Tag Archives: money

Our Etna Experience

Each holiday has at least one big highlight, and while we were in Sicily, one of the highlights was visiting Etna. I admit, it was long overdue – in fact, visiting Sicily was long overdue! I bet not many Maltese people can say that they have not been to Sicily by the age of thirty. The thing is, that I am fascinated with the UK, and I mostly ignored all other countries for a big chunk of my life. It was in 2016 that I started exploring properly and I have not looked back ever since.

We left Etna for our very last day, it being so close to Catania airport. We arrived at around 9:30AM after a two hours drive from where we were staying. The Etna car park, by the cable cars was almost full. It happened to be May the 1st, which is a bank holiday in most countries, so there were a lot of tourists there.

Steffi enjoying Etna, Sicily!

We bought our tickets and made our way to the queue for the cable cars. Once we were at a reasonable height, we queued again for 4×4-style buses. Most of the tourists were laughing hard while we made our way on what we could only describe as a bumpy ride!  It took us to almost to the top of the volcano in no time. It was rather astonishing seeing people walking all the way up from ground level, seeing that Etna is 3,500 meters high up. I bet it takes most of the day going up and then down. We thought it was money well spent as this way we could enjoy walking around and inside the craters for a longer time.

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As you set foot out of the bus, you realise that the temperature changed drastically. From almost 20 degrees to around 2 degrees! Once you get accustomed to the change of weather, you start to embrace the surroundings. The view is breathtaking, the colour of the gravel varies from black to red to yellow. I have never seen so many colours on such a huge stretch of mountain-like land. It was simply amazing being there. No words were enough to describe what we saw, what we felt being so high up, on such a clear day. You could see steam coming out, touching the floor underneath your feet feels warm. You could tell you are walking on top of an active volcano. A bit scary and risky, but it’s an experience I will never forget.

We spent roughly two hours walking and exploring, and around three hours in total including the transport. The souvenir shop comes highly recommended. While we were there we tried several liquors and the famous mandorla wine. We ended up buying some, as well as lava made statues and decor, adding onto the issue we already had since we traveled with just a hand-luggage for a five day long holiday! On the way down to the car-park, there is a restaurant which in our opinion had the best arancini in Sicily. Do give them a try if you feel peckish!

When to get married in Malta: Seasonality

Maltese brides and grooms tend to play it safe when it comes to their wedding. Even if you are not a bride-zilla, you would most likely still not want a rainy wedding day as this would disrupt all your plans, be it traffic, wedding venue and dirtying your oh-so-white wedding dress! Funnily enough though, we don’t always think of the pros and cons that each season in Malta comes with!

4-seasons-spring-summer-autumn-winter
No snow in Malta, but you catch my drift!

Spring:
The weather starts changing from cold to warm
Happy guest mood since winter is over, and soon it is time for summer
A lot of fruit and veg are back in season, which means more variety when it comes to your menu
The grass is greener! And the flowers start bloom. Needless to say this will enhance your wedding photos, and no doubt, the floral choice for decor is at its best.
Allergy season (this was the only reason why I couldn’t go for a Spring wedding!)
Children are still in school, which might cause certain parents to not attend your wedding

Summer:
Risk of rain is close to none
Longer days, breezy evenings
If you are choosing Malta as your destination wedding, it is more likely that guests will attend as they can combine the wedding with a holiday, and the kids are off school
Summer season is the most popular season of all. If you are very specific on dates and venues, you have to plan very much ahead. Two years minimum, but three years ahead is advised
Noon summer weddings should be illegal. It is crazy to say the least!
Peak wedding season. Guests might choose to attend another wedding, not yours

Autumn:
Milder weather, ideal for noon weddings
The changes of the colour of leaves and trees makes for a magical and romantic background to your wedding photos
Children are back in school, which might cause certain parents to not attend your wedding
Risk of bad weather

Winter:
Classic and traditional Christmas themed weddings are amazing
Availability of venue and other suppliers are abundant
Cheaper deals on venue and vendors due to being off season
Noon weddings are appropriate as days are shorter
Brides have more dress options
✗ Bad weather is likely
✗ Wedding photos outdoors might be a bust due to weather conditions
✗ Festive season might discourage guests as they might rather spend it with close family
✗ Guest may be short on money as it is Christmas season

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Choosing your Wedding Venue

Wedding-Venue-SearchChoosing your wedding venue is probably the biggest decision you have to make after the proposal. Everything else starts falling into place when you know where the reception will be held. In our case, we chose the venue, then we looked for a church which is not on the other side of the island. Then we proceeded with choosing our caterers, which was the next headache…

Before deciding on wedding venue, read through the points below, to form your basic wedding requirements:

