Monday, 2 May 2011

Malta.

For my second week of holidays, I went to stay five days in Malta to meet a whole bunch of my family :) I stayed with my lovely second cousin, and tour-guide, Claire, and her mum and dad, in Lija.

By this stage, I'd bought a new camera whilst having a quick stop over with some friends in London, so I had a brand shiny new toy to play with and take lots of photos with!

Malta was amazing. The buildings were gorgeous - all limestone - and all of the roads were tiny and winding. There are heaps of churches in Malta. I'm not even kidding when I say that I reckon there's one on nearly every second street. And they're all huge, and gorgeous.


Claire took me to the popular tourist destination - Valetta. A gorgeous city with plenty of cute tourist shops and awesome ice-cream :) We spent the day taking photos, wandering through some gardens with some stunning views and admiring a lovely exhibition of the artist, Mucha.




And so, the whole reason for my trip, I spent a lot of time meeting relatives of mine! I got to meet my Nanna's brother, Mum's cousins and lots of my second cousins :)

Claire's mum is an AMAZING cook. Pretty sure she overheard Claire and I discussing how much we love chocolate eclairs, so she whipped these up sneakily whilst we were out, and lucky I got a photo when we did (half way through.... :P) because they didn't last very long at all!!!! Yummm yumm!


For another one of our day trips, Claire took me to Mdina, Malta's walled ancient city. There are lots of winding little lanes that you can't see the ends of, and apparently this is so that anyone that tried to invade the city would get lost, pretty clever!


You might have noticed in my earlier photo of a church, that it has two clocks on it. In fact, one of these clocks is fake and is used to 'confuse the devil' if he ever decides to come and ambush the church or something similar... Hopefully he'll get so disoriented and baffled about the two different times that he'll just go back on home... :D

Claire's awesome piano! :D
 On the Friday night of my visit, Claire, Manuel (another of my second cousins) and myself had a night out on town in a place called Paceville! We had a maddd night, got plenty of drinks bought for us and just spent the whole night dancing :) An awesome end to my trip!!!

Thursday, 28 April 2011

Ireland Part Two.

And on the fourth day we went and hung out at the Cliffs of Moher. It was pretty foggy when we got there, but by the time we’d gone for a bit of a walk, it’d cleared a bit.



That night we headed to Killarney and went to a fantastic pub called the Grand Hotel. There was a rad cover band and once they packed up, a door opened up and turns out there was a club just out the back :)

By day five, we were all getting preeeetty tired. Lots of 3 and 4am bedtimes, and so a massive beach day was more than welcome. We were really lucky on our tour to have fantastic weather and it was only a little drizzly on one of the days. We went to two different beaches; our tour guide, Connor, told us to frollick on the sand and so we did - lots of cartwheels on my behalf :D




The last day was our 'going home day,' but it was also the day that we made a treck to Blarney Castle. I got the pleasure of sharing my germs with the 300,000+ people that kiss the Blarney Stone per annum. By Irish tradition, apparently kissing the Blarney Stone blesses the 'kissee' with eloquent speech.. But I don't feel any different, and my vocab hasn't changed, so I guess it didn't really work very well at all!!


By the end of the six days, we'd done an absolutely huge treck of Ireland, a complete circuit. I'd do the tour again in a second, it was one of the best weeks of my life - great people, great places, great country. Go Ireland :)

Tuesday, 26 April 2011

Ireland Part One.


By the age of 12, a child knows at least 27 ways to tell if someone is a catholic or a prodestant.’ - Derry
On the first Saturday of my school holidays, my 12 hour bus ride -including a 4 hour ferry ride- left for Ireland. We landed in Dublin at about 6.30am and so I had a whole day of checking out Dublin. I went and had a look at Dublin Castle, and the Garda (police) memorial gardens.



On April 4th, my Paddywagon tour began at Paddy’s Palace, Dublin. First stop was The Papal Cross in Phoenix Park, Dublin. The cross was erected in anticipation of Pope John Paul II's visit in 1979. Over a million people came to see the Pope celebrate mass here.

And then.... the Guinness Storehouse! Zoomed through the factory, tried half a glass of Guinness draught, left my mark on the ‘Guinness message wall’ and headed up to the Gravity Bar, ready for my FREE Pint of Guinness!! Woo hoo! But alas, it tasted pretty funky – and as I was to discover later on the tour, it tastes a lot better with blackcurrent – so I only finished half.. Dang.
On our way to Belfast, we stopped at a town called Drogheda and checked out the preserved head of Saint Oliver Plunkett.
We stayed in Belfast. I’m really cut that I didn’t do the Belfast Black Cab tour, cos it would’ve been awesome, but alas, something to do next time I’m in Ireland hey.






Monasterboice was built in the 14th century. The bigger cross is smooth at the bottom because for centuries Monks used to walk around it with one hand on the base. 


