Malta International Airport – Tips to keep you sane in the Med

Malta is a great destination for many travelers to the Mediterranean, and Malta International Airport will be your entry and exit point if you choose to fly.

Traveling to Malta

 

When in Malta, you have to keep your wits about you, this is not Northern Europe. Things can go so many more different ways than you’re used to. If you’ve been to other warm climate regions before, you know what I mean. Things run a little differently in warmer parts of the world. A book called Foreign to Familiar has actually been written about this by the way. It is a very interesting read if you’re from Europe or North America and plan to visit Asia and Africa, or anywhere else with a culture very different from yours!

This post is about tips to help you navigate your trip to and through Malta International Airport though, so I will get right into it. I have written about these in other post before, so if you’ve read “Going to Malta this spring/summer?” you don’t need to read this again.



Now to the tips on Malta International Airport

1. If your budget allows, take a cab to the airport. Buses can be late pretty often in Malta. Actually, cabs too. Pad your trip to the airport with lots of buffer time just in case. Malta is not the place to be like my better half. He is a frequent traveler who is accustomed to systems that run like well oiled machines, and tends to arrive at the airport just as boarding is opening. This system has worked excellently for him for some inexplicable reason. It makes him feel like James Bond, I think. Don’t do this in Malta in peak season. You might be okay in January, but you don’t want to risk it in April, May, June, and onwards through summer.

 

2. Tip 2 builds on 1 above. The airport can get crazy busy! I am writing this aboard a flight out of Malta, and the size of the crowd at the airport today was unbelievable. It’s a small but busy airport. The line to security was crazy long, the cab I had booked the night before had picked me up almost 15 minutes late! It takes 20 minutes to get to the airport if the roads are good and not busy. Transport in Malta is a recipe for missing your flight, if not careful.

 

3. If flying business or first class, ask to be directed to the fast track security desk. As mentioned earlier, it’s a small airport and there isn’t a dedicated separate area for fast track customers to go through security separately. When the crowds are large, it’s not obvious where the fast track desk at Malta International Airport is so make sure to ask! I was lucky to be flying business today, so I was able to avoid the work mammoth crowd and long lines but I had to ask one of the staff, who had to ask her supervisor, then I was led to the fast track desk.

 

Visit Valletta Malta

In Valletta, the gated city. It is rich in history!

 

4. When taking a cab from Valletta, do not take the white ones outside Valletta gate. They will give you an exorbitant price. Pick up your phone and call for a cab instead, it will likely be better priced.

5. More on cabs. Do not ask the restaurants in Valletta to call you a cab. They will likely call the white ones, which will be even more expensive than walking to Valletta gate to get it yourself. Call the cab yourself. Unless you don’t mind paying some euros extra. Myself, I prefer not to be cheated out of my hard-earned money. I prefer eCabs. I find their rates reasonable.

6. If you need a cab from Malta International Airport, I have found the cab booth at the exit of the airport (after customs) quite reliable. From my past experience, this is the only time I would advise you to take white cabs in Malta. On any other occasion, you’re on your own.

7. When traveling to Malta, read TripAdvisor reviews on everything before you pay for it. Everything! I have heard crazy (but true) stories about a certain well-known Malta to Gozo cruise company that I shall not name. You’ll be very glad you did your homework!

 



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Traveling to Malta this spring/summer? Tips for a smooth trip during peak season.

Traveling to Malta in peak season

It is peak season for travel to Malta this time of the year. The sun is shining bright, the streets are busy, and the capital – Valletta – is buzzing with tourists. Some of them are wandering around by themselves, and others in groups following the raised umbrella or placard of their tour guide. The ocean is everywhere you look, and you have a myriad different things to keep you entertained.

There seemed to be a higher number of seniors this week, compared to other times. Maybe they prefer to visit Malta in May, I’m not sure. All ages find Malta very easy to come to, it seems. I have seen many families visiting with infants, toddlers, teenagers, young adults and seniors alike so I figure it’s pretty family friendly. Read some TripAdvisor reviews here to see what others say.
This post is about tips for traveling to Malta during the peak season though, so here we go.


