Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Big Changes Ahead

I guess it's time to make an official acknowledgement about a big change in my life. It has not been a secret for awhile but I sure have been doing everything I can to put off dealing with the fact that P is moving to Switzerland. Just before we make it to our first wedding anniversary, he'll be moving out and I"ll be living alone for the first time in my life. It's funny how I sometimes thought I missed out on that having my own apartment phase as I always had roommates in the US and then moved straight to Germany to live with P. For the next 6ish months, I'll have the apartment all to myself, unless I find a worthy roommate to live in the 2nd bedroom that is. I've already threatened to paint the entire place pink but in reality I'm much too lazy to do any more wall painting.
Last weekend, for the first time, I visited the city I will soon call home and am pleased to report it makes me happy. The old town is great and the location is nice but, far and away, the most exciting thing is that you can swim in the river! I miss the ocean so much here in southern Germany that swimming in a river is super appealing. Especially when the river flows right through the center of the city. I know there will not be any waves to catch but to walk down town and jump in the river and float in its current is somehow super appealing to me. Maybe that's because it's been over 30 degrees C every day since last Friday and I'd love to jump in any body of water these days! But maybe the idea of urban nature is really just that appealing to me. Either way, I've already bought he local fish bone bag to keep my clothes and shoes dry while I have a nice city swim. Hopefully I'll get at least one hot weekend in September to put it to use.
For now, I'm still planning to enjoy the last days together with P and daydream of cool new downtown apartments while avoiding the living on my own reality.

so tell me, have you ever lived alone? What was the biggest adjustment when transitioning from cohabiting to solo living? Will it be hard to live together after getting used to being alone? Here are a few snaps from my visit for your own day dreaming pleasure.

Tuesday, August 09, 2011

The Island of Gozo

Gozo is the small(er) island to the north of Malta island and the perfect day trip. For RIers, it's easy to think of Block Island, you take a similar ferry and the lifestyle is calmer, the views better and the beaches more natural. As you may imagine from my brief description, I loved Gozo. Beyond the island the name is just so much fun to say and they make Gozo cheese which is kind of weird but an interesting concept as it survives at room temperature which can be upwards of 25 degrees celcius on a normal day. Since I took so many photos, I decided to narrate our day pictorally with brief descriptions. So, jump in the baby Kia and load in...
The boat ride was rather windy, and some of us :cough:me:cough: were more prepared for the elements while others had to run down to the car deck and retrieve their jackets.

The island quickly came into view and if it's possible, the water became a deper blue.

These islands were once British but I'm not sure if that is the explanation for this phone booth which was located across the street from...

this church. I wish I knew the name of it but we were somehow drawn to it on the horizon as we drove of the boat and came straight here. Mas was just gettign out so we were able to get a parking spot and have a look around.

P ventured inside as I was wearing a neon yellow t-shirt and bermuda shorts thus declearing myself inappropriately dressed to enter a church. Although I did peek in the entrance when he told me I was missing out on the immaculate interior. Below, you can see a crystal chandelier covered in plastic. I had previously read that all church decor is covered during lent and this photo was taken about a week before Easter. We saw other Maltenese Catholic churches on our trip and they had similar coverings on lights as well as statues and golden alter decorations. Things that were not functional like lights always had a deep purple and black covering so you could not really know what was underneath.

This church didn't suck us in as much but was still impressive and one of our first impressions of the island.

As we drove along, we quickly reached the end of the port town and island.

We continued our island drive down toward the ocean along narrow, twisty roads, stopping many times to take in the views which can be described as no less than breath taking.

Finally we reached the water (pictured above) and I was excited to get my toes wet. The water was a bit cold but this area had lots of small jelly fish which worried me more than the temperature. After hearing stories of crazy warm water jellies in Australia, I no longer trust unfamiliar jellies near my body.

We eventually decided to stop for lunch al fresco.

I ate delicious fresh calamari (it was not breaded or fried) and P had a pizza with Gozo cheese while we took in views of waves and the old city.