On Day Two, our first stop was the Carrick-a-rede rope bridge. The first and probably the last rope bridge I’ll ever go on in my life. It wasn’t nearly as swingy, or rickedy, as I’d hoped but it was a wooden bridge, 30m up from the sea so it was pretty cool.
After that we went and had a chill at the Irish half of the Giants Causeway - super awesome rock formations on the north coast of Ireland caused by rapid cooling of molten lava when in immediate contact with water. The story of its formation is slightly different in Irish folklore, telling a tale of two giants, one from Ireland Finn MacCool and the other from Scotland Benandonner. The Irish giant challenged the Scottish guy to a duel and built a bridge so that they could. The Irish guy basically chickened out when he realised how much bigger the Scottish guy was and went and hid as a baby. The Scottish guy then freaked out cos he thought that the baby was huge and was afraid that the dad would be massive, and he fled Ireland, smashing the bridge to bits as he went. And this is how the Irish reckon the Giants Causeway was formed.





We had a quick roadstop for a photoop at Dunluce Castle, its kitchen fell into the ocean in 1639 and has been abandoned ever since.

And that evening we stayed in Derry. We immediately did a walking tour with a local and got to see the scene of the Bloody Sunday massacre in 1972. Our tour guide explained the struggle between the Prodestants and Catholics, and why many residents of Derry feel that they can only live within the walled part of the city. The night was topped off with an evening of traditional irish music at Paedar O’Donnells Pub.



Day Three we travelled to Galway via Grianan Ailligh, a rock formation built in about 3000BC and Sligo, where the site of famous irish poet WB Yeats’ grave is. And we proceeded to chill in Galway, the ‘party captial’ of Ireland. It was also the night I broke my camera, dang.



And the best soft serve ever :)
 to be continued...

Saturday, 26 February 2011

London.

I began my holidaying for the year in London. I thought it was a pretty apt place to start my travelling. So for half term (15th – 19th of Feb) I headed down four hours south and went to the capital city of England.
I like the London Underground so much better than Metro, way easier to navigate and trains every two minutes – pretty swish. So expensive though, so I think I’ll stick to my Vline tickets and Metcards in the future.
For my first two nights I stayed in a youth hostel across the road from St Paul’s Cathedral, and right around the corner from Millenium Bridge, the bridge that gets wrecked by Death Eaters in HP6 ;)





On my first night I went out to dinner in Camden at The Lock Tavern. Defo recommend it. It was really dimly lit, had a really retro feel with communal tables and when I ordered a ‘vegie burger,’  I got two slabs of roast butternut pumpkin with a whole bunch of green stuff and ricotta. Absolutely going back.

Day two I walked from St Paul’s to Trafalgar Square and that took the whole part of an hour, and when I got there I hopped on an Original Bus Tour bus. Sat on the top level of my first double decker for two and a half hours and saw all of London’s typical touristy things. Did you know that St Paul’s Cathedral is 365 feet high? One for every day of the year ;)
We drove past Westminster Abbey and Big Ben, the London Eye, a boat in a giant glass bottle at Trafalgar Square, lots of double decker buses, the skinniest pub in London, the Marble Arch, Hyde Park and just lots of rad places.




I hopped off my bus at the Tower of London and went to check out where Thomas More and Anne Boleyn (to name a couple) got executed. I had a really funny old tour guide that talked a lot like Ray! I got to stand at the foot of the Bell Tower – where Thomas More was imprisoned for two years. I saw Anne Boleyn and Jane Seymour, and heaps of other people that King Henry VII got executed’s graves.. They also had the Crown Jewels, five centuries worth of royal armour and 500 year old graffiti on display.




On day three I found the cutests Twinings shop on the way. They had a ‘Twinings museum’ out the back, and a room where you can make your own cuppa for free. So I was pretty happy with that and ended up spending £20 there.... oops! I kept walking, up past Traf Square and headed up Regent and Oxford streets. I was taking photos of all the Monopoly streets I passed as I went - and took a mental note to find them all next time I go to London for some ‘tourist time’! I ended up in Hamley’s – the biggest toy shop in London – it had a whole floor dedicated to teddies, fantastic!




After that I meandered all the way back to St Paul’s Cathedral and took myself to Eucharist Mass – and that also meant I got in for free! Yay! St Paul’s was so pretty on the inside but they were really tight about not taking photos, dang.

And day three turned out to be a chockerblock day because after THAT I walked over to the Tower of London and hopped on a cruise to Greenwich and the Royal Observatory. The Royal Observatory was awesome, heaps of telescopes and clocks, big displays about the invention of clocks and time keeping. I got to start on the Prime Meridian, that was pretty cool.





That night I headed over to Acton – west london – and chilled for two days with my London family from Australia :) In those two days, I had a lazy day exploring the Science, V&A and Natural History Museums - taking photos where I wasn't meant to be sometimes... Oops! I got to see the first random number generator created - Ernie - and lots of maths things, it was awesome. Then at the Victoria&Albert Museum, there was a small exhibition of Beatrix Potter's art school drawings!




 Highlight of the trip was definitely going to Platform 9 3/4 at Kings Cross Station on the way home!