Saturday, July 30, 2011

the spca malta at the farsons beer festival

this weekend we are volunteering for the spca malta at the 30th annual farsons beer festival, raising awareness for the new sponsor a dog (or cat) program. the festival is held in the ta qali national park which we (embarrassingly) had never been to before this weekend. we were very impressed with both the venue and the event. big crowds, cold beer, live music and warm breezes- the necessary ingredients for a good summer festival.

like many maltese we will surely make this event an annual summer pilgrimmage. for more information about the spca malta's sponsor a dog (or cat) program visit their web site. if you're in malta, swing by and pay us a visit at the festival tonight. gates open at 8pm with free entrance and free parking, children's play areas, carnival games & food, several stages of live music, segway races, plus some good looking animal lovers. the festival ends tomorrow.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

we love the view

we will be making a short trip to canada for four months this autumn so i can finish up my undergraduate degree. we plan to return to malta shortly after christmas, and in the meantime you can still expect blog entries from us.

as our canadian autumn draws nearer we are savouring every beautiful sunny day and warm breezy night on this little island. we will really, really miss this view. especially at the best hour of the day when the sunset turns all of the limestone buildlings a lovely honey gold colour. i'll trade green grass and trees for that any day. 

Monday, July 25, 2011

carlos santana concert


maria maria. we saw carlos santana in concert last night. the event was due to be held on the granaries in floriana, the same venue for the isle of mtv concert in june. it is a lovely outdoor space fronted by a large church and surrounded by gardens. but the venue for the santana concert was changed to the convention center in the ta qali national park the morning before the event because of forecasted gale force winds. that was disappointing, as we had been looking forward to another concert in floriana and a dinner in valletta before hand. those gale force winds didn't even show up.

the acoustics at the convention center in ta qali were terrible and we could hardly understand a thing mr santana said (although he was speaking spanish, so most people there couldn't understand anything he said anyway). but the music was good and the guy can still play a guitar like no other.

i hope you all had a great weekend. mike is writing an accounting exam this week but after that (get excited) he might write you a blog post or two.

- Jess

Friday, July 22, 2011

we are a top blog on!

we are thrilled to be a top blog in malta on thank you to our readers for their continued support, and thank you!

grilled moroccan chicken and vegetable tagine

hi mum!

i do these recipe posts for my mother, who is apparently a bad cook (it's okay mum, you're good at other things, and you still make an excellent chocolate cake). and to please my sister, who came to this realization far earlier in her life than i ever did and now bugs me all the time to fly home to canada and cook for her.

goal number one hundred and eighteen on my list of things to do if i don't work this summer was to learn to cook moroccan. if you didn't already know, after our trip to marrakech this spring i am now obsessed with moroccan food. let me tell you how much i love moroccan food. a few years ago i would never have tried moroccan cuisine (i was boring like that) but i've learned that i actually like most foods that i try (my jeans don't like that so much). and moroccan food is some of the best stuff i've ever put in my mouth. it's spicy but in a spice-y way, not in an eating hot peppers whole way. preserved lemon and olive chicken tagine, kefta, moroccan salads... seriously, be still my little heart. i would hop a plane back to morocco right now just for the food.

so, you get my point.

dinner number two of the evening (go on, judge me) in jemaa el-fnaa, marrakech (march 2011)
anyway, it turns out moroccan food has its very own set of words and ingredients and cooking tools. it's complicated, but so is learning to swim in water that's is over your head and i've sort of ticked that off my list to-do too. (learning to cook moroccan tastes better than sea water, for the record.)

my new dream kitchen gadget? a tagine (preferably from le creuset). it's the special clay pot that a lot of moroccan dishes are cooked in. but for now i'm cooking moroccan with my limited kitchen supplies and a handful of spices we picked up in the marrakech souks. these are the easiest recipes i've learned and tweaked and you can make them without having to pick up too many fussy ingredients from the grocer.

in my recipes i take a note from canadian/italian chef david rocco and use the abbreviation QB. it means quanto basta, an italian term which translates into something like 'as much as you like or need'. no mum, this doesn't mean throw whatever you have into a pan and see what happens. it means use as much as what tastes, smells and looks good. it's like intuitive cooking, or something new-agey like that.

