The celebrations of the Holy Week start a week from Good Friday and finish on Easter Sunday. During the week a variety of ceremonies and processions take place.
Good Friday Processions
But there are other Processions all over the Maltese islands. You can watch them in Żebbuġ, Mosta, Birgu (Vittoriosa), Isla (Senglea), Bormla (Cospicua), Luqa, Naxxar, Paola, Qormi (San Ġorġ parish), Rabat, Żejtun.
Easter Sunday is a way happier occasion as people celebrate the rise of Jesus Christ. After the ceremony in the church, local communities celebrate with a small procession during the mid-morning. Of course, this procession is accompanied by a band as well. But this time the tunes are way happier.
Following the Procession, the Risen Christ’s carriers run back to church carrying the statue as a symbol of the triumph. And it good old Maltese manner some communities shoot some fireworks to make it a feast.
But, they are also very sweet. So while I am in a sugar coma, I hope you enjoy the rest of your Easter no matter if you celebrate or just have some quiet time, like us.
Since our first visit Madrid turned into one of my favorites. It is an amazing city with a lot of hidden gems, and it is perfect for a weekend getaway.
Take a couple of days off and enjoy your Locally Abroad Weekend in Madrid, you will love this beautiful place.
How to get there?
Madrid is the Capital of Spain and located right in the middle of it. It can be reached by any city in Spain through a train, or you hop on a plane that takes you to Barajas. The Airport is enormous and receives and sends planes to almost any places in the world. Including to Europe and our favorite budget airlines land at the same airport.
From there it is just a short Metro ride into the city. You can also take a taxi; they charge around 30 Euros to go the center. The metro system in Madrid is excellent though and works perfectly. I highly recommend using it as it takes you everywhere you need to go.
In general, the public transport in Madrid is very good, and the buses even have Wifi.
Where to stay?
We were lucky enough to stay with family a few days and get a hotel in the epicenter of the city, the Gran Vía for a couple of days after that. As the public transport works so well, it almost does not matter in which area you stay. If you want to feel great vibes and hang with the cool kids get a place in Malasaña or Chueca, the last one is also a thriving queer neighborhood and one of my favorites. I will get to why.
However, you can stay anywhere close to a Metro, or a bus stop and you can explore the city. If you stay along the Gran Vía, you will be very centrical, and everything is easy to reach.
This street is like the artery of the city and is similar to the broadway filled with theaters and shops.
What to do?
So that is an excellent point to dive right in and get to explore this beautiful city. Other than Barcelona, Madrid is not very a touristic place, but there is still a lot to discover, do not let that fool you. Maybe that is what I loved about it so much.
Walk walk walk
In my opinion, walking is one of the best, if not the best way discover a city. Get to know it and feel the energy while wandering the streets and stop at parks, cafés and any place of interest.
So in Madrid, you can compare the walking with many stops, and you can discover the whole city center by walking and occasionally take the metro.
There are many routes you can take and detours you should consider to see some hidden gems.
Be aware that in winter Madrid could be very cold and in summer it can be very hot. It is mostly sunny though, so that is a big plus for a weekend full of walking the streets, squares, and parks.
Start your walk at the Plaza España and pay the enormous statues of Don Quijote and his Sancho Panza. As Cervantes is a significant Spanish author, it is not surprising to find his most famous characters in one of the main squares in Madrid.
Keep walking and turn to the Gran Vía, Madrid’s Broadway. This street is not just great for shopping, musicals and people watching, it also connects a lot of neighborhoods in Madrid and has a unique energy.
When you keep walking, make a stop at the movie theater Callao and dive into the streets to the Puerta de Sol. This square is the birthplace of Madrid, and you can visit the city’s famous bear statue and touch it for good luck. The square also marks the kilometer 0 of all the Spanish highways. That means distances are counted from here.
From here you can keep walking and make it to the famous Plaza Mayor. The square is the main one in Madrid an maybe the most touristic spot in the city. It is also the spot where enormous numbers of Spaniards gather every New Year’s Eve to celebrate the start of the new year together.
Keep walking around the main streets, and you have the main attractions in the center covered. It is lovely to watch the buildings and enjoy the architecture. Combine your walk with less touristic neighborhoods, and you will get the perfect Madrid Atmosphere.
Off the Beaten Path
If you need a green retreat walk around the Parque del Retiro or the river and discover the parks. You can even take a cable car and see the city from above. But that might be too much for a weekend.
While close to the biggest park make sure you have a look at the Puerta de Alcalá. It is one of the city gates that are still standing and one of the most famous ones. Many songs are written about it.
