ll also bump into some monkeys on the way. Fear not, they are harmless and won’t do you any harm. Be sure to hide your food, as they are not ashamed to take your morning croissant right out of your hand.
The views of the waterfalls are absolutely amazing. I had the privilege to witness a rainbow covering these waterfalls. It was stunning.
Tip: Book your tours and trips through your hostel, hotel or riad. They can arrange everything for you and often make a good deal when you buy everything from them. Pick-up at your room, a (private) guide, transport, sometimes even meals are included. That way, you are sure of your booked tour.
I can definitely recommend visiting Morocco or certainly Marrakech. If you want to experience another culture than Europe, but don’t want to take your trip too far way, this North-African destination is a perfect choice.
This post is dedicated to the most magnificent city I have yet visited. This is an ode to the vivid, beautiful, warm and open city Barcelona.
Also: this is NOT a call for tourists to come and visit this city. Seriously, there are enough already. I just want to INFORM you guys about it. You can just stay at home and leave some more place for me a the beach, thank you very much.
As an island soul, I would prefer to live at the beach, have a calm and easy live, while in the meantime still loving to be surrounded by things to do and to see.
But I am also a city girl and I love living in a metropolitan city where there’s always people outside and where you moments thinking to yourself: “do these habitants ever sleep?”
God is real folks, because I found a place that combines these two opposite characteristics: yes, it is the city of Barcelona, the capital of the region Catalunya, the second largest city of Spain.
Do you feel like going to the beach? Barcelona has nine beaches.
Do you feel like hiking or seeing mountain views? Montserrat, Tibidabo, Bunkers del Carmel and even Park Guëll offer you wonderful views.
Do you feel like shopping? On Las Ramblas, in the Arenas or in the Maremagnum mall you will find everything you need.
Do you feel like admiring some art or visiting authentic architecture or musea? I think one name will provide you with the answer: Gaudí.
Do you feel like partying? Not only at the beach, but also throughout Barcelona you will find clubs with all sorts of music genres.
I think that says it all. But, I forgot one thing. Peace. Calmth. Barcelona is a popular city amongst tourists, so where on earth (or in Barcelona) would you be able to find some silence?!
Luckily, there are some less popular spots you can visit that will provide you some rest.
One of my favourite places to chill out is at the beach: water calms me and gives me energy. But I am not the only person who thinks that way, so it is not a guarantee that there won’t be lots of people. But I also love parks. In the Parc La Ciutadella, you have both. Okay, it is the greatest park in Barcelona and if you visit it during a sunny day, lots of people will be there. But try to visit it during a working day or when the weather is normal, and you will find an empty spot to chill out.
Another favourite spot of mine is the park of Horta. You will also find the famous Labyrinth here. Peace, calmth and – not to forget- a feeling like you’re in the Harry Potter movie, walking through the labyrinth while trying to catch the goblet of fire, are guaranteed. Also, you’ll be most likely to feel some annoyance when you keep on running into dead ends. But mostly, you’ll find beautiful architecture, gardens and wonderful views over there.
Another option is to visit the Palacio Nacional and just keep walking until you get to Palau Jordi. There, you have a huge open space, fountains and a beautiful 360 degree-view. I definitely recommend visiting this spot.
Si, my city Barcelona is a real pearl. And I am happy to live there.
This blog post will not exist a hundred percent out of valuable content, sightseeing tips and insiders. This lack of valuable information is due to an extreme force of gravity which held me down and did not allow me to get up and exit a part of the universe, more specifically the part known as the “beach”, much during this time period.
However, this may vary depending on your definition of valuable content. If you will be able to read through this necessary and exceeding the longitude of an, as known to be, normal introduction, you should be fine.
One of my favourite things to do is take a long walk near the beach or port. The Port of Mallorca did not disappoint me. Offering a wide promenade, calmness and sweet sea smell, walking aside the harbour was my favourite occupation when in Palma. Also, dreaming about owning one of the yachts (or all of them) made time pass by pretty fast.