Then we got back on the windy coastal road, we didn't much of a map and the road lacked signs but every now and again you would come across a sign listing the location of the capital city and various cultural points of interest. I would say it was a relaxed drive but it becomes a bit tense when faced with oncoming cars or any sort of delivery truck and the locals overtakeing constantly.

We drove to a coastal overlook which may or may not have beent he highest point on the island.

Then we found a cave. You could enter the cave but it was dark even in daylight and no one had a flashlight so most people only peeked in. I briefly lost P to the cave but when he realized he could see nothing he emerged in search of a flash light (as if our Kia was so prepared). I could offer a camera flash and off we went.

Eventually the cave narrowed and we decided to set our sights on the below beach instead.

Hello beach sand! Once again some of us were more prepared for the natural elements of this island than others.

Once he saw the clear water and soft sand together with my refusal to stand anywhere else, those German shoes and black socks were quickly disgarded.

After we had our fill of wading in kneed deep ocean, we washed the sand off of our feet and hopped back in the Kia. We drove until we found the Ggantiga Temples. These were our first temples of the trip and turned out to be the best choice. These particular temples are the most in tact on the island and really allow visitors to grasp the intricate design and build of such ancient structures. These date to before the pyramids and were once 7ft tall stone structures with roofs.

After our visit to the Temples, we were quickly getting tired from a day of island exploring so our baby Kia hopped back on the boat and we sailed home to Malta Island, content with our day and still enamored with the color of the water (maybe that was just me).

Sunday, August 07, 2011

Malta Continued

Since I didn't debrief from one trip before going on the next and I don't have any upcoming vacations planned I figured I better get some Malta photos up here to do some quick recaps. Malta was a really great island and here are a few more snapshots with captions. 
 This is St. Agatha's tower and it dates to 1649. It was a watch tower and mostly defended by 4 men although it has a much greater capacity of 50 according to the plaque. From below it looks much more impressive but somehow I love it's imperfect coloring and weedy surroundings.

View from the hillside by the tower of the ocean and the hotel we almost booked, not a bad location but much more isolated from the rest of the island than where we actually stayed.

The best part about this photo is that it was taken by an Ed Hardy family (the dad) who made a snide comment about the fact that I had an actual camera. He prefers to use his iPhone but ironically walked up to us and offered to take a photo so he could not feel guilty asking us to take one of his family. We got a good laugh out of them.

This one ominous wall was further along the path towards the sea. It somehow represents Malta well in that it appears to be the start of something great that was abandoned all to soon. Malta is a small island with great potential but somehow lacks follow through. 

I just liked this abandoned cluster of buildings. Not sure what they ever were or how old they are. Thought they looked eerie and destitute against the sky and cement.

I wish I was on that sail boat in the middle of such beautiful blue ocean.

One of my favorite things about Malta was the color of the ocean...too bad it was too cold for swimming on our Easter visit.

This is Popeye's Village a left over set from the movie (I've never heard of or seen said movie) which has been turned into an amusement park of sorts. 

After  our return from Gozo (next post) we watched the waves crash on Popeye's village and took some photos as we waited for the sunset.

I'm a sucker for a sunset over the ocean.

One of the many ornate and well kept churches on the island. This photo was taken from our Kia while driving up a super windy road.

The Malta bus. These guys are an interesting part of the island culture and as I learned will be extinct by now. All of the buses on Malta were privately owned. We were told by this summer that would change and a private company would bring in new buses and take over the service while retaining some drivers and putting others out of work. However, we experienced the privately owned/operated buses which means some buses are much cleaner/newer/quieter than others. There are a lot of buses and I have no idea how they determine who runs which route but the bus schedule means very little in reality as buses just seem to turn up at bus stops. Bus fare is super cheap, we paid 60 EUR cents for a 30 minute ride to Valetta. Knowing that the bus drivers are essentially businessmen I was surprised to see them turn people away when the bus was not yet at capacity. If anything, I would have expected over crowded buses. I'm not sure if the buses actually changed but it would be nice to have cleaner running buses although there are hundreds of these and junking them all at once is not really so great for the environment either. I'm also curious to know what will become of the million souvenirs with buses on them.

Next up, our day on the island of Gozo.