Of course, you can visit some of the museums like the Museo del Prado and the Museo Reina Sofia, especially on a rainy day it helps to spend some time inside. Are visit the Stadium or the Royal Palace. There is so much to see.
Make sure to include neighborhoods like Chueca, Malasaña, La Latina, Embajadores or Lavapiés on your walk to get some perspectives of different areas and people living in the city. Every single one has their vibes and specialties.
My highlights for a Weekend in Madrid
Being in Madrid on the weekend comes with a major perk: being able to visit the Rastro. It is a gigantic flea market that is held every Sunday in the neighborhood of La Latina.
It is huge. The whole area turns into a place to discover gems and amazing items from furniture, books, and clothes all the way to food. It is the best venue for a Sunday walk and a coffee. Take your time because there is a lot to discover.
Many small stalls and shops sell not just antiques but also designer items and much more fantastic stuff.
Not far away is the Museo Reina Sofia, that is the current home of Picassos Guernica. And it is free on Sundays, so you can easily combine it with the Rastro.
Just a couple of blocks from the Gran Vía you will find the vibrant neighborhood of Malasaña. What used to be a working-class area is now one of the hip neighborhoods in the Spanish Capital. Bars, galleries, and unique stores are located in side streets and around beautiful squares, that the hipsters and alternative people in Madrid use to hang out and share a coffee and a drink. Even in Winter people tend to sit outside and catch some sun.
Malasaña is also home to alternative cinemas and small theaters, and I recommend to go during the day, and at night, the neighborhood is nice at any time.
Atocha is not just the main train station in Madrid but was transformed into a botanical garden. You would not want to wait for a train sitting under exotic trees and watch the tortoises swimming and hanging out. It is the best train station I have ever seen.
And close by there is a street full of vendors of antique books. Even for non-Spanish speakers, it’s interesting to see and get a unique souvenir, like a hand-printed postcard or other unique items.
The shop is located in the city center and has a fantastic selection of T-shirts that are printed in the store. The motives show comic pop art adaptations or images that are connected to The city like a punk version of the Madrid-Bear.
It is nice to stop by and look at the artwork or to get a unique souvenir to remember the city.
Where to eat?
So there is this thing about Madrid: it is a food paradise. Every corner has a bar, a café or a restaurant, one or ten of them. People take the streets and go from one bar to another and eat, eat, eat and drink. There is this wonderful thing here, where you get a caña (small glass of beer) with every sandwich and olives with every drink. I told you, paradise.
Also, there is food from all over the world, if you are not in the local food, which you should. It is great. But for diversity, there is Chinese, Peruvian, Cuban and so much more to try. I think you could eat your way through Madrid, but that is not a task for a weekend, maybe for a lifetime.
So it was tough to pick my top choices, but I will give some highlights here.
The Markets are amazing because not only can you look at all the great food, but order from many booths and try out different kinds of food. And if you travel in a bigger group that is your chance to get something for everyone.
My two highlights are the Mercado San Miguel close to the Plaza Mayor and the Mercado San Antó in Chueca, due to its design and the new booths with amazing food. It goes way beyond traditional but is still a go-to for all kinds of Madrileños.
The Address of the Mercado San Antón:
C/ Augusto Figueroa, 24
The Mercado San Miguel is a bit more traditional but still amazing and goes way back. It is a good stop after visiting la Puerta de Sol and La Plaza Mayor.
2. Hidden Authentic Chinese Food
A Chinese restaurant in underground parking under the Plaza de España in the Middle of the Spanish capital might sound strange but is a hotspot for proper Chinese food.
And it is hidden but those in the know would queue outside, and it is worth it. Sticky buns, soup, and some real Chinese treats are waiting for you.
And the place exists since 1969.
3. The Fat Fish and Malasaña
El Pez Gordo (it means fat fish) was one of my Food Highlights. It is located in Malasaña. And it is not the only great place there. Walk around that street and pick the one that suits you most. There is not much you can do wrong.
Keep your eyes open for crowded places; you can rely on them. Also, keep in mind that people eat rather late so when you go out early, you might be the only one eating in the restaurant. I can recommend a lot of dishes in the Pez Gordo, but the fried Eggplant with honey stood out. They also have music and great wine, so there is almost nothing more to ask for.
You can find the Pez Gordo and other lovely restaurants here:
Calle del Pez, 6
Calle del Pez, 6, 28004 Madrid, España
4. Snacking in Bars
Madridleños have huge and wonderful bar culture. They go out a lot and meet in bars and small restaurants, have a drink and something to eat and take it to the next one. The best way to experience this great concept is, of course, to make friends with the locals and enjoy an authentic night out.
