The Malta Diaries: Week 6

Holy shit / guacamole!! (Depending on if you’re a person who swears or not…) I am the former, obviously!!!!

I cannot believe I am 3/4 into my trip already. You know that feeling when a trip has gone ridiculously quickly, but then at the same time the the first day feels like a lifetime ago? I’m totally having that feeling right now, I’m so settled here, it actually feels normal to be living in paradise, whereas the first day I was like WTF?!?!??! How is this where I am staying for the next 2 months?!?

Time is strange isn’t it? And speaking of, I’ll stop wittering on, wasting your time and get down to business!

 

Monday (Day 36):

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again… I don’t dread Mondays anymore! And it’s such a wonderful feeling!!

I don’t take many selfies… but when I do…

On Monday I was tired, on my period (sorry guys – TMI) and completely off my antidepressants but soooooo happy!

I feel like every blogger and their dog are talking about mental health issues at the moment, and while that’s great – it’s not what this post is about. So in quick summary: I was officially diagnosed with SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder) back in September – even though I know I’ve had it for years and years – on the same day as my accident, actually.

I went on antidepressants for the first time in my life (personally, I think they’re bullshit, but a number of my close friends and family take them and swear by them, so each to their own I guess). I also went to a psychologist and she was terribly shit. So while I understand that what I’m doing now is a band-aid… it’s a pretty damn good one. I know when I eventually go back to the Netherlands I’m going to have to deal with the SAD stuff again, but for now, Malta, Asia and a career break are calling! 😀

Anyway, back to Monday – I didn’t do much except book the Dutchie’s flights to Asia!!! Whoop whoop!! And work x 2.

 

Tuesday (Day 37):

I don’t need to go into much detail about dead duck day, as I already wrote a post about it when I was still reeling. But let’s just say it was the worst day I’ve had since I’ve been here, and the first time I’ve cried in months. Highs and lows eh?

(Since Tuesday, in addition to the 2 dead ducks, I’ve also had to deal with a dead baby bird, 2 lizards and a mouse head. No idea where the body went!! So I have decided that the 2 cats here are basically dicks.)

Sliema sunset

Thankfully I had plans to go out with my new friend on Tuesday night for drinks, so I was able to talk to someone about it face to face and have a cocktail to commiserate. I also went for a lovely walk along Sliema/St Julian’s promenade and caught the sunset 🙂 🙂

Except the vegan part…

Cat statue, Sliema, Malta

 

Wednesday (Day 38):

Wednesday was a lazy day, I just walked to Top of the World and along Naxxar ridge, to Naxxar Gap. In the evening I had to ‘babysit’ for my hosts’ children (they’re 9 and 13 years old) and so I spent the evening writing (yes, there are more posts coming soon!).

Top of the World, Gharghur

 

Thursday (Day 39): 

You know those days when the day just totally gets away from you? That’s what happened on Thursday. I had big plans to start work at 9am, finish at 12 then go for brunch and then either visit Zabbar or the 3 cities… 

It actually went a bit more like this: I was babysitting until midnight the previous evening, so I started work at 10.30 am until 1.30pm, I then put the week 5 blog post live, I Skyped my family and then had my ‘brunch’ at around 3.30-4pm… so it was actually more like drunch!! 

I then got on a bus towards Valletta but it was so crowded and we were stuck in heavy traffic so I jumped off the bus in Birkikara (not literally) and started to walk instead.

Somehow, all of a sudden, it was 6.30 pm, I was nowhere near Valletta (where I had to go to get my connecting bus) so I had to make the executive decision to abandon my plan!! And I’m so glad I did. Instead I walked along the promenade past Msida, Ta’ Xbiex and Gzira.

I also went to Manoel Island for the first time – it’s a bit abandoned apart from the yacht club and the fort is currently closed… BUT the views of Valletta from across the water are awesome – and without the crowds of Sliema! It’s a lovely place to go if you want peace and quiet!!

View of Valletta from Manoel Island

 

Friday (Day 40):

YAY!!! I finally visited 2 new destinations on Friday: Zabbar and Marsaskala 🙂

Umbrella Street, Zabbar, Malta

I couldn’t find much information online about Umbrella Street, much less the exact location, so here it is: Triq il-Kbira 🙂

Quick Maltese lesson: triq = road/street

Found it!!!! Umbrella Street, Zabbar, Malta

Due to the lack of information available online, I’ll probably do a brief, separate post about Umbrella Street 🙂 But in a nutshell: it’s lovely and well worth the trip if you’re in the area 🙂

There wasn’t much else to do in Zabbar, so I hopped back on the bus to Marsaskala, a small seaside town in South-East Malta. I walked the entire length of the promenade and around the coast to St Thomas Bay. Beautiful!!!

St Thomas Bay, Malta

A couple of previous Workawayers had recommended a bar in St Thomas’ called Zion Reggae Bar so I went to check it out, but unfortunately I was left extremely disappointed. There’s no view as it’s set back from the road, the loos are portaloos (!!) and I paid €5 for the worst Pina Colada I have ever tasted 😦 Jammer! (Damn!)

 

Saturday (Day 41): 

Over the weekend there was a heatwave, so it was about 33-34 degrees, Asia-stylie except that I don’t have air-co!!

