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:

floats ant carnival in Maltafloats streets Valetta carnival in Maltastreets of Valletta Floats carnival in Maltacarnival floats valletta plaza st George

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?

Triton Fountain Valletta Malta
Malta, Tips

What to do on a Rainy Day in Malta?

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?

 

raindrops on window
There is real rain in Malta 

 

Sometimes it might seem like there is nothing to do and that you should better stay 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.

Malta, Tips

Finding an Apartment in Malta

Living in Malta has a lot of perks and many things are easy here, like finding a job, friends or making the residency papers.

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.

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!

Telefonboth Malta , Valetta
Malta, Tips, Uncategorized

Malta And Facebook

In Malta, everything is on Facebook. If you want to stay up to date you better be there. No matter if you are looking for a new sofa, flat or nail salon, there is a Facebook page and a group for it. I even found my job in one of the job groups on the social media platform.

Soon I will publish a post about the job search in Malta and about how to find an apartment and what you should be aware of while you search. Anyway, Facebook is the way to go here. It sounds weird and it might take a bit to get used to the idea.

There is a lot going on in Malta and you will know about it. Sign up to the various Facebook groups and make sure to be posted about the several events.

It makes it easy to connect with people and very dynamic.

Here are some Facebook groups I can recommend:

For finding an apartment:

For finding a Job:

For buying something:

There are many more interesting groups for specific activities or nationalities:

Find your group in Malta’s Facebook world. It has a lot to offer, events for meetups of all kinds for the real life and as I mentioned above some of the most essential things are to be found on this platform.

It’s happening even if it might be weird for you at the beginning.

 

Sunset over bay in Malta St. Julian
Malta, Tips, Uncategorized

Some ideas for the rest of the summer

It’s late August people and in many parts of the world, it is time to prepare mentally for autumn. In Malta, we are blessed with sunny days all over Summer and Autumn. But your holiday might come to an end and you are looking for some ideas to have something awesome to do in rest of the summer.

Here some ideas I thought of, to have some wonderful late summer days and a nice early autumn

1.Go Snorkeling:

We recently started Snorkeling and it is one of my favorite things to do on a warm summer day. Malta is one of the best places to try it out. If you have some days to spare, grab some goggles and go to one of the best snorkeling spots like:

St. Peter’s Pool ( south close to Marsaxlokk)

Paradise Bay (North, close to the Gozo ferry)

sea bay Malta boats
paradise Bay

Wied Il-Għasri in Gozo (North of Gozo, close to Zebbugg)

sea between rocks Malta
Wied Il Gharsi

Around Sliema, for example, the Tigne Point (Center- east, the Sliema area)

And many, many more

 

2. Visit a Festa 

You might have heard that noises that sound like bombs all over Malta and you might have seen the decorated streets, at least in pictures. Well, that is because of the village Festas. With the feasts, the local communities celebrate their church and their saints. There are a couple of feasts every week during summer and some are well well planned and huge, whereas others are a little smaller and less overwhelming. The neighbors collect money the whole year long for the decoration and fireworks, that are an important part of the celebration.

There will be food trucks and drinks and every festa has a local marching band performing. Here you can find a list of the feasts, make sure to see at least one during your last summer days in Malta.

church lights night
local Festa in Msida

3. Watch an open air movie

The Café Society is a nice and small bar in Valletta (Triq San Gwann), that not only has the best Aperol Spritz around but also organizes Cinemoon, an open air cinema. Currently, they have a line of time themed movies running. The atmosphere in the streets of Valetta paired with a great movie and an awesome cocktail is the best way to spend some of the last summer days. The movies are shown on Thursdays at around 8.30.

 

stairs movie showing Valetta Malta
It is also time to enjoy a nice Maltese Platter in one of the local bars and enjoy the Sundowns.

 

Sea, boats, Malta
Malta, Stories, Uncategorized

Early to Rise – The mysterious Maltese Ability to get up Early

There is one thing about Malta and the Maltese, that is just fascinating to me and that is the fact that people in Malta seem to be early birds.

I will give you a better picture to understand what I mean:

It is 6.00 am and I start fighting with my alarm clock and prepare myself mentally for going to work.

At 6.00 am my neighbor already started her day a while ago by listening to so not just her, but most of the neighbors around can also enjoy it. Usually, it is a mystical and strong song like Ave Maria or similar. In the afternoon she switches to more popular songs like “Despacito”. That is the same procedure on weekends as well. I can assure you, that the radio part is unique since she is a little old and does not hear well. But the getting up early part is common sense in Malta.