If want to take it further you can go to places like the Tabacalera or other hidden gems in the neighborhood Lavapiés. You will find spots for all tastes in Chueca, Malasaña, and Lavapiés.
There is much more to see and do in Madrid of course, and I will go back to explore more soon. I am looking forward to my next trip to this lovely city. For now, I will nibble some Jamón, Croquetas and Huevos rotos and dream of walking through the streets of Madrid.
Take a trip and enjoy your locally abroad Weekend in Madrid.
I am still wowed by this lovely weekend away in the Italian capital, the people and all the art and history. I am usually not the biggest fan of writing about places I discover newly. But I grew to learn, that you can explore places locally even if you just spend a short time there. I am treating this weekend as a sneak peek at future adventures, and with this post, I am kicking off my new “Locally Abroad Weekends” category on the blog. So let me take you to a Locally Abroad Weekend in Rome.
It will be all about lovely weekend trips in Europe and how to make the best of them. I am not chasing after the significant landmarks and ticking them off my list, but I am after getting an idea of the place and the people.
On this Weekend in Rome, I got a great idea of the city, and I know that I will be back soon.
So without further to do, here are some tips for a weekend in the Eternal City.
How to get there?
Rome has two airports that are connected to the center of the city by bus or train.
The Rome Ciampino airport is almost exclusively reserved for private jets and Ryanair flights. There are flights to nearly all major and medium European cities, so it is very convenient to have a little city break in Rome. From Malta, for instance, there are flights with Ryanair and other airlines every day.
Both airports Fiumicino and Ciampino are well connected to the city center.
I recommend to take one of the shuttle buses for around 4-6€, that will take you directly to Termini Station. The train stationis located very conveniently and it is easy to get to any other part of the city from there, for just around 1.50 Euros with the public transport.
Also, there is the option to get one of the official white taxis there, or directly at the airports.
Where to stay during your weekend in Rome ?
So speaking of areas in the city, that brings up the question where to stay and anything that is connected to it.
First of all, I recommend to book in advance and be prepared to change last minute as it happened to us and the Airbnb we booked, also you should be aware of the Tourist Tax that is to be paid per person (3.50€ per person, per night).
I recommend staying in the neighborhoods Monti or Trastevere for a more picturesque experience and close to the Termini station if you want it cheap and the transport to be quick. It is not the most beautiful area of Rome though and can be a bit loud and hectic. But you are just a few blocks away from the lively and beautiful Neighborhood Monti.
There are many tourists in Rome, so if you go during the high season, make sure to have your place booked.
I can highly recommend a spring weekend in Rome, before the peak season starts.
What to do during your weekend in Rome?
A Little Bit of Sightseeing
Well, there is a lot to do in Rome and uncountable monuments to visit. As we prefer slow travel, we chose to visit two main ones from the inside and take the rest to wander the streets and get a better picture of the city.
Since it was our first time in the Eternal City, we took a long walk passing famous places, like the Spanish Steps or the Trevi Fountain but also we made detours and backstreets away from the crowds and joined Romans on their weekend hangouts.
We chose to visit the Colosseum and St. Peter’s Cathedral. Amazing and overwhelming enough for a weekend. I highly recommend to book your Colosseum Tickets online and skip the long line to save some time for more enjoyable moments.
For St. Peter’s there is no entrance fee and it is one of the most impressive things I have seen.
Mainly because it is human-made and not a natural wonder, it blew my mind. Even though I am not religious, you get the whole idea behind it and why people built this church to make it the Pope’s workplace.
Take the chance to go in the late afternoon as it is less crowded and you will even get the chance to attend a mess if you are interested. We went around 5 pm and could pass the queue quickly. You can also leave your confession with designated priests, not really my thing but it is there for those who are interested.
A Lot of Walking
As for my favorite part: taking the streets. I love walking around cities, and Rome is just perfect for this. So I recommend to take long walks through the city and explore the small cafés and amazing shops.
Take your time to walk through the hip neighborhood Monti and visit some of the vintage stores; they have some of the best I have seen so far, with well-preserved clothes and good prices. It also a great place to start of and end your day of discovering. Have breakfast in one of the small cafés and a glass of wine or beer at the fountain by night; there will always be a pleasant atmosphere. Keep reading for some of my food and drinks recommendations. While in the area make sure to visit the Mercato Monti, a modern arts and crafts market that features local artist, vintage clothing, jewelry and clothes, and other great artworks.
The artists are super friendly, and up for a chat, also a hip and international crowd is hanging out here. It is even fun just to have a look. And if you want more local art visit some of the small galleries and design shops in the streets around the market. You will find yourself surrounded by the elevated Roman style.
