Tag Archives: photography

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.

Belated 30th Birthday Post

Exactly five months ago, on the 16th of October, it was my birthday. My 30th.

We woke up in Scotland, because we discovered that we like traveling for our birthdays. It was a windy day! So much so, Hurricane Ophelia was visiting! This did not stop us from having a lovely day out in the countryside, visiting several castles and eating at Jamie’s Italian in Glasgow. For the first time in my life, I had a clear picture of where my life is going. I did not care where I am, I was just happy spending my day with the person who means the most to me.

In the past years, I always reflected on what I have achieved, but this time round, I reflected on my future; our future. It is true, that in the year 2017, so much has happened. For starters I went on so many holidays: Hungary, Bath UK, Wales, Romania, Denmark, Cornwall, Austria, Scotland and Germany! But the most important of all, I met Daniel who has turned my life upside down. My traveling partner, the love of my life! I finally found him, and I ain’t letting him go. 🙂

But most of all, this birthday was so significant to me because as my birthday gift, Daniel bought me a promise ring. As much as I knew that I wanted to spend the rest of my life with this man, I was still caught off guard. From then on, our path has become a little clearer. In fact, as of November, it’s been full-on planning for our big day coming up in 2019!

And folks, that is a happy ending right there!

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!

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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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Of Cornish Beaches

I know, that in Malta, we have some breathtakingly gorgeous beaches, but they are crowded with Maltese and foreigners. So much so, that if you are not a proper beach-lover, you do not step foot on any of the beaches during the peak Summer months. In fact, this year, I have only been to the beach once, and this was in September, and only because it was an event which I could not miss – My father’s birthday.

When I mention my love towards the UK, I more often than not are told that in England there aren’t any attractive beaches. Today, I am going to attempt to prove you wrong. This year, in June my partner and I spent some memorable days in Cornwall. We both fell in love with this place, and one of the reasons is the gorgeous seasides.

Lands End
This was quite high in our priority for the very reason that it is the southern-most part of the UK. The coastal views are spectacular and it would make a lovely day out, taking in the surroundings, the wildlife, and why not… a picnic by the sea, listening to the waves, blissfully.

Kynance Cove
If white sandy beaches and turquoise coloured seas are on your list, this beach is just what you are looking for. To top it off, during our visit towards the end of June, there was almost no one around. This makes your swimming experience just a little bit more special. By the way, at low tide, you are able to explore the caves. Sadly, this was not the case when we visited!

Tintagel Beach
By far my favourite – I’d say I am a bit biased by this because of the myths surrounding this place, as well as the extraordinary weather we had and the view of castle ruins on top of the cliff! I admit, this was the busiest of the beach areas we visited, but this did not stop us from capturing several photos of this very photogenic place. You be the judge!

Gunwalloe Church Cove
Admittedly, this bay made it into our Travel Plan because there’s a very cute church and cemetery close by. In order to get to the beach itself, there’s a rather long wobbly walk. The panoramas made it bearable as well as the serenity the place offered once we got there. We in fact, had this beach for ourselves, which was rather surprising.

Poldark fans, Kynance Cove and Church Cove are two beaches which were used as filming locations. Can you imagine walking the same steps as Aidan Turner? Now you can! 😉

The Places You Likely Haven’t Thought Of Sleeping During Your Vacation

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What is the bedrock of a positive vacation experience? Is it the place you visit? The people you meet? The food you eat? The places you’d stay? Which one of these, if lost, would render the experience unenjoyable? We’d argue the accommodation. Good quality accommodation where you can rest your head well and recharge your batteries for a full additional day of exploration is part and parcel in enjoying a holiday space you can truly call your own.

However, it’s likely that you haven’t particularly thought about this in the past aside from finding a place which looks clean and nice, is sizeable enough, and is cheap. For some people, the location is what matters, and having a safe place to rest their head is simply a nice addition. It’s for this reason that the backpacking and hotel trade is always popular and enjoyable. However, if you’re getting a little more mature in your tastes and the accommodation means as much to you like the place you inhabit, you should try the following ideas:

Ice Hotels

To stay in an ice hotel sounds like a difficult and challenging experience for many people, especially those who don’t like the cold. While they’re obviously not as warm as a room with central heating, they can be immensely beautiful to stay in and inhabit. These hotels are masterpieces of architecture and ice engineering and deserve to be visited. When visiting Lapland, a magical place in its own right, they could serve as a perfect and beautiful way to feel connected to your local and cold environment.

What’s more, is that the hotel is constructed each year, so you never see a new one twice. Over 1,000 tonnes of ice go into the construction, and as a result, the ‘building’ is sizeable and incredible to witness. Not only that, but the ICEHOTEL 365 has recently been released, the world’s first permanent ice hotel which takes advantage of central heating and is truly a sight to witness. If looking for an impressive entry into your vacation journal, this might be the ‘coolest’ set of pictures you take.

Tree Top Hotels

Tree Top hotels can be perfect if you’re looking for a view that can simply rival any other. Aside from camping, there is no better way to feel interconnected with the nature around you. These hideaway suits can truly give you that perspective over the environment that you need, and that can be especially conducive to a reflective and meditative vacation, perfect if you’re simply looking forward to getting away from it all.

Tree Top hotels often have a low carbon footprint too, meaning that an ethical holiday could simply be right around the corner. This could be perfect if you’re trying to become closer to nature and detoxify after years of city living.

Over time, the simple effort taken to experience new methods of resting up can lead to you acquiring new tastes, finding new more like minded people, or giving yourself that celebratory vacation you truly deserve.

