Friday, November 20, 2020

Malta Road Trip: Experiencing Mdina

Destination: Mdina, Northern Region, Malts
Travel Period: November 2018

This is Delphi and moi in Mdina, the ancient capital of Malta. We spent an afternoon checking out this place. We had lunch with a view and during our discovery walk, we came upon a church where we witnessed a local wedding. 

We got rained down but we managed to enjoy our time here in this ancient stronghold. I have lots of pictures and a few bit of stories to share about our nice time in Mdina. 

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Sunday, November 01, 2020

Malta Road Trip: Dingli Cliffs, Rabat

Destination: Dingli | Rabat, Northern Region, Malta
Travel Period: November 2018

We had a 5-day holiday in Malta and during our stay, we rented a car as it was easier for us to travel from the airport to the center in our own private vehicle. We also planned a 2-day road trip around the country. Given that Malta is small, we managed to see many places in just one day which is really good. 

The Dingli Cliffs.

Beautiful traditional rowhouses with colourful balconies.

Our first-day road trip was a visit to the Dingli Cliffs, Rabat, Mdina, the ancient capital of Malta, and St. Julians. 

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Wednesday, October 28, 2020

Valletta, Malta: Breakfast at Caffe Cordina and Visit to the Grandmaster's Palace

Travel Period: November 2018
Destination:Valletta, Malta

On our third day in Malta, we had breakfast at the famous Caffe Cordina, an old institution in Malta going back to 1837. After breakfast, we visited the beautiful Grandmaster's Palace.

The Grandmaster's Palace in Valletta.

Caffe Cordina established in 1837 and still going strong.

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Tuesday, October 20, 2020

Malta: Discovering "The Three Cities"

Travel Period: November 2018
Destination: The Three Cities, Valletta, Malta

The Three Cities of Malta gave me a melancholic short trip back to the Phoenician times. Apart from the impressive architecture, it was a gloomy and wet day, something better spent indoors actually but when you are travelling for pleasure, you have no time to be cooped up inside your hotel. 

We have no choice but to take it as it is and make the most of it. That also explains the somewhat downcast feel of the pictures here.

In the Three Cities, my friend Delphi and I had a delightful lunch and we spent the afternoon wandering the ancient streets of Birgu, Senglea, and Cospicua. It was a pleasant day even with the drizzle every now and then. It is an enchanting place that has managed to preserve the old world glory of Malta and gave us a glimpse of how life was back then.

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Monday, October 12, 2020

Mini Break in Hilly Zuid Limburg, Netherlands

 I am not sure what to make out of this extended Covid-19 status quo. There are times when I am feeling very serene and thankful. Other times, totally stressed out. It is mostly about work stuff really, and all this uncertainty eating up the business and economy.

A mini-break was all that we needed to refresh our spirits but with the Covid-19 backlash, we didn't have choices of holiday destinations to pick on. We initially wanted to go to the Eifel (National Park) or the Ahr Valley (Red Wine Trail) in Germany, but unfortunately, Germany is requiring a negative Covid-19 test valid for 48 hours upon entry, that is if checked. Too much hassle, we can't be bothered.

I looked into the northern Wadden Islands but most of the accommodations were already booked for the fall holidays. I mean seriously, people are holidaying during Covid-times but within their own countries. It has resonated that we can't continue the hibernation or else we go cranky and kooky. So I looked further looked inland, and even farther down south of the country, and voila! This was when I discovered Zuid Limburg.

What took me so long to discover this piece of paradise? 

I have been living in the Netherlands for 18+ years now and it's my first time to be here. Well, it is the first time for the Dutchman, too! What could have been worse? Haha. Wow, this beautiful place was just right under our noses the whole time... 

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Thursday, September 03, 2020

Back from La Palma (Canary Islands), Spain

 Hola! Taken a few days ago in Puntagorda on La Palma Island.

We've just been back from our summer holiday on the Canary Island of La Palma in Spain. I guess the picture shows how well we have adapted into the new normal of holidaying. A bit surreal. Mask, 1.5-meter distance, always disinfecting and all. A bit strange, huh.

More soon about this holiday.

Keep in touch and follow me on Facebook: Travel & Lifestyle Diaries by Jo Travels
Happy Travels! Enjoy Life =)

Thursday, August 20, 2020

At Home with Covid-19: Breakfast - Lunch - Snack - Dinner

Covid-19 aka Coronavirus has surely changed our life, our working habits, and our lifestyles at home!

I haven't been on holiday this year. I mean seriously, this is taking a big impact on my sanity. We were supposed to go skiing in the Alps last January but since I started with a new job, we let the holiday slip for the time being. Instead, we were planning of going somewhere far around March timeframe, like to another continent, but then the merciless Covid-19 struck, and we got helplessly stuck at home.

That's right, we have been longing to go on holiday now for months, and this Friday (tomorrow!) we will be flying down to the south of Europe! Yes, with disinfectants and masks and all, ready in our luggage.

Lunchbreak at home.

So during this working from home, the new normal of Covid-19 life, Dutchman and I, apart from the dinners we normally have together in the evenings, are cooking more during the day and are sharing plentiful of breakfasts, brunches, lunches, and snacks.

Some people say that being together 24x7 can drive each other nuts and perhaps may result in the relationship going south. Hmm, so far we are surviving. For 18 years already.

I have to say that I am getting used to staying and working from home. I also love fixing and cooking meals throughout the day. It relaxes me to get away from the computer and use my hands for something else, such as making a meal. It is a challenge though not to overeat, and this is something we are trying to work on.

Before I go on holiday, I would like to leave you with some of the dishes we've had in the last months and weeks. I am loving the home life and would like to better my food preparation, cooking, and baking skills. I am also busy with the house and would actually like to talk more about it. It's just that I have been so buried with work that it's draining my energy. You'd think that working from home will offer flexibility and nice lifestyle trade-offs. It does, but I realised that there is a thin line between work and private life. It can be very easy to work late in the evenings and even during weekends. Discipline is critical.