  • Budget: Make sure the wedding venues you are looking at are within your budget.  Although daydreaming is nice, if you have a restricted budget, it is important to not waste time on venues that you can never afford. Harsh, but it will be a let down eventually. When looking at venues, make sure you ask the right questions, for example, are there any hidden fees involved? What is the overtime hourly rate? And how does it work? What are the payment arrangements?
  • Guest-list: Having an idea on the number of guests that you would like to invite would help ensure that all of them will fit comfortably in the venue. Further, it will also help you to determine if the venue is too big for your wedding party. You really wouldn’t want the wedding reception to look empty.
  • Availability: This is a crucial point when it comes to choosing the wedding venue. The reason I have put this as a third point is as I am a strong believer on the fact that one should know the budget and number of guests before starting to look at venues.
  • Weather-friendly: Make sure that the wedding venue is appropriate for your big day. If you are getting married in the dead of winter or in the hottest month of the year, make sure that there is an indoor space for all your guests. You might get lucky, and you will not need this space but best to be safe than sorry. If it is too hot, air-conditioning is a must, if it is cold or rainy, then a warm space (or at least an indoor space) is ideal. Have a back-up plan at hand for the worst case scenario.
  • Catering: This will be tackled separately, however one must keep in mind that certain venues have catering exclusivity, meaning that you cannot choose your own catering. In this case, make sure that the venue package is affordable, and that the venue’s caterer is to your liking. Food and beverage is essential in a wedding, and one simply cannot take it for granted.
  • Parking: Appropriate amount of parking the vicinity of the wedding venue is considered an asset now a days. Most of the guests will be attending with their own means of transport, and wouldn’t want to walk for half an hour to the wedding reception and back to the car. If parking is an issue, then make sure to reserve a parking lot for your big-day and instruct your guests to park there.
  • Ambience:  Think about the theme and the decor you are after. Does this match the style of the venue? If you want to dress up the venue completely to make it unique, yours, make sure you have budgeted the decor required. Ensure also the venue is ideal for your guest list. For example, if you are inviting elderly, make sure there are chairs available. As much as you wouldn’t want all the guests to sit down, you need cater for everyone’s needs.

Wedding in Malta: How to get started

Daniel and I are both planners, which I’d say is of an advantage when it comes to organizing our wedding plan. We have heard about so many stories, where couples are stressed beyond compare, fighting every minute they get, that we were a bit paranoid. Truth be told, none of this has happened. Three months into the preparation, we have been very respectful towards each other, and we have managed to compromise on everything so far, be it budget, and choosing our providers.

We believe, that the hardest thing that we had to come up with was our budget. The main reason being that we had absolutely no idea on how much a wedding should cost.  We heard of weddings which costed 10,000 and others which were 30,000 and more! This confused us further, as we were unsure how two weddings which had roughly the same items (sizable venue and guest-list, food, DJ, open bar) could differentiate so much in terms of cost!

wedding to do list

So how did we come up with a budget? In reality, we did not! Wait, what? We decided on what we can afford. We decided on the guests we wanted to invite. I come from a large family, and we had to draw a line somewhere. We made the guest list, and we asked vendors for quotations based on these numbers. Then by priority, we started to add additional costs – listing the must haves and the nice to haves.

This is the must-have list we came up with:

– Gather an approximate Guest list and request quotations for food and drinks
Chapel & Venue – booked on the same day
Food tasting from top 2 or 3 caterers (based on price, reputation and wedding date availability)
Photographer – A beautiful memory to cherish in the years to come
DJ – a wedding reception without music, is not really a celebration. In Malta, DJ is the most common form of entertainment for weddings. Some choose to have a live-band or singer
Cars – Bare necessity is a bridal car and taxi for groom and our respective family
Hair & Makeup – We all want to look at our best for our big day
Rings – The symbol for our marriage
Invitations – Compulsory
Souvenirs – A small thank you gift for our guests
Clothes – Bride, Groom, Bridesmaids, Groomsmen
Bride’s flower bouquet

Nice to have list:

Flowers (for the church)
Church Singer
– Themed Decor (for the venue)
Lighting
– Videographer
– Red Carpet (for the church)

Full-Blown Wedding Preparations

Last November, my partner and I decided on taking the next step in our relationship. Both being on the same page with regards to what we want in life, we started discussing on the biggest level of commitment two adults can show towards each other: marriage.

I would not get into the topic of a relationship vs marriage, as this is a topic for another blog post.

When we went to the wedding fair, which was coincidentally the next weekend after our “big talk”, we wwedding dayere so unprepared! We had no idea on a date, venue, or setup. We walked aimlessly in the fair, stocking up on leaflets until we saw the stall of what would be our venue of choice. We knew right there and then, this was it. We did not have to discuss it, we did not have to argue. It felt right, the one.  Upon deciding, we made a list of its availability in June and July 2019. It was then that we were told that couples have already started booking for 2020. That’s 3 years before the wedding. Wow!

The next day, early Saturday morning we made our way to our ideal chapel, which is in close vicinity to the venue. Luckily, the chapel was available on the same day of our preferred wedding day, the 19th of July 2019. Feeling like this was meant to be, we quickly made our chapel reservation and phoned the venue to confirm.