After having vibed with the Roman hipster folk, it is time to keep walking and discover less off the grid but not less beautiful parts. We kept our route through the Trevi Fountain, the Spanish Steps, the streets filled with high fashion shops around it, to the Column of Marc Aureil and the Galleria Alberto Sordi. The Galleria is a shopping center, that was merged smoothly into an old palace. It is one of the most appealing shopping malls I have ever seen. So even if you are not that much into shopping it is worth to pay a visit.
The walk continues to the Piazza Venezia and the stunning national monument “Altare della Patria,” which is a massive monument to Italy and the Italian culture, It was built after Italy was united and features some well known Italian sculptors. From there it is just a short walk to the Piazza di Fiori, a charming square with a cute little market. And, you guessed it: excellent restaurants and cafés. I also recommend the area for a shopping Intermezzo, as there are many great clothing stores that offer unique items.
Also, you will need some breaks from all the walking, so why not grab a nice cup of espresso something sweet, gain new forces and get some unique souvenirs to show off at home.
Fiori is also a bit more laid back and perfect for a stroll around away from the tourist masses.
It is a long but very rewarding walk through the city that helps you to get to see many different facets of Rome. That can be easily done in one day or split and combined with other sights and routes. It is just one idea you can follow or make your memorable walk through Rome.
At one point during your weekend getaway, you should stop by Trastevere, a cozy and picturesque neighborhood, crossing the River Tevere (yes, that is where the name comes from). It is a fantastic spot for food and drinks. There you can have outstanding Roman and international treats. And you can end the day with a pint of craft beer, a glass of fine or any drink you can think of
Where to Eat?
So I have mentioned the neighborhoods, which are great for food: Fiori, Monti, and Trastevere. I am a huge fan of food and would love you to have a great meal on our weekend in Rome. And there is great Food in this city! Obviously, there is Pizza, Pasta, and Gelato, but there are also some Roman snacks, that you should not miss out on. So the Roman style Pizza, for instance, is more like a sandwich and the Rosetta is an actual sandwich. What I love is, that you can get everything in mini form as well so you can try a lot without getting super full.
And of course, do not forget the delicious espresso after your meal!
Here is a list of my top 5 restaurants and other foodie places that I can highly recommend, with my next stay I hope to add a lot more.
This place is cozy and makes delicious pasta! Handmade pasta, which is prepared just right in front of you meets friendly owners. This makes the place one of my highlights in Rome. The truffle pasta was just divine. There are many seasonal options to choose from.
The restaurant is located in Trastevere (Vicolo del Cinque 40).
Auntie Rosetta is the English translation of the bistro in Monti (Via Urbana 54) neighborhood. Enjoy the hip-hop tunes paired with their creative variations of the traditional Roman Rosetta. They also offer other treats, for brunch, lunch, and dinner. I can highly recommend the Chorus Rosetta, with Zucchini Flower, dried tomatoes, and Ricotta. It is a great way to start your exploring day.
Not far away is Mizio’s small sandwich shop, that has amazing Roman pizza, Panini and very Italian and amazing owners. They offer great sandwiches for around 4Euros and funny Italian stories to tell. It is also located in Monti (Via Degli Zingari 54a)
4. La Bottega del Caffe’
Fancy a drink just close to the fountain and the action in the Monti neighborhood. This bar is the Roman bistro, that you know from the movies. It has small bistro tables outside and the glass of wine just waiting for you. They also have great snacks and antipasti. Just right at the Piazza Madonna Dei Monti number 5.
Great food, amazing wine, and a friendly chat. This restaurant is a popular hangout place for locals and was one of my favorites. It is a fantastic spot to end the perfect day of your locally abroad weekend in Rome. It is just across the street from La Bottega del Caffe.
Basically, any café in the areas Fiori and Trastevere is a great place to have an espresso shot and something sweet.
Hope to be back soon to add more Weekend trips. Meanwhile, I am already dreaming about my next weekend in Rome.
Enjoy your trip guys.
First of all, Happy International Women´s Day to all the females out there! I will dedicate this post to the Women’s Day in Cuba.
I am the first one wishing you that today? Well, if so; that can have several reasons, but I am sure one of them is, that you are not in Cuba at the moment. Because on this island congratulations are flying around on the 8th of March and Women get small presents from their partners, family members, and coworkers. Some people take their girls out for nice dinners and a night out in the town.
Women’s Day in Cuba seems like a mix of Mothers Day and Valentines Day with a little hint to female rights and equality.