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Monday, August 03, 2020

Valletta: A Maltese Breakfast, Visit to the Palace Armoury, Stunning Saint John's Co-Cathedral and Upper Barrakka Gardens

Travel Period: November 2018
Destination: Valletta, Malta

I thought I have seen the most lavish and ostentatious interiors of churches in Vatican City and Bella Italia, but Malta proved me wrong in this holiday. Saint John's Co-Cathedral is the most flamboyant of them all churches. See the evidence in this post.

Our Maltese (fast food style) breakfast!

The Saluting Battery below the Upper Barrakka Gardens looking over to the Three Cities:

So we are now on our second day in Valletta, Malta.

We will be visiting a couple of touristy places in the old fortifies city of Valletta before heading over to the Three Cities with the public ferry. We will be spending the rest of the day at the Three Cities. Come join me!

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Thursday, July 30, 2020

Our First Day and Evening in Valletta, Malta

Travel Period: November 2018
Destination: Malta

Malta is one of the small countries in the world, I believe it ranks the 10th! 

I have been wanting to visit Malta for some time and finally took the flight to Valletta and met with a very good friend there from Las Vegas, who I would like to call in the blog, Delphi. Delphi is an old friend from school. We have managed to be in touch after all these years and I have even visited her in Nevada many years ago. We now have become travel buddies and are eyeing some countries to visit together, hopefully after this Covid-19 crisis.

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Sunday, July 26, 2020

Oud Zuilen, Netherlands: Slot Zuylen (Zuylen Castle) + Dinner at Bistro Belle

Visit Period: March 2019
Location: Oud Zuilen, Utrecht, Netherlands

There were a few international colleagues in town and being the assigned entertainer, sometimes self-appointed because no one else will do the honours anyway, I took them out for dinner.

I have been here at Bistro Belle a while back with the Dutchman, however, it was on an afternoon. We had some tea and delicious apple pie. So I thought that it's not a bad idea at all to come back for dinner.

The restaurant is named after Belle van Zuylen, a famous writer in the 18th century who lives with her family in the castle just behind the restaurant, Slot Zuylen. 

What I love about restaurants in villages and small towns, or anything outside the city, is that parking is always easy to find. In most cases, there will be designated parking spaces and they are usually free. I parked the car right across the castle so my colleagues can enjoy the lovely architecture and the green scenery before we wander around a bit in the tiny village and have our dinner at the restaurant.

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Thursday, July 16, 2020

Officially Midlife at 50

Happy birthday to me! Right, I have turned the page and entered the midlife stage last June. I am now part of the 50 youngins :)

In observance of Covid19 and to make my life easier in preparing the food, I did a 2-day celebration for the family. Nothing fancy and big really. I tend to shy away from parties and crowds so I made this as a small, cosy and family-only event. 

Saturday was a barbecue dinner and Sunday a long lazy lunch. The weather was on our side, which was awesome, so quite happy with it as I was already ready to do a raincheck a week later if the weather acts up.

50 is a big number but I do not feel 50 at all, although, sometimes I wish I do.

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Sunday, May 10, 2020

Pre-Summer Preview at Home in Utrecht

We've had great weather this weekend except for today's Sunday. It is 16C outside with grey skies, periodic scattered rain showers, and there is a very strong wind blowing. There's a little windstorm going on.

Friday and Saturday were great pre-summer preview days for us. Especially yesterday Saturday when temperatures reached 25C.

We marked the occasion with our first bubbles for the year to celebrate good weather and a warm day to chill in our own garden terrace. We are very much looking forward to having more of this in the coming days and weeks.

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Thursday, May 07, 2020

Coronavirus aka Covid19 update

There is a new saying that is going around in the corporate world, "Stay safe and stay sane!" Perhaps you can relate?

Our lake at home where we stroll after working hours. This grey weather truly epitomizes the real Dutch weather as well.

We have a semi-lockdown here in the Netherlands. Our Prime Minister calls it an intelligent lockdown in a democratic society. Basically, we were given the chance if we want to go out and not. There's not much to do anyway as most places are closed. Only the essential shops are open, but later, I realised that a few home and general merchandise stores were open, however, implementing the 1.5-meter social distancing and disinfection of shopping carts.

Then one weekend it got so terribly busy in the parks and lakes, partially to be blamed due to good weather, that the government sent an SMS-alert nationwide reminding everyone to adhere to the 1.5-meter social distancing and to stay at home if not feeling well. This was followed the next day by a press conference pleading people to comply and to stay at home as much as possible. New rules were added such as no more than 2 people congregating and stiff measures in the form of fines were implemented.

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Wednesday, April 22, 2020

New Zealand Roadtrip: Downtown Wellington - Lunch - Cuba Street, Cuba Quarter

North Island, New Zealand
Travel Period: May 2018

Cuba Street in downtown Wellington.

Welcome lunch in Wellington.

We finally arrived in the capital of New Zealand! And the first thing we did after finding parking in the city center was to look for a place to have our lunch. What better way to find eating establishments by checking out the main street of the city. We did some quick googling and found Cuba Street in Cuba Quarter to be the best place.

Armed with my sister's smartphone and Google maps, we followed the directions to Cuba Street.

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Saturday, April 18, 2020

New Zealand Roadtrip: Henley Lake and Victorian Houses in Wellington

Henley Park, Masterton
Wellington Region, North Island, New Zealand
Travel Period: May 2018

We saw Henley Lake Park as we reach Masterton and thought we would do a quick stop to stretch our legs. We are on our way to Wellington, the capital of New Zealand.

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