Saturday, January 26, 2013

Sponsored Post: Teaching English at Maltalingua

Below is a sponsored post by a teacher at one of our Maltese partners, local English language school Maltalingua. Malta's warm temperatures and English speaking population make it a popular destination for students of all ages to study ESL.
- Jess

As an English teacher at Maltalingua English Language School, no two days are alike. One day, language students will be eager and ready to learn; the motivated self starters complete their homework immediately after class and give it back to you first thing in the morning. The next day, the same motivated students may be missing home or come in with a splitting headache, having been out partying in Paceville all night!

The variety of students at our language school, different ages, levels and skills all play an important part in how each student learns, and it is important to notice and adapt to each student. That is the real Maltalingua. An English school where diversity matters and where every student has their needs met. It doesn’t matter if a student is here for one week or six months, everyone is a priority. It is my job to listen, find out what they want, and determine what they need. I then structure my English lessons appropriately whilst following a syllabus that is closely tied to a worldwide-recognised description of language levels (CEFR).

At Maltalingua we not only depend on the experience of the English teacher, but we also have a dedicated Director of Studies and administrative staff who help students with anything they need. Changing level, dealing with accommodation and enquiries about Malta can be answered by this team of professionals.  Teaching here is arguably unique; we combine education, creativity and English to create the best possible environment for students to learn. You are unique and so your language learning experience should be too.

Find more info here:
Maltalingua English Language School
151, Boxer House Birkirkara Hill
St Julian's STJ 1140

Friday, January 25, 2013

Malta's Citrus Festival at San Anton Gardens, 2013

Last weekend we visited the Citrus Festival in San Anton Gardens. Hosted by the President's wife, Margaret Abela, it's the one time of year I know of that the President of Malta's private gardens and orange groves are open to the general public.

Have you ever smelt an orange grove? They are divine.

It never ceases to amaze and delight me when citrus fruit comes into season in Malta in, of all months, January. It's such an unexpected burst of colour and fragrance and flavour in the middle of a Mediterranean winter, when everyone needs just that.

We first attended the Cirtus Festival way back in 2011, when it was in its infancy. While the festival was busy back then, there was plenty of citrus to go around (you can buy oranges and lemons by the bag, and fresh orange juice by the cup - proceeds benefit the Puttinu Cares Foundation). But not this year! We arrived around 2 pm, and watched as the last glass of fresh orange juice sold out (cue sad trombone). 

Tip for next year: go early!

(And prosit* to the festival organizers for creating an event that is too successful for its own good!) 

Buying oranges in Malta this winter? There are two main types of oranges on the island: larger larinġ lumi (the sweet kind, good for juicing) and smaller, bitter oranges (used in marmalades). You can tell the difference by the price: larinġ lumi is about €2.50-€3 per kilo during peak season, while bitter oranges are €0.50-1 per kilo.

Lemons are my favourite local bit of produce. I eat them by the segment, like an orange. I've never had a better lemon than a Maltese lemon. More sweet than sour, and beautifully dirty and dented and misshapen. And available almost year round. 

And just how good are oranges in Malta? Good enough for royalty. Every Christmas since 2009 the British High Commissioner in Malta, Joseph Zammit Tabona, sends a box of larinġ lumi to the Queen as a Christmas gift.

On a related note, I bet your city has a cool festival or event going on this weekend. Get out there and find it. Who says you need to travel to travel?

Have a great one!

- Jess

*p.s. prosit means congratulations, bravo or well done in malta
(not to be confused with the drinking toast)

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Why we love Paris in the Fall

Mike and I have been extremely lucky to see Paris in all seasons: winter, summer, spring, and now, fall. In every season the city feels completely different - sidewalks bustling with suitcases or scarves or suits.  

But I think the fall might be the best time of year to see Paris. There are no line-ups at museums, few crowds to push through, and it's still warm enough to skimp on a coat and but cold enough to enjoy a hot drink. The city's boulevards are lined with colourful trees, and leaves crunch under your feet in every park. 

does anyone know why goats hang out in the tuileries?

Sure, you might catch a cold (but every great travel partner toughs it out and sight-sees anyway - thank you Mike).

But, after tourists take over the city in August, filling every cafe with cameras and looking dazed and confused in the underground, in the fall it feels like Paris belongs to Parisians again. 

As much as a city with 2.2 million inhabitants, and 28.9 million tourists per year, ever can.

- Jess

Tuesday, January 22, 2013


City of lights and love, fashion and foodies, art and angst, croissants and cafe au lait. What can you say about it that hasn't been said before? It's exhausting, it's exhilarating. It will leave your feet sore and your stomach full and you'll still want more. But isn't that what travel is for?

- Jess

Mike and I took a two-week road trip through Italy, France, Spain, England, and Belgium this past September.
You can read our other road trip posts here.
Or, go back and read about our first night in Bruges here. 

date: september 11-14
distance travelled: 293 km/182 mi (3.5 hours) bruges, belgium to paris, france
distance travelled to date: 3,797 km/2,359 mi (42 hours by car)
parked at: Parking Belleville, €75/4 days and 3 nights
slept at: a converted artist's studio, courtesy of go with oh

Monday, January 21, 2013

Road Trip Logistics: Bruges' Hotel Cordoeanier

Mike and I took a two-week road trip through Italy, France, Spain, England, and Belgium this past September.
You can read our other road trip posts about this trip here.

In Bruges we stayed at the charming Hotel Cordoeanier. Located just behind the main square, it has cute minimalist/rustic rooms at a reasonable (by Bruges standards) price: €90 a night for our double.  The hotel also serves a lovely continental breakfast, has a pretty little terrace (pictured below) and houses Cafe Rose Rouges - a gem of a bar and restaurant.

Hotel Cordoeanier is located in a house, so it feels cozy and warm: like a very efficient B&B. We parked our rental car on the street nearby, which was free overnight and cost €6 the next morning (we left Bruges for Paris by noon).

Full disclosure: the rooms here aren't very sound proofed, so our sleep was light. But the staff are fantastic (the best we met during our trip), speak perfect English, and pour a great beer. What more could you ask for?

- Jess

date: september 11
slept at: Hotel Cordoeanier - €90/night
ate at: Friterie 1900 (€25), Cafe Rose Rouges (€9)
parked at: street parking near Hotel Cordoeanier, free overnight and metered
(€6 for the morning) during business hours
distance travelled: 281 km/175 mi
(london to bruges via france)
distance travelled to date: 3,504 km/2,177 mi (38.5 hours by car)

Friday, January 18, 2013

Bruges (really does have the best chocolate)

Mike and I took a two-week road trip through Italy, France, Spain, England, and Belgium this past September.
You can read our other road trip posts here.
Or, go back and read about our first night in Bruges here. 

The next morning we woke up to rainy skies and runny noses. Nothing ruins travel quite like sickness and bad weather, but Bruges managed to charm us anyway. How can you resist canals and bikes and cobblestones? It sounds very cliche, but Bruges feels anything but. 

Like many European cities, Bruges is bursting with bicycles. And the strangest place we found one? At the bottom of a canal! (Can you see it?)

leonidas chocolate shop bruges

To my delight, Belgian chocolate is not overrated - it is by far the best chocolate I've ever had. I snapped these up at Leonidas (my favourite was the banana creme, pictured above).

Like Guinness in Dublin and baguettes in Paris, Belgian chocolates are definitely better closer to the source.

Next week: Paris! + Our fabulous Go with Oh apartment, pictures of Mike sneezing near various Parisian landmarks, and one athletic afternoon at Versailles.

- Jess

500g of chocolates at Leonidas: €6