I also had to work (x 2) and look after the dogs so a bit of a nothing day. Just going to the shop was a mission in itself 😅

However, silver linings and all that. Here I present to you the perks of working at a gourmet fish & chip shop:

😋😋😋😋😋

(Pieces missing because I started eating and then suddenly remembered to take a photo! Doh!)

 

Sunday (Day 42): 

On Sunday I looked after the dogs again, I did some writing (I’m currently up to 35 draft blog posts! Eeek!) did a workout (seeing as it’s too hot outside at the moment to keep up with my 20k+ steps per day!!) and then I went to The Point in Sliema. I had decided that I didn’t bring enough short sleeve / vest tops with me so I wanted to rectify that. Instead I bought a bikini, a black dress and a yellow jumpsuit!!!! Hahahaha. Oops. Anyone else do this??

Cute house in Sliema

I then jumped on the ferry to Valletta for free (I couldn’t find anyone to pay!) and had a poke about there for an hour or so because the temperatures are a bit cooler late afternoon/evening…

View from Sliema – Valletta ferry

Valletta

Only 2 and a bit weeks to go!!! Eeeeeeekk!!

Hayley x

 

Week 6 stats: 

Photos taken: 98

Distance covered on foot: 83 km

Steps: 128k

NEW Destinations visited: Manoel Island, Zabbar and Masaskala

Lowlights: it begins with dead and ends with ducks.

Things I have learned about Malta this week:  

  • Buses have the registration number BUS followed by their bus number! Simple, eh?
  • Fresh fruit and vegetables are really bloody expensive here 🙃
  • Bigilla is one of the best dips known to (wo)man
  • Health and safety: not really a thing here…

 

 

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The Malta Diaries: Week 5

Week 5 is going to be short and sweet, just like my Mum, haha 😉

I worked at a festival called Earth Garden for 4 days, so my exploring was put on hold temporarily…

 

Monday (Day 29):

On Monday morning the Dutchie left super-early (like 5.30am) so I saw him off in his taxi and then went back to bed. After my shift, I was still knackered so I took a nap and then had a bit of a lazy day – still managed to do 22k steps though, so not *that* lazy. 

Bono being his usual cheeky self 😉

 

Tuesday (Day 30):

After work I decided to go to Mdina and Rabat. I’ve been to Mdina before, but I missed the famous Insta-door so that required a return visit, and seeing as Rabat is right next door it would be silly not to 🙂

The Insta-famous door in Mdina

If you haven’t been to Mdina, I recommend a visit, combined with Rabat (as it’s really not a whole day thing). You can probably spend 2-3 hours in Mdina and you’re done. 

Make sure you visit Fontanella Tea Gardens the views are spectacular! 😀

Fontanella Tea Gardens

Onto Rabat… it’s pretty, but I didn’t really stay very long. I just had a wander around and took lots of pictures of #maltadoors! 

Malta doors

Malta doors

 

Wednesday (Day 31):

Due to my lack of exploring the previous week, I really wanted to visit some new destinations, so I headed to Mgarr.

Mgarr Parish Church

Mgarr Parish Church

If you ever find yourself in Mgarr, there’s a cute cafe/restaurant right opposite the church called Il-Barri – the drinks are so cheap! I guess because it’s off the tourist track…

Mgarr Parish Church

My original plan was to walk from Mgarr to Gnejna Bay and then along the coast to Għajn Tuffieħa Bay and Golden Bay. 

The walk to Gnejna Bay was all downhill, thankfully, and I remember smugly thinking to myself “thank god I don’t have to walk back up this hill” – especially as I’d seen a couple of girls coming the opposite way sweating their lady-balls off! 

Well guess what… I couldn’t get around the coast because it was all boggy and I couldn’t find a (safe) way through… so I did have to walk back up that fucking hill!! 

That’ll teach me. 

Luckily, Gnejna Bay was worth the trip!! Bloody gorgeous! 😀

Gnejna bay, Mgarr


I had a Slush Puppie too, literally haven’t had one of these bad boys in years! It was so refreshing after my walk 🙂 AND I learned a very valuable life lesson. You don’t have to pick red or blue. You can mix them!!!! How am I 36 years old and I’ve only just found this out???

 

Thursday – Sunday (Days 32 – 35):

Over the weekend I worked at Earth Garden – it’s a really cool, alternative festival… I’d actually really like to go next year if I can… but then not work obviously 😉

They have a strict environmental policy, which I love, and the vibe is really laid back. 

Earth Garden
Sexy people don’t litter @ Earth Garden

 

Week 5 stats: 

Photos taken: 83

Distance covered on foot: 81 km

Steps: 127k

NEW Destinations visited: Rabat, Mgarr, Gnejna, Ta Qali (where Earth Garden is held) 

Lowlights: an 11 hour shift at Earth Garden following my normal 3 hour Workaway shift 😱 

Things I have learned about Malta this week:  

  • Taking a wild guess here, but I reckon ‘mela’ is the most commonly used word in the Maltese language. It’s like a filler word and can mean a variety of things: so, so then, well then, of course, sure… and much more. People use it allllllllllll the time! Almost like a tick…
  • Personal space isn’t really a thing here. I mean I’m used to it a bit because I live in Holland. Small country syndrome perhaps? The person in the checkout queue behind you is likely to brush up against you – multiple times – and not apologise or think anything of it… and no this isn’t just men being pervy. I’ve had women do it to me too. Argh… as an English person, invading our personal space is about one of the worst things you can do!

