Charming Germany

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One month after we visited Berlin we went back to Germany, this time to visit Cologne, Düsseldorf and Bonn. That European old charm that Berlin lacks, these cities definitely have it.

Cologne

Interesting facts about the city:

The city is home to the headquarters of the most significant national and regional TV and radio companies, and the country’s largest university. Cologne is also second in the world after New York in terms of the number of galleries.

From time immemorial, it’s been one of the biggest European transport centers: on average, it’s crossed by 8 trains every minute.

Cologne has one of Europe’s oldest perfume factories. The Cologne Museum offers its visitors to buy a bottle of the world’s most famous cologne – the Eau de Cologne (which gave birth to this type of perfume). The famous perfume was initially a medicine against the pox.

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In March, only one month after visiting Berlin, we decided to visit Germany again – this time Cologne, Düsseldorf and Bonn. Since all three cities are located very close to each other