also, i don't have pictures for you because every time i make these things i'm too hungry to take a photo of them before i inhale. whoops.

finally, ras al hanout (which one recipe calls for) is a moroccan spice mix which translates into 'head of the shop'. the 'head' of each spice shop makes his own blend, but you can find recipes for your own on the internet. our ras al hanout from marrakech is amazing and i will be so sad when it's all gone. but it's really a dish enhancer, not a deal-breaker, so don't worry about buying or making any if it seems daunting to you.

fun fact - the spices on display in the souks are actually not for sale. they are for tourists to take photos of (which i obligingly did). you wouldn't actually want to eat spices that had been sitting out all day everyday for months, would you?

adapted from the food of morocco by tess mallos

2 chicken breasts, skinned and boned
pinch of saffron threads
1 teaspoon coarse salt
2 garlic cloves, chopped or crushed
1 + 1/2 teaspoon paprika
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 lemons, juiced

Step 1: prepare the chicken. rinse and dry well with paper towels. cut deep slashes diagonally in each breast.

Step 2: prepare the spices. using a mortar and pestle grind the saffron threads with the coarse salt. add the garlic and work into a paste. work in the paprika, cayenne pepper, cumin, black pepper, lemon juice and olive oil.

Step 3: rub the spice mix into the chicken breasts, rubbing it into the slashes. cover and marinate in the refrigerator for at least two hours or overnight.

Step 4: bring the chickens to room temperature 1 hour prior to cooking.

Step 5: grill the chicken. cook until you don't poison yourself with salmonella.


olive oil, QB
1 cup water
1 onion, sliced into rings
4 carrots, peeled and sliced into large, thin planks
2 tomatoes, sliced
2 large potatoes, peeled and sliced 1/4" thick
1 + 1/2 teaspoons coarse salt
1 teaspoon ginger
1 teaspoon ras al hanout (optional)
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon of nutmeg
1 tablespoon coarsely chopped parsley
pinch of cinnamon
pinch of saffron threads
tomato puree, QB

Step 1: prepare the spices. using a mortar and pestle grind the saffron threads with the coarse salt. add the ginger, ras al hanouf, pepper, cumin, nutmeg and cinnamon. work together with the pestle. combine with 1 cup water. set aside.

Step 2: coat the bottom of a large, thick baking or casserole dish in a generous amount of olive oil.

Step 3: layer vegetables in the dish in this order: onions, tomatoes, carrots, potatoes. drizzle olive oil on top.

Step 4: pour spice mixture into the dish.

Step 5: if you aren't convinced there is enough liquid in your dish, add as much tomato puree as you like (quanto basta). dish and vegetable slice sizes vary, so there's no science to it.

Step 6: bake at 220 deg C for at least an hour and a half, or until the vegetables are well cooked and fragrant.

Step 7: garnish with parsley. the freshness of the parsley kicks up the overall taste, but bonus points because it also looks fancy.

p.s. vegetable tagine tastes even better the next day as leftovers. 

- Jess

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

new! top things to do in malta

our favourite thing to do lately
we've added a new section to our blog - the top things to do in malta for every price range. we will be adding new ideas and events seasonally. if you have any suggestions we love to hear them. you can contact us at mikejessblog{at}gmail{dot}com.

- Mike & Jess

the top things to do in malta for every price range {under €50}

{winter-spring 2012}

get fit and make your new years resolution last at least until february: run the Malta marathon (or half marathon) February 26th, 2012 with over 1000 other runners! Begins in Mdina, and takes runners through the picturesque villages of the Maltese countryside, finishing in Sliema. Registration costs €25-€35. More information here.

is cycling more your thing? Consider signing up for the Cycle the Tour of Malta for €40-€50 (registration deadine is February 15th, 2012) held March 28th-April 1st, 2012. Feel the burn.