Things I have learned about life this week:

  • You don’t have to pick red OR blue when ordering a Slush Puppie!! You can ask them to layer it!! *Mind blown*

Shit, I can’t believe I’m already more than halfway through my trip already! Crazy!

Have I persuaded you to visit Malta yet??

Hayley x

 

 

Where to get delicious Dutch food in Malta

Bitterballen @ Salumeria, Valletta

Is it in Malta or on Malta? (Because it’s an island.) Who knows? But fuck it, it’s my blog so I’m sticking with in!

Being the bitterballen connoisseur that I am, I’m always on high alert if I spot bitterballen or kroketten or croquettes (or whatever they want to call them) in any other country! Same goes for Dutch food in general and it just so happens I ran into some awesome Dutch snacks in Malta which I’ll share with you now…

Graag gedaan, hoor! 😁

1. Bitterballen at Salumeria

I went to Salumeria by complete fluke. I had no idea they sold bitterballen! I’d walked past the bar before and made a note of it because it had a sign outside saying “Our beer is as cold as your ex’s heart” 😂😂

So we sat down, got the menu and there was a Dutch sharing platter on the menu!! GET IN!!!! (Turns out the owner is half Dutch!)

So if you’re looking for bitterballen in Malta, this is your place! They’re excellent bitterballen too! Served with real Dutch mustard. Just be sure to avoid the frikandellen!! Ewwwwww.

2. Stroopwafels – Strü

I don’t eat stroopwafels myself, but these look daaaaamn good and they have reviews to match! The food truck moves around daily, so be sure to check their Facebook page for their current location!

Stroopwafel truck, Malta

3. Belgian fries 

Ok, so not technically Dutch but we’re all friends here, eh? I ran into The Belgian Fry food truck whilst exploring Sliema and I can highly recommend!  They were delicious 🙂 I went for good old ‘frites met mayo’, but they have all the sauces you’d expect from a Dutch/Belgian snack shop.

This truck also moves around, so be sure to check their website or Facebook page for their current location.

The Belgian Fry, Sliema

Belgian fries in Sliema

Cheap as chips too! 😉 Perfect for Dutchies 😉😉 (*Runs and hides…*)

Eet smakelijk!! 

Hayley x

Dead Duck Day

You know that scene from ‘About A Boy’ (awesome film btw) where Marcus kills a duck? And then that day is forever referred to as dead duck day?

Well for me, today is double dead duck day.

I wish I was joking.

I woke up this morning and started my normal Workaway routine… first of all I feed the sheep and chickens and then the ducks. But immediately I knew something was off. Every day, the bloody sheep, Gem, goes crazy when I come with the food. She tries to grab it out of my hands with her teeth and makes loads of noise. She has the loudest baaaaaaaaaaaaa I’ve ever heard! Today, she just sat there and didn’t move. Very fucking weird.

So then I go to feed the ducks. Where the hell are they? I scan around and there are feathers on the lawn. Oh shit…

One is sat at the side of the pond, very badly injured, the other I find later, in the generator room where the cats have dragged it and left it half eaten.

Horrific. Fucking horrific.

The ducks have escaped a few times before. Last week in fact, but I found the hole in the fence, secured it and got them back in safely. (Basically by throwing a towel over them and gently lifting them back into their pen.)

Today I wrapped them in a towel for the last time.

I could’ve let someone else do it, but I’ve been looking after them for the past 5 weeks. So I felt like it should be me.

Yes, I cried. I’m actually crying now as I write this.

I feel really silly because they’re ‘just’ ducks, but I have become attached to all of the animals here.

So yeah. Today totally fucking sucked. My Workaway experience has been absolutely amazing so far, but I want to share the lows as well as the highs.

We need more truth online amongst all the fakery. So here you go.

There’s not really a good way to wrap this up except to say that I’m VERY glad I have drinks organised with a friend later. I’m going to need a glass of wine, or 5.

Hayley x

 

 

The Malta Diaries – Week 4

Let’s face it. Week 3 was pretty shitty. The weather wasn’t great for a few days, I worked a lot, I got a bit lonely and I didn’t do as much exploring as I would’ve hoped.

I’m pleased to report that week 4 was a darn sight better though! Here’s why:

Monday (Day 22):

View of Portomaso Tower from Sliema

Monday started off as Mondays often do… scrolling on Instagram on my phone. Well, actually I was looking at stories and one popped up from Sea Salt Malta (it’s in Sliema) which caught my attention. They were looking for staff.

Now, I wasn’t really looking for a job, I already have one! (Sort of!) But seeing as I’d been getting pretty lonely in the evenings, it couldn’t hurt to send them a message, right?

I went for an interview the same day and got the job, pending a trial shift on the Wednesday. (Spoiler… I got it! 🎉)

The same day I picked up my Tallinja card, finally!!!!! AND found out that one of the stray cats had had kittens!!

Frankie the kitten

WHAT A DAY!! 😀

 

Tuesday (Day 23): 

On Tuesday I just worked, took way too many kitten pictures and then headed to Sliema again to meet a girl I’d met online on the Girls vs Globe Facebook group 🙂 Friend!!