 

Tintern Abbey

Tintern Abbey has been in my must-see list for years. The reason it took me this long to visit is because it is in the South of Wales, and I have mostly traveled to the North and Mid Wales as it is more accessible for me, due to Manchester and Liverpool airports being so close to my destination (also I have never driven in the UK, but I probably should…).

I would say that the Cistercian abbey of Tintern is one of the most beautiful monastic ruins, not just in Wales or the UK, but within Europe. The location of the abbey is very scenic, and the village of Tintern is tiny. In fact, after spending hours in this serene place, we walked to the village for a snack. We even watched River Wye which runs behind the abbey and through the village. The river has been an important source of water which sustained the villagers and monks, and is till useful at this day and age.

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The abbey was founded in 1131, by the lord of Chepstow and the building and its surroundings kept growing exponentially until its closing down around 400 years later. In the 13th century, Roger Bigod rebuilt the church, and as a thank you his coat of arms was put in the glass of the east window. This church forms the largest part of what is still remaining today, and is a great example of welsh architecture of the medieval period, even if in ruins.

Although it did not have much importance history wise, what is left of this abbey is a major tourist attracting in the South of Wales, as is Caerphilly Castle, Raglan Castle and Cardiff Castle in the capital city of Wales.

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What’s Up

My blog is a priority to me, however there are times and things that surpass my blogs. Such things are travelling and starting a new job; which in this case are very, very true.

In the last month and a half, I have taken time travel and in total I have visited 5 countries in almost 3 weeks. This has not only led me to learn new things about different cultures and do plenty of sightseeing, but also helped into finding myself again. To me, traveling is the very best thing. It is new and exciting… an adventure!

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For more photos of my travels and my endeavors please follow me on Instagram: SteffiWorld.

After making it back to Malta, I have spent a few days catching up with friends, doing the laundry and relaxing. This is because two weeks ago, it was time for me to change my job. This time, my role is Reporting Specialist, which is highly focused on reporting – gathering data and specs, creating the reports and reconciling. It is a very exciting role as there are a lot of changes going on, and my role is a part of it, and in two years time, I am hoping to see myself in a managerial position. I have been aiming for this for some time, and it has gone unnoticed in my past job, so I am very happy to be in this position now.

I have noticed in the past weeks, that my followers on WordPress have been increasing exponentially which is great to say the least. While I would like to welcome you all to my humble blog of anything that comes to mind, I would also like to excuse myself for the lack of writing, and hope that going forward I will have more energy to entertain you!

Hobbies To Take Up As Summer Is Approaching

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The clocks have officially gone back! It’s no longer pitch-black at 6 pm. That’s right folks; spring is here. And what does that mean? Summer is just around the corner! Hurrah!

There is a still a little time, though. So how to make the most of it? Here are three hobbies to consider taking up as summer approaches.

Baking

Whether you’re slightly addicted to Masterchef and The Great British Bake Off or not, baking is a great hobby. Sure, buying all the ingredients can be quite costly at first. But actually, once you’ve built up a collection of the basics, you’ll save money on buying the products fresh. A bag of self-raising flour, for example, will be good for at least a handful of bakes.

Baking is also a great hobby for people with strict dietary requirements. It can be a real challenge to find products that are wheat-free or dairy-free. Plus, they tend to be pretty rammed with sugars and sweeteners. By making your own, you are in control of what does and doesn’t go in them. You can also make recipes just the way you like. You can make amazing brownies without pecan nuts if you don’t like them. Or make a triple chocolate cake with whipped cream in the centre; the world is your oyster. You can really let your creative juice flow.

Need some ideas? Facebook groups like Delish post different inspiring recipes every day, both for baking and cooking.

Photography

The days are getting longer, and nature is looking beautiful again. Capture the magic by taking up photography. You can focus on any genre you like, be it people, wildlife, landscape or cityscapes. Or just snap whatever takes your fancy from day to day.

Photography is one of those hobbies that can be as versatile as you like. If you like fast-paced environments, take shots of shoppers, or runners, or sunsets. Or, if you want to take it a bit steadier, go for landscape or nighttime shoots.

Don’t just use your phone either. The pixels might be high, but the quality just won’t match up. Invest in a good quality camera, and a sturdy Camera Bag to keep your purchase safe.

Getting fit

We expect way too much of ourselves when we sign up for gym memberships on New Year’s Day. Yes, the deal they’re offering is great but it is such a good price for a reason. Because hardly anybody then goes. The days are short; the nights are long and there is still loads of leftover chocolate in the cupboard…

Early spring, however, is a far more sensible time to join. Looking at summer holidays gives you some real motivation. Plus, you’ll find going to the gym after work far more appealing. Or, if you don’t want to join a gym, spring and summer weather and light lets you get fit outdoors. Go for a run in your local park. Take the dog with you. If you have one, that is. Don’t just take a random stranger’s dog…

 

The many sunsets of Fawwara

Some of the most beautiful areas for walks or hikes in Malta are situated in the limits of Siggiewi. One of the spots goes by the name of ‘Fawwara’. The word fawwara translates to spring in English, and this name was chosen for this stretch of land due to the fact that in the past it supplied a large amount of water.

The history of this area goes as far as when the Arabs took over Malta, it has seen the death of many christian women, and proof of this is two chapels within Fawwara which are still standing to this day. These were built in 1616 and 1575.  The latter even had a small village surrounding it (Hal Kbir) during the Medieval area. Needless to say, Siggiewi has existed on our little island for a very, very long time.

Below are some photos I have taken of the area, showing sunsets as well as some picturesque captures. Can’t wait to return back here in the next couple of days 🙂

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