Malta and Gozo Pictorial

Malta and Gozo Pictorial

As we mentioned in Spring Hiking in Gozo, Malta is one of the Mediterranean’s most interesting, underestimated and misrepresented destinations.

Despite the fact that Malta often markets itself as a cheap beach destination for package tourists, we’re huge fans of the tiny nation because it boasts a rich cultural and natural heritage including multiple UNESCO World Heritage sites.

For romantics, Malta is home to the exceptional walled cities of Valletta and Mdina, both of which receive my official stamp of approval as a walled city freak. For archaeology buffs, the megalithic temples of Hagar Qim, Ggantija, and the mysterious Hypogeum of Hal-Saflieni are among the oldest surviving structures in the world, predating even the Egyptian pyramids. For naturalists, the arid landscape of Gozo offers a selection of beautiful cliff-side hikes as well as gorgeous sapphire waters.

In fact, the two islands offer so much, we decided to put together a pictorial to show off its treasures. I should mention that, somewhat ironically, the people most likely to be disappointed by Malta are beach enthusiasts. Hmmm.

Note: These scenes were photographed in 2005 when Hagar Qim was still uncovered. Since then, a rather unsightly shelter has been built over the site to protect it from the elements. Good for posterity, bad for visitors with cameras.

I’m Dreaming of a White Easter

Well, we had the gall to invoke the gods of spring in our last post and they rewarded us by dumping six inches of fresh snow on Berlin. The city just might be in for a white Easter. Rather than hide from it, I donned my snow boots, grabbed my camera, and headed out to Potsdam’s Sanssouci to wander around the palace gardens for the day.

The ponds and streams were frozen over and the side trails were covered in deep powder. The deserted back trails and snow-frosted hedges felt eerily reminiscent of the final scene Continue…

Germany: What a Dollar Can Buy You

It’s funny how perspectives can change so quickly. Looking back at our previous What a Dollar Can Buy You posts in Asia, I remember that we were operating on a very different wavelength. I called Malaysia “downright expensive” and I whined that the Philippines could “break the bank.” Now that we’re back in Europe, I only wish we could do so much for so little money.

But I shouldn’t complain. Despite Germany’s economic success (at least that’s what Frau Merkel tells us), prices here are still relatively affordable by European standards. Many other EU countries are far more expensive. And bizarrely, Berlin is one of Germany’s most affordable destinations! Even 24 years after the fall of the wall, Deutschland’s capital is still cheaper than most other cities in the country (or the continent for that matter.) So basing ourselves in Berlin, where we can maximize our experiences while minimizing costs, makes total sense. After all, we are budgeteers at heart.

I have to admit it was a little more challenging to compile this list. Although one-dollar items or services do not abound, there are still some things you can get for 0.77 euro cents Continue…

Happy Birthday Tony

Happy 43rd birthday! So glad you finally caught up with me. Wow, how does it feel to celebrate your birthday in freezing temperatures? It’s been a while since you had to wear a down jacket and a sock hat on your big day.

But you know, from now on that’s exactly what it’s going to feel like. Get used to it – older people feel cold all the time …

Mr. Wowereit, Don’t Tear down this Wall!

In a staggering act of stupidity and self-sabotage, the government of Berlin is allowing portions of the last significant remaining stretch of the Berlin Wall to be removed for – we’re not making this up – luxury apartments. That’s right, luxury apartments. Playing off of the famous Cold War quote by Reagan, Berliners have responded to the mayor, “Mr. Wowereit, don’t tear down this Wall!”

Known as the East Side Gallery, the stretch of wall runs for over a kilometer and is covered with some of Berlin’s most famous street art. The site commemorates the sense of survival and rebelliousness that once defined Europe’s edgiest city. Damaging the site is no less than an attack on the spirit of the city itself.

Ironically, construction crews literally had to tear down signs declaring the East Side Gallery a nationally protected historical monument. Visitors are repeatedly warned that any damage to the wall is punishable under German law… unless, of course, you’re a wealthy property developer. Impromptu protests sprung up on Friday challenging this act of overt corruption and temporarily halting the assault on the wall, but police quickly swept in to ensure that nobody got in the way of “progress.”

We’re not sure just how much of the wall will eventually be removed, so we walked the length of the wall this weekend documenting the latest layer of wall art. We’ve added twelve images to our Berlin Wall Art pictorial.