Another thing you can find at the port are the nightclubs and bars. When you want to go out in Palma or have some cheep drinks in a bar, don’t go to the city centre, but go to the port side.
I plee guilty. I could have written a post full of cultural information and beautiful pictures of Palma, but instead, I spend all my time at the beach. Well, not all the time. But let’s say 3/4th of my stay in Palma was spend in the ocean. And I don’t regret it at all.
I love small and authentic beaches – not the ones crowded with tourists sippin’ on their expensive cocktail, but the ones where there is not a single soul present on the beach. Or where the locals seek some rest after their busy daily life. That’s my jam. And in Palma, especially at this low-season- time of the year, you can find those spots.
My accommodation was based at the port of Palma. I could walk down the coastline of the port and about 30-40 minutes later, the boats disappeared and god gave me a beautiful beach. Amen.
Like many beaches, the most popular beach in Palma offers a lot of restaurants and beach bars – be careful here, because they charge you a lot for food and drinks. Be smart and get some fruit and drinks from supermarkets before heading to the beach. No need to order a €16 salad when you’re feeling hungry!
Palma is not only a lovely place to visit when you’re seeking some rest, you can also enjoy some shopping or delicious local dishes in the city’s centre. Yes, that involves getting up and taking your lazy ass to the city’s centre. I know, it takes a lot of dedication, motivation and effort. But it’s worth it.
In the centre, you can find the most popular shops, all located in one shopping street. The restaurants are very small and offer typical local dishes such as paella and fried squids.
Surprise! I did see something else than the beach. On my way to the beach (duh) I passed by Bastió de Sant Pere, and I couldn’t resist walking trough the park. It is really gorgeous. It was used to defence Palma against enemies, because that is what Bastions do, apparently. Good job, Pere. Palma still exists.
I have been silent for a long time on WordPress, and I hope this mini-comeback wasn’t too shitty for you guys.
However, the amount of fucks I give can not be counted by any human kind and the only reason why I am putting time and effort in writing, is because I love to do it.
If I can give you one lesson today – and let’s make this the comprehensive conclusion of this blogpost, it will be: do what you want and love to do in life, and don’t waste any minute wasting your energy on something else than your own progress.
If you ever find yourself in the need of some good food, shopping and vitamin sea, I strongly recommend you to visit Lisboa. However, if you want to stroll around in peace and be on your own in silence, do not visit this city. I repeat, do not!
Sorry, I just had to make this public service announcement. Continue reading please.
The Portuguese capital is definitely not what I expected it to be. It’s a modern and trendy city mixed with authentic and ancient Portuguese influences. For example, you can take an old metro or taxi-like vehicle for a ride around the city, but in the mean time, you can shop till you drop in huge malls. Also, the language was very funny to hear. The pronunciation is special, I couldn’t pull it off! The funniest word I heard was bacalhau, pronounced ba-ka-lah-w. It means fish. Or a sort of fish I think. I don’t know. I’m not a fish expert.
Unfortunately (actually, I’m kind of proud of it) I didn’t take the funny metro or one of the little vehicles to discover Lisbon. Oh no. As usual, I walked throughout the whole city. I know I said it before, but that is really the best way to discover a city! Especially such a special one as Lisbon. It has many different sides.
Lisboa is made out of different villages. I’ll start with Alfama. Alfama is based on the east side of the Lisbon area and exists out of the cutest and most colourful houses. Here, you’ll also find stunning views and the Sao Jorge Cathedral. Warning: it contains a lot of stairs and steep streets! But hey, if you take it slow, you’ll get there. I went there with my friend – who is a fitness freak – so every time I wanted to take a little break, her disappointment in me increased drastically. Whoops. Sorry to let you down there, buddy. We good?
Craving some candy?
Secondly, there is bairro alto. As the name reveals, again, this village is located much higher than the city centre. Which means: steps a la volonté. Yaaay!
Bairro alto is where you can find all the bars, clubs, and candy. If you know what I mean. *wink*. It’s a village where youngsters rule, sangria costs nothing and where you’ll definitely meet new people.