The day exists to congratulate women on being a woman, that is strong and manages her life, her job, and her family. In Cuba, the day turned into a day to show appreciation for the Women in society and say thank you for their hard work. There are signs everywhere, and the Socialist Government pushes the day on TV and other Mediums.
Unlike in other countries around the world women have rights and equality in Cuba. But as everywhere stereotypes and old-fashioned family views are present here as well. But that might be a topic for another post.
Back to the 8th of March!
My Experience with Women’s Day in Cuba
So there are definitely worst places to be during International Women’s Day than Cuba!
I discovered that over the years! I remember my very first 8th of March in Havana, many years ago. Anyhow, I was not prepared for the event that people would congratulate me for the fact that I was born with female attributes and identify as women. To be honest, I have never put much thought into that since I believe that we should all be equal. For that reason, I do not really engage in debates related to these topics.
My family brought me up to show appreciation to women, and for me, strong females were and are normal. My mum worked full time, while my dad worked from home so someone could assist me with homework, prepare lunch and take me to dance classes. Also, my grandparents were always there to help. And guess what, all of them were working full time and managing the household no matter which gender they have.
So in my little universe, we are and were all equal but different.
So the fact that someone congratulates me because of something I took no part in creating was strange. From my personal point of view, it feels odd to be praised for something that nature decided just like that. Like this Cuban Journalist in her thoughts about the day.
But I got used to it, and over the years I understood it more and more and will never forget to send a message of appreciation to all of the strong women in my life, especially to the Cuban ones! And I have to admit, I like the fact that people congratulate me just like that. Furthermore, I noticed that on this day I felt like a connection to my fellow females. Maybe it is due to this awkwardness of being celebrated one day a year for something you just are your whole life.
Over Generations, Women had to fight for their rights and still do, not only in Cuba. So why not take this day and accept a gift or some nice words on behalf of them.
Let’s not forget that it does not replace Women’s rights and the fact that it should not matter which gender we are!
FELIZ DIA DE LA MUJER!
HAPPY WOMEN’S DAY!
Expressions that will make you rule Havana!
Havana, Vinales, Trinidad, Maria la Gorda and the rest of Cuba is beautiful, and that is why many tourists are flying to Cuba every year. They want to get to know the island, the culture the people, the beaches, the drinks or whatever may fascinate one about the country.
Many of them have great experiences and enjoy themselves, but most of them never get under the touristic surface. It is hard if you do not know ow to talk Cuban Spanish and use some helpful expressions.
It is a bit tricky to discover Cuba like a local and sync with culture.
The first step to getting closer is the language. Yes in Cuba they speak Spanish, and you will survive with your knowledge and even English. But some expressions will get your language game up and make you rule Havana, or at least they will help you to make the locals smile.
They will also teach you something about the culture and the way Cubans role.
So let´s learn some Cuban:
Asere, Qué Bolá?
That’s Cuban for “Dude, what’s up?” It cannot get more casual and Cuban. But it is also slang so you should not (never ever) say Asere o asere to old ladies and people you do not know and what to address politely.
But when you are close to people and just want to greet them and know what’s up with them, you can use que bola and also
“que bolero”, “que vuelta” (more slang).
Oh and by the way Asere is very useful when you want some to get off your back. Just say: “Asere, Ya! Gracias.” It might be one of the best indicators for people to know that you really know how to talk Cuban.
A qué hora sale la Guagua?
In Cuba we do not take busses, we take guaguas. So a “que hora sale la guagua?” means “when does the bus leave?” I tricked you there, you will not really need this sentences. But in Havana you should know how to queue for the guagua and wait or run after it because the bus never comes when expected. Just if you take the Viazúl buses from one Cuban city to another, you will need to remember when your bus leaves and be on time.
For the rest of the buses: show up on the bus stop, shout the number of the bus you want to take and get in line after the last person.
Also be prepared to get physically very close to strangers, because the guaguas fill so much, that the driver sometimes shouts out: “Dale, quierense!” Get closer: love each other.
Ahí, en la lucha!
I am here in the fight, is what this frequently used sentence means. “La lucha” is the everyday struggle in Cuba. It often is also used as la “luchita”, like a cute form of the fight. It is very common since everyday life can be a big fight in Cuba. However, the humor on the island is just exceptional and Cubans know how to make fun of every problematic situation. So it is important to know what “la lucha” is, but you might better not use it yourself because your struggle might not be comparable to your conversation partner, unless you live and work here.
Como está la cosa?