 

Wednesday (Day 24):

Another boring-ish day, sorry. I worked in the morning and then did some errands/chores. You know you still have to go shopping, cook, do washing etc. even if you’re living in paradise? Sucks eh? 😆

In the evening I did my trial shift @ Sea Salt. The two chefs are hilarious, so it didn’t feel like work at all! I got paid, I got tips, I got free food (sea bass fucking salad with prawns!!) and a lift home… DREAM JOB RIGHT THERE!!

Sea bass salad @ Sea Salt Malta

 

Thursday (Day 25):

SORRY I KEEP SHOUTING BUT THE DUTCHIE ARRIVED ON THURSDAY!!!!!!!!!!!!! 🎉🎉🎉

We had to change buses at Valletta on the way home from the airport, so we thought we might as well stop in the capital for a cheeky drink or two. And you’ll never guess what… the second bar we went to had BITTERBALLEN!!!!!

Bitterballen @ Salumeria, Valletta

Complete fluke. I had no idea. I’d walked past the bar before and made a note of it because it had a sign outside saying “Our beer is as cold as your ex’s heart” 😭😭 So we sat down, got the menu and there was a Dutch sharing platter on the menu!! (Turns out the owner is half Dutch!)

Well done Salumeria!! So if you’re looking for bitterballen in Malta, that’s your place right there. They were excellent bitterballen as well: 8.5/10 – minus points deducted because there wasn’t enough mustard and they served them with frikandellen. Ewwwwwwww.

 

Friday (Day 26):

On Friday we did what shall now be named “Hayley’s Magical Maltese Bar Crawl”. It’s a winner. You start at St George’s Bay and walk all the way along the coast until you end up at the last stop – Good Thaimes in Gzira.

The star bar (do you see what I did there?) was Surfside in Sliema. It’s not my usual kinda place… there’s a massive sign outside saying “sports bar” so normally I would’ve walked right past it… but it’s worth it for these little man-made pools. So cool!

Surfside, Sliema

And yes, you may laugh at my tan!! I knew I had a tan, but not that my sock marks were *THIS* ridiculous!! 🙈

Cheesy selfie on the beach

 

Saturday (Day 27):

Bad weather calls for staying local, so we just did Naxxar and Mosta. This is a very cute/cheap bar if you ever find yourself in Mosta…

San Remo, Mosta

Sunday (Day 28):

My last day with the Dutchie 😦 😦 😦 We went to Bugibba… it was fun but uneventful. I’m sure going to miss him!

Bugibba with the Dutchie

Ps – Don’t worry, there will be lots more exploring and new places in week 5!! I’m currently in Mgarr 😎

 

Week 4 stats: 

Photos taken: 72 (32 of which are of animals!!)

Distance covered on foot: 99 km

Steps: 151k

NEW Destinations visited: 0 (to be rectified next week!!)

Lowlights: Almost being run over on a pedestrian crossing by some stupid woman who wasn’t paying attention!

Things I have learned about Malta this week:  

  • Mosta is growing on me.
  • If you hear rustling noises in a bush, it’s probably just a lizard. Or a rat.

 

Hayley x

 

My first Workaway experience – 2 months on the beautiful island of Malta

For anyone who hasn’t heard of Workway.info, they are “the world’s leading community for sustainable travel and cultural exchange.”

As a Workaway member you can contact thousands of hosts all over the world (they currently have placements in 180 countries) and arrange as many exchanges as you wish… offering unlimited travel opportunities!

The Love Statue @ Spinola Bay, Malta

I’m currently 3.5 weeks into my first Workaway placement, so I’ll be here for another 5 weeks. I can’t imagine much will change in those 5 weeks because I’ve learnt the ropes now, but if anything does I’ll be sure to update this post 🙂

How to apply

In a nutshell: you sign up for a yearly fee (this is currently €36 for singles and €48 for a couples/friends account) and then you get access to 38,000 Workaway hosts worldwide. Usually the deal is something like this: you work around 5 hours per day, 5 days a week and in exchange you get free food and accommodation.

NOTE: The projects vary greatly, so you really do have to read each profile/project for the specific details of what you are signing up for! Some don’t offer food for example, others might be 6 days a week, and other projects might be less hours. Don’t be lazy… the only way you’re going to get a brilliant Workaway placement is by spending time researching and then contacting your favourite hosts with specific dates and a personalised message telling them why you’d be perfect for the job. Yes, it is a job – kinda!

Workaway strongly advise copying/pasting generic messages to multiple hosts (they get so many messages and it’s *SO* obvious if you do this!) You will also need to give as much detail on your profile as possible, so that potential hosts can get an idea of who you are and what you can offer.

I personally spent at least 2 hours creating our joint account and then countless hours researching different placements all over the world. The reviews are key – hosts can leave reviews for Workawayers and vice versa, so reading the reviews of previous Workawayers will give you a good feel for if they are a good host or not.

 

My Workaway Project

I’m literally living in paradise. No joke.

As I say, I spent hours researching, so it wasn’t luck that I came across this specific exchange.

I liked the sound of the work I would be doing: “looking for someone who loves the outdoors and animals to help our family in Gharghur, Malta”, the work was only 3 hours per day, 6 days a week (the profile says 5 days a week but I usually do about 1-2 hours work on Saturdays) and in exchange I would get “a large double room with an en-suite bathroom and washing machine. Own entrance and own kitchen and living area. Food will not be provided but an allowance of €25 per week is given for food, €50 if it’s a couple.”

I was expecting like a little granny annex or something.

