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Travel Buddies

The world is a book and those who do not travel only reads one page

Vacanze Romane – Conquering Rome in 72 hours

 

With daily flight to Fiumicino and at times, Ciampino, Rome has become a popular destination for a perfect weekend getaway.

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And after visiting the Eternal city for the seventh time, I still manage to find it mesmerizing.

Here are our tips on how to conquer Rome in 3 days.

First things, first. 

Fly:  Ryanair or Airmalta.

If your stop is Fiumicino, you can take a train to the centre. If your stop is Ciampino, or even Fiumicino, you can take a bus.

Cheap transfers: http://www.sitbusshuttle.com/

The Stop is in Via Marsala, parallel to Termini Train Station. In order to save time, I always like to choose accommodation in Via Nazionale, which is within walkable distance from the aforementioned Train and Bus Station and also to most of the Roman sights.

Possible Accommodations:

Five Rooms Rome GuesthouseVia Della Consulta 1/B, Rione Monti.  Located at the very edge of Via Nazionale, 5 minutes away from Piazza Venezia. You can literally walk to everywhere, Fontana Di Trevi, Piazza di Spagna, Piazza Navona and even the Vatican City if you want.

Donna Margherita Rome Suite & Rooms Via Torino 122. Ideal if you are planning to travel outside of Rome as this is located just off Termini.

Relais Servio Tullio – Via Nazionale 243. Clean, spacious rooms and very modern. Ideal if you are on a budget.

 Hotel La Griffe Roma MGallery by Sofitel– Via Nazionale, 13. For those who want to go a bit poshier.

A sweet stroll for the first day

 From Via Nazionale, walk your way down to Piazza Venezia.  From there you can walk all the way through Via Del Corso. Visit Fontana di Trevi, Piazza di Spagna, climb up the stairs to Trinita Dei Morti for a fantastic view of the city. Walk through the poshy street of Via Condotti.

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On the opposite side roads of Via Del Corso, you walk to the Pantheon and Piazza Navona, and all the way to Ponte Sant’Angelo and eventually, Castel Sant’Angelo.  On the way make sure you stop for a coffee at La Casa Del Caffè Tazza D’oro and eventually for an aperitivo in Campo Dei Fiori.

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At the other end of Via Del Corso, you will find Piazza Del Popolo. Climb the stairs you find behind this Piazza, and you will arrive at Terazza Del Pincio.  Another fantastic view of this city.

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 Day Two, coffee first, cappucio & cornetto al bar.

Make your way to the Vatican City.  Walking through Via della Conciliazione is an experience in itself.

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Book your tickets for Musei Vaticani, climb up the Cuppola and visit the Basilica.

Day Three, explore the Colosseum and Fori Romani, Trastevere and the view from Giardino Degli Aranci.

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As one can note, the plan is very straight forward.  We do recommend you take the 3 days very lightly, do not not over plan, walk, breathe the Roman air . Take time to taste  the food. Appreciate il Dolce Far Niente, sit in a Piazza, enjoy an aperitivo and watch the world go by.

 

Dine

 

Few Steps Up from Trevi Fountain:  Il Chianti Vineria.

Close to Via Nazionale: La Carbonara – Closed on Sundays, booking is recommended .

Other places recommended by our followers:

Osteria dei numeri primi

Felice a Testaccio

Trattoria da Ivo Trastevere

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Elaine & Matt

xoxo

 

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Vibrant Barcelona

Generally speaking Spain will always have a special place in my heart.

It may not be my favourite country in the world, but everytime I put foot on Spanish lands, my brain automatically goes slightly into the siesta mood. Sunshine, Fashion, beach, great nights out and good food. I have been to Madrid, Toledo, Segovia, Valencia and Barcelona. Their geographical location and the climate makes a lot of difference when it comes to languages spoken, food they eat and even clothes the people wear. I must say all cities are all beautiful in a diverse manner but it you are still looking into your summer destination, I think you can stop looking and get that flight to Barcelona.

This Vibrant yet beautiful city is ideal for beach lovers, art fanatics, party animals, foodies, sightseers and shopaholics. Barcelona does have it all.

Here are 14 things you should do:

1 Visit La Sagrada Familia

This simply magical cathedral is really one of a kind. The beautiful colours coming through the stained glass windows are really representative of what I like to refer to as Vibrant Barcelona.

Click here for the opening times

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Traveller Tip: Go early. It can be quite busy with long queues, especially in peak periods.

 

2 Wander around Park Güell

This is my favourite spot in all Barcelona. The little “village” or park reminds me of well known fairy tale written by the Grimm Brothers Hansel & Gretel.

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3 Feed the pigeons in Plaça de Catalunya & Shop at El Corte Inglés

Located at the beginning of the famous Las Ramblas, this square is the centre of Barcelona.

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One can find one major shopping mall (my fave) called El Corte Inglés. El Corte Inglés is found all over Barcelona and other cities within Spain.

 

 

4 Walk through Las Ramblas & eat at the Mercado de La Boqueria

Shops, bars, markets, 1km long Las Ramblas has it all.

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Traveller’s Tip: Beware of pick pockets.

Avoid eating here. A lot of tourist traps. I would rather go around the famous La Bouqeria. See, smell, hear and TASTE. Actually it is a must do.

 

5 Visit the Aquàrium de Barcelona

Located in Port Vell, this is  one of the largest in Europe. Worth Visiting.

Click here for prices and opening hours

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6 Experience Camp Nou

Coming from a girl who watches only a football match only she’s dragged to one, Camp Nou is a must.

7 Go to Casa Batlló

Another masterpiece building by the great Gaudi.

8  Watch the magic show of the Barcelona Magic Fountain of Montjuïc

I honestly have no words to describe this spectacular show.

 

Schedule: 2018
01 January – 06 January Thursday, Friday and Saturday 20:00 – 21:00
07 January – 28 February Monday – Sunday Closed
01 March – 31 March Thursday, Friday and Saturday 20:00 – 21:00
01 April – 31 May Thursday, Friday and Saturday 21:00 – 22:00
01 June – 30 September Wednesday – Sunday 21:30 – 22:30
01 October – 31 October Thursday, Friday and Saturday 21:00 – 22:00
01 November – 31 December Thursday, Friday and Saturday 20:00 – 21:00

We had gone in the early afternoon before the magic fountains show and visited the Museu Nacional d’Art de Catalunya. A must for art lovers. This area of Barcelona is exceptionally beautiful.

9 Row, row the boat at Parc de la Ciutadella

Another beautiful park and oh, what fun. Do hire that little boat.

10 Sunbathe at Barceloneta

Amazing beach. Amazing food there too.

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11 Get lost around in Barri Gòtic

This is the old city part. So rich in history. Located in this area of the city one can find the Picasso Museum as well as Barcelona’s main cathedral.

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Visit: http://www.museupicasso.bcn.cat/

12 Eat paella valenciana

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Eat Tapaz Too.

  1. Day Out Monserrat

Set in the beautiful mountains of Catalunya, you will find a monastery. A unique day trip from Barcelona, this place is easily accessible by train and a good break from the hustle and bustle of Barcelona.

 

  1. Day Out Port Aventura

World know amusement park. Not to be missed. An hour train ride away from Barcelona. If you are with kids you should consider spending 2 days and sleep over in one of the accommodations within the resort.

Visit:Port Aventura World

 

Join our Travel Group: Travel Buddies Malta

New Year .. New Me? Forget IT!

That time of the year is here…”New Year..New Me”… But not for me. I have been working on this version of “me” for the past five to ten years. There is no way in hell that I will change “me” just because the digit on the bottom right hand corner of my laptop has increased by 1. I will continue doing what I have been doing for the past months, years, because I like “me”, I like this version of “me”, I wouldn’t want a different “me”.  I am comfortable with who I am, I  fought and cried myself to sleep to become who I am today. I strongly believe I am the best version of myself. Of course,  yes, I wouldn’t mind being a bit thinner, more patient, less emotional, more adventurous.

But if I am so happy with “me”, why is it that I feel so miserable on the first Monday of this boring odd month? But wait, am I feeling miserable? Not really, considering how I used to feel in January a few years back. But, nonetheless,  I feel I have to write these few tips on how to get through January. If they will not work for you, they are surely therapy to me.

  1. You over ate over the holidays? You swore to yourself that you will definitely go on a detox diet in January – sounds like you? Yeah, me too.
    Be kind to yourself.  It’s okay to over indulge at times. We’re humans, you know. Avoid detox diets, which are difficult to maintain, which will leave you starved, craving sugar and carbs. Find a healthy balanced diet which you can adapt to your work patterns, which is easy to follow, which is colourful and fun. Healthy nourishing meals which give you plenty of energy, improve your mood and improve your over all well being.
  2. Dreading getting back to work? It is quite normal. I am too. Self pity will not make things better. We all prefer spending time with our families, having parties and spending time out.  See the ritual of getting back to the office as a way which will make you treasure the enjoyable time spent over the holidays. If you don’t get back to the office, you will not have more holidays to wait for. So avoid over thinking about having to get back  to work. Get up, shower, have breakfast and get going.
  3. Plan your year – see what bank holidays you will get to enjoy. What bank holidays you can bridge. Have you been thinking about a place you want to visit? It is time to make that happen. Start looking for flights and accommodation. It will give you an incentive and something to look forward to. It will also fill up your boring January evenings. The thought of going abroad instantly brings positive vibes your way.
  4.  Listen to music. The music you were listening to before the holidays and new songs which were launched over the holidays. It will help you to bridge the gap between where you left off before going out on holidays and your “NOW”.
  5.  Make sure you make full use of the dark boring January days to do something for yourself. Something which you have been longing to do – book a massage, paint your nails, read that book you’ve wanting to read, go to movies, call a friend, clear up that desk or  drawer.

Do not be too harsh on January. We cannot have a rainbow without a little rain. Spring is round the corner…Smile.. You see. That is the best version of you. That is the best version of me. New Year , new me? hell No! New Year, same old me.

 

End of year thoughts

Don’t freeze, don’t stop, don’t worry that it isn’t good enough, or it isn’t perfect, whatever it is: art, or love, or work or family or life. Whatever it is you’re scared of doing, Do it. Make your mistakes, next year and forever.

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As the end of the year approach, I always like to spend some quality time with myself – me, myself and a reflective afternoon about how my year went – achievements, relationships, career progression. I take my time to think about all the lovely experiences I lived but also the unpleasant moments, maybe sad days, which helped me grow and become a stronger person.  I go through all the pictures I have taken during the year and spend some time recalling all the beautiful memories of all the places and countries I visited during the past 365 days.

I will share with you this marvelous thought I came across last year exactly on New Year ’s Eve.

“I hope that in this year to come, you make mistakes.”

Because if you are making mistakes, then you are making new things, trying new things, learning, living, pushing yourself, changing yourself, changing your world. You’re doing things you’ve never done before, and more importantly, you’re Doing Something.

So that’s my wish for you, and all of us, and my wish for myself. Make New Mistakes. Make glorious amazing mistakes. Make mistakes nobody’s ever made before.

One tip to make you will live through the coming year in a more serene manner : Keep a happiness jar. Starting January 1st write the good things that happen to you on little piece of paper:

  • Accomplished goals
  • “LOL” moments
  • The beauty of nature
  • Daily blessings
  • Emotional experiences
  • Moments that gave you Goosebumps
  • Travel Memories

Then on December 31st open the jar and read, one by one, all the amazing things that happened to you in 2018.

From the bottom of my heart, HAPPY NEW YEAR Travel Buddies.

Slovenia and its wonders

This article is a collection of write ups about Slovenia, a country which is still on my bucket list.

Thank you Cyp, Michelle and Kelly for their contribution!

“So, i ve visited Slovenia twice till now but wouldn’t mind going again. We landed in Venice Treviso and drove to lake bled. Once there we stayed at pension mlino which is exactly by the lake. Unfortunately the second time we went they were doing the roads so it wasn’t as nice as the first time. Anyway, with regards to places visited we went to: lake bled, bled castle, slap virje, vintgar gorge, skovjan caves, lake bohinj, lake jasna, predjama castle & savica waterfall. I love nature holidays and this was just that. They have beautiful sites and the people are so nice” – Kelly Grech

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Photo by Kelly Grech
Photo By Kelly Grech
Photo By Kelly Grech

I have long heard friends speaking highly of Slovenia, of its natural beauties and of its pristine nature. I have wanted to travel there to explore it for some years, before I got the chance to do it in 2014, while attending a conference in Ljubljana, the pretty capital city.

In all honest, I was a bit let down back then. The weather was dull, grey and foggy and I had much less time to explore around than I had previously imagined. But I knew I had to return and return I did this summer when together with my family and friends, explored the Western part of Slovenia for 10 full days in August.

We were a team of 7 people and we flew with Ryanair to Treviso. During the planning stage, I had booked a 9 seater van from Ideal Rent Slovenia who everyone was raving about on tripadvisor and facebook. I had also made friends with the company’s owner Dejan, who was so nice to us from start to finish. Not only was his offer the cheapest one with no hidden charges and unpleasant surprises, but Dejan also offered a free-of-charge driver to take us on the three-hour drive from Treviso to Ljubljana.

Ljubljana in summer is a splendid little pretty town full of live near the market in the morning and along the Ljubljanica river in the evening. The Triple-Bridge  forms at the very centre of the city while the Castle up on the hill watches over the town.

However, Slovenia’s treasures are to be found in its nature! Just 40 minute drive North, one arrive at the quintessential typical Slovenian landscape : the postcard-pretty lake Bled, with a small island in the middle topped by a church and surrounded with the massive Julian Alps around! Bled is full of live all throughout and some travellers might find it a bit too tourist. But no problem, just drive a further 30 minutes to the West and you’re at Lake Bohinj. Calm, peaceful Bohinj is a lake of fantastic beauty, just beneath the mountains with Slovenia’s highest peak, Mount Triglav  up above! We loved Bohinj, we swam, we paddled, we relaxed and we took the Cable car up to the Vogel, where one can see the whole lake beneath and Triglav just in front.

The area around Triglav National Park is a nature’s treasure where one can find mountains, lakes, rivers, waterfalls, gorges, and can practice all kind of sports, apart from staying relaxed just absorbing the fresh air and taking in the majestic views. Places which one should not miss in the are the small towns of Skofja Loka, Kropa, Bovec, the impressive caves of Postojna, the Soca river with its incredible turquoise waters, Vintgar Gorge, and many other jewels at each way one go to discover.

We stayed in a small cottage at Slamniki, lost in the middle of the forest at 900m above sea level, with views of kilometres of mountain peaks and forests! The drive up, a very narrow private road, was well worth the effort and highly recommended for anyone who would like to get away from it all.

In the second week we transferred to a guest house in the beautiful town of Kranjska Gora. This is a town world-famous for the Alpine Skiing World Championship race which is organised every winter. In summer, the place is truly a nature paradise. The Julian Alps rise dramatically up from the village. The small but impressive Lake Jasna is surrounded by the mountain peaks, and the world-famous Vrsic Pass takes you on 50 hair-pin bend across some of Europe’s most stunning mountain scenery! To add to its value, Kranjska Gora is just 20 minutes away from Italy (nearest town is Tarvisio through the Predel Pass) and to Austria’s lake district and the towns of Villach and Klagefurt.

Even for a person who is not very fond of driving abroad, especially a 9 seater, driving in Slovenia is safe, reliable and most roads are very well kept, so its is highly suggested as it allows you to discover much more and further. Traffic is practically non-existent unless you are on the ring-road of Lake Bled during the rush hour, but then again, nothing like Maltese traffic! The people of Slovenia are very friendly and helpful and especially the younger generations all speak very fluent English, and Italian.

If you like a relaxing holiday, which doesn’t break your bank, with incredible mountain scenery and nature in its pure, uncontaminated state, than, really, what are you waiting for to visit Slovenia. I am sure you will fall in s-LOVE-nia!” – Cyp Dalli

 

Following pictures where taken by Michelle Camilleri

Ultimate gift guide for a travel buddy

Christmas is around the corner and getting the perfect gift for a loved is always a big headache. Let alone if that person is a traveler who no materialistic objects seems to please him expect a fully paid adventure to his dream destination.

Nonetheless, there could be some items which could bring a smile to your traveler friend’s face.  There you go:

  1. Travel Gift Voucher

You cannot really go wrong with this one. You just basically need to pre pay the selected amount to the airline’s website and the person would then redeem it against a flight of his choice using an assigned code. I have used this with Ryanair. The voucher has a 12 month expiration period.

 

  1. Passport Cover

The selection here is endless. You could go for $300 LV one or a more adventurous one.

Check: http://www.travelandleisure.com/style/travel-accessories/cute-passport-covers#leather-quote-passport-holder

You can personalize it and include your picture, name, favourite travel quote.

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  1. Travel themed Jewellery

This is my favourite. I love jewellery and these travel related little items do brighten a random dull day (yes I do have them sometimes, too). When I got this little plane chain I was over the moon, it matches my most used emotion on Facebook or Whatsapp.

Check: https://wanderlanddesigns.com/collections/travel-jewelry?page=3

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  1. Push Pin Travel Maps

I got mine as a Christmas gift from my sister, and my first reaction was “I so need to get out of Europe” , then I said “Thank you”. An alternative to this could be a Scratch Map.

Check:  https://www.pushpintravelmaps.com/

https://www.amazon.com/Scratch-Off-World-Map-Deluxe/dp/B00OCINI2I

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  1. A travel book

Is your travel buddy planning a trip to Japan, Vietnam or maybe South Africa? Nothing beats one of the DK Eyewitness Travel Guides which you could easily order online.

Check: https://www.dk.com/us/travel/

Alternatively you could go for travel related literature.

Check: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/travel/galleries/The-20-best-travel-books-of-all-time/

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  1. A stylish hand luggage

I am quite of a weekend getaways where you do not need to worry about packing and paying for extra luggage. I always travel with this hand luggage which I had got from Edinburgh.

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  1. A decorative Globe

I am in love with these and I so need to get one.

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The Polish Mishap

We spent a total of 4 days in Krakow, spending New Year’s Eve in the city centre. Krakow is definitely a place to visit with its charming Christmas market, classical horse driven carts ferrying people around the city centre and fantastic choice of restaurants.

Our problems started at the very end of our trip, upon our departure from Krakow on the 2 nd of January. The Itinerary plan for the day started with an internal flight from Krakow to Warsaw. After a two hour layover, we were supposed to have another short internal flight from Warsaw to Poznan. Both of these two flights were operated by LOT airways. We then had a five hour layover in Poznan waiting for our last flight at 7:45pm to Malta operated by RyanAir. On January 2nd we left our apartment and arrived well on time to the airport. It was 8am and we had already checked in and arrived next to our departure gate, with a little over 2 hours and a half to kill by the departure gate. We; Matthew, James and myself, were pretty relaxed as we had plenty of time to have a light breakfast and a coffee before our flight. Time passed quickly and it was soon time to board our flight. We lined up in the queue and waited for the usual slow procession to board the plane. The bright LED television, showing our flight number and in bold ‘NOW BOARDING’ was shining right above my head. As we waited, I happened to be looking at this television when suddenly, with no warning, it went black and changed the flight status to ‘FLIGHT CANCELLED’. I found myself staring at the television still not yet processing what the television was displaying. I quickly turned to Matthew who happened to be behind me and was oblivious to what just happened, “Matt, the flight is cancelled.” Matthew turned and started at me, “what do you mean the flight is cancelled.” I pointed to the television and Matthew saw the status change. Matthew’s
face turned pale and he resembled a child losing his mother in the middle of a massive supermarket.