{year long}

go to an open air club: drinks, cover charges and transport in, €50 should do the trick for a night at one of Malta's open air clubs like Numero uno or Gianpula (you might consider turning down your computer speakers before visiting these sites). check schedules for internationallly known DJ performances.

visit Palazzo Parisio and have lunch or tea for two in the courtyard at Caffe Luna. Wear something posh and feel glamorous for an afternoon, dahling.

become a member of Heritage Malta - €35 for an individual membership or €70 for a family membership provides free access to all museums and sites operated by Heritage Malta for the year (with the exception of  the Hypogeum). Well worth it.

the courtyard of the palace armouries (valletta), included in the heritage malta pass

take a cruise: board a boat for a round-the-island cruise and see every inch of malta's coastline. Most cruises also stop at Comino for several hours and lunch + refreshments are included.

take a private champagne tour of Casa Rocca Piccola in Valletta: we haven't knocked this one off of our to-do list yet, but this privately owned 16th century palazzo looks divine. Starting at 7 pm on fridays (€25 per person), the tour is guided by Marquis de Piro, descendant of the original de Piro owners of the palazzo. regular admission is €7/adults and €3.50/students. And come on, champagne!

tour a vinyard or cellar at a local winery such as Delicata, Marsovin, Camilleri, Meridiana or Montekristo. Some require a minimum number of guests so booking ahead is strongly recommended.

sponsor an animal at the SPCA: for €52 (or  €1/week) your sponsorship helps the SPCA provide food and shelter to a dog or cat that is unable to be homed. As a sponsor you will receive gifts and updates from the SPCA. For more information visit the SPCA Malta website.

the top things to do in malta for every price range {under €100}

{year long}

join a lido for the summer: starting at approximately €75 per couple or €50 euro per person.

take a flight tour of Malta:  €90 for a roundtrip flight to gozo or €95 for a scenic flight tour of the islands.

rent a boat or jet ski through a watersport company: if you're in the mood for speed, prices range but €100 should buy you at least a couple of hours on a rented power boat for a minimum of 2 passengers. Jet skis are approximately €40-50 per quarter or half hour.

the top things to do in malta for every price range {under €20}

{winter-spring 2012}

experience the mystery of Spring Equinox at Malta's Neolithic temples: visit Mnajdra temple on March 20th for a guided tour and watch the complex flood with light. ancient calendar? religious symbolism? aliens? who knows! Limited spaces available, tickets €15 and €10 for Heritage Malta members. Call +356 21424231 for more information.

heat things up at Colores del Tango: an Argentine Tango show at Teatru Manoel, February 25th-26th at 7:30pm. Tickets from €15. Not convinced? View a sneak peek video here.

not hot enough for you? Catch a Flamenco performance by Peurto Flamenco at Teatru Manoel, March 10th, 2012 at 8pm. Tickets from €15. (See another sneak peek video here)

attend an opera: Il Trovatore will be presented at Teatru Manoel March 15th-18th at 7:30pm. Tickets from €20. If you’ve never attended an opera in Malta (embarrassingly, we still haven’t) we hear it’s kind of a cultural institution that's not to be missed. Maybe we’ll see you there?

if you love dark comedies, you might enjoy Arsenic and Lace at Teatru Manoel April 20th-22nd and 27th-29th, 2012 at 7:30pm. This play is described as, “a black comedy classic revolving around Mortimer Brewster, a drama critic who must deal with his crazy, homicidal family and not to mention the local police in Brooklyn, as he debates whether to go through with his recent promise to marry his ‘girl-next-door’ fiancée.” Ah, the intrigue! Ticket prices to be announced.

{year long}

go sea kayaking: for around €15 paddle around one of Malta's beaches or bays. (Get the whole bay to yourself if you go in the shoulder season.)

sea kayaking at paradise bay beach

snorkel with the fishes: basic snorkel kits at Golden Bay beach cost €12. We think the best snorkelling spots are on the far left side of the beach, near the rocks.

experience Paceville: drinks and transport in, €20 will easily buy you a good time in malta's wild bar district. Remember to go with a group and stay safe.


go to comino: take a private tour boat to comino (around €10 per person). Perhaps the most beautiful place to see in Malta.

see the hypogeum: book tickets weeks in advance as they tend to sell out quickly. Nothing quite prepares you for this gem of Malta's history. Not to be missed.

go windsurfing: approximately €15/hour (at Għadira beach). Lifevest recommended!

rent a sailboat: approximately €15-20/hour for a 2-3 person sailboat (at Għadira beach). With all the wind on this little island you'll have no problem filling those sails.

the top things to do in malta for every price range {under €10}

{winter-spring 2012}

become immersed in the history of valletta: on the Views of Valletta Heritage Trail. Sights on this lecture-meets-walking-tour include Ta Liesse church, the Domus Paulis museum (with curator tour), Grand Harbour views, National Museum of fine arts (with lecture on Grand Harbour paintings and reserve collection historical Valletta pieces). Tickets are €7 and €5 for Heritage Malta members. Read more here.

enjoy an evening of classical music: performances of the Malta Philharmonic Orchestra will be held January 13th, March 23rd and May 25th. Tickets start at €10. Read more here.

can’t get enough classical music? Attend the International Spring Orchestra Festival April 10th-14th, 2012 at Teatru Manoel. Ticket prices to be announced.

catch a rugby game: at the Malta Rugby 7's tournament February 25th & 26th, 2012. With teams invited from all over Europe it's set to be a great event. Tickets from €7.

get jazzed: during an evening with the Carlo Rizzo Trio at Teatru Manoel, March 21st, 2012. Expect an evening of ethnic jazz with an international flavor performed on percussion, clarinet, taragot, and accordion with voice accompaniment (how cool!) Tickets from €10.

are you an expat? An American expat? Or an American culture buff? Mark May 18th-20th on your calendar. Teatru Manoel and the American embassy present Desire Under the Elms, a classic American play by Eugene O’Neill (written in 1924). Tickets from €10.

watch Yozef Ormeny tickle the ivories: at Teatru Manoel, May 4th, 2012 at 8pm. This Malta Philharmonic Orchestra and piano performance will include Tchiacovsky’s Piano Concerto No. 2 and Rimsky Korsakov’s Scheherazede. Tickets from €10.

{year long}

attend a village festa: buy a beer and some deep fried snacks and watch the band clubs, the fireworks and the general merrymaking unfold. yes, merrymaking. a 2012 festa/feast calendar can be found here.

the msida festa, july 2011

breakfast in valletta: we love tea and lemon crepes at Garden 222 on Republic Street.

visit one of malta's museum: our favourites include the Museum of Fine Arts and the War Museum in Valletta.

take tea or lunch in Mdina at Fontanella: we especially like their picalilly sandwiches and cakes + the amazing view from this little restaurant perched on top of the fortification walls of the ancient capital of Malta.

view from fontanella in mdina

visit a lido: day passes available for under €10. get all the water without the sand. feel glamourous in big sunglasses on a deck chair by the sea. fruity drinks optional.

visit Gozo: bus or car + take the ferry to Gozo. a stone's throw from Malta but a lovely change of pace.

see a play or orchestra performance: tickets starting from €10 for orchestra and theatre performances at Teatru Manoel in Valletta. it's worth every euro to see this intimate baroque buildling alone. (see above)

the top things to do in malta for every price range {under €5}

{winter-spring 2012}

catch a historical art exhibition: until April 29th, 2012 at the National Museum of Archaeology. Don't miss this rare opportunity to view over 100 nineteenth-century Spanish damascene metalworks from the Khalili Collection. Free admission to Heritage Malta members, €5 for adults and €3.50 for students and seniors.

catch a contemporary art exhibition: until March 20th, 2012 at the Museum of Fine Arts you can view works by Maltese artist John Martin Borg (they're gorgeous) in the Contemporary Hall. Open Monday to Sunday 9am to 4:30pm, and free admission!

travel back in time at the domus romana: march 19th, 2012. free admission as part of Heritage Malta Open Days.

see a miniature elephant: at the ghar dalam museum. free admission and tours on March 19th, 2012 as part of Heritage Malta Open Days.

get covered in confetti in the streets of Valletta: at the Feast of St. Paul on February 10th 2012. If you only make it to one festa all year long, this is it.

let off some steam at carnival: from February 17th-21st in Malta & Gozo. Let our pictures from last year's carnival (including Nadur, Gozo's, sponatneous carnival) convince you.