What I actually have is a 3 bedroom house all to myself – it’s massive! There’s an open-plan lounge, fully equipped kitchen, bathroom with bath, shower and washing machine, a massive double bedroom and a walk-in wardrobe! Needless to say I’m VERY comfortable here 🙂

I’ve checked with my hosts and they’re happy for me to write about my experiences and share photos. But I’m not going to post any pictures of their house or anything because I feel like that’s an invasion of their privacy. But here’s a picture of their cheeky sheep:

I’m mainly looking after the family’s menagerie of animals: 2 horses, 4 dogs, a couple of stray cats (one of them just had kittens!!), a sheep, chickens, 2 ducks and a parrot!

And, yes, looking after animals does mean picking up poo! No princesses need apply 😉 But the dogs are sooooooooo cute, so what’s a bit of dog shit between friends, eh?

I also do some light cleaning duties: mostly hoovering, sweeping and mopping. Sometimes I have to make beds, change beds, rearrange closets, put items into storage, that kind of thing. Basically whatever the family require at that specific time. It’s very fair for what I get in return!

 

The nitty gritty

The times I work vary – most of the time I can choose my own hours, sometimes my hosts request I work at specific times but it’s generally very flexible!

This particular exchange is also really good for me because I can cook my own food! €25 a week really isn’t a lot (especially with food intolerance) but I supplement that with my own savings. If you can eat pasta, bread and beans I’m sure €25 will do you just fine!

 

The Downsides

They’re aren’t many!! But I do have to be honest!

1. I have to feed the animals every single morning (including Sunday – my only day off!) but it literally only takes 10-15 mins. This particular placement isn’t for you if you can’t get up early in the morning.

2. I’m on my own a lot. I thought I would see more of the family/animals than I actually do. But they’re very busy people so…

3. Being attacked by a cock!! Hahahahaha! I can laugh about it now, but it certainly wasn’t funny at the time!

 

Some advice before starting a Workaway project

  • Don’t be a dick. If you want a decent placement, you have to put the work in. Write a detailed profile and add at least a handful of photos.
  • Research, research, research. Read the profiles and reviews carefully for any potential hosts you like, these are like gold dust!
  • Get as much information from the host as possible before starting your placement. If there’s something you want to know that isn’t listed in the profile – just ask! If they’re a decent host they will be happy to answer any questions you may have.
  • Work out how you’re going to get there. Will they pick you up or do you need to take a bus/taxi/train etc etc? Plan your route in advance, no one wants to start off with a panicky phone call that they’re lost…
  • Are you happy to work alone? Or do you want to work with other volunteers/Workawayers? If you’re in a couple or with a friend, this probably won’t be an issue, but if you’re a solo traveller (like me) then you will need to consider this.
  • Have fun! Cheesy but true! You are working but it’s working holiday… so enjoy it!!
  • Lastly, here are some tips on how to be a good guest from Workaway themselves!

 

Future exchanges

This is my first official Workaway – but it certainly won’t be my last! I plan on doing at least a couple of different Workaway projects while I’m in Asia… plus I’m going to volunteer at LASSie Langkawi and Elephant Nature Park again! 🙂 🙂 🙂

Have you ever done a Workaway placement? Or if not… will you in the future?

Hayley x

 

Last updated: May 2019

 

 

The Malta Diaries: Week 3

Hello!

I’m late as usual… what’s new?

BUT… it is a bumper post as promised, so grab a cup of tea, or a glass of wine and let’s dive straight in!!

Saturday (Day 13):

My first visitor arrived on Saturday for a long weekend and since Sunday is my only day off, we bit the bullet and jumped straight into a pub crawl!

We pretty much did the same route as I walked on day 9 (so St George’s Bay, Portomaso Marina, Spinola Bay, St Julian’s and Sliema) but then with stops along the way in Happy Dayz (Spinola Bay), Paradise Exiles, Surfside, Hole in the Wall (all Sliema) and Good Thaimes in Gzira. The weather was absolutely glorious, about 23 degrees and in between bar hopping we walked just over 17km!

St Georges Bay, Malta

Happy Dayz, Spinola Bay

Selfie @ Surfside

Hole in the Wall, Sliema

Two random hipster women.

 

Sunday (Day 14):

The weather wasn’t as kind to us on Sunday, so we stayed local-ish visiting: Naxxar, Mosta, Gharghur and Top of the World. Thankfully we were both hangover free (how we managed that I have no idea!) but slightly jaded, so it was probably for the best that we didn’t venture too far.

Although somehow we still ended up doing shots of a prickly pear liqueur from Gozo when we got ‘home’. The Ukrainians who had been doing a Workaway previously had left it in the fridge… they had the right idea. Ugh.

Pretty door and window in Mosta, Malta

 

Monday (Day 15):

YAY! The sun came out again so on Monday we visited Bugibba and Mellieha. After walking the entire length of coast from Bugibba to Qwara Point (and back) we hopped on a bus to Mellieha.

Mellieha Parish Church

We stopped at Sea View Cafe for Aperol Spritzes and a Maltese platter (yum!!) and then headed to One80 for happy hour 🙂 Can you see a theme here…?