Okay enough about villages: now, let’s talk about the really important stuff: food and drinks! Portugal has delicious traditional and fresh food, but be careful which restaurant you pay a visit to. You can go for a full dinner from €8 to €30 (for the same quality). Restaurants can charge a lot per dish, and its almost impossible not to take more than one dish. For example: if you order a steak, you’ll pay extra for salad, fries, whatever. Nothing is included. Just a tip: be mindful!
After discovering Lisbon, I also paid a visit to Cascais. Honestly, I just needed vitamin sea. I mean really. Sandy beaches, that salty smell of the ocean, waves and win in your hair. I want all of it! Cascais has a lovely beach and that is the main reason why I visited it. You can also find fantastic restaurants and bars here and you can make beautiful walks at the docks and in the nature of Cascais. Plus, it was easily reachable by train from the station of Lisbon. And it only costed €1,50 per ride!
Belém is a place I ended up accidentally. The plan was to go to Sintra and visit the palace there, but the journey was too long and expensive. I didn’t know where I should go to next. Next thing I know, my friend made me pick a number from 1 till 6, and at that number we would get out of the train. Belém was my lucky number. Don’t regret it at all!
The main attractions of Portugal are to be found here and they are absolutely stunning. The castle in the water, the sculptures, the gigantic castle… Belém really was a beautiful city.
Another must-visit is LX Factory. It is originally an industrial park where the work of artists came alive. Now, its a small village with trendy restaurants, unique shops and cool bars. Close to LX Factory you’ll find a small harbour, again filled with the best restaurants. Plus, you get the best view here – the iconic Portugese bridge and the statue of Jezus in the distance. And every few minutes, descending airplanes flew by and made a turn to the airport. Talking about views!
I have a feeling I’m talking about food too much. But one last tip: go to Time Out Food Market. It. Is. Food. Heaven. You get all the best restaurants from Portugal in one market. Just follow my lead and try the sushi, pizza, sangria and desserts there. You will not regret it at all! This market is based in the centre of Lisbon.
So that was about it. I only stayed three days in Lisbon, maybe it was a bit too short. I didn’t get to see the main attractions and do the things I really would love to do in Portugal (make a boat ride, go see the Jezus statue, visit other cities) but one day I’ll definitely go back!
Malta, you stole my heart. With its charming streets, tropical islands and romantic architecture, Mediterranean Malta really is a stunning island. Their mixed influences, as an ex-British colony and located between Italy and Africa, resolve in an original and unique style throughout the whole island.
First day – Wandering In Valletta
What I recommend you to do – if you ever go to Valletta – is to book a stay in the centre, get up early, and just walk. Wander. Explore. Get lost. Throw away that map, Google Maps, whatever. This city is made to explore impulsively.
I had no idea where I was going. I walked through small alleys, managed to survive very steep streets and took time-outs to enjoy peaceful ocean views. Their beautiful architectural style can be described as Baroque with an Italian touch and British influences – the Maltese Baroque style, one of its kind.
Upper Barrakka Gardens
The most stunning place was the Upper Barrakka Gardens. Because it is built on a high point in Valletta, it offers a lookout over the whole city. You can even see the The Cities (Birgu, Senglea and Bormla), which are three medieval, fortified cities, located next to each other.
Lower Barrakka Gardens
Afterwards, I stumbled onto the Lower Barrakka Gardens – this is comparable to the Upper Barrakka Gardens, expect for the views and the location – as the name suggests, these gardens are located more lower than the Upper Barrakka Gardens. Again, these natural gardens with an influence of old Greek architecture had many feasts for the eye.
At night, I stumbled upon a huge building, and when I entered, I found food heaven. This place was featuring the best restaurants in Malta, each representing a different culture and offering fresh food. A Maltese friend told me that this used to be an old market and that they recently turned it into a modern “market”. It’s called Is-Suq tal-Belt, remember this name, fellow foodies!
