Tuesday, May 31, 2011

The Fair

We went to a fair on Manoel Island (Malta) this week. How is a European fair different from an American/Canadian fair? Nutella crepes at the cotton candy stand, of course. Bumper cars and fun houses ensued.

Mike's comical side note: about 5 seconds after this picture was taken an automated air jet from the floor may have partially inverted Jess' dress upon her exit from the funhouse.  The carney operating the fun house, a large crowd of people and I couldn't control our laughter as Jess' dress went up over her head. Let's just say she now knows why Sandy wore a leather onesie in Grease.

Monday, May 30, 2011

Malta + Divorce

In a historical referendum this past weekend (what referendums aren't historical?) the people of Malta voted in favour of allowing divorce. As guests in this country the debate and the decision will not have a direct impact on our lives. Nonetheless we are proud of the informed choice that the Maltese people made regarding their legal rights.

You can find endless news articles about the divorce debate & vote online, but I wanted to share this very well written blog post to anyone interested in a Maltese perspective on the issue.

Happy Memorial Day weekend to our American readers! (And a happy Spring Bank holiday to our UK readers too)

Saturday, May 28, 2011

we love the beach

Our first few beach days of the summer have been lovely. You know what's pretty cool about the beach? (Besides getting great pizza there) Almost everyone at the beach is either relaxed or having fun. In other words, they are happy. Even if all of their embarrassing bits are hanging out. And that's kind of neat. (The happy part, not the bits)
- Jess

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Mike's Family Visits Malta

Sorry about this post being a bit late but my recent crazy schedule of visitors, midterms and work took over my blog writing time. April and May were pretty busy months for Jess and I.  We had 3 sets of visitors come to Malta and we travelled to Greece and London over Easter for two weeks.

Cherie and Tim, my non-related black siblings, (or brother from another mother and sister from another mister) more commonly known as my neighbours from across the street in Bedford (Canada) were the first set of visitors.  They came to Malta for the second week in April.  The weather was pretty nice and we showed them around the island before Tim went back to the UK and Cherie came travelling with us to Greece.

Cherie, Tim, Jess and I at St. Peter's Pool
The water at St. Peter's pool was tempting but I forgot a bathing suit and some family members disagreed with my ideal solution to that problem. 
We took our first real beach day of the year at the Blue Lagoon in Comino
Important items, such as wine, a beer cooler, and those people intimidated by cold-ish water, were floated across the lagoon on the "raft"

We all enjoyed being out in the sun, the fantastic scenery and the cliffs...
(And some of us enjoyed the beverages more than others)

The next set of visitors was my sister Tricia and her husband Nick.  They came at the beginning of May, five days after we got back from London. On their first day here we took a ferry to Sicily and had a big one-day road-trip to the Greek temples in Agrigento, around Mount Etna, and up to Taormina. Once we were back in Malta we showed Tricia and Nick around this island.

Ready to depart for Sicily by ferry at 6:00 in the morning
Tricia awkwardly posing for a picture at the back of the catamaran to make our mother happy that we made sure we were close to the lifeboats
Tricia and Nick at the Temple of Concordia in Agrigento
According to family tradition we had a picnic somewhere on the side of the road on the way from Agrigento to Taormina.  (although no shake 'n' bake chicken was served)
The four of us at the top of Taormina
We only had  an hour and a half in Taormina but we'll be back later this summer, it was a pretty neat place
Lunch at our favourite beach with Nick and Tricia
The last visitor to arrive was my mother, Jan. In the four days between Tricia and Nick’s departure and Jan’s arrival, I had to re-learn the first half of my Consolidations Accounting course and write a mid-term.  I apologize to Jess for my great mood that weekend but in the end the exam went okay and I only have one left to write for this course.

A truly conducive study environment
(on a side note - he burnt an imprint of his laptop onto his lap on this day. he is still getting used to wearing teeny tiny euro shorts- Jess)

Jan came to Malta in 2008 when I was an exchange student so she had seen a lot of the island before.  She was more than happy to relax and enjoy the sun here. Apparently sunshine has been avoiding Atlantic Canada lately. We saw a few new things in Malta with her too, like the War Museum and several churches. We tend not to use our camera when visitors are here and then we steal copies of our visitor's pictures at the end of their trip. Why take double pictures of everything, right? But we seem to have forgotten to do that with Jan's pictures so we will post some once she emails them to us (looking at you, Jan).

Thank you to everyone that came to visit this spring and to Jess for putting up with entertaining my family for the better part of the past two months. 


Sunday, May 22, 2011

blog changes

We (well, I) have been making some changes to the blog (learning the basics of web page creation as a means of procrastination leading up to exams). We now have a new name and a new address that's easier to remember (mike-jess.com). You can also sign up for email updates using the widget on the left below.

Mike is working on a blog post about all the great visitors we've had in the past two months. And I'm discovering how great blogging from the beach is. Stay tuned.

We hope you enjoy your long weekend Canadian friends and family!


Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Our Trip to London + The Royal Wedding

M and I made our first visit to the UK after our trip to Greece in April. We were lucky to stay with friends of M's family in Hertford, just outside London, who were most kind hosts. During our stay we toured around London and took part in the Royal Wedding celebrations. We also sampled proper British things like tube rides, fish and chips, pub beer, Indian food, and tea.

View of the London skyline from an open-top bus tour

Tower Bridge
The London Eye, the Thames River, Big Ben, Parliament

We walked around London the day before the wedding, unknowingly taking the same route the royal procession took the next day. There were quite a few people camped out along the route but the crowds weren't actually too bad. The media presence was certainly more impressive than the crowds.

At Westminster the day before the Wedding
Media set up at Westminster the day before the Wedding

At Westminster the day before the Wedding

Westminster the day before the Wedding

Crazies camping out at Westminster the day before the Wedding

Media stalls set up in front of Buckingham Palace the day before the wedding

Billy Bush from Access Hollywood interviewing the crazies

Good Morning America at Trafalgar Square
On the day of the wedding we tried to get to the Mall and Buckingham Palace to watch the royal procession. We didn't get there in time, but we did get to watch the wedding itself on a screen in Green Park, the public park next to Buckingham Palace. We were lucky to get a seat there as areas around Buckingham Palace were shut down as they filled up with crowds, Green Park included. After the wedding ceremony and the procession the Mall was opened up to the public for the "balcony appearance". We walked to Clarence House, home of Prince Charles and family, and then onto the Mall. We got as far as the roundabout in front of Buckingham Palace for the balcony apperance but were unfortunately stuck behind the Queen Victoria monument and we unable to actually see the Royals. We had a great time anyway. The crowds in London were incredibly polite, well organized and generally pleasant. The atmosphere was really nice.

Watching the wedding at Green Park

The crowds at Green Park
Crowds outside Clarence House
Busloads of VIP wedding guests driving to Buckingham Palace
On the Mall

In front of Buckingham Palace
Snipers on Buckingham Palace
The fly by before the balcony appearance (with Queen Victoria blocking our view)

During the rest of our visit we saw the British Museum, the Tate Modern and as I mentioned earlier, the Lion King musical. We also walked through Trafalgar Square and the lovely southbank area along the Thames.
M at the Olympic countdown clock in Trafalgar Sqaure

Ai Weiwei's Sunflower Seeds installation at the Tate Modern (hand painted ceramic seeds)

Sushi on the southbank
Proper chips on the southbank

The British Museum

The Elgin Marbles at the British Museum

The British Museum
The Lion King musical at the Lyceum Theatre (in a word - brilliant!)
We loved London more than we thought we would. It's more beautiful than anyone lets on, very easy to navigate and there is truly too much to see and do there. The Londoners lived up to their high reputation of politeness and friendliness. London also reminded us a lot of Canada, which makes perfect sense really, but had all of the European culture and charm we love about this side of the world. We will definitely be going back to London in the future. Thank you to our excellent hosts once again.