girl in bee costume and floats at the carnival in Malta
Malta

Carnival in Malta

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.

In Cuba the carnivals are even set at different times, depending on the region. The famous Parandas in the village Remedios, for example, is held 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 were held to scare away winter and finally dive into spring and later in the Christian tradition the last day also marks the beginning of the fasting period.

Carnival Ta’Malta

So talking about all these different traditions, this year I was introduced to a new one and learned something 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. So that’s way, some of the activities are repeated this weekend. 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 was mostly held in Birgu and celebrated by the knights used to hold masquerades and balls, that later drove a little out of hand. But the tradition was brought to Valletta and survived scandals, bans, and other bumps. But since 1926 it is regulated by the Carnival Committee and mainly held in Valletta and Floriana.

horse costumes carnival Malta

Small Island big Carnival

Even though the main celebrations are held 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 truck. All of them start glowing when it gets dark and in my opinion, they have a really trippy atmosphere to it.

Some examples:

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There is also a big party involved 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 in 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. It 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. Some of the traditional costumes remind of other big celebrations like the Carnival in Venice and are very nice to look at.

Why not check it out next year?

Tips

How to spend four days in Nuremberg

Thinking about a getaway for a long weekend or a short holiday. Look no more because that is the place you are looking for. Especially during the Christmas season, Nuremberg is a special treat for your eyes and taste buds.  The city has a lot to offer, no matter if you enjoy history, Christmas markets or the best beer you can find.

Nuremberg is easy to reach by train, plane or bus, not by boat though but you can take a car. There are cheap flights from a lot of places around Europe or connecting flights if you come from further away. If you fly here from Malta you get the perfect connection with Ryanair, flights go on Fridays and Tuesdays.

Here is a little something about the city in case you have never heard of it before we get to the itinerary.

About Nuremberg

Nuremberg is a city in the southern part of Germany in the beautiful region of Franconia. On the map, it might look like Nuremberg is part of Bavaria, but never ever tell a Franconian that.

The City has around half a million inhabitants and is the second biggest city in Bavaria after Munich. Nuremberg is known for its history (not just for the Nazi trials btw.), its gingerbread, and the iconic sausages, but I will get to that. First a little bit of history:

The city was founded around the year 1000 and first mentioned in a document in the year 1050. It got really important during the Middle Ages as a trading city and the place where the emperors held there first Imperial diet. The city was directly under the emperor’s rule and got very rich and popular during that time. Moreover, it was located on the silk road and a popular trading place. The city was home to artists and inventors like Albrecht Dürer or Martin Behaim. And Nurembergers invented the gingerbread (Lebkuchen).

Unfortunately, there is a rather sad chapter in the city’s history, that is connected to Nazi Germany and World War II. Because of its power and special status in the Middle Ages, Hitler made Nuremberg to an important place for his rule. That is the reason why the city was destroyed almost completely during the second world war and the famous Nazi Trials were held there. You can actually visit the courtroom.

After the bombing, Nuremberg was rebuilt and his iconic medieval charm is recreated and it has a lot of nice places to visit, to hang out and to enjoy.  The city has a pedestrian zone all over the city center and a castle overlooking the whole place.

If you want to learn all about the history of the city you should visit the Fembohaus, it is the city’s museum and an old tradesmen’s home.

So let’s get to your travel plan for Nuremberg:

Day One: City Center and Bratwurst

On your first day, let the city center amaze you and wander around the small alleys and visit the castle.

Start your day with a breakfast in the hotel, bnb or at the Café Alex, right at the main Market (Hauptmarkt). It is a nice place with a breakfast buffet overlooking the Christmas market.

Start your tour walking up to the castle, make sure to take the side alleys so you don’t miss them. Make sure to visit the castle and go up to the Sinvell Tower to overlook the city. Take the audio guide and visit the deep fountain, it is worth it.