Talking about food: when in Malta, you should definitely try pastizzi -inspired by the Greek (thero)pita – and ftira – inspired by the Italian focaccia.
There is also a museum of armoury, so filled with soldiers costumes and weapons, very interesting. And also, talking about soldiers: you can witness the soldiers’ salute every day.
Second day – City life in St Julian’s
St Julian’s is not far away from Valletta, but this city is very different from the capital town. St Julian’s offers beautiful harbour views, a lot of restaurants clubs and beach bays where you can chill out. It’s called the Vegas of Malta for a reason. You will notice a big change in social life and the population- St Julians has a lot more younger people, bars and parties in the city than Valletta.
What you can do best in St Julians, is walk at the coastline all the way to Sliema. This way, you’ve seen all the best spots at seaside.
Tips for St Julians are eating in The Avenue (mediterranean food), Vecchia Napoli (Italian food) and Gululu (Maltese food).
Third day – listening to the sound of silence in Mdina, The Silent City
Mdina is a small village where time (and noise) are unknown. Walking around in Mdina is like walking around in a fairytale; it’s so calm, so silent and so unreal. The buildings are so cute and of beautiful architecture.
When in Mdina, try the chocolate cake at La Fontanella – you won’t regret it. Also, there are two palaces in Mdina open for the public. Here, you can go upstairs and enjoy the views.
Fourth day – Views from the Blue Grotto
My trip was going as planned, everything was going perfectly. I fell in love with Valletta, experienced the nightlife in St Julians and sought out silence in Mdina.
In my case, that means something has to go wrong. That’s just how my life works: yin and yang. Gotta stay in balance, you know.
Full of energy and positivity, I hopped on a bus to take me to the Blue Grotto the next day. The trip to the Blue Grotto, which is in the south of the island, was my furthest trip.
When I finally arrived after a bus ride of two and a half hours, I enjoyed the views from the cliffs before heading down to do some diving, a boat tour through the Blue Grotto, etc.
Once I succeeded to walk down to the coast, I was eager to find out which boat would take me on a tour and how this diving thing works. But all I saw was one paper with “CLOSED- call this number for support”. Turns out they were closed – unforeseen – because of the windy weather.
Well, now at least my life has come back to a healthy balance now.
Fifth day – Mini-island life in Gozo
Close to Malta, you can find Gozo. Gozo is a small paradise with only a few hotels and attractions.
The trip to the ferry station is long, but easy. There is a direct bus ride from Valletta to Cirkewwa ferry station that lasts almost two hours.
Once you have arrived at the ferry station, you just get on board for free. When returning from Gozo, you have to buy your ticket for €4,60. Ridiculously cheap for two boat trips of half an hour.
When I arrived at Gozo, I saw everybody walking to the buses for hop-on hop-off tours, but honestly, never in my life have I done such a tour and never will I ever do. Why sit all day in a bus and drive past everything when you can experience it completely different?
So, as usual, I walked in the opposite direction of the other tourists and wandered through the island. It was a wonderful experience. Although, again, the transport was a bit of a bummer. In Gozo, you have beautiful spots at the other side of the island. The harbour and the village itself were so calm and beautiful.
Sixth day – The Three Cities
My next and final stay was in Senglea, one of “The Three Cities”. I stayed at the loveliest guesthouse and really felt like a local.
I’ll be honest with you guys: it seemed that there was no sign of life anywhere in Senglea. The weather wasn’t very nice, but there was literally no one outside and everything was closed, even though it was Carnaval and it was a Monday.
I explored Senglea and despite these circumstances, I didn’t regret visiting Senglea at all. It’s a small part of land and crossing the village only takes a ten minute-walk. In other words: you have sea side and charming harbour views everywhere.
Just say “garden” and I’ll be there
Besides the Barakka Gardens in Valletta, another must-visit are the Gardjola Gardens in Senglea. It’s is much smaller than the Barrakka gardens, but equally beautiful.