La Cosa is similar, it is translated as “the thing”, but in Cuba it is everything. The general situation of your life, the country and the universe. “la cosa está mala”, means that the situation is terrible. It can be that the tourism has a low season, that somebody is a bad economic situation, that somebody has a health issue, that there is no toilet paper in stores or that the global warming is affecting the planet. You choose, it depends on the context. So if you want to hear about somebody´s life, do not hesitate to ask how the “cosa” is.
Also you can use “cosa” for an unknown word.
Do not order that Jugo de Papaya unless…
Vaya! be careful with that papaya juice. Believe me; no one will tell you this; it is just too funny hearing how people order papayas and papaya juice. The word ‘Papaya’ does, of course, exist in Cuba and is the correct word for the fruit. But in the actual spoken language the fruit is called ‘Fruta Bomba’. Papaya is something else… It means vagina in Cuban.
Get why the papaya juice is funny now? But in order to make the locals laugh, keep ordering papaya juice!
No te hagas el Yuma
Yuma is a foreigner. But it also implements someone who is unfamiliar with Cuba and behaves weird or just different. Or weird as it seems to the locals. But Yuma is also a nickname for the USA. It is based on an old black and white film, where are train went to the US city Yuma. Some people want to look Yuma, which means to have a unique style that seems from outside of the island… well, foreign. The word can be positively and negatively connotated. But it is good to know what it means so you feel a little less Yuma.
Literally translated it means like bye-bye fish. It is a cute way to say goodbye in Cuba, and the BnB owners will love if you say that
Please do not try to make those expressions your own and pretend you know everything about the Cuban Language now. Because there is a lot more… There are many things I did not tell you, but I might someday. So start with those expressions and stay alert for new ones to follow.
Ya sabes, no sabes nada… (you know… you do not know a thing)
It feels like, every country and every culture has their own carnival tradition, time and relationship to it. In Brazil, for instance, Carnival is so very important, that they have a week of holidays to celebrate it. And other than most people think it takes a yearlong practice and is celebrated differently in every region. So those bare naked ladies are just to find in some parts of the huge country. Even Carnival in Malta might hold some surprises.
In Cuba the carnivals are even set at different times, depending on the region. The famous Parandas in the village Remedios, for example, takes place around Christmas, the carnival in Matanzas around May, the one in Havana in August, and the famous one of Santiago de Cuba in July.
In other parts of the world the traditions, customs and celebrations differ a lot. What I like about the carnivals in Cuba is, that I don’t have to dress up, but that’s just my personal thing. In some parts of Germany, like Cologne, there is a huge tradition of celebrating carnival. People dress up and have a huge party on the streets of the city.
Traditionally those carnival rituals are supposed to scare away the Winter and finally dive into spring and later in the Christian tradition the last day also marks the beginning of the fasting period.
So talking about all these different traditions: this year I learned about the importance and the way of celebrating in Malta.
The carnival started last Saturday and it started with some bad luck because the weather was just not in celebrating mood. The carnival week has an important place in the Maltese calendar, and there is not mess with.
A Little Bit of History
The Maltese il-Karnival ta’ Malta was introduced to the Maltese islands in 1535, so it goes some years back. As in other places around the world, it is held every year leading to Ash Wednesday. The celebration was introduced by Grand Master Piero de Ponte, it mostly took place in Birgu during the early years. The knights used to hold masquerades and balls, that later drove a little out of hand. But the tradition moved to Valletta and survived scandals, bans, and other bumps. Since 1926 it is regulated by the Carnival Committee and mainly held in Valletta and Floriana.
Small Island big Carnival
Even though the main celebrations take place in Valletta and the connected city Floriana, there are many different carnivals over the Maltese islands. Especially the one in Nadur in Gozo is worth mentioning. It features people dressing up in creative themes and preparing costumes as a group. It has a notable darker theme to it but is definitely worth seeing.
However, you should be aware of the fact that prices for accommodations in Gozo are going really high up during that time, as many locals and foreigners head over to Gozo to celebrate carnival there.
There are some villages over Malta organizing their own celebrations and dress up spontaneously.
In Valletta, there are different stages of the celebrations, held from Saturday to Wednesday. Very impressive are the big decorated trucks driving around the streets of the capital and each group is preparing a dance in order to present their float. All of them start glowing when it gets dark and in my opinion, they have a really trippy atmosphere to them.
Celebrations involve a big party and during the day you can see many people dressed up and enjoying the floats and other carnival activities.
Don’t forget the sweets
Oh yeah, of course, a big point of the celebrations is food. There are some special dishes you can just find during carnival season.
The Carnival candy is an important factor of the tradition, there are the Perlini for example. They are sugar coated, colored almonds. But the star of the Maltese Carnival treats is the Prinjolata.
