Deutschland and beyond

Living in Germany

Easter Break- part 1

Okay well on a much lighter note… I had the last two weeks free for Easter break!! I could really get used to the German school system here, about 6 or 7 weeks of school then a 1 or 2 week break. I’ve got another 2 week break coming up in June, travel suggestions welcome. So the first week of break was relatively uneventful, just stayed in Würzburg and caught up on some rest, tv, made carrot cake (!! my cooking skills are steadily improving) then jetted off for the second week. Landed in Malta late Friday night and after ten very anxious minutes of me not being able to get into my hostel, all was well.  How did I end up deciding to go to Malta you ask? I decided to join up with Amanda, a family friend who is studying abroad in France, and a group of her friends- all Notre Dame students by the way- and despite my BC status we got along well. Explored Valletta, the capital city, by myself the first few days since the girls weren’t getting in until Sunday/Monday. Went to a disappointingly small and not very ornate Easter mass at St. John’s Co-Cathedral, enjoyed the sun at an outdoor cafe, went to a few museums (National Museum of Fine Art- good exhibit on Mucha, the Czech father of Art Nouveau and National Museum of Archeology, which was basically like Guns Germs and Steel -Malta style-in museum form. Sidenote- I recommend that book for anyone interested in human geography/sociology/in general) The island is beautiful and although not very large, still has a lot to offer.

street in Valletta

Monday I did a day trip to the center of the island (I was staying on the East coast) to the towns Mdina and Rabat. I use the term “day trip” loosely because it took about 30 mins by bus to get there, but is still considered a trip on the island. Mdina is a tiny city, completely walled, no cars allowed. Took me about 20 minutes to walk the entire thing- went in the cathedral (of course) and the museum where I actually found myself liking Dürer’s wood-carving prints (never thought I’d say that after my Art in Munich course). Walked over to Rabat and went down into St. Paul’s catacombs- the thing’s pretty big! (obviously can’t be compared to the catacombs in Paris, but still) Almost all “attractions” in Rabat are named after St. Paul since he was shipwrecked off the coast of Malta and supposedly spent time in Rabat.

Malta reminded me of a mixture between Egypt and Portugal. Which, after my visit to the Archaeology Museum, proved not to be too bad of a theory (Malta was invaded/taken over by various groups from both Europe and Northern Africa). The driving is much safer than in Cairo (no fend-for-your-life defensive driving) but they still don’t follow road signs/lane lines. The city was mostly a tan/brown color (also like Cairo) but really hilly (Lisbon). The port/seaside was beautiful (Lisbon, also Alexandria), but given the fact I was there on a holiday weekend, it was hard to get a feel for the city life since not a lot was open.

Harbor in Sliema

Tuesday I met up with the Notre Dame girls and it rained, therefore ruining our beach plans.So we just hung out for the day, read, chatted, and made our own dinner (great fajitas and guacamole). Wednesday we were up and ready to go for our day trip to Gozo, an island off the northwest coast of mainland Malta. We weren’t deterred by the clouds in the morning (which again made the SPF 50 I had put on completely irrelevant). Yes, I had SPF 50 due to the following conversation at the CVS-equivalent in Germany before I left:

Me (to salesperson): Hi I was just wondering if this suntan lotion protects against UVA and UVB because it only says UVA (this is SPF 30, just fyi)

Saleswoman: Oh yes it protects against both. *looks me and my pale Irish skin up and down*… Where exactly are you traveling?

Me: I’ll be in Malta for 6 days then going to Italy!

Saleswoman: Yeah… you’re going to want to buy SPF 50 to use at least for the first few days then you can shift down to SPF 30.

We underestimated the time it would take for us to get up to the north coast on the bus, take a ferry, take a bus to the center of Gozo, and another bus/walk to the beach we wanted to go to. Our destination was Ramla Bay, and eight of us started off the day together. We left two in Victoria, the main town in Gozo, and left 3 more after we reached this point:

Ramla Bay, in the distance

See that cove all the way in the back? Yes, we trekked there. And I mean trekked. The bus only runs during the high tourist months (June-September). The road was long and winding and would have taken much too long so we found a footpath through the land which looked promising.

Improvisation

Well the footpath ended about halfway down, forcing us to.. improvise. 20 minutes later, covered in mud, sweaty, a bit scraped, and providing entertainment to those who watch CC-TV in Malta, we arrived at Ramla Bay! It was definitely well worth the trek. Pictures are really the only thing that will do it justice. The guidebook had said how red the sand was and blue the water would be, but it’s hard to imagine unless you see it yourself. And, after coming all that way, we had to go for a quick swim in the Mediterranean (even though it was freezing) followed by a great cheap meal at the cafe. We made it back on time for the ferry and we all celebrated the end of Malta together over dinner at a restaurant. I’d say Malta was a successful trip and I really liked it despite knowing nearly nothing beforehand (I feel that’s a theme of mine…) and I was ready to head off to Italy! But that definitely deserves its own post (and pictures)

Ramla Bay

Success!

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May 6, 2011 Posted by | Travel | , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment