Monday, 19 December 2016

A Whole New Experience - Guernsey in December

It's that time of the year, so it seemed appropriate to repost December in Guernsey.

A short journey from home

- well that's if you live in the UK!

Guernsey is the second largest of the Channel Islands and miles away from the hectic lifestyle we lead.

It's a gem of an island and one of our favourite places to visit.

Visiting in December.....

A whole new experience

To be totally honest, the times we have visited Guernsey in the past has been by yacht.  To see it 'on the land' was a whole new experience for us.

Christmas Time

St Peter Port, with It's cobbled streets and pretty marina makes it an all time favourite place. And at this time of the year it has so much atmosphere with a real party spirit.

If you have only visited in the Summer before, you'll be in for a fabulous surprise in December.

Christmas lights aglow and stunning!
We did plenty of walking on our visit.
A walk to the lighthouse and Castle Cornet is quite spectacular. Day or night.
Oh dear, sorry about that, I don't make much of a model but just to give a sense of the size of this lighthouse!

A delicious coffee is always welcome on a cold day

The Loft Cafe with its beautiful view over the harbour gives you a warm welcome and great coffee. The breakfast looked good too. However, we had breakfast at our hotel, The Yacht Inn, which I have to say was delicious and more than enough.

Your stay in St Peter Port is not the same without

A visit to Le Petit Bistro and Cafe for a truly great experience. 

Booking is essential

Fabulous staff, warm and welcoming and delicious food.

You really do need to book.

We have told many friends about this place and several have not been successful in getting a table. It's extremely popular and definitely worth booking before you leave home!

Yes, and us on a bus!

We didn't hire a car as we were happy wandering around.

However, we can recommend a tour of the island on a bus and at £1. each it certainly is value for money. Great fun!

We also had time to kill on the day of our return journey home and took all our bags on the bus and did it all over again!

The Rectory Hill Skillet Lickers

When you are wandering along the High Street you may well be lucky enough to see The Rectory Hill Skillet Lickers.

A talented group of people and I was totally smitten by the young lad!

Things to remember when you visit:
  • Shops shut on Sundays and most close by 5pm most other days
  • Even if you rarely do bus trips, a trip around the island is a must do. £1.
  • If you want to eat at Le Petit Bistro book in advance, even before your trip. It is very popular and we absolutely know why!

Now where to next?

Saturday, 17 December 2016

Shh .. Quiet Please - We're in Mdina - Known as The Silent City

Mdina (pronounced umdeena) known as the silent city.

This walled city sits on one of the highest points of Malta.

Shh .... quiet please

There are strict noise regulations here and a restriction of cars allowed into the city.

A mix of baroque and medieval architecture with its pretty winding streets.

Invade - go on just try

The city's narrow streets, apparently, were built as an architectural system providing shadow from the sun.   

Oh and not to mention a cunning military plan enabling easy ambush at street corners when under invasion. 

So you now know where to go on a hot sunny day in Malta.  Doubt you'll have to worry too much about being ambushed?  Hope not! 😉

Once the Capital

Dating back 4000 years, the city of Mdina is older than Valletta (you can join us in Valletta in our previous blog)

It was conquered by the Normans and at this time was made the Capital of Malta.

In the 1500s it was run by the Knights of Malta ........
just a minute .......

Whew, for a moment there I thought we may have been taken back in time by Dr Who's Time Machine or something!

Another city we loved wandering around, with lots of history to soak up and lots of photo opportunities.

And, of course, as in Valletta you can always hitch a ride in a horse and carriage which are available inside the walled city or outside where you can do the complete tour if you've forgotten your walking shoes!
And just in case you're wondering ...... they can get down the narrow streets!

This wasn't a full day trip for us, but I guess you could make it so.

Excitement took over I think

As this was our first visit to Malta we were visiting as many places as we could.  Maybe when we visit next time we will relax a little.  

There is so much to see on the island of Malta you just get a bit excited by it all!

Coming next ...

Stay tuned for our coffee stop with the most stunning view, a visit by a cute little visitor and stunning glassware .......

Tuesday, 13 December 2016

15 Years to Build a City - A Day in Valletta

On the first day of our 5 day trip to Malta, we braved the roads in our little hire car to Valletta.

Ummm .. now that was quite exciting.  Bearing in mind we had only driven to the Hotel from the airport, our knowledge of the roads and driving on them was limited!