pop into a (quirky) agricultural festival: like Gharghur’s Milk Festival (March 25th, 2012) or Kirkop’s Ricotta Festival (May 20th, 2012) and sample some of Malta’s excellent local diary. Free admission.

watch the Malta Freedom Day Regatta in the Grand Harbour: March 31st, 2012. This annual event commemorates the day the British forces and navy left Malta on March 31st, 1979. An important piece of Maltese history, a gorgeous display of colour in the harbour, and a fast paced sporting event!

participate in Malta's Easter traditions: we missed these last year (we were in Greece and London for the Royal Wedding) but Malta's Easter traditions are undoubtedly some of the most fascinating cultural practices on the island. Be sure to drop into the cathedral in Mdina for some particularly beautiful decorations, or drop by a local village to see the Passion of Christ commemorated by a procession of religious statues. April 5th-8th, 2012. Read more here.

travel back in time at Mdina’s Medieval festival: we love a good excuse to visit Mdina, and last year this festival was just that. But it’s actually much more fun that it sounds. Last year we watched two knights in armour have a spontaneous sword fight, right in the middle of a street! April 14th-15th, 2012. Free admission.

celebrate strawberry season: at Mgarr’s Festa Frawli! Live dancing and singing, games, horse rides, and every strawberry concoction you can imagine (our favourites last year were strawberry ravioli, waffles and sorbet). April 15th, 2012. Free admission. Check out our photos from last year’s festival here and a video of the festivities here

i made this with our haul from last year's festa frawli

watch the sky light up: at Malta's International Fireworks festival (free admission). If you read our blog you know we are fireworks fans, and we are so excited to be on the island this year for this spectacular festival from April 29th-30th. Picture this: Malta's beautiful Grand Harbour walled cities lit up and giant, gorgeous fireworks exploding overhead. Pure magic. Watch a video of the 2010 festival here (turn down your computer's speakers first). We hear the best view is from Barriera Wharf on the Valletta waterfront inside the Grand Harbour. We'll keep you updated when the official programme is released.

{year long}

visit a church: even if religion isn't your thing you'll regret not seeing one of malta's baroque beauties. The mosta dome particularly impresses.

explore vittoriosa: also known as birgu, it's rich medieval history and quiet, charming streets are intriguing. Walk to the sea front for a glimpse of big yachts and a good look at the city's fortifications.

ghajn tuffieha beach

go to the beach: an umbrella rental is €3 + a small bottle of water is only €1 at ghajn tuffieha. Don't forget to bring sunscreen. Other sandy beaches in malta include Golden Bay, Ghadira (Mellieha), Gneja, Pretty bay, and Paradise bay. Rocky beaches include Mistra bay, Fomm ir-rih, and the seaside areas stretching from Ta' xbiex to Buggiba.

visit san anton gardens: jess' favourite gardens in malta, full of secret corners with turtles, peacocks, lizards and ducklings. Bring along a backgammon set, a chess board, or a book for a lazy afternoon.

san anton gardens

visit buskett gardens: a surprisingly lush woodland in the middle of malta. Perfect for picnics.

explore a village: hop a bus or brave the winding roads to drive or walk around a village you've never been to before. Don't forget to visit the local pastizzeria.

swim at st peter's pool: bus to Marsaxlokk + hike to this gorgeous swimming hole.

a luzzu fishing boat at the marsaxlokk market
stroll the marsaxlokk market on sunday mornings: grab fresh fish or produce straight from the hands that caught and grew them.

relax in valletta: eat gelato in st george's square and watch the changing of the guard and the musical fountains. We never get tired of this fascinating city.

explore dingli cliffs: to capture the gorgeous views don't forget your camera.

fomm ir-rih beach and cliffs

visit fomm ir-rih: you need a car for this one, but it is totally worth getting lost to find it. Disregard the "privet property" signs along the way.

take the ferry to valletta: itching to get out on the water? A few euros gets you from sliema to valletta in a couple of minutes.

take yourself on a fortified city tour: stroll the tops of the fortified walls of valletta for great views and lots of photo opportunities. Don't miss the little public parks you'll find along the way.