It is a mix of cookies, cream and a lot of sugar. A lot! There are different forms, one is more like a sponge cake and the other one is a pile of biscuits, vanilla, sugar, whipped cream and candied fruit. The Carnival spacial is delicious though, but I do not recommend trying it when you have heart problems.
It is the perfect dish to kick off fasting season. It looks gorgeous though and feels very decadent, that was the whole point of it by the way. The Prinjolata has a long tradition and is just available during carnival season.
Overall, the carnival celebrations are very beautiful and colorful and I can definitely recommend having a look at them. Some of the traditional costumes remind of other big celebrations like the Carnival in Venice. They are truly incredible.
Why not check it out next year?
Malta has many, many sunny days and there is a lot to do on this tiny island when the sun shines. What happens when it rains? Get some tips on How to spend a rainy day in Malta, without getting depressed.
Sometimes it might seem like there is nothing to do and that you should better stay at home and under your blanket. But don’t worry, there are still things you can discover and do, apart from watching Netflix and drinking hot Chocolate.
There museums, temples, and cities you can still enjoy.
Explore cities and villages
Usually, the rain in Malta is not too bad and after a couple hours, it stops again. So you can still go out and explore places.
Take a trip to Valletta or Mdina and hop into museums, fortresses, and churches when the rain gets worse. In that way, you can enjoy the highlights even though the weather is not the best.
Just keep in mind that transport is a bit of an issue if the rain is too heavy so make sure you bring a lot of patience and an umbrella.
Museums that help you through a rainy day
While you are exploring rainy Malta, why not stop in a museum and get to know a bit of the culture and stay dry in the meantime?
Here some tips:
The war tunnels in Valletta
Did you know there is almost a whole underground city under Valletta? Well, yeah there is and you can discover parts if it.
You can even take a tour through parts of the tunnels and learn about Malta’s war history and many interesting facts.
The tours are held on 10 am and 1 pm every day. They cost about 10€ and start close to the saluting battery under Hasting Gardens in Valletta.
If you cannot make the tours, you can see part of the underground city from the Malta Experience and the Mediterranean Conference Center, close to Fort St. Elmo.
If you are interested in the war history, you can also visit the War Museum in Valletta.
National Archeology Museum
While in Valletta this is a great place to learn more about Mala’s ancient history and the temples that are spread all over the Islands.
The museum is in Valletta at the busy Republic Street and opens every day from 9 am to 6 pm.
You can actually learn all about the different ancients cultures that lived in Malta.
You can also visit their temples like Hagar Qim.
Valletta is not the only place you can visit during the rain also in the north you can go to some interesting museums.
The National Aquarium
You don’t have to go snorkeling to see fish in Malta, you can also see beautiful fish in the aquarium in Buggiba and learn something about the projects done here. Sometimes there are very interesting exhibitions to discover, and the cafeteria has an amazing view. So even if you are not that much into fish you can have a great time there. It opens every day from 10 am to 6 pm.
The tickets cost 13.90 for adults, but there are many ways to get discount vouchers.
While in Buggiba, you might also visit the oldtimer museum and see some very well preserved classic cars. The Malta Classic Car Collection opens during the week from 9am to 6pm and on holidays and Saturdays until 1.30pm.
Of course, there are a lot of other museums to see in Malta, but with these, you might get through a rainy day. If not visit Heritage Malta’s website to get a complete picture of museums and historic sights. Also, more posts regarding this topic will follow.
For those of you who are not that much into museums, why not make a Spa Day and get some Wellness at Hotels. Most of the bigger and better ones have a Spa that sells day tickets as well.
Also, you can hit The Point shopping center in Sliema for a nice shopping day or some window shopping. It is also underground so you will be protected from the rain. And if you are a fan of Casinos, there a couple of them around the Island that are open 24/7.
There is a little bit for everyone to make the best out of that rainy days.
Food wise there is, of course, a lot as well, so why not just sit down at a nice Café and watch the rain come down? Soon more about that…
Enjoy your time in Malta and don’t let the rain change your mood, there are many many sunnier days to come.
Living in Malta has a lot of perks and many things are easy here, like finding a job, friends or making the residency papers. But to find an apartment in Malta might be one of the most difficult tasks when you are relocating to our beautiful rock.
What’s rather difficult though is finding a place to stay. As I mentioned on many occasions Malta is a small rock in the middle of the sea, so there is just a limited amount of space and apartments. There are also a lot of tourist and people moving to the island, what makes the rent expensive. It is not impossible to find a great place though, there are just things you should know about before you start looking for a place to live in Malta.