  1. Book your hotel way in advance. In peak season the good hotels fill up pretty fast. I like The Palace and 115 The Strand. I once had trouble finding a room at my preferred options and had to go with Europa for a night (I would stay away from this one) and Bayview Hotel for 2 nights. Bayview wasn’t so bad but I wouldn’t select it unless I had no option. I would pick it over Europa though (ugh)! Bayview is also hit and miss. Some rooms are ‘meh’, others are ‘no way!’ I was lucky to get a room in the first category, and the best thing about the room was the sea view from the small balcony. Don’t let the foyer fool you. From my stay to the hotel, I concluded they renovated that and nothing else. Also, TA will have mixed reviews for Bayview Hotel. I believe this is because they have apartments too, and these are likely better than the hotel rooms.

  2. If you need to get somewhere fast, allow room for the possibility that the bus will be late. This will be anywhere from a few minutes to as much as 20 minutes.

  3. If your budget allows, take a cab to the airport. As mentioned above, buses can be late pretty often in Malta. Actually, cabs too. Pad your trip to the airport with lots of buffer time just in case. Malta is not place to believe Google Maps calculation of duration of travel, especially regarding going to the Airport. Don’t do this in Malta in peak season. You might be okay in January, but you don’t want to risk it in April, May, June, and onwards through summer.

  4. Tip 4 builds on 3 above. The airport can get crazy busy! I am writing this aboard a flight out of Malta, and the size of crowds at the airport today was unbelievable. It’s a small but busy airport. The line to security was crazy long, the cab I had booked the night before had picked me up almost 15 minutes late – it takes 20 minutes to get to the airport if the roads are good and not busy – it’s a recipe for missing your flight if not careful.

  5. If flying business or first class, ask to be directed to the fast track desk to go through security. As mentioned earlier, it’s a small airport and there isn’t a dedicated separate area for fast track customers to go through security separately. When the crowd is large, it’s not obvious where the fast track desk at Malta International Airport is so make sure to ask! I was lucky to be flying business today, so I was able to avoid the mammoth crowd and long lines but I had to ask one of the staff, who had to ask her supervisor, then I was led to the fast track desk.

  6. Buy an Explorer TalLinja bus card. This will help keep your travel costs on the island lower.

  7. When taking a cab from Valletta, do not take the white ones outside Valletta gate. They will give you an exorbitant price. Call for a cab instead, it will likely be better priced.

  8. More on cabs. Do not ask the restaurants in Valletta yto call you a cab. They will likely call the white one, which will be even more expensive than walking to Valletta gate to get it yourself. Call the cab yourself. Unless you don’t mind. Myself, I prefer not to be cheated out of my hard-earned money. I prefer eCabs. I find their rates reasonable.

  9. When traveling to Malta, read TripAdvisor reviews on everything before you pay for it. Everything! I have had crazy (but true) stories about a certain well-known Malta to Gozo cruise company that I shall not name. You’ll be very glad you did your homework!
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Nidarosdomen – Norway’s grandest cathedral 

 

Nidaros Cathedral

 

Nidarosdomen is the northernmost medieval cathedral in the world, and it’s the site of the coronation of kings in Norway. You can see the cathedral’s peaks from almost everywhere in Trondheim. I enjoyed taking pictures of it from every angle I could as I wondered around Trondheim.

You don’t find cathedrals this old and grand so far up in Northern Europe, which makes Nidarosdomen that more special. Not that it needs the extra bump. It’s very grand all in itself, in spite of having suffered 3 fires over the centuries.

 

View of Trondheim and Nidarosdomen from Kristiansten Fort

 

I had the pleasure of enjoying a concert there, Nidarosdomen has got a very grand organ. It makes you marvel at the artisanship of the artisans of old. It’s one of those things you just have to see. The cathedral is ranked on TripAdvisor as number 1 of things to do in Trondheim, but don’t take my word for it, have a look at others thought of it. See if you might want to add it to your Trondheim itinerary.

Nidarosdomen is a must-see when in Trondheim.

 

One can’t talk about Nidaros Cathedral without mentioning St. Olav, the Viking that is credited for first advocating for Christianity in Norway (advocacy is a very mild word here) and the patron saint of the country. Apparently the cathedral was built at the site of his grave.