Aperol Spritz at Sea View Cafe, Mellieha

 

Tuesday (Day 16): 

Following my action-packed long weekend with my friend, I decided to give myself Tuesday off. Which for me meant: I worked for 3 hours, journalled, did some shopping and cooking, walked 20k steps and watched Dead to Me on Netflix 🙂

 

Wednesday (Day 17):

Wednesday morning wasn’t the best start. One of the dogs was in a weird mood and being an absolute dick. Another did a shit on the door mat. Two of the cats were following me around moaning and getting in my way and the Tony the parrot was squawking like crazy. No idea why everyone chose to have a problem the same day 🤷 realities of travel I suppose! It’s not all Aperol spritz and fairy tales!

At least Bono was being cute.

Bono

 

Thursday (Day 18): 

My day started badly again, I cut my thumb (whilst cutting cheese of all things)!! I then got attacked by the cock. I wish I was joking. It bit and scratched my leg and I actually drew blood. ACTUAL FUCKING COCK!

Once again, Bono looked cute though. Especially with his new haircut as the dog groomer had been in again!

Bono after the dog groomer had been let loose on him!

Once I finished work my plans were rained off! FFS. Though I did manage to get my 20k steps in later in the evening when the rain had finally stopped. (20k steps per day is my goal for the entire trip… I’m smashing it so far!)

 

Friday (Day 19):

Sun! YAY!

Belgian fries in Sliema

My plan had been to walk all along the coast from Sliema to Ta’ Xbiex, Pieta, Hamrun and then all the way round to the 3 cities (Birgu, Senglea and Cospicua) however since I walked from Gharghur to Sliema already, I was knackered and so only made it as far as Hamrun. The 3 cities will have to wait for another day!

So I abandoned that plan and walked from Hamrun to Valletta via Floriana and then got a bus back from there, with a quick stop in The Pub (yes, that’s actually what it’s called) for a cheeky glass of wine.

Street scene Valletta

 

Saturday and Sunday (Days 20 & 21):

I had to work (extra) on Saturday and Sunday. Well, I didn’t have to, but my hosts asked me nicely so I happily obliged 🙂 So not a lot happened those days. On Sunday I did take a little walk to Bahar Ic-Caghaq via Swieqi.

I’m glad I went there, because it’s walkable from Gharghur, but definitely not a must-see and I wouldn’t take visitors there. It was popular with the locals and on my walk home I went past a huge caravan park which looked a bit like a shanty town. I’m sure people actually live there! And also some random abandoned buildings covered in graffiti. It was the first time I’ve felt slightly uncomfortable in Malta, so I got outta there as fast as my long limbs would carry me! It was all uphill, so not bloody fast enough!

Salt pans at Bahar Ic-Caghaq

Bahar Ic-Caghaq, Malta

Hope you’ve had a good week?

The Dutchie arrives in 2 days!! Woop woop! So the week 4 post won’t happen this Sunday. It’ll probably be Monday (or Tuesday) 🙄

 

Week 3 stats (Saturday until the following Sunday): 

Photos taken: 112 (9 of which were of Aperol spritz!)

Distance covered on foot: 132.5 km (average of 14.7 km per day)

Steps: 205k (average 22.7k per day)

Bus rides taken: 5

NEW Destinations visited: Ta’ Xbiex, Pieta, Hamrun, Bahar Ic-Caghaq, Swieqi

Lowlights: Being attacked by a cock.

Things I have learned about Malta this week:  

  • Maltese people are quite into keeping fit! Especially walking, hiking and running.
  • Maltese women are super glamorous!!
  • Lots of people put 2 bottles of water outside their houses – weird! I’ve Googled this and apparently it’s to deter dogs… but no one seems to know why! *Shrugs*

Hayley x

 

Fear is the mind killer

My friend has a tattoo with these words on her arm. She’s been wanting to start a blog for years and never plucked up the courage, hopefully now she will. Because she’s unemployed and looking for her next challenge. 

As am I.

Different circumstances, same end result. 

Fear is the mind killer

I finally built up the courage to leave my current job after 13 years. 5 years working from home. I just couldn’t work on my own anymore. I was so lonely and unfulfilled. 

I started this blog over 5 years ago and I used to write for fun. No one read it but I didn’t care. I just wrote any old crap. My theme was olllllllld skool. I designed the logo myself 😂😂 but I wrote about things that made me happy. 

After a few months I changed my WordPress theme, moved to Holland and started writing stuff about my new life in the Netherlands. About funny/stupid shit Dutch people do. Stuff that made me chuckle to myself on a daily basis. And people started to read it. Hell, people even started to share it! Then one day I reached a million views…

It was awesome, it was scary and it was kinda cool. I shared my blog with friends and family (which I previously hadn’t done). I set up an Instagram account and put adverts on my site and started to take it all a bit more seriously. 

Seeing some of my blog posts “go viral” (ugh) gave me the confidence to write more. People must like it if that many are visiting my little old blog. 

But with that came pressure. Intrusive thoughts. Writer’s block. Self doubt. Who cares what I have to say? 

Friends would talk to me about my blog and specific posts they’d read and I’d physically cringe! I’d see email addresses I recognised signing up to receive notifications every time I posted something.

Then when I came to write, I’d be worrying “Oh but my best friend’s husband doesn’t want to read this shite.” 

Once I had ‘followers’ (also ugh!) I started to care about what I wrote. Give the audience what they want and all that. 

But if you’ve followed this blog for a while, you’ll know that I don’t post much anymore. 