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I immediately asked the woman behind the counter for more information and she told us to go back
to the check in desk. With that information, we ran quickly back all the way down to the check in desk to beat the rest of the passengers in the queue. After just 10 minutes waiting in the queue it was our turn and I asked the woman behind the check-in desk regarding our cancelled flight, her response, “wrong desk, go over there.” I followed her hand as she pointed, which led to the other side of the airport.
The queue was huge! It resembled a mass gathering for the Black Friday sale in America. Everyone half panicked, stressed, upset and eager to arrive to the distant reception desk. Time was pressing on and we started worrying that we might not make our flight from Poznan to Malta at this rate.
After roughly 45minutes waiting in the queue, a woman came around and gave us a business card with a number we can call on. I grabbed my mobile and dialled the number visible on the card. A woman picked up surprisingly quickly and I explained our situation to her. We had 3 options; catch another flight to Warsaw and continue with our planned itinerary, or catch a flight directly to Poznan or (worst scenario) catch a train to Poznan. The woman explained that all flights to and from Warsaw were cancelled due to the poor weather conditions. This eliminated option one which led me to ask her if there was a flight directly to Poznan from Krakow. I could hear her clicking away on her
computer checking all possible flights but unfortunately the next flight to Poznan was in 6 days! I soon realised that the only possible solution left was option three, the one I wanted to avoid the most. She explained the train would take you roughly six hours and a half to arrive to Poznan. I went ahead and asked her when the next train would leave. Her response, “I do not have that information sir. You will have to check at the central station”
That left us with a daunting task, to catch a taxi to the central station and hope to god that the next train to depart for Poznan would not be later then 1pm, because if it is, we would not make our 7:45pm flight to Malta.
As soon as I finished the phone call, we sprinted outside to the taxi stands and stopped the first taxi we saw. We got in and explained that we needed to get to the central station as quickly as possible. The ironic thing is, the central station is 2minutes away from the apartment we stayed in during our stay in Krakow. We arrived at the central station at exactly 11:55 and went straight to the information desk. I asked the individual behind the desk at what time the next train departs to Poznan. I could bet that he probably could hear our hearts beating like crazy waiting for him to answer my question. He checked
on his computer and informed me that the next train departs at exactly noon. That left us with 5minutes to purchase our tickets and find the correct platform. We sprinted to the ticket booth and asked to purchase 3 tickets. The significally large woman behind the desk could barely utter any English words but she explained the train was fully booked and only standing tickets were available. I let her know that we did not care how and where we will be sitting on that train; we just needed to
be on it! She quickly printed out our tickets and we managed to find the correct platform by exactly noon. Relief, the train had not yet passed! Time was critical now since the train would leave at 12pm and arrive at Poznan central station by roughly 6:30pm, which left us with around one hour to get to the airport, pass security and board the plane. The central station speakers rang with the usual announcement sound, and a man’s voice came on, “train to Poznan will be delayed by 40mins.”
That’s it we thought, we are not going to make it. We were all mentally calculating the arrival time to Poznan central station, which was roughly 7pm give or take. We boarded the train 30minutes later not knowing whether we will make our flight or not.
We did not have any seats, so we stayed in the carriage way were people usually park there mountain bikes and luggage. No need to explain that comfort was non-existent, the floor was cold, wi-fi was not present and to make matters worse, none of us had any polish currency left to buy any snacks or water. Safe to say, those six hours and a half on that train were miserable. Our source of entertainment for those long 6 hours was a rather depressing film Matthew had on his iPad which did not help our current mood.
Since we were cutting it extremely close with our flight, we tried to find a contact or number in order to try book a taxi for us at the central station Poznan to avoid wasting any more time trying to locate a taxi. We somehow managed to get a number of a taxi company and ordered a taxi to pick us up and take us directly to the airport. The last few hours on the train passed painfully slowly. The most exciting thing that happened to us, well to me and Matthew, was that whenever the train stopped at a station, we ran outside for a couple of minutes to enjoy the snow. I’m sure a few passengers on the train thought there was something wrong with us.

When we were approaching the Poznan central station, we were ready by the door to sprint out and find our taxi. The second the doors opened, we shot out. For the first time today we were a little lucky as the train arrived a little earlier. It was exactly 6:50pm and thank god the booking was accurate and the taxi was waiting for us. We entered the taxi and told him to drive as fast as he could to the airport. To my surprise the taxi driver took me by my word as he sped through the city, constantly switching lanes to avoid traffic and ran a couple of red lights. For the first time in my life, I had no problem with a reckless taxi driver. We arrived at the airport at 7:20pm, tipped the taxi driver and entered the terminal with our hearts racing. Our flight was already boarding and we still
had to get passed security. Obviously there was a huge line for security and I said to myself that if we wait in the queue we will miss our flight. I spoke to the security guard and explained that our flight is boarding now. To my surprise he let us skip most of the queue! We went straight to our gate and we were literally the last ones to board the plane. We had made it with just minutes to spare!
We felt ourselves melting into our seats and still could not believe that we had actually made it.
Besides the stressful return journey, Krakow is a beautiful city and is definitely a place you should

 

 

Meet the guy behind Travel Buddies

Travel Buddies is a facebook group created in 2016 with the aim of bringing together people from different backgrounds with a common passion for travelling, and exploring the world. Members are invited to share their experiences, memories and concerns about different countries which they have visited or intend to explore.

The guy behind the group is Matthew Fenech, a twenty-seven year old banker who loves to travel. Apart from travelling Matthew loves football and is a great Inter Fan. Matthew is a Christmas freak. Matthew’s friends and family, describe him as a sweet boy with a friendly personality and a kind heart.
In today’s blog post we have interviewed Matthew, asking him questions about himself and his travel experiences?
Where is the first place you have travelled to and how old were you?

The first place I ever travelled to was Brno, Czech Republic at the age of 10. I had gone up primarily to take part in football tournament with San Gwann Football Club.

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Which is the favourite city you have travelled to so far?

London would be my favourite city so far. I did a few days living across Oxford street. There is lots of life there. A lot of shopping to do, theaters to go to and everything is so close when you use the metro.

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Which is the fondest travel memory you have?

This is a tough one. I recently went to Lapland in January and also watched Coldplay live last June in Germany. Both were on my bucket list for a long time but the fact I did them both in the same year leaves me difficult to choose which. Have to go with both memories.

 


– What was the best dish you have tried whilst you were abroad?

A good piece of reindeer meat in Finland.
– Which is the scariest experience you had outside of Malta?

Arriving well on time for your flight only to discover that your flight from krakov to Warsaw is cancelled minutes before boarding. Not only that, but we also discover our next flight from Warsaw to poznan is also cancelled.
After waiting an hour in the wrong queue … We finally find the correct desk to address our issue to, only to discover that half the airport is waiting in this same queue.
We finally get hold of a contact person and get good news … our cancelled flights will be refunded. We also get bad news …. there are no flights to poznan within the next 6 days, our only option is a 6 hour train trip with no Wi-Fi, no food and no money left. (The train was also delayed by 40mins). We basically boarded this train not knowing whether we will make our flight or not.
We made our last flight from Poznan to malta with mere seconds to spare before boarding was closed.
– Any particular destination which you have visited which you really want to visit again?

Lapland without a doubt

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– Your next travel destination?

Zurich and Lucerne

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– Which is your dream destination?

New York City in December

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– Any plans for Travel Buddies’ future?

To continue growing and maybe one day organise a holiday tour with a group of people from Travel buddies. Still early days but something like a trekking holiday sounds fun and adventurous.

You may have the universe if I may have Italy. – Giuseppe Verdi 

This is one of my favourite quotes about Italy. One of my all time favourite countries, a home away from home. In my opinion, a country which has it all – the food, the history, football, fashion, the music, the countryside, its mountainous regions, the beautiful beaches, the automotive industry. The thing about Italy is that there is a certain vibe of “La Dolce Vita” , which you can see, feel, taste and hear.
With the increased Ryanair routes to various airports in Italy, luckily enough, this gem of a country has become so reachable. I will share with you some of my Italian itineraries.
Hoping that eventually we will write blog posts about each trip.

Sicily
Island Hopping in Trapani
Stop in Trapani Airport, which is a bus ride away from Trapani City Centre. Visit: Erice,
Island of Favignana, Island of Marettimo, San Vito lo Capo, Marsala, Palermo.
Shopping Spree in Catania
Stop in Catania Airport. A bus ride away is the Sicilia Outlet Village, where you can shop at discounted prices till you drop. Well, the North-eastern part of the Island is not just about shopping though. From Catania, you can easily reach Taormina where you can have the best Cassata Siciliana in the whole world.

Southern Italy
Puglia and a touch of Basicilata
Visited the southern part of the peninsula in September. Ryanair stop in Bari and from there we took trips to Polignano a Mare, Lecce, Alberobello and Matera. Matera is part of the Basicilata region, it is a very peaceful place.

Traveller Tip: Visit between April and October and stay overnight in Polignano a Mare. We have a beautiful B&B to recommend. You will be able to experience having dinner (or lunch) in the amazing Grotto Pallezesse. Booking is a recommended.

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The Amalfi Coast
I was lucky enough to visit the Amalfi Coast four times. And the island of Capri will forever remain one of my favourite spots in the whole world.elaine 3

Ryanair stop to Naples (Easyjet flies there too). Please do stop over in Naples and have the best pizza of you will ever taste. Places to visit Amalfi, Ravello, Sorrento, Positano, the
island of Capri, the island of Ischia, Pompei, Reggio di Caserta. I would recommend a good week here.

Travel period: May, June, July. It can get very hot and crowded.
Traveller Tip: Stay overnight in Capri. As soon as the day trippers start to leave, Capri
becomes super magical. Take a bus to Anacapri too, it’s less busy and cheaper to get a
decent meal.

PS. Limoncello – make space in your luggage to get limoncello for your loved ones back
home.

Central Italy
Roma
I went to Rome to seven times and honestly I never have enough of it. I have been
throughout different period of the year – December , April, July, June, January, February. I keep on falling in love more and more every time I go. April is the one time I enjoyed it the most. The Spanish Steps have all decorated in pink flowers. Magnificent.
I would recommend 3 – 5 days in La Citta Eterna.

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Traveller Tip: Do not leave Rome without having gelato and a good plate of Carbonara.

Toscana
Someone, once asked me, “Which city do you prefer Rome or Firenze?” I obviously refused to answer. Florence is a good rival to Rome. But choosing between the two is really tough. I will share with you my favourite quote about Florence.
“Quando sento che mi prende la depressione, torno a Firenze a guardare la cupola del Brunelleschi: se il genio dell’uomo è arrivato a tanto, allora anche io posso e devo provare a creare, agire, vivere.”
Franco Zeffirelli

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Apart from Firenze, of course, there are other cities and villages you can visit. Some of
which are total must do’s – the Chianti region for the wine, San Gimignano, Siena, Lucca,
Pisa, Arezzo. I would recommend March – June as ideal months to visit. Or September for
the harvesting.

Traveller Tip: Do not go Toscana without booking a wine tour. We can recommend some.

Emilia-Romagna
Ryanair stop to Bologna and you will experience your best culinary trip ever. Prosciutto di Parma, Parmeggiano cheese, Aceto Balsamico di Modena, of course, pasta al Ragu (which we call, Bolognese sauce). You name it, they have it, actually they excel at it. I would recommend March – May as ideal months to visit.

Traveller Tip: A day trip to San Marino is a total must.

Northern Italy
Venice, Verona, Lake Garda
Ryanair stop to Treviso or Venice. I had spent a total of 7 days, 2 in Venice, 1 in Verona and 4 on the Lake. Places to visit in Lake Garda: Malcesine, MonteBaldo, Sirmione, Limone. Visiting Verona and Juliette’s balcony is a must do – “Se ami qualcuno portalo a Verona”. And of course Venice. Venice is in my opinion, incomparable to any other city in Italy or in the world. Mesmerizing. I would recommend May as an ideal month to visit. It can get quite warm in Venice. Or of course, February, for the Carnival, which unfortunately I have not experienced (Yet!).

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Traveller Tip: Do sleep over night in Venice. Venice at dusk is simply magical.

Le Cinque Terre
Ryanair stop in Pisa, instead of heading to Toscana Region, drive up to the Cinque Terre. I
would recommend a 3 – 4 days of relaxation visiting Monterosso al Mare, Vernazza,
Corniglia, Manarola, and Riomaggiore.  Heaven for seafood lovers. I would recommend
June – July as ideal months to visit.

Milano, Bergamo and Lake Como
Ryanair in Bergamo or Airmalta to Milan. I am not a big fan of Milan, personally, but well Vittorio Emanuele II is pretty stunning I must admit. Of course Milan is total must for fashion lovers and undoubtedly for our Interisti & Milanisti followers.
Lake Como is must do and don’t forget to visit Bellaggio. Troppo Bello.

Well guys, these are my Italian experiences. As you can see, there are a lot of places I have not visited, Torino, Calabria (Check Tropea out!), Christmas cheer in Bolzano & Trento, just to mention a few.
Message us for travel tips, recommended tours or merely accommodation or restaurants
ideas.

Elaine Marie Debono

Travel Buddies

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