The other two cities are like Senglea: charming, small and full of beautiful Maltese buildings. I do recommend you to visit these three cities in one day, because my two-night stay in Senglea was a bit long, especially because of the lack of life in town.
Seventh day – Valletta Carnival
The second last day of my stay, I decided to visit Valletta once again. Today was the fourth day of carnival, and the Maltese people were still going strong. I’m not really a fan of carnaval and my attempts to avoid it succeeded very well until this day. The main streets in Valletta were blocked because of the carnaval parade and there was way too loud music, but the atmosphere was nice.
Maltese people really celebrate carnaval.
I left the city centre. It was time for some Valletta- wandering. I discovered new hidden gems in Valletta, unfortunately I cannot tell you where exactly of how I got there. When in Valletta, take a day or two to wander in the city, walk in streets nobody else walks in, and explore hidden places.
I left a piece of my heart in Malta. I’ll definitely visit this island again. I really felt the vibe, it was amazing. The locals were welcoming, warm and really friendly. As you have read, I also had typical ups-and-downs moments, but that’s part of travel (and life), right? Yin and yang.
If you’re looking for a cheap but beautiful holiday for this spring or summer – stop looking then, because Croatia will conquer your heart. I would have never thought to travel to Croatia – mainly because you don’t hear anything about this country. Did you know they have their own coin? – However, I did travel to Croatia, a few times actually, and did not regret it. I’ll share my experiences in Croatia during this zen-vacation filled with sunsets and cocktails.
I went to Crikvenica, a small village in eastern Croatia. So, first things first: how on earth do you get to a small village in eastern Croatia? Well, I have bad news for you: no matter which airport you fly to, you have to survive a 2-3 hours bus drive to this town. Personally, this was the worst for me. I love to fly, I love to sail, but don’t put me that long in a hot bus which, apparently, can only drive up and down the mountains. Because, dear readers, Croatia is made of millions of mountains. Millions. Which is beautiful, but make sure you got your travel pills with ya.
So, when once arrived in Crikvenica, your best option is to rent an apartment. There aren’t many hotels there, and to live like a local is a wonderful experience. As I said, Croatia is full of mountains, and so is Crikvenica. At the top you’ll find everyone’s houses and down under, you can find the beach with some small bars and restaurants. If you walk further into the city, you’ll notice a wonderful little bridge (and a lot of couples taking romantic photos there). This little bridge is known for its romantic atmosphere and offers a beautiful view.
The city centre of Crikvenica is very chill: across the beach is a big square where every night, musicians or artists entertain the public. This square is surrounded by the most cozy and cheap restaurants – which offer a mixture of Mediterranean food – Italian, Greek and Spanish mostly. Behind the square, you’ll find a boulevard full of restaurants, bars and shops. Across these restaurants you get a view across the beach, and that is the beautiful part. You get ocean view everywhere.
I recommend you to visit the beach at sunset and sit at the beach bar (there is only one big beach bar in the city centre) because they offer delicious cocktails and have cushions on the beach – I’m sorry if that’s too much detail, but put cushions on a beach and you have reached my biggest weakness – where you can chill and have an Instagram photoshoot. Or just enjoy the view.
If you go there on time, you can buy a ticket for the ferry and that is something I regret not having done. The ferry costed nothing, and you would have an amazing view over the ocean! Yet I didn’t went on this boat trip… But, you have to understand, when I went, the European Football Championship was playing and I went there with my friend, a football lover, so yeah… We spent our evenings in the restaurants and bars watching football – but the best part is, the whole town and other tourists had the same idea. And every night, there were other countries playing, and you could definitely tell who was from which country, The atmosphere was certainly on point in Croatia.
Overall, Croatia is very beautiful, and the language they speak there is sort of a mixture between Italian and Eastern-Europe-ish. The food is also based on Italian dishes – a lot of pasta, pizza and fish. Furthermore, life is very cheap in Croatia: 7 Kuna (their coin) is worth €1. And the people are very welcoming and open. Croatia is really a Mediterranean country, I felt the same atmosphere as in Italy and Greece, but yet, the country has a different culture and language. That’s what makes it one of a kind.