We did finally reach the multi storey car park .... ah I admit with a quick detour around the bus station! 😌

The Capital of Malta

A little history to begin with.....

The lovely walled city of Valletta got its name from Jean de la Vallette, the Grand Master. Sadly, he died during the construction and never got to see his city completed.  

It took 15 years to build!
When you consider in 1566 there were no mechanical tools and the whole city was built by hand, 15 years is a very short time.

A short stroll

This amazing view is just a short stroll from the Multi Storey Car Park.

It looks like a toy town from this viewpoint.
But the motor yachts looked very incongruous moored here.

Note to self:  tell husband to moor his yacht where it looks more in keeping with its surroundings.😉

Over the other side maybe?  What?  Oh, we haven't got a yacht?  Well just bear it in mind for the future dear, that it might be more in keeping with these modern buildings.....😊

Take your walking shoes

The best way to see this amazing city is on foot.

History brought to life daily 

The Saluting Battery is a must visit.  For nearly 500 years the guns protected the harbour against naval assault. 

The Saluting Battery has been restored by the Malta Heritage Trust and Malta Tourist Authority.

They are not fireworks you hear 

The guns are fired here daily at mid-day.  This follows the custom begun in the 1820s when a gun was fired to signal the exact hour of day in order that Ship Masters could calibrate their chronographs on ship.

You can hear the guns all over the city.  

When we first heard them we thought it was fireworks and were missing out on a celebration somewhere! 
There is a very informative display on the wall giving a brief history.
If you'd like to know more you could visit the Saluting Battery website which is very informative.

This little chap was capturing every piece of history on his camera. Very cute.

You want to see the city sir?

If you haven't got your walking shoes with you, there are many other ways you can get around too.

The opportunity arises all round the city to hop on a Horse and carriage ....
always touting for business, so if your feet are aching you maybe be glad of a ride.

In the centre of the city there is a tourist Malta Fun Train too!

Hustle and bustle, a mix of old and new

We loved it here.  The hustle and bustle of every day life, the city seemed alive and buzzing and yet it still felt somehow you were walking back in time.

A mix of old and new.  There was a feeling of warmth and friendliness and lots of places you'd like to sit and watch the world go by.

As the sun goes down

It's time for us to make our way back to the car.  A little sad as I loved it here and also I really would have liked to see the Christmas lights on 😔

Farewell Valletta, I have a feeling we'll be back.
Lots of walking means weary legs and Malcolm has to fight the traffic and potholes. 😖

Anyway the comfort of our suite is calling!

Thanks for stopping by.  Back soon ..... lots more to see on our travels to Malta

Friday, 9 December 2016

Rewind Back to our Travels to Malta and The Corinthia Palace Hotel & Spa

So after being swept off our feet by the friendly welcome here, we now leave the comfort of our suite to explore the grounds.

(This is very difficult, just want to curl up in that bed to be honest!)

But the view from the balcony is inviting us outside.

Fountains and floral prettiness 

Outside it is as sophisticated as inside.  Here and there fountains sprinkle the surrounding plants.
Flowers are in bloom and fruits on the trees seem to be inviting us to take photos. 😊

Leaving the UK in November, where there are few flowers in bloom and few leaves on the trees, to see these beautiful flowers and plants was a bonus.

Spa and Poolside

As we roamed around these pretty gardens the pool looked very inviting, even though the late afternoon was getting quite cool. 

Nope we didn't take the plunge, not this time. 😌

Every corner a surprise 

Lots of places to sit and relax, like the Herb Garden.

There seems to be a surprise round every corner.

I definitely liked the look of the Athenaeum Spa.  As this was our first trip to Malta, we had lots to see and do so we put the Spa on the to do list for another time.

Smile please

Oh hang on Malcolm's pointing the camera at me!  Oh no that means I've got to try and pose.  So, try I do!  Apologies.

Those pillars are very grand though aren't they.

Time to change for the evening

Now back to our suite to change ready for our evening meal.  We booked the Rickshaw Restaurant in the Hotel for our first night.

As we're getting ready, there's a knock on the door.
Wow, delicious little canapes!  What a treat.

And just time for a quick photo of the evening lit garden beneath our balcony. 

A gastronomical delight

Wow, oh wow, good choice!  The Rickshaw served us up a feast for sure. Every mouthful an absolute delight.  

Oh dear, as we hadn't really lunched properly because of flight timings, it seemed we rather over ordered.  We were mortified because we couldn't eat it all. 😟 We asked our waitress to apologise profusely to the chef.   

However, the food was so delicious we booked a return visit for the night before our departure.  This time we didn't order as much and managed to eat it all, much to the delight of the waitress and chef too I should think.  

We have mentioned before how the staff are friendly, professional and attentive at The Corinthia Palace Hotel.  Well, there's no change here. The staff are attentive in this Restaurant too.  They make you feel very spoilt.  

We highly recommend The Rickshaw.

We loved it here

So from me on our balcony, where I found myself taking morning tea each day, and Malcolm from the desk he had become quite attached to....

Actually he looks very thoughtful doesn't he?  Do you think he may be working out a way of coming back here soon?

We loved it here ... 

and if you missed our first post you can rewind too by clicking the image below.

We will never tire of rewinding back to this fabulous place, it has wonderful memories for us of a very special Wedding Anniversary.
Thank you to Angela and all the staff who made it so very special..
and yes, we will be back for sure.

And stay with us for our day trips around the island of Malta and the Palace gardens opposite the Hotel.  See you soon.

Wednesday, 7 December 2016

Shhh... Only Tell Your Best Friends

We had arrived in Malta for the very first time and I was so excited to be here.

A place I had wanted to visit for many years and here we were at last.

We had picked up the hire car and ready to roll!

 How we got here

I want to keep this a secret

I have been so looking forward to telling you about our Hotel, but on the other hand didn't really want to.  That sounds silly I know, but you see this place is very special and we'd like to keep it a secret! 😉

But what would be the point of being Travel Photographers and bloggers if we kept everything a secret?

Get ready to be amazed

Wow, can they read your mind?

We pull up outside the doors of this fabulous building in our 'toy car' 😊
Immediately we are greeted by the Concierge.

I think privately he must have wondered who on earth we were in this tiny little car and maybe thought we'd taken a wrong turn!

Not phased at all, the Concierge bent down to speak to us via the car window (he had to bend double to see in).  We asked where to park. Before we knew it the bags were lifted from the car.

The keys were taken and the car parked.

Wow, can he read minds?  Did he know we'd been up since 3am, had rather a traumatic pick up of hire car and had been bounced around on the roads full of potholes?  Or maybe it was the dark circles under our eyes that gave it away!

We were then whisked into the lobby and handed a welcome drink.
Oh boy I can't tell you just how welcome that drink was.  Ever grateful for that!

If you have flown BA recently you will know they aren't that generous with offers of drinks!  Anyway I won't go into that now because rumour has it that soon we'll have to buy our own lunch and drinks on BA.

Guests relations are 5 star (actually I would say 6 star)

Angela, Guest Relations Manager, came to welcome us.  She mentioned that the restaurants had been informed about my nut and seed allergy (this is not something I like to tell people about,  I hate making a fuss. Needs must if I want to survive any trip without being ill).

I mention it here, as I was incredibly impressed that this had been remembered.  After all, guests must come and go on a daily basis.
To remember the little things relevant to individuals is admirable and requires a mention.

And I'm also going to mention that we could not believe how hard Angela and the team work.  Angela is hands on too!  Truly admirable.

Without further ado the Concierge took us to our suite.

Now you'll have to excuse me because whenever I rewind back to this moment I can only picture myself with my mouth wide open!

This can only be described as tasteful, beautiful, luxury and, dare I say, a little decadence too.  But none of that makes you feel uncomfortable. You feel very at home here.
Fabulous furnishings, thick white robes and towels and lovely little bottles of Espa toiletries.  Very happy with that after having travelled light with only my little bag of essentials.

Oops, not sure I mentioned it was our Wedding Anniversary?

After being shown round the suite, the safe and all important mini bar, the Concierge left us to it.  
It was then that we saw the beautiful flowers, card and book as an Anniversary gift from the Hotel Management and Staff.

What a lovely thoughtful touch and something else remembered by Angela.
Hang on a sec - a knock on the door!  My oh my, bubbly too!
Another quick photo of these beautiful surroundings and, well, I think we'd better drink that bubbly immediately.  It'd be very rude not to and in any case, as I said before, that flight made us very thirsty!