It’s not that I don’t like writing anymore. I have notebooks and diaries full of my thoughts, witterings, all the crap in my head. Over 200 notes on my phone and about 35 draft blog posts. 

I just can’t seem to hit publish lately. 

I’m not looking for attention. I’m not asking for people to compliment me or for “keep up the good job” type stuff. I just want to write again and not worry about it. 

I’ve been pretty brave in the past 6 months. In September I had a bad accident. I’ve never broken anything in my life before. (It’s my family nose!! Dickhead.) 

Anyhoo, I had to have surgery. I was housebound for a while. I had time off work. And I did a lot of thinking about life and stuff. 

I did some other brave things last year too – my first proper solo trip in March, followed up by another solo trip just 7 weeks after my accident. I volunteered for the first time. I quit my job. My comfort zone is nowhere in sight!! 

I’m now in Malta for 2 months on my own, bar a handful of visitors. I’m on a Workaway project, I’ve signed up to Facebook groups and meet ups and I’m going to meet some strangers for drinks this Friday!

After that I’m going to Asia for 5/6 months, some of that will be with the husband, some of it will be solo. 

I’m hoping I have some time to write. 

It’ll be about travel mostly, because that’s what I’m doing now. I can’t write about Dutchies being weirdos if I’m not there.  

Maybe you care about the stuff I’m writing, maybe you don’t. And that’s fine.

I’m scared about posting this, but I’m just going to do it anyway. 

One last thing – if you’re reading this and you’re thinking about starting a blog, or quitting your job, or going travelling… you can do it. If I can, so can you. The hardest thing to do is to take that first leap. 

Hayley x 

 

The Malta Diaries: Week 2

Hi! Happy Friday!

So, my plan had been to post every Sunday as that’s my day off, but exciting news!! I have my first visitor arriving tomorrow 🙂 🙂

I’m VERY excited to have my lovely friend C here, but it puts a bit of a spanner in the works blog-wise, hence why I’m posting today. So this week’s post will cover Sunday-Friday… and I guess next week will be a bit of a bumper edition!

 

A quick re-cap of Sunday (Day 7): 

So last week I left off that I was going to a festa in Floriana. Go I did, but it wasn’t really my thing tbh. It felt a bit like King’s Day in Amsterdam but with people wearing green instead of orange and I was pretty much the only sober person! 😂😂 (Which NEVER happens on King’s Day I might add!)

I stayed for a bit and watched the festivities which mainly involved lots of drinking, very loud, very bad music and people chucking free stuff out of their windows. Random. 

Anyway, it might’ve been a different experience with friends, but it wasn’t really working on my own… so I went to Valletta again as it’s so close by and had a wander there instead!

 

Monday (Day 8):

I don’t dread Mondays anymore!! Yay! And this was a particularly good shift as I was outside the whole time in the sunshine! 😎 I racked up 8k steps before I’d even left the property!

Aaaaaaaaaaand I get to look after these little cuties ❤ what’s not to love!?

After debating for ages about what to do I bit the bullet and got on the bus to Mellieha!

Mellieha bay

Mellieha bay

It probably wasn’t the best day to go to the beach, as it was a bit windy!! But I still very much enjoyed my windy walk 😉 I visited the parish church and the Sanctuary of Our Lady of Mellieħa.

According to Mellieha.com: “The Parish Church of Mellieha is dedicated to the Birth of Our Lady, and was built between 1881 and 1898. All the stone was cut from a nearby quarry at l-Ahrax tal-Mellieha and transported up to Mellieha by the local peasants, who worked laboriously to see their wish of having a new church come true.”

Grounds of the Sanctuary of Our Lady, Mellieha

Grounds of the Sanctuary of Our Lady, Mellieha

Mellieha Parish Church

Beautiful, huh?

I also stopped at One80 bar, which is somewhere I’ve been a few times before and was very sad to see that octopus carpaccio wasn’t on the menu anymore! Or maybe it’s just the time of year… but chips with parmesan and truffle did the trick instead. It was also happy hour 4-6pm (Monday to Friday) so all drinks were half price! (Soft drinks, cocktails, local beer and wine etc.)

 

Tuesday (Day 9): 

I’m having a bit of an aversion to buses at the moment. Partly because my Tallinja card still hasn’t turned up (which means I have to pay every time, even though I ordered my card a week ago – I’m being Dutch!!) and partly because the buses here drive me bonkers!

So… I walked to St George’s Bay (around 4 km), hoping to find a little undiscovered gem to add to the collection. But nope. Cranes, overcrowding and chain restaurants. Not my kinda place, so I abandoned that idea and walked all along the coast to Portomaso Marina, Spinola Bay, St Julian’s and Sliema (6 km+ in total).

The Love Statue @ Spinola Bay

I popped into Hole in the Wall which is a bar I’d spotted on Instagram. It didn’t disappoint! Great music, friendly personnel, hipster-esque decor and a deep-rooted passion for Chuck Norris. I’m sold! Pretty sure my friend and I will end up there at some point this weekend… 😀

 

Wednesday (Day 10):

In all honesty I was having a bit of a meh kinda day on Wednesday. I am missing the Dutchie a lot (what a sap!) and I was just feeling a bit tired and lazy. Netflix and my bed were calling, but fuck that shit – I’m in Malta – so I forced myself to go out for a walk!