Make your way back down to the main market and have a special “3 im Weckla”(the famous sausages in a bun)  in the Bratwursthäusle right in front of the city hall.  It is a cozy place and has the best authentic treats.

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cozy Brastwursthäusle during Christmas season

 

Take your time to wander around the Christmas Market after that and have some Glühwein after that. Make sure you also visit the children’s market with his classic and beautiful carousel. And the market of the sister cities to discover a lot of different cultures in one square.

people buildings Christmas market

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The Carousel 

 

And your day with some authentic Franconian beer.

Day Two: The serious part of history

This takes you out of the city center to the part that was important to Nazi Germany. If you come from the city center it is easiest to take the tram(8) or the bus (36) or the train (S-Bahn 2) to the Dokuzentrum. The Dokuzentrum is also the place where you should start your visit, it is a museum of the Nazi history, it is very interesting and a must see.

Now that you are informed take a walk through the Nazi Party Rally Grounds, follow the documentation on the boards all around the area. Prepare for a long walk, but it worth it. Also, it is good to know that where you are walking the festival Rock im Park is held in summer. A good use for those grounds.

Finish your day in one of the great Restaurants the city has to offer. * There will be a separate post about that. And of course some great Franconian beer.

Day Three: Following Dürer and the Lebkuchen

Again in the city center make your way to the Abrecht Dürer Haus and the Fembohaus. They are not just great museums but you get the change to see the old houses from the inside and get a great explanation of them and live in the past.

In front of Dürer’s house, you can also find a beautiful small square with a great place to have a beer of coffee right inside the city wall.

After that make sure to visit some of the gingerbread shops and get a souvenir tin box for your family.

Now it is time to visit the Schöner Brunnen (beautiful fountain), it is located on the main market and one of the most famous attractions in the city. You will find a golden ring, turn it 3 times, that means good luck!

 

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Beautiful Fountain

 

Take some time to visit the Churches that are masterpieces of Gothic or Roman architecture, visit St Sebald, Lorenzkirche and Frauenkirche. The last one is also located on the main marked and has a special treat every day at 12 o’clock. The famous Männleinlaufen is an old mechanism that shows the 7 great electors offering gifts to the emperor.

If you are looking for more museums around the area visit the Toy Museum, it is not just a delight for kids. Nuremberg used to be and still is famous for manufacturing toys.

Finish your with a walk through the cozy Handwerkerhof and have a look at the unique artisanal crafts. Also, you can have a great Franconian meal there.

Day Four: Enough History

Although there are still a lot of historic sights left, you should dedicate a day to rather modern sights. One example is the Neues Museum, a museum of modern art and an interesting architectonical sight.

 

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Neues Museum in Nuremberg 

 

Then take a stroll through Nuremberg’s hipstery district Gostenhof, visit the small shops and galleries there and get an idea of the different side of the town. As you are close you can visit the courtroom of the Nazi trials as well.

Finish your day with a meal at the Schanzen Bräu Brewery, to food goes best together with their great Rotbier.

You won’t regret it. There is a lot more to see so there will be more posts about this beautiful city.

One special tip for a great view: Go inside the “Adler Parkhaus”, a garage close to the Main market, go all up to the last floor parking deck and enjoy the view!

Stay posted for the upcoming posts about:

  • Museums in Nuremberg
  • Bars in Nuremberg
  • Best traditional Restaurants
  • Where to eat if you don’t want Franconian food
  • the hidden gems of Nuremberg

Enjoy your stay!

Havana, the malecon at sundown
Stories, Uncategorized

Something about Havana

This Blog is about living abroad and feeling local and at home. I just moved to Malta and my home before coming here was Havana, Cuba´s beautiful capital.

Over years that city became my home, slightly, without me even realizing it really until I moved there and it just felt natural. I was showing the beauty of Havana to others, I captured it in my pictures and writing and I was breathing it every day.  I was providing people with great experiences and help them to get to know the real Havana like and not the tacky version of it. Doing that, I always felt a deep connection to this place.