crowds beginning to fill up the floriana granaries at the isle of mtv 2011
see the Isle of MTV concert: every summer in malta this free concert draws tens of thousands with musical acts such as Snoop Dogg, Kid Rock, LMFAO, Far East Movement, Kelis, Lady Gaga, and more. See our pictures from last year's concert here.

take a hike: we loved the winding hiking path which starts at the fire station in st paul's bay, crosses mistra bay, and ends in il-bajja tal-imgiebah with views of fort campbell and ghajn hadid tower along the way. bring water  nd good hiking shoes - the path is long and tricky in places.

go to the carnival: normally held in february or march (this year it is held february 17th-21st 2012, see above for details), the maltese carnival is a sight to behold. with crazy costumes and fluorescent floats, it's a week long party you don't want to miss. check out the family friendly version in valletta and the wilder spontaneous carnival in nadur, gozo. 

valletta carnival, march 2011

visit the ta qali national park: pack a picnic or a good book and take a wander through the well kept gardens of ta qali. no dogs allowed, so best leave fido at home. 

the top things to do in malta for every price range {over €100}

book a spa package at an upscale hotel.

rent a luxury car to zip around the island in. make it a convertible in the summer and benefit from nature's air conditioning.

splurge on a fantastic meal: the top restaurants in malta include de mondion at the lovely xara palace in mdina, gazebo at the hilton malta in st julian's, and the luna collection at palazzo parisio in naxxar. book ahead.

charter a motorboat, sailboat or yacht: from approximately €800-€10,000 charter your very own boat + crew for a day. pack the boat with all your friends and split the costs or impress your other half with the most luxurious date ever.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

visiting malta's neolithic temples

we saw malta's neolithic temples at Ħaġar Qim (for the fourth? fifth? time) with tom, a friend from london who visited us this past weekend. no matter how many times i visit these temples i'm never less than impressed. their mystery and history are fascinating - older than the pyramids in egypt, they are the most complex and oldest man made structures of their kind in the world, and they are among the most ancient religious sites on earth.

very cool (unlike the weather around here lately).

Monday, July 18, 2011

we love the msida festa

we dropped by the festa in msida, the village where we live, this past weekend. maltese festas are held to celebrate the patron saint or other religious events in each village in malta throughout the year. a festa is truly a unique experience and an assault on the senses: the blinding explosions of fireworks, church bells tolling, the smell of deep fried snacks, marching bands playing, and lights and damask banners strung down the streets. how can you not love that?

p.s. can you believe july is more than half over?

Sunday, July 17, 2011

our little swimmer dog

ellie discovered a love of swimming just weeks prior to malta's implementation of its new beach ban on dogs. so we got creative and found somewhere where she is actually allowed to take a dip. here is our little swimmer dog at the part of the coast where triq il-ramla meets the coast road.

Friday, July 15, 2011

we love harry potter in malta, too.

we went to the midnight showing of harry potter and the deathly hallows, part ii last night. it was a thoroughly satisfying end to a wonderful story. and there was a smoke machine and a cardboard castle.

i can remember being 12 and thinking, when the last movie comes out i'll be so old i won't even like harry potter. dear 12 year old self: we still like harry potter, and reading, but we ditched the hanson brothers and the platform sneakers awhile ago.

have a great weekend!

Thursday, July 14, 2011

happy bastille day france! from malta, with love.

pont des arts, february 2011
 merci france, for the three main food groups (cheese, bread and wine)
canada's second language and our peugeot convertible.

joyeux quatorze juillet! 

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

online shopping in malta

online shopping in malta is a drag, there's no other way to put it. you spend hours looking at lovely things online only to get to that electronic checkout to find out that you can't ship those lovely things to malta. well i do this, i'm not sure about you. but i refuse to be deterred. here are the things i've learned about online shopping + shipping to malta.