 

Nidarosdomen Architecture

Good to know about Nidarosdomen
  • You can purchase tickets at the cafe right next door to the cathedral.
  • Don’t forget to claim your discount if you are a student.
  • Check out the Archbishops’s Palace too while you are there
  • If you can, attend the concert if they have one on the day of your visit



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A visit to Popeye’s Village

 

Popeye’s Village is a quaint little village tucked away on one of Malta’s rocky shores. A relic from the movie on Popeye the Sailor-man that was shot here decades ago, they’ve kept this themed piece of rock true to the movie set. While it is not skydive-exciting, it is worth a visit for adults too. See, I thought it was a children only place but it turned out different.

Visiting Popeye's Village

Parts of it burnt down years ago but they were able to rebuild it. Popeye’s Village makes for a good view of the rocky island from here, the scenery is quite idyllic.

Sunny Mediterranean day at Popeye's Village

I really liked that Popeye’s Village seems stuck in another age. The quaint wooden houses, with the ancient, ramshackled furniture and tools; Popeye’s Village is more like a museum actually. You could say it’s a museum dedicated to the movie, Popeye the Sailor-man.

Visitors get to perform in reenactments of parts of the original movie, and there are some games too. Stepping into the different rooms around the village is like stepping into a time machine taking you back 60 years ago, with the old appliances and ‘decor’ used in the movie. I wasn’t sure what to expect going there but I liked Popeye’s.

How about restaurants? Any food in Popeye’s Village?

Yes. Do not expect much from the eateries though. They are just adequate enough to quench your thirst and fill your tummy, nothing fancy. 😉

Blue sky blue sea at Popeye Village



Booking.com

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The Maltese Islands – Gozo

The Maltese Islandsgame-of-thrones-whatwouldcatherinedo

Gozo is the second biggest of the Maltese islands, and a must visit when in Malta. Think of it as a more serene, cleaner version of mainland Malta. There are many sites to see on this island, it is rich in history. You may want to book yourself a room, or villa and spend more than one day on the island.

Places to go  while in Gozo

1.Victoria – The capital. A good place to visit quaint shops with Gozitan crafts and more.


2. Citadella – The fort, originally built by the Romans in the heart of  Victoria then rebuilt by the Knights of St John, now houses a museum, some restaurants and some conference rooms and lovely terraces accessed via narrow ancient streets. The citadel also houses a cathedral built in 1697. If you’re a Game of Thrones fan you’ll want to see the Citadella, some of the GOT scenes were shot here.


Citadella-in-Gozo

The sunset as seen from inside the gates of Gozo’s Citadella

3. Dwerja Bay and The Azure Window – supposedly it’s splitting apart slowly over time, you might want to see it before it is a window no more. People like swimming here as well and exploring the caves. The popular diving spot, Blue Hole, is located here. The Inland Sea, Il-Qawra, great for swimming, is also located in this area.


4. The Saltpans


5. Malsaforn – Have lunch or sunbathe at the seaside


6. Xlendi – Swim or dive

azure-window-in-Gozo

The Azure Window


How to get to Gozo

1. By ferry from Malta

2. By boat from Comino

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Innflytningsfest – Housewarming in Bergen 

image

Isn’t this quite a view!

This weekend was a very important one, as we moved into our new home and entertained there for the very first time.

Norwegians like a good party so it goes without saying, the drink flowed! Moods loosened up, and so did the limbs and waists, I’m happy to report! In Africa, a party has not achieved the highest standards of success until the guests hit the dance floor. That is something to write home about, as the saying goes. The dance and the drink make the party a success, and this housewarming scored 10/10 on each point.

image

Making merry with bubbles

 

We served our guests lit’s of champagne, Veuve Clicquot no less, and rounded it up with some sushi. And true to Norwegian norm, everyone came along with lots of booze in all forms and names. It was a happy crowd no doubt.

With Ian’s deejay skills, and our friends decked in a choice of white, black or red and bringing life to the party, I will say that we kicked off life at our new address with much style, flair, and fun.

 

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A seafood date at Bergen Fish Market

Fisketorget i Bergen – or Bergen fish market – is a very popular attraction for tourists in Bergen.  Here, you will find sea food of  all sorts of shapes, some of it too frightening-looking for me to ever lay a finger on, let alone taste. But a savvy traveller like yourself already knows that  many strange looking things are delicacies in many parts of the world.

I learnt that Fisketorget has been around for ages. This is perhaps best evidenced by the fact that the locals love it too. On our night there, there were several older Norwegian couples that had come by for a meal of fresh fish.

I am not your typical sea food person. Yes, I do enjoy tilapia, salmon, turbot, cod – catch my drift? I’m about the more ordinary-looking fish. Offer me some lobster and crab and I am running for the hills. Have you seen the claws and jaws on these things? Also they seem to have an entire ecosystem living on their bodies. Why would I ever want to eat these creatures?

 

lobster at fish market bergen

Honey… surprise!

Well, it turned out that Ian had the very opposite idea in mind. Despite having grown up in the Bergen area, he had never ventured into the fish market to taste its delights. So this evening, having come down from Ulriken, he decided today was the day he was going to try a fish market dinner.

I was sceptical at first, and quite afraid of this type of fish (yes please, eye roll right on cue), but I decided to give it a go.

Long story short, we pointed at some of the live fish in the tank as our choice, Ian spoke to them about how many grams to cook for us, we sat down right there in the market, and had a dinner worthy of sea lords.

fish market fisketorget bergen norway

fish market fisketorget bergen norway

Com’on! What kind of savvy traveller does not like lobster!

You’re probably thinking “girl, what! Lobster! How do you say no to that.” Listen, lobster has been romanticised way beyond its virtues. Ian and I seem to agree on this. I think lobster may have earned its repute because it is not as common as crab, who knows. I’m happy to hear from any one that does.

I lived another day, conquered another fear, lived to tell about it. I am happy to report it was a very lovely dinner.

Thinking about some fresh seafood at Bergen Fish Market? Check out some reviews on Tripadvisor.

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A little shopping in Copenhagen

I have been keeping an eye out for a good pair of boots so on our weekend trip to Denmark, I decided on a bit of shopping in Copenhagen. We strolled along Copenhagen’s main shopping street, Stroget,

I eventually happened upon a suitable, comfortable, robust and fashion safe pair of stompers in Ecco, and carried it off with me. Well, not exactly. Like I usually do, I wandered around Stroget some more looking for possible suitable candidates for boot of the winter 2016/2017. After all, it was a shopping in Copenhagen kind of day. Doesn’t count if you just pop in and out of a single shop, right?

I am thinking about boots too…. how much did the pair set you back?

I find it worth the precious pennies spent. Find out the prices here.

shopping in Copenhagen at Stroget

boots and shoping in copenhagen

Taking them out for a spin at Copenhagen’s New Carlsberg Museum, Glyptoteket.

 

 

Was that all for your shopping in Copenhagen?

Well, there was a really lovely salesgirl that took the time to share some tips on where to go as a tourist visiting Copenhagen. She said she was from Texas, on an employee exchange programme with Ecco Denmark. She seemed to have learnt a lot about leather during her training at Ecco’s factories and was eager to share the info. Well done Ecco.

Oh, and I bought a camera too! I am so excited about that! No, I did not buy it from Ecco of course. It is a lovely Sony A6000 and oh what fun I am going to have with this gorgeous gadget! Have a look at options on Amazon if you’re thinking of getting yourself a camera that is not attached to your phone or simply exploring photography.

It was quite chilly, saw me and the man bought ourselves some gloves. He got a pair of Loakes boots too. Mostly, we went around sight seeing and eating quite a lot. Food tourism is a thing!

One last thing. You can do your shopping tax free! Simply ask if the store is eligible for tax free shopping and they will be happy to tell you more and give you the necessary paperwork.

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Understanding Scandinavian Culture and the Nordic People

looking_over_Bergen_city_from_Ulriken_Mountain_in_Norway

There is a lot more to the Nordics than good seafood and breath-taking views. I certainly don’t mind both though!

I have been trying to understand Scandinavian Culture and the Nordic people in general, to make my integration here as smooth as possible. This region has got many cultural nuances, and I have learnt that you risk some frustration if you go in unarmed. You know what they say: knowledge is power. And forewarned is forearmed.

So last year Ian encouraged me to buy this book. The Almost Nearly Perfect People – Behind The Myth of The Scandinavian Utopia. Very interesting title, I know! From hygellig to janteløven to nude saunas, this book is a great insight for anyone considering an extended stay in the Nordic region.



I mostly read this book on plane rides in out and out of Scandinavia. It is a comfortable read with a satirical take on many things Nordic, while staying true to the subject. While there are several injections of a healthy dose of humour through out this book on Scandinavian culture and the Nordic region, the book does not trivialise.

Many things that I have read about in the book, I have witnessed in real life in the short time I have spent among Scandinavians. I have spent a bit of time in Norway, and visited Sweden a few times. I have only visited Denmark once. So you see, I really need the Scandinavian Cultural education, as I am going to be living and working in this region.

Do I really need to bother educating myself about Scandinavian culture?

Some lovely Norwegians I have met have advised to simply be myself and not worry too much about what might be considered un-Norwegian. This is good advice. As long as you are well mannered, you should be okay. However, what is normal one place can be completely taboo elsewhere.

Check the book out on Amazon, and read some of the reviews. Honestly I was surprised to see that it cost this much less on Amazon. I bought it in a Norwegian bookstore and it cost me more. No surprise there, though. But I have thoroughly enjoyed learning about the Scandinavian people and their special ways. If you don’t want to read all of it (I can’t imagine why!), get a preview on your Kindle.

You keep switching between the words Scandinavian and Nordic, what is the difference?

Glad you asked! Scandinavia refers to the lands that were originally occupied by the vikings. These are Norway, Sweden and Denmark. Nordic refers to Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Finland and Iceland.

I feel that The Almost Nearly Perfect People – Behind The Myth of The Scandinavian Utopia was a good way to prepare for my Scandinavian move. Have you read it? What did you think? Do you know someone traveling to the land of the people of the North for a while? Why not get it for them as a going away present?

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Scandic Ørnen

 

Scandic Ørnen Bergen Visit Bergen

 

I will say this first about Scandic Ørnen: they know how to lay out a breakfast. It’s such a large spread, you are left wanting for nothing! Whyy am I leading with food? Because who does not like a good breakfast!

 

breakfast at scandic ørnen in bergen

Don’t be fooled but our breakfast choices, Scandic Ørnen’s breakfast spread is a lot more impressive.

 

Our room was great; it was a junior suite, and when hotelling, extra space is always nice. More than nice, it is great!

We booked it through hotels.com they always have these great offers, you might want to check them out. And for finding other unforgettable experiences at your travel destination Viator is a great place to start.

I’m told this is the newest Scandic in Bergen. It shows. It’s well-kept and the daily housekeeping here is certainly done a lot better than they do it at the Scandic Sunnjford in Førde.

I feel that if a client is forking out money on a hotel, especially one with a good name, then the least that client can expect is a quality product and service, as advertised. Many hotels seem to have trained their staff not to do proper housekeeping unless it is a guest’s final day and a new guest is coming in. Or perhaps this is what the staff train themselves to do, I have heard friends that have worked in this sector tell such stories.

I feel that this is not right. A guest is paying a good amount of money for every day they stay, the quality of service should similarly be consistent on all days. If they want you to bring housecleaning supplies so you can clean the room and cups and all, then they should I tell you at booking that it is a self-catering arrangement.

Happily, Scandic Ørnen had that consistent quality. Our room had lots of light streaming in, and while the view was not outstanding (parking lot, haha) I felt that that did not take away from our Scandic experience.

 

the scandic ørnen

The atrium

 

On one of the nights we had a lovely dinner at the rooftop restaurant, the Roast Restaurant and Bar. The views up here were great. I wish I had some show-worthy pics. We had lamb and the portions were very generous. I loved our time there, and I truly hate to say this, but I try to be absolutely honest in my reviews of the places I have been. The lamb was not memorable. Gasp! There I said it.

 

Unfortunately the desert was quite bland too. Actually that is an understatement. That strawberry soup thing was atrocious.  We had the 3-course set meal, and both had the same items, so we couldn’t even each try the other’s meal option. You must be thinking why, then, did she call it a lovely dinner? Because we still managed to have a lovely night. Maybe Ian and I are just great at having a good time haha.

Overall, the Scandic Ørnen is worth your money. The service is great and the staff courteous and helpful. Do not miss the breakfast! That and the lovely room were the best parts of our stay. Check out their rooftop bar and grab a drink. The view of the city from up there is really nice.

Interested in the hotel rates? Have a look at hotels.com A sweet deal might be waiting.

hotels.com discounts

 

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