You can imagine why I write this now. Of course, it is because of Irma. I do not want to write a sad post about the damage etc.. However, it is still something that affects a lot of people, my family and one of my homes (since there are many of them now). This is mostly about the city and less about damage help, but if you feel like you want to help somehow send me a message and I will put you in touch with people who can point you in the right direction.

Havana is beautiful! It still is even though it is flooded now. Irma has not been the first hurricane to hit Cuba but that does not make it any different. Some things in Havana were destroyed because of Irma, some were because of other circumstances. Some houses were already damaged and Irma helped to destroy them. Some places were recently restored like the Gran Teatro de La Habana, that lost one of its statues, due to the storm. That hit me hard because it is one my favorite buildings in Havana. It felt like the beauty of this wonderful city is cracking, more than already.

I send all my regards to the people playing domino on the flooded streets and to those who pick up trees and to those who report about what’s really going on in the city, like periodismo de bario. Also to my family that keeps moving between their houses to get electricity in order to keep going with their everyday life. Because that is what Cubans do, they rock “la lucha”( the fight, that’s how everyday life is called in Cuba)!

So don’t stop going to Havana, it is still beautiful and worth a trip. If you need some ideas for a trip let me know or read here. 

And let me tell you one thing about the people there: They kick ass and they will get the city back on track!

 

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The Gran Teatro de La Habana some months ago

 

Deutsch, Stories, Uncategorized

Nürnberg, locally abroad.

Nürnberg ist eine der schönsten Städte Deutschlands, das sage ich nicht nur so, das ist so. Ich komme aus Nürnberg, aber nicht nur deswegen mag ich die Stadt so gerne. Sie hat durch ihren historischen Kern, ihre Wiesen, ihre Bars und Kneipen und ihr Umland viel zu bieten. In meiner fränkischen Heimat gibt es zudem gutes Bier, günstiges Essen und Menschen, die im Kern freundlich sind aber das halt nicht so raushängen lassen. (Wer schon einmal in Franken war, versteht was ich meine)

Diese schöne Stadt im Frankenland bietet so einige Erinnerungen und bei jedem Besuch kann ich die schönen Ecken der Stadt immer mehr zu schätzen lernen.

Viele meiner Freunde von früher waren sich immer um die Schönheit der Stadt bewusst, deshalb sind sie auch geblieben. Dieser Umstand ist natürlich praktisch, denn ich konnte bei einem Besuch viele geliebte Menschen auf einmal wiedersehen. Nun ist es für die wenigen meiner verblieben Freunde an der Zeit auch ihre Koffer zu packen und sie machen sich ebenfalls auf den Weg in neue Gefilde. Ich will es ja keinem nehmen, aber darf ich euch an das Bier, die historische Altstadt und die freundlichen Kellnerinnen erinnern?

Mein Nürnberg wird nun immer leerer und die Gesichter, die diese Stadt geprägt haben machen sich auf um andere Städte und andere Leben zu prägen. Das ist nicht unbedingt etwas Schlechtes meine Lieben, denn jetzt können wir bei gemeinsamen Besuchen, das Bier, die Kneipen und das gute und günstige Essen genießen.

Ich kann es verstehen, ich bin ja auch gegangen. Dennoch, diese Menschen waren ein wichtiger Teil dieser Stadt, jetzt wird es wohl hauptsächlich um die Weihnachtszeit sein, dass ihr wieder zu den Gesichtern von Nürnberg werdet.

Der Christkindlesmarkt wird auch immer schöner wenn man mal ne Weile weg war.

Ich lege mir jetzt erst einmal eine Karte an und markiere wo es euch hinverschlägt! Vergesst nicht nochmal den Ring am Schönen Brunnen zu drehen und euch was zu wünschen, bevor ihr geht!

…….

Shortly I will provide an English Version and some tips for the great city of Nuremberg!