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24 hours in Valletta, Malta

When you find a flight with a 24-hr layover in a city — you book it. No questions asked. This is what my husband did on our recent trip to England. We were attending a graduation in Nottingham, and on the way home he found a connection through Malta with a two-night layover that would give us the entire Sunday to explore the smallest capital in Europe – Valletta. And we did not regret this decision for one second.

The harbor city Valletta is probably best known for its colorful covered balconies — at least that was my image of Malta before we came to see for ourselves. Needless to say, it has so much more to show. Valletta offers a medley of British, Mediterranean, and Arab vibe — unique in all regards. The architecture throughout the city is an eye catcher longing to have its picture taken. Another mesmerizing place is the Upper Barrakka – the panoramic view of the Grand Harbor is spectacular and shouldn’t be missed.

We arrived on a Saturday evening and it was already dark out so we decided to get a drink in one of the numerous bars. We ended up at Kingsway Bar & Caffe where we enjoyed fabulous cocktails and a Maltese charcuterie. Just about the most perfect introduction we could have asked for.

Waking up close to 9am on Sunday, I was worried that we wouldn’t  have enough time to see all of pretty Valletta. Boy, was I wrong. Valletta is so small that by 3pm we had already walked some of the pretty streets twice. Of course, we could have made it a point to visit numerous museums and churches, but we preferred to roam the lonely alleys soaking up the unique atmosphere.

We started off our day with an ahhhhh-mazing coffee, banana bread, and croissant at Lot Sixty One Coffee Roasters. Heaven almighty, they sure know what they are doing! The atmosphere is welcoming, the barista a lovely young woman with a huge smile on her face, the coffee smooth, and the pastries a dream. We loved the coffee at Lot Sixty One so much that after having it for breakfast in the morning, we came back in the afternoon to get some more. 

For late lunch we managed to get a seat in the best steak restaurant, Sciaccia Grill, and had a tasty and hearty meal. Still dreaming about that juicy medium-rare sirloin! What was interesting was how things worked there – you don’t get a fixed menu to choose from but rather step up to the butcher’s counter and select your meat. The cook will guide you through your meat selection so that you end up with something you will truly devour.

In 2018, Valletta will be the European Capital of Culture. Along with the title comes much attention and the promise of booming tourism. Valletta is gearing up for it: Lots of construction is being finalized, and many stories of old abandoned houses being bought up and transformed into modern and stylish Airbnbs. We got to stay in one of them; a 400-year old traditional Maltese house – recently modernized, but with the old Maltese charm still in tact. It was an experience, and we can only highly recommend you do the same.

Twenty-four hours might be enough to visit the stunning capital, but not enough to see the entire country nor get a feel for the contrasts life on an island has to offer. I cannot believe how we could have overlooked this beauty of a country for so long. We cannot wait to return to this lovely place we have truly fallen in love with.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Italy travel

Focaccia and a Wedding in Camogli, Italy

Just a short train ride away from Genoa lie the most beautiful little fishing villages and coastal towns one can explore in Italy. A trip along the coast will leave you speechless many times over. Most will visit only a very small portion of coastline, the famous Cinque Terre. This post, however, serves as a little reminder that the area hosts a lot more stunning places.

Those who know me are aware that in the second half of 2011 I was living la bella vita in the Metropolitan City of Genova, studying political science as well as translating & interpreting. When I wasn’t busy cramming for my exams at the Università degli studi di Genova and when TrenItalia wasn’t on strike, I was either having aperitivo with my friends or exploring the beautiful Ligurian coastline up and down. It was an experience, to say the least. Back then, I also made it to Camogli a couple of times and fell in love with the place over and over again.