Corfu and its islands are a treat for all kinds of travellers. To really discover what these islands have to offer, I went on a 4-day roadtrip through Corfu, Paxos and Anti Paxos.
Mpenitses. Lovely people, delicious food, crystal clear water. It is a perfect place to come to peace and meet the local people. It’s not so far from the airport – since our flight arrived at night, we took a cab, but the bus connection is pretty good by day so that’s also an option – and on the way, the taxi-driver stopped by a coffee shop to grab a frappé (an ice coffee). Now, you need to understand something very important: frappé is life, frappé is a gods gift in Greece. Whether it’s six in the morning or midnight, it’s always frappé-o’ clock.
Mpenitses is a small village with lots of local restaurants, bars, and shops. The beach is lovely, it’s a sand beach with clear water. There are bars that serve you while you’re laying on the beach and if you buy a drink, you don’t have to pay for a seat – a fair deal, since you have to drink while laying in the sun all day.
At night, Mpenitses is everything but boring – if you want to party hard all night long, this is NOT the place to be- I am talking about local bars and restaurants who have live concerts of greek singers (what else?!).
I strongly recommend – you can choose what suits you best, but this was my experience – to stay in a local hostel or guesthouse. It’s not luxurious at all, but it is authentic and it makes you feel like you are one of the inhabitants. There are also luxury hotels there, so there’s something for everyone’s taste.
The habitants have been super creative and Greek with the name of the capital of Corfu: “Corfu Town”. However, what I find so special about this capital, are the restaurants: they come together with a private swimming area. You can eat outside and when you’re feeling hot or the ocean is calling you, you can just take off you clothes (everybody wears swimwear beneath their clothes in Corfu because you never know when you’re going to swim) and jump into the water. Or, if you’ve eaten a bit too much, you can also take the stairs.
Corfu Town is all about climbing. No worries, I’m far from sportive and even I survived it, but the views are certainly worth it. This is me, feeling like a Greek princess – yes, we bought those authentic Greek dresses, yes, I wore a braid and yes, I walked with pride through the whole city like dis.
Next stop was the Achilleion Palace. It was built by Empress Elizabeth of Austria who is also known as the queen Sissy. The palace is decorated with statues of ancient philosophers, heroes and mythical ancient gods. A visit to this divine palace is one everybody should check off while visiting Corfu.
What you can also do is take a ferry from Corfu to Paxos island. If you’re lucky, the owners of the boats let you sit all the way in the front, like Jack and Rose in Titanic – but with a smaller version of the Titanic, and in the Ionean Sea – fresh air and a beautiful sight guaranteed. Paxos island is undoubtedlythe place where the word “relax” was invented -right here, on this very island of 30km².
What do you do on a small island that consists of 80% coastlines and 20% village centre? Right. You lay down at the beach every day, you wander around the coastlines, hike through the island. I did see lots of people renting a boat (or owning one) and sailing around the island. That’s also an option when you’re visiting an island, of course. Or maybe you can summon some turtles and ask them to escort you to the nearest island, Captain Jack Sparrow-style.
This is the third and last island we visited. Antipaxos is smaller than Paxos, it is only 4km². Again, there is just one thing to do- swim!
On Paxos and Antipaxos, you can find great restaurants, tavernas, bars, ice cream shops,… they are all local of course, and they have that Greek authentic touch you can’t find anywhere else than the country itself. One thing that people in Corfu, Paxos and Antipaxos love are pancakes: crepes. You can find them literally everywhere. Why would someone want to eat hot and heavy (but delicious) pancakes on a tropical island where you are hot every single second of the day, you may ask? Well, the answer is always frappé.
Kavos is a famous town in south Corfu and is known for its nightlife. The atmosphere, people and clubs are full of life, and the prices are great, too. There are bowling alleys, dance clubs, karaoke bars, etc. If you want to go on a party vacation with your friends, this is the place to be.