Where's my man?  Open the bottle darling! 😗💕

I'll point out right now, that I am just not going to be able to keep this to one blog!  Far too much to say and so many photographs that have to be shared in order that you get the feel for this amazing place.

In any case I may just have to take a nap.
All that bubbly, I now feel totally relaxed.

Stay with us to view the Hotel gardens and our travels around the beautiful island of Malta.

Destination Corinthia Palace Hotel & Spa San Anton Malta

Corinthia Palace Hotel & Spa 
San Anton - quite central and only about 20 minutes from the Malta International Airport
Restaurants in the Hotel are quite popular, so our advice is to book before your trip.

Sunday, 4 December 2016

Fasten Your Seat Belts We're Travelling to Malta

An early start for us

Up at 3am to be ready for our pickup from our favourite Airport Travel Company.

Our getaway this trip begins at Gatwick Airport once again.  

We are going on a 5 day trip to Malta for our Wedding Anniversary. 

We are now getting accustomed to travelling light - see our Travel Notepad for some tips - and ready with our correct size bag of liquids this time! 😉

Woo hoo straight through!

However, together with our prompt Airport Chauffeur and clear roads, we were actually at the airport with lots of time to kill!

Never mind after checking in online, we may as well get on with it and go through security checks.

And now we pat ourselves on the back, because we go straight through without a hitch.

Window Seat on plane

Malcolm loves a window seat, consequently I get stuck in the middle of him and .......sometimes good and sometimes not so good on t'other side!

He also loves to tell me exactly what is happening out of the window. 😖 Good job I love him 💕 

Anyway on this occasion I was lucky enough to be sitting between Malcolm and a very interesting chap.  An Antique dealer from London. We passed the time by exchanging Social Networking, photography and photoshop tips.
Hello Nicholas Wells if you're reading this 😊

Bumpy ride

As you know, I'm not keen on flying!  Still if you don't do it you can't get far.  As we're travel photographers and travel bloggers, needs must.

So all's well until we get a little turbulence - eeek.  That does not go down at all well with me.  Just think 'bumpy road' and you'll be ok, I tell myself.

Always glad to be on the ground and onwards to our destination.

Hiring a car in Malta

Our first hurdle to overcome was to pick up the hire car from the Airport.  I say hurdle because actually it did become one.

We arrived at the Avis desk and as the young lady tried to print out our paperwork for the car, her printer ceased to work!  

Oh dear there seems to be a queue building up behind us ... not a good start.
(a few tips when hiring a car at foot of blog)


Finally we are given our paperwork, but before I go on I must tell you that everyone was exceedingly patient in the queue behind us and were still smiling as we left!

'Go to see Albert' the lady said and he will show you where the car is. 
After walking across to the other side of the airport, we find Albert and our car, which seems to be the one in the corner blocked in behind rows of cars.  
Keep smiling ..... not tired at all .... have only been up 10 hours - no problem.

Albert says 'she's given you the wrong car'.  At this point I must add that all is very laid back in Malta (until you get on the roads, but that's another story!)

Is that a dent?

Whilst waiting for the keys for the correct hire car, we can't help but notice every car seems to have either dents or scratches!  We are horrified and still trying to keep our sense of humour. 😦

Eventually, we get to know which car we will be driving (I should say that Malcolm will be driving).  It is still a car backed into the corner behind the others.  However, we go round the car with a fine tooth comb marking each and every mark down on the paperwork given to us.

It has to be said that our hire car seemed to be rather less damaged than the others.

Superb SatNav Nokia phone  

Whew!  Finally we are off and suffice it to say you have to have your wits about you on the roads in Malta.  And, shhhh, don't tell him I said it, but Malcolm is actually quite good at that.

However, I'm hopeless at navigation.  Out comes the Nokia phone with its superb satnav.  

20 minutes later we arrive at the Hotel.  Yes I know, it does look rather like a toy car next to Malcolm and he could probably hurdle over it (ah maybe not then) 😉 

And relax........

I can't wait to tell you about the Hotel ...... watch this space ....

A few facts:

  • Flight Time from Gatwick to Malta International Airport Approx 3.5hrs
  • When hiring a car take out excess insurance before you go.  It's cheaper (that was a tip from my son which I'm glad we took notice of.) 😯
  • Remember that the Hire Car Company take details of your credit card and keep them for 14 days after you return the car