1. Don’t trust the Websites.
The websites of the real estate agencies are not updated! That’s a valuable lesson we learned in our first couple of days. They show apartments that have been on the market 5 Years ago and the corresponding prices.
Since then apartment prices have been skyrocketed and places are double the price that they have been before.
The agencies keep them there to make you interested but also because they cannot update as fast as they go away or the owner rents it out. The real estate market is a shark tank here which brings me to my next point:
2. 1000 Agents One Apartment
I would like to have a number of how many agents are out there, but it is hard to estimate. I can say though that there are a lot of them and sometimes they are fighting to rent out the same apartment.
Some agencies, like Quicklets, do respect one agent’s clients and apartments other agencies even have competition among the same company. As there is a limited amount of apartments and the owners contact several agents you have to be fast when you see an apartment you like, it can be gone the next our.
Regarding the agents’ fees, you should know that they will get half of the amount of the rent from you and the other half from the owner. Also when you rent an apartment you will have to make a deposit to the owner. There are some owners that rent out directly without involving an agent as well.
If you share an apartment rules can be different and usually you will be in contact directly with the people who will be your flatmates. Like in many situations here in Malta Facebook is the place to search for an apartment. A good agent could really help you to find an apartment in Malta
3. Facebook is the Way to Go
All in all, there are really nice apartments and good agents, you just have to find them and be patient!
As for other important searches in Malta, like the job search, facebook groups are the best way to find updated apartment listings.
In my post about Malta and Facebook, you can find some of those groups but also feel free to ask if you need a recommendation for good agents. Since they are hard to find. I also recommend that if you find a good one keep his or her number safe, you might need it again!
Be prepared for high prizes and make sure you get a confirmation that you paid the rent and your deposit. Because not all of the owners are easy-going in Malta and many people might try to screw you over. But keep your eyes open and be careful you will find the right apartment for you.
What’s one of the first things you need when you move to a new place? A place to stay and a job! So how can you find a Job in Malta? Don’t worry! It is easy!
I have written a lot about Malta now and shared some insights on my facebook page but there are still so many topics to cover.
I thought I start off with this one since it is the most appealing and one of the biggest willing points of the island. Jobs! There are a lot of jobs in Malta and there is a niche for almost everyone. So when you first come to the island you might struggle but not because you cannot find a job, but because there are so many opportunities.
Shortly after starting in Malta I found my second job doing what really like: doing content and social media and other marketing projects. I found this job in about a month. Later, I switched after working 3,5 months in customer support, which is a great starting point and a way to get a job quite fast. (I got my support job within a week) So Malta is great for new opportunities and career steps, there are a lot of possibilities in the different industries. The work experience helped me to start my freelance life and start off as digital nomad.
One of the biggest markets is the IGaming Industry but there is a lot more in other industries, like finance or tourism. Even science related Malta is starting to boom or there are marketing and tech jobs.
Don’t be scared of the gaming industry it is very well regulated and most of the companies pay well and are good employers. The full post about Malta and the gaming industry will be online soon.
So but how do you find one of those marvelous jobs?
There are several options to find out about new jobs and opportunities:
1. Online Job Sites
Before I came here I started looking for opportunities briefly to figure out what to do for a living on this little rock.
And other than in the housing market, there can be found a lot of jobs online as well. There are a lot of platforms for expats and international job seekers but also for locals. I personally had good experiences with:
But of course, there are other sites that list jobs in Malta as well.
2. Go to a Recruiter
There are countless recruitment agencies in Malta that even focus on different industries and they are highly frequented. I did not find my current job with the help of a recruiter but I know people that got great help from those agencies.
I recommend you to give it a try because you will also receive general help fixing your CV and interview training, so it is worth a shot.
These recruiters are recommendable:
The first and the second focus on the gaming industry but they also have other job opportunities in their database.
Yeah, again Facebook takes one important role, if not the most important. As mentioned before a lot of things are running on facebook exclusively here in Malta. For the job search, it is the most effective tool in my opinion! Yes, I found my current job in a facebook group and applied.
There are many groups that always have current and new jobs posted. In the facebook groups, everything comes together: the recruiters and the companies post new opportunities here and they are updated with more frequency than other portals.
All in all, it can take a little to find your dream job on the island, but shorter than in most places. For a European, it is very easy to work here and for Non-Europeans, it is as well but a little more tricky since you require a separate permit and the companies have to assure that the job cannot be done by an EU citizen. But it is not impossible, there are a lot of jobs that are tailor-made for you guys, so give it a try!
Soon also I will give you some hints for the apartment search as that can be a lot more tricky.