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Some facts for the geography lovers: Genoa is the capital of the Italian region of Liguria and also the center of the Italien Riviera. Italians call it la riviera ligure which, pronounced by an Italian, will be a melody in your ears. North of Genoa you will find la riviera di ponente (the coast of the setting sun) and south of  Genoa you will find la riviera di levante (the coast of the rising sun). This is what I love about Italy, everything always has so much meaning. The region can be reached easily by train from Milan, which is also the cheapest way to discover the area. Car rentals in Italy might be cheap but you will quickly accumulate tolls by traveling on the autostrada. This being said, I would also like to warn you that you will spend a lot more money on food.

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Six years later, together with Y, I returned to this sleepy little fishing village to celebrate the love of two good friends. Y and I splurged and stayed at the beautiful Hotel Cenobio dei Dogi, where both the wedding ceremony and reception were held. It gave us the chance to rediscover the town in the short time we had there. We also did some people watching and a lot of focaccia eating. And I have come to realize that time truly stands still in these small Italian villages. Nothing changed. Everything was right where I remembered it being.

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The wedding itself was beautiful. Loving words from family and friends of the couple were accompanied by the sound of clashing waves and the views of pastel colored houses. An international couple we can certainly relate to: she is from a small town in North Carolina, he is from (also a small town in) Belgium, they met in South Africa, fell in love, and made it work through the distance. Now they live their happily ever after in Switzerland.

Cheers to the newlyweds! 

 After all this, I also realized something important for me: It was in my semester abroad in Genoa that I really started experimenting with photography. It’s not surprising that Italy, with its picturesque scenery and photogenic people, might turn one into a photographer. At least, that is what Italy did to me. I hope you love my photos from our trip as much as I do. The photos from our recent trip certainly look better than the ones from over six years ago. Comparing them I can really see how much I have improved in both technique and style.

 Photos taken on Canon AV1 | 35 mm | Fuji400h | Carmencita Film Lab

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travel

6-year Anniversary Weekend: Mallorca, Spain (on 35mm)

My first experience in Mallorca was in 2015. But I can barely remember this weekend as I suffered from food poisoning. What I still have in my mind, however, are trees with huge juicy oranges and lemons tangling from them, a multitude of blues when gazing at the ocean, and lots of fun with my sweet friend Abigail. So, I knew back then already that I wanted to return at some point and experience it without feeling nauseous the entire time.

When I found flights with Eurowings for under 50 EUR round-trip a few weeks ago, I knew that this would be a fun thing to do with my fiancé. To enjoy our last anniversary as an unmarried couple in the warmth, eating oranges and tapas, devouring ice cream, and slurping Sangria would just be what we needed after a long and freezing winter in Vienna.

On our 6 year anniversary Y and I went to Mallorca together. The island known for the almond blossoms, citrus trees, a pretty coastline, bikers, and an overflow of German tourists.

What we love on our travels is finding secluded spots and making them our own. It is venturing off the beaten path and finding restaurants and bars true locals would frequent, but on this island, it seemed impossible to do that. While the scenery was indeed beautiful, we actually had a difficult time finding outstanding restaurants. Nothing “wowed” us. Everything seemed overpriced and mediocre. I felt a bit like I failed in making our trip one of a kind.

Nevertheless, we  did soak up sun and enjoyed ourselves a bunch. We watched a beautiful sunset in Cap de Formentor, had quaint evenings together talking about our future, and read up on the Island’s history and culture.

Once more, I only brought my analog camera on this get-away and had an awful lot of fun picking scenes to photograph. The excitement of waiting for our photos to come back from the lab is just such an interesting feeling. It brings me back to the time when my dad would photograph with the camera and we waited until he brought home the photos in a huge envelope for us to look at as a family.

Without further ado, some impressions of Mallorca:

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The first night we stayed in a super nice hotel: San Lorenzo. The other three nights Y and I rented an Airbnb, which was cute too, with a super nice view  and pretty details.

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Around the corner from our Airbnb was this fabulous cafe, where you could order Nutelccino. Unfortunately, I don’t have a photo of this yumminess because I messed up the photo. I’m still learning to photograph on film so, that’s how it goes. I did post a lot more photos on Instagram.