Life starts early on the island. Most official places like the Malta ID authority and the post office open at 7.00 am and I know from friends that work in Maltese companies, that they also start their workday at around 7.00 -7.30 am. Even shops open earlier here.

When I leave my house around 7.20 am to go to work, the streets are already busy. People that are not already at work are rushing there or buying their daily goods and taking care of their business.

At weekends in Summer, you can hear the fireworks from the Maltese Festas at around 9.00am. (There will be a post about the Festas in a really short while).

It is an Island of early birds, which is fascinating for me, who likes to sleep until 8.00-9.00 am, that seemed early for me in the past. It is a smart way to fight the heat and to still have some day left after work. It is also a very epic way to start the day with a loud Ave Maria from upstairs.

I always have to think about this quote that I was forced to sing in music classes at school (yes, the teacher was a little strange) :

Early to bed and early to rise, makes a man healthy, wealthy, and wise. Wise healthy and wealthy. Wise healthy and wealthy.

Well, it seems to work for some people here, so maybe I should give it a try!

Have a great day everyone!

 

sea male con, Cuba
Stories, Uncategorized

Why traveling​ and moving around is a Privilege!

Here are some rather serious thoughts I have once in a while when I read travel blogs and browse in travel and nomad groups on Facebook and Couchsurfing. Traveling and the life on the road is a huge privilege, that some do not even know about because they are not aware of it.  Being a German passport holder opens many places to me to travel and to live.

Traveling is something that should be celebrated; indeed it is one of the most wonderful things that exist. It is amazing that so many people quit their job, left university and just spend, months and years traveling and getting to know different parts of the world.
Yes, it opens your mind and frees your spirit. In a nutshell, it is just the best damn experience for most of the people. That is the reason why a huge travelers community exists and why can enjoy so many great blogs and books written by individuals who can fit their life in a backpack and a laptop and just go there!

But for traveling, you need more than a free mind and a comfortable backpack. I am not referring to the extra portion of courage that you might need or the fact that you need to make money to go on the road. It is simple, believe me traveling is a privilege, and it sometimes depends on where you were born.

Traveling and making a life on the road depends on your passport! If you have for example a European passport, most of the countries let you in without any hassle, if you don’t there sometimes is not even a thing like traveling.
You cannot grab your bag, buy a plane ticket and go abroad. A simple trip may mean, lines in the embassy, limitations and a lot of money and paperwork. If you are from some countries, there is no option for you to go away as a tourist, you have to be invited by someone, someone that makes her or himself responsible for you. Sometimes it might be hard to go to a country where you do not know a single soul.
You cannot be a traveler if you are a potential immigrant to almost all the countries you try to visit.
It is not impossible, but it is hard work and consuming to figure out how to travel to one country! It makes life on the road almost impossible even if you can afford it.

Traveling is a privilege! Keep this in mind, everytime you have a hard moment on the road!

Keep traveling!

Festa banner Street of Valetta
Malta, Tips, Uncategorized

Unique Souvenirs of Malta

Most people like to take something back home from their trip or if they live in Malta get some nice gifts for friends and family.

Unfortunately, most souvenirs are kitsch bad quality and just really expensive for what one will receive in the end. In that case, even if someone receives them as a gift they are maybe not as thankful as you would like them to be.

As in many places, Malta has some really weird and not really trendy souvenirs to offer, like this wonderful piece:

img_9534
An interesting Souvenir from the Island

 

But there is hope for those who want to bring their friends and family something nice and unique from Malta!

Here are some places to find unique souvenirs:

1. Souvenirs that don’t suck

The shop’s mission is in the name! These lovely guys provide us with souvenirs from Malta that don’t suck. I can highly recommend passing by their shop in Sliema and get your own idea of the place and their souvenirs. They have lovely ideas: Shirts and postcards with Maltese phrases, Beautiful prints of the Maltese Map and many many different things. They are also very open for a chat and in case you need a space in a coworking environment you can also come here.

108 Manwel Dimech Street
Sliema SLM1055

 

2. House of Gozo

House of Gozo is a small shop in Victoria, Gozo’s Capital, with beautiful products. They sell prints that are designed and printed in Gozo. They offer all kinds of postcards and really beautiful posters of typical images of the islands. The prints are calm and pretty and affordable, so if you are in Victoria make sure to stop by.

1 Pjazza San Gorg
Victoria (Malta)

IMG_9631
My purchase at House of Gozo!



More shops soon to be added!
If you like Jewellery, there will be a separate post about that soon!