Tag Archives: paradise

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!

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Erice-Craze

The primary reason why I wanted to visit Sicily, was Erice. For those who have visited, they would agree with the steffisays-sicily-erice-castle-ruins-venus-venere-castelloimportance of visiting such a place, and others are curious to know why. Erice situated on top of a mountain, is a medieval fortified town with breathtaking views. You can go for a walk in the cobbled streets, for food, shopping or to indulge in its historical importance.

When we got there, it was very difficult to take it all in – I could not believe that after so many years dreaming about it, I was there in the flesh. We spent a good hour just walking aimlessly enjoying the surroundings. Although it was still April, Erice was buzzing with tourists.

Highlights of Erice:

The views
The below pictures can speak for themselves. Since Erice is so high up, you can capture beautiful photos with the castle and the wondrous beaches all around.

Castello di Venere
Although now in ruins (which date back to the Norman Period), this castle enjoys views all around. It is built on the top-most part of the castle. The reason behind its name which translates to English as the Venus Castle, is due to the fact that at the very spot there was the temple of Venus Eryx, dedicated to the Italian love goddess; mother of Cupid.


Giardino del Balio
As the name states, this is a garden, well sized  and definitely relaxing. It is situated very close by to the castle and towers, which means it’s busy and with gorgeous views. If we had a lot of time on our hands, we would have definitely sat down on the benches and watched the world go by! Unfortunately time was of the essence since we were in Sicily for just five full days, so we had to get on with the next attraction!

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Toretta Pepoli
Built on the slopes of Mount Erice, one can find a small castle which was built in the 1800s. This property was used mainly for meditation and was later on abandoned. In July 2014, it was re-opened again after several years in restoration. One now can visit to admire the architecture and of course the views.

Tasty Sicilian Nibbles
If you have a bit of a sweet tooth, I recommend Pasticceria Maria Grammatico, for the typical Erice sweet: The Genovesi Ericine! We also enjoyed Cannoli Siciliani from there, and I can tell you, it was hard to just choose two from their vast variety!

Photos taken by myself while in Sicily. Kindly seek permission before re-using.. For more photos visit my Instagram page.

How To Fill The Time While You’re Traveling

What a lot of people don’t tell you about traveling is that it isn’t all fun. Although you get to explore some incredible cities and see new things every day, there are times when you’re waiting around for a bus or sitting on a dark train through the night or trying to get over jet lag at 3AM in an uncomfortable hostel room bed, and at those times, traveling really doesn’t seem like as much fun as it’s cracked up to be! Here are some tips to help you get through the hardest and loneliest parts of traveling the world…

Start Reading

There’s nothing better than an e-reader to get you through some rough times. Download your favourite books to dive into whenever you feel a little blue – try Harry Potter or the Game of Thrones series for exciting reads that you’ll be able to dip in and out of. Not only will it provide you with something to do, but if you don’t feel like talking to anyone then reading is a surefire way to tell them that you’re busy and to back off.

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Get A Streaming App

Streaming apps can enable you to watch movies and TV shows on your devices, whether that’s your smartphone or your tablet. Being able to watch a half-hour comedy on your tablet with your headphones on underneath your sheets as the hostel you’re staying in will help you feel a little more grounded and it’ll put you in a much better mood. ShowBox is a popular app among Android users – the latest version APK download link is here if you want to check it out. Just remember to take an extra charger so your devices don’t run out of juice too quickly.

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Plan Your Trip

One of the best things to do if you feel a little bored and down is to start planning the next phase of your trip. Even if you’re about to head home, why not start a list of the next countries that you plan to visit? If you’re feeling a little lost and you miss your friends and family at home, opening up your guidebook and deciding what attractions and cities you want to visit next will remind you why you wanted to start traveling to begin with. It’s also a good idea to start looking at your budget to make sure that you have a decent money situation – you want to make sure that you can travel in financial comfort.

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Make Friends

Finally, use any moments of loneliness to start making new friends. Other people traveling will be remarkably friendly and could prove to be friends for life – and even if they’re only backpacking friends, that’s okay too. Some people are perfect to have as friends for a certain part of your life before parting with goodwill towards each other. Strike up conversations with people who seem friendly but make sure that you stay on your guard and remember that if any situation makes you feel uncomfortable it’s totally okay to remove yourself from it.

Llandaff Cathedral, Wales

Possibly one of the most underrated cathedrals in Wales, can be found in Llandaff, in the outskirts of North Cardiff. The Anglican cathedral is extraordinary, both visually and historically.

On the 2nd of January, 1941; during world war 2, Cardiff suffered the worst bombing of the war. With around 165 people killed and another 427 seriously injured, the city was at a chaotic state. The UK’s major towns and cities have been bombarded by then. And so, was Llandaff. Landmines have fell and exploded in the churchyard, cathedral spire and the roof. It destroyed many a graves, but especially the roof which collapsed inwards destroying most of the furnishings. Luckily a lot of its valuables such as the Victorian stained glass was taken out and put into into storage, and there was no outbreak of fire.

The architect, wanted to restructure the remaining parts of the cathedral by including a modern additional plaque to support the building itself and give it a new feature. To this day, visitors comment about this choice; you either love it, or hate it!

 

 

 

Flee To Florida, And Escape The Rain!

It’s dull, drizzling, and the sky is really lacking inspiration. It no longer feels as if winter is around the corner… it’s here, and it’s here to stay! But, don’t fear. Some parts of the world are never really that cold, or miserable. One of the great examples, and a great holiday location is Florida. If you’ve never been, you’re really missing out. This post will go through the State of Florida, city by city, to inspire your next big trip!

Orlando

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You’ve probably heard of Disneyland in Paris, right? Well, Orlando is home to something a little bigger; Disneyworld. It’s also home to several other large theme parks, including Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure. All in all, there are over a dozen theme parks in Orlando. And, some of them are the biggest in the world.

Like much of Florida, much of the Orlando area is filled with marshland and swamps. But, you’ll also find miles of white, sandy beaches to the east of the city. In areas like this, wildlife refuses to budge. This makes for a city that feels like it’s at the heart of nature, while still incorporating nightclubs and shopping into the mix.

Tampa

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For lovers of history and culture; look no further than Tampa. This city focuses more on intellectual pursuits than either of the others. The city has numerous zoos and aquariums, making it perfect for youngsters who don’t like rides! It also has several museums, and even plays host to the famous Busch Gardens; an African-themed amusement park.

Most of the cities nightlife and dining can be found in the Ybor City neighborhood. This area is steeped in history, having been established by Cuban and Spanish tobacco workers at the turn of the 20th Century.

Miami

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Miami is one of America’s hotspots for fashion and culture. For those who want to spend the nights on the town, Miami is the place for you. Much of Miami consists of art deco buildings and trendsetting diners. It truly is the best place to go to sample some of the finer things in life.

The city is famous worldwide for its beautiful white, sandy beaches and crystal clear ocean. Miami is a popular spot for surfers and other extreme water sports, adding, even more, culture to the already bustling city.

Getting yourself into a hotel in Florida is easy as pie. You have so many options available; the hardest part really is choosing. You can spend two weeks in a luxury hotel, or have a stint in vacation rentals in Florida. The world truly is your oyster. It’s best to avoid traveling to a place like this with food included in your trip. You’ll want to get out and try all of the different offerings these cities have for you.  Remember to take plenty of dollars with you, too!

All that’s left to do is get planning! Make sure that you plan well to avoid any unwanted issues on your journey. Good luck, and enjoy the trip!