Top Of The World, Għargħur

I went to good old Top of the World again but continued on a bit further on this time and found a path along the cliff edge. That certainly woke me up I can tell you! 😉

I also found this very pretty door in Gharghur 🙂

 

Thursday (Day 11):

On Thursday I decided to walk to San Anton Gardens, which has rave reviews on Trip Advisor. I’m not sure why, but I guess if you like gardens then it’s probably a good one…? Not really my thing, but hey – it was free and a 1.5 hour round trip on foot, so I got my steps in for the day!

San Anton Gardens

San Anton Gardens

Oh, and there were also some turtles which were cute:

Turtles at San Anton Gardens

 

Friday (Day 12):

Today I played assistant to the dog groomer on my morning shift! That’s one to scratch off the ‘potential new career’ list… I definitely do not want to be a dog groomer! Although I’m sure not all dogs are as uncooperative as Winnie (yes, as in the Pooh)! 😉 But the end result was worth it!

Winnie – so fresh and so clean!

I swear I still smell like dog! 😦

This afternoon I went to Bugibba. Upon arriving I realised that I have actually been before, last Jan, but it was cold and really windy at the time and I felt ill so we didn’t stay long. This time however, I walked the whole stretch of coast from Qawra Point to St Paul’s Bay. I racked up 28k steps today, that’s my record so far on this trip!!

Qwara point

Bugibba

 

Week 2 stats (Sunday-Friday): 

Photos taken: 125

Distance covered on foot: 85 km

Steps: 134k

Bus rides taken: 7

Destinations visited: Floriana, Mellieha, St George’s Bay, Portomaso, Spinola Bay, St Julian’s and Sliema, Attard, San Anton Gardens, Bugibba

Lowlights: Maltese drivers. I must utter “what a dick” at least once every time I leave the house! Getting a bit lonely on Wednesday – but I have a friend coming so… YAY!

Things I have learned about Malta this week:  

  • The best day to go walking is Sunday as there are way less cars on the road.
  • There are (free) public toilets everywhere, including most big supermarkets (speaking of toilets – most of them are Asia stylie – as in don’t throw toilet paper in. Use the bin instead.) 
  • Everyone names their businesses after themselves or a loved one here: Charlie’s Bar, Billy’s, Ronnie’s, Hugo’s, Nora’s, Becky’s. You name it. Literally. 
  • About 90% of elderly Maltese people are grumpy.*

 

So that’s it for week 2! What else would you like to know about Malta? I have a few ideas up my sleeve, for example: the best bars in Malta, Being gluten free in Malta… that kind of thing… plus a dedicated post about my Workaway experience.

But what else would you like? Free/cheap stuff to do in Malta, details of my spending budget, my favourite places after 2 months… etc etc. Please let me know! 🙂

Hayley x

*Not scientifically proven.

 

 

Things to do in Hilversum: Volunteering at Dierenasiel Crailo (Crailo Animal Shelter)

Dierenasiel Crailo

Vereniging Dierenasiel Crailo (“Association Crailo animal shelter”) is located close to Media Park in Hilversum, the Netherlands. Since the association was founded in 1925, more than 200,000 pets have been taken in, cared for and re-homed. A staggering number, which, according to the shelter, shows just how receptive the Gooi region is to abandoned and vulnerable animals.

From their website: “Why does someone renounce his pet? The owner’s illness often plays a role, house evictions and families with financial difficulties. Lack of space, allergies, or the path to a nursing home where an animal can not go. Or it just doesn’t work anymore. Painful sometimes, but whatever reason someone has, we will always respect it.”

Since my visits to LASSie Langkawi and Elephant Nature Park I’ve become rather obsessed with visiting animal shelters! (You’ll already know this if you follow me on Instagram!!) So obviously I wanted to check out my local haunt.

As you can probably imagine, the animal shelters in Holland are much better funded than the ones I have seen in Asia, but that’s not to say they don’t need help! They most certainly do!

Walking the dogs at Dierenasiel Crailo is a really fun and rewarding way to spend an afternoon 🙂

They currently have about 10 shelter dogs who need a nice long walk every day (appropriately an hour). I say every day, but the shelter is actually closed on Sundays so I assume the staff walk the dogs then. You can turn up Monday-Saturday at 1.30pm sharp, I’d actually recommend coming about 10 mins early as it can get quite busy – especially on Saturdays, sunny days and during school holidays! You will need to bring some I.D with you, for example a passport and also read and sign a 1-page declaration form (in Dutch) with some rules and regulations (i.e. don’t let the dog off the lead, don’t feed it treats without checking with staff first etc etc.)

Walking with Cisko, Dierenasiel Crailo

Walking with Cisko, Dierenasiel Crailo

If you have more than an hour to spare, they are currently looking for people to help with the morning cleaning shift. It’s from 8.30am – 12.30 pm but of course you won’t just be cleaning for 4 hours, there’s plenty of time for a coffee break and cuddles with the cats and dogs! See their website for more details (only available in Dutch).

Dierenasiel Crailo, with Zoe

Other ways you can help:

You can donate money via their website or sponsor a dog/cat.

If you’d like to rescue one of these beautiful animals you can also adopt! The cats, dogs, rabbits and guinea pigs are all listed on their website. You can visit from 1.30pm – 4pm to meet your new potential furry friend! (Plus on Saturdays they’re also open 10am – 12.30.)

Adopt not shop and all that jazz…

Hayley x