(and this is the most important thing) try to buy things from within the eu. or you might get faced with 100 euro import fees if you ship things from the usa. not that this happened to me... but it could happen to you. which kind of negates that whole i'm justifying purchasing this item online because it's way cheaper than i could ever buy it for in malta plus there's no taxes and shipping seems reasonable. yeah, not so much.

within the eu only.


for regular old household goods i shop on i know it's better to support local businesses but the cost of small appliances and electronics in malta is really high compared to what we were used to paying in canada. sometimes i can't bear to spend almost double the price when i know will ship the very same item to malta for much less.

when i shop amazon i make sure to filter my search to items only. in my experience most independent sellers on amazon don't ship to malta. also, putting many items on one order is cheaper than ordering many items and shipping them separately. obviously.

oh and you know that ship my items separately so they arrive faster option on amazon? don't do it. very often even if there is an item on your order that isn't expected to be avilable to ship for weeks will ship the other items separately to you anyway at no extra charge. they like happy customers. i normally get my amazon orders within 2-3 business days.

find links for more shops that ship to malta on our blog here, including shops like Mango, Gap, Asos, etc.

do you online shop? what's your favourite online store that ships to malta? don't keep it to yourself.

- Jess

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

a weekend in venice

We had a lovely weekend in Venice, the one travel destination that is always exactly how I expect it to be: gorgeous, glamorous, and hot.

First, the food. We ate spaghetti alla bolognese with white wine or prosecco for every other meal. We had limoncello on the house one night. I also tried the Bellini - the peach prosecco drink that is a Venetian invention. And we had gelato most days before dinner. We're rebels like that. Yum, yum and yum. 

Next, the art. We made a point of visiting Venice this year to see the 2011 Biennale. In other words, Mike very sweetly accompanied me to Venice and tried not to complain about all of the art I made him go see. The Biennale is a major contemporary art exhibition held throughout the city of Venice every two years. It includes national pavilions and exhibitions by artists from 73 countries and is one of the things to see in the art world. I have previously been to the 2007 Biennale with my mother (thanks mum!)

My favourite pavilions this year included Greece, Hungary, France (Christian Boltanski - I'm a die hard fan), South Korea, Egypt, Urs Fischer's Untitled wax sculptures in the Arsenale exhibition and Christian Marclay's Clock video in the same venue. I could have happily watched all twenty-four hours of that Clock video (and I don't even like video art.) Mike was squirming after 20 minutes, so we had to leave. But Marclay's Clock really does live up to the hype - he truly deserves the Golden Lion he won at the Biennale. More information on Clock from White Cube Gallery, Jerry Saltz's review for ArtNet, and a six minute clip of the twenty-four hour video on YouTube.

Finally, the tourist traps. We did most of the typical tourist things in Venice- we sweated it out on the vapparetto water buses, saw the Doge's Palace, St Mark's Basilica, piazza San Marco, and the Campanile di San Marco. We wandered through tiny alleys filled with shops selling carnival masks and Italian leather bags, crossed countless bridges over picturesque canals, and heard gondoliers serenading couples down the Grand Canale. We saw the island of Murano and it's myriad of glass stores. And we explored the lovely Cannaregio area where our hotel was located, which was less touristy than much of Venice but just as lively and pretty. And it was all as wonderful as you want Venice to be. Sure it's old, smelly and extremely hot and humid, but it's enchanting nonetheless. And in the end you don't even mind leaving Venice because it's only ciao for now - it's the kind of place you want to return to again and again.

the Grand Canale, just past the Rialto bridge
piazza San Marco, St Mark's Basilica, the Doge's Palace and the Campanile di San Marco
campanile di san marco

the doge's palace

the doge's palace

the doge's palace

st mark's basilica

isn't he cute?

listening to live classical music in the piazza at night

st mark's basilica by night

the biennale

the dress i won from shop mamie

hungarian pavilion

part of the american pavilion (the treadmill moved the tank's parts)

korean pavilion

canadian pavilion by artist steven shearer

french pavilion by artist christian boltanski

arsenale venue

urs fischer's untitled wax sculptures - lit by internal wicks and slowly destroyed

fischer's untitled (based on the baroque sculpture the rape of the sabine woman)

chrstian marclay's clock

the italian pavilion at the arsenale

the grande canale

eating gelato on murano

cannaregio area (yes, that's mcdonalds. i know, so wrong.)

view from our hotel room
hotel casa martini, cannaregio


- Jess