Tuesday, March 25, 2014

The Island of Malta

Not one of the places I thought I would ever end up, and to be honest I thought Malta was part of Italy and may or may not have gotten it confused with Sicily before. Malta is its own country, heavily influenced by the UK. That means English is one of its official languages and is a popular destination for European teenagers to learn language. Our taxi driver gave us 3 reasons why Malta is such a popular destination for people our age learning English. 1. The nightlife is good. We were staying in Paceville which is the heart of the club and bar scene in Malta. Almost a ghost town during the day, starting after dinner time, the streets become crowded with young people made up for a night on the town. Midnight seemed to be when most places were just starting to get crowded and noise could be heard from our apartment until 6am. 2. English is the Maltese people’s second language, which means they talk a lot slower and more direct than other English speaking countries. It is easier to learn here rather than a place like England which has its own slang, accent, and dialect. 3. The weather. While we happened to come on a weekend that wasn’t the sunniest, Malta’s weather is never “bad.” Although it was cloudy with a high of 59, the low dropped only to 55, even at night. In the summer months there are bustling beaches, clear, blue water, and rays for tanning.
Got the exit row on the way there!

Date Pie

The Azure Window, G

Ramla Bay

Malta had everything: a city with department stores, cars, buses and restaurants. Ancient ruin like structures and stone buildings and churches. Natural rock formations, clear water, and sandy beaches. Palm trees, grassy fields and hills.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

UK: Rainbows in Edinburgh

We were lucky to just miss the rain when we went out in Edinburgh. We walked up to Edinburgh Castle and tried not to get blown off the side of the hill. There was a perfect rainbow right over the city and if you look close you can see the faint appearance of a second double rainbow.

 We found the end of the rainbow!!

When we climbed up King Arthur's seat there was another rainbow in the distance!

Monday, March 10, 2014

Carnevale di Venezia 2014

What is Carnevale? It is a two week long event that ends on Fat Tuesday. In modern times, it has a similar approach that Mardi Gras has, but originally it was a time when you could be anyone you wanted to be. A peasant could dress as royalty, a student as a teacher, a man as a woman.
Costumes are a lot more elaborate now, originally being plain white masks and black capes. Each year in Venice has a different theme. This year was La Natura Fantastica, and many people dressed up as trees, plants, and fruit. Others stuck with the royal style with a mask, wig and fancy dress.

 One of the things we had to deal with was the crowds. What would usually be about a 10 or 15 minute walk to San Marco took about 45 minutes. Crowding happened mostly on these small bridges and in the small alleyways. It was frustrating waiting behind tourists stopped at the top of a bridge taking pictures of nothing interesting. Oh, I remember when I was one of those. I even got pushed down a flight of these stairs and tripped by two young women who thought I was just a tourist holding my mask. Many locals do not like the crowd's during Carnevale, and therefore stay away from the touristy areas, so obviously these girls were just being brats.

 Despite having an Anatomy lab test on Friday, no one in the house could resist going out on the last night, Fat Tuesday. Everyone got masks from little shops around San Marco. Everyone thought I actually bought a costume, but I really just turned all of my running gear inside out. Columbia Sportswear has this silver Omnitec lining that is supposed to trap in your body heat and looks pretty cool.

Most of the younger population and locals either did not dress up or wore more Halloween-like costumes. We found Pac Man and all of the little ghosts!

In most of the larger campos where stages with a DJ, tents with food and drinks and a ton of people dancing. It was like an outdoor concert/club. Right by Rialto was where we headed first.

Lights on Rialto Bridge

 We recreated our photo from our first weekend out in Venice. Suprisingly St. Mark's square was totally empty. The huge stage was still up but must have only been used for daytime events. (We probably should not have been laying on the ground right after acqua alta.)
San Marco!

The tents had candied nuts (peanuts, almonds and hazelnuts), donuts and fritelles! These fritelles weren't real fritelles but more like nutella in a sweet hamburger bun. Still pretty tasty.

This view was in one of the campos on the way back to Casa Artom from St. Mark's.