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We drove around the island and visited small towns like Valldemossa, Deia, and Soller.

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And on our 6 year anniversary we went to Cap the Formentor to admire the sunset.

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MALLORCA CHEAT SHEET:

Where to eat and drink:

  • Cafe Can Toni (delicious tapas)
  • Madeleine de Proust (breakfast)
  • Mercat de Santa Catalina (buying fresh fruits and veggies, fish, tapas)
  • La Molienda (Nutelccino)
  • Cafe L’Antiquari (best Sangria)
  • Bens d’Aval Restaurant (tasting menu, stunning views of the coast)

Our favourite area in Palma de Mallorca:

  • Santa Catalina (because it felt the least touristy)

Shopping is cheap at:

  • Mango
  • Zara
  • Massimo Dutti

What to buy:

  • Leather goods (shoes and hand bags)
  • oranges, lemons, and almonds

Interesting facts:

  • Majority language on the island is not Spanish but Catalan
  • If Catalunya ever seceded, Mallorca would even try to go with them
  • Mallorcan almond ice cream is a thing – try it
food travel

Sleepless in Seattle,…

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Last year in September, Y and I finally made our trip to the Pacific Northwest — a place I always dreamed of exploring. While we did not get to snowboard Whistler (this experience remains in the top 10 of my bucket list), we got lost in the authentic beauty of Vancouver and Vancouver Island. Y and myself rediscovered the outdoorsy side of ourselves and took in the fresh air, gorgeous views, and natural lightness of being.

Our trip came to an end when we took an early ferry to Seattle to catch a red-eye flight back to our home in Vienna.  Continue Reading

travel

A Day Well Spent in Davidson, North Carolina

Davidson is a small lake town in the middle of my favorite U.S. state North Carolina. To me as a European, Davidson resembles true small town America everyone on the old continent dreams of.

Why? Well, it basically has it all: a film-worthy college campus composed of splendid brick houses, a more than picturesque main street, gorgeous Victorian-style houses featuring dreamy porches, and friendly Southeners who smile and make me happy all around.

When traveling to visit friends and my boyfriend’s family in Concord, I have a list of places I try to visit on every trip. Davidson is on said list. It usually goes down like this: We visit the campus where I can pretend I went to American college, then take a stroll along Main Street to peep into independent stores and mingle with the store owners, and grab amazingly good coffe at SUMMIT COFFEE CO., one of my most favorite coffee shops in the entire world. Their coffees are just sensational and the vibe cozy and warm.

Spending a day in Davidson is truly romantic every time. And during fall season, it’s magical too.

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KINDRED RESTAURANT

Recently, I discovered that a new culinary experience was added to the Davidson family: KINDRED restaurant. During the holidays in December I finally got to check it out.

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One shoe into the restaurant I was more or less convinced. The design is on point. We were seated on the second floor and handed lovely menus. Everyone was so attentative and our wishes were basically read from our eyes. The bartender prepared mixed drinks and cocktails with so much grace and style, it was fascinating. While watching him, it was the first time I thought of barkeeping as an art.

When we ordered the Skillet Burger and the Avocado sandwich I hoped that my ecstatic mindset wasn’t going to be shattered. Not much time passed and our orders arrived. The presentation of the food was just as flawless as the design of the restaurant itself. And the taste was devine.

When one of the waiters realized I was taking a bunch of photographs, I was invited down to the place where the magic happens – the kitchen. Apparantly, I looked like a journalist. Between friendly cooks smiling at me, beautiful home made pasta and breadloafs I felt a bit like an intruder. However, I got to briefly meet the owner who was down there himself, cooking away. Such a treat.

In a nutshell, at KINDRED, design, taste, and serious cooking skills merge. It wasn’t just the top-notch food that made for an all around great lunch experience, it was the friendly staff, the tasty cocktails, and the sublime design.

KINDRED is now one more place which made it on my must-visit-list for our trips to the lovely Piedmont region of North Carolina.