We did keep our wedding date a secret for a whole month, before we got our parents together to tell them the news! It was one of the hardest things we had to do… Keeping the most exciting and most important day of our lives to ourselves. But it was all worth it when we saw our parents cheering and hugging us. They kind of knew something was up, but they never thought this was the news we wanted to share.

wedding

 

Travel To These Countries When You’re On A Budget

If you’re travelling on a budget, chances are you’ve had some of the best holiday trips of a lifetime. You’ve mingled with locals, taken part in local activities, and bunked down in countless hostels. Yet, a lot of people don’t believe the amount of enrichment a person can get from a budget!

There’s a lot of budget friendly destinations out there, and even when you only have a few dollars in your pocket to pay for the street food, the accommodation and experiences can still be fantastic! Make sure to include these places on your bucket list whilst you’re missing out on rolling in the millions; there’s a lot you can do for free when you know where to look.

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Take a Trip to South Africa

South Africa is one of the most culturally enriched and beautiful places to see in your lifetime, and there’s a lot to do considering the size of the continent itself. One of the biggest and most famous activities to undertake is the Safari, as this is a gateway to a whole world of nature with the biggest and best-est animals all on show. Thankfully, this is totally within your reach when you’re on a budget!

You can even travel via the air here quite cheaply when you’re got the right resources in your pocket. When you have the best airline credit card promotion on your side, the travel itself is going to become a lot cheaper to manage. Getting rewards out of the vast mileage it takes to get here is going to be lovely to live on when you get home again!

Head to Prague

This is one of the most popular tourist destinations when it comes to capital cities, and that may immediately turn you away from it, but it’s incredibly cheap to visit when you’re on a budget. There are so many amazing sights to see for free, such as the Vltava River. Even just taking a bridge tour can take an entire day here!

There’s a lot of history on offer here, with Europe having one of the most extensively recorded histories in the world for you to explore. Similarly, if you like the pub scene, there’s a lot of world famous local brews to try out here; always good for a night out with you and a couple of friends!

Try Out Bulgaria

This country definitely deserves a spot on your travel wishlist! It’s a little known tourist spot, and that title is completely unjust considering the amount of beaches alone. You can visit any stretch of sands and stone; discover so much history and nature in one.

There’s an entire and extensive arts district on offer for your eyes, and your wallet, if you pay Bulgaria a visit. Check into some of the biggest cultural hotspots in Europe just by taking a trip to this capital city, which is also pretty cheap.

Remember: a budget never has to mean you can’t explore the planet you were born on!

 

How to Organise the Perfect Indoor BBQ In Winter

There is one thing we all miss in the winter: the ability to invite people around for an afternoon of barbecue. If you feel like your social life has suffered as the weather got colder, you might want to get creative and recreate the feeling of summer in your home, and hold an indoor party that cheers you up and makes your weekends more exciting. Below you will find a few tips on how to get started.

House Party

Get a Quality Grill

There are plenty of great quality health fryers and grills you can use, and the results will be the same as on the flames. You might want to get an indoor electric or gas grill set up in your kitchen, or keep it outside, and have the party in the conservatory, if you have one. If you are not sure which type of meat will be the best for your indoor grilling, you can always ask your local butcher or farm shop for advice.

Make Loads of Punch and Mulled Wine

To warm up the atmosphere and your visitors, you might want to get the punch and mulled wine on the hob, instead of cold beer and wine. You can create your hot cocktails yourself, and lay them out for your guests to try and rate. Get your recipes and creativity going, and impress your friends this winter.

Create a Menu and Start Cooking

House BBQ

Get some finger food on the menu, as well as the grilled meat. Offer bacon sandwiches, savoury pies prepared the previous day, and order some pastry from your local shop. Don’t forget about the fresh salad and entree, and get a bowl of soup out, so your guests can help themselves whenever they want to. You can make your own coleslaw, bake your rolls fresh, to go with the meat and the soup.

Get the Caterers In

Depending on the size of your party, you might want to get some help. Caterers can help you out with equipment that keeps the food warm and fresh, as well as laying out the dishes. Check out Singapore caterer ezBBQ to find out what services are available, and how you can make the most out of your indoor barbecue. Alternatively, you can order a hot pudding from a local catering company, and torch your own creme-brulees.

Add Lighting, Decoration, and Music

To get the conversation flowing, and cheer up your friends arriving, you can decorate your home with winter paintings and snowflakes. You might want to get a winter wax melt on the go, and install a mood light. Create a playlist that you can stream from your phone and control the volume according to what your guests are doing.

Just because it is cold and wet outside, your social life should go on. Organise a creative indoor BBQ party, and cheer yourself and your friends up. Make sure that you have adequate extractor fans installed in the house, though, otherwise, your house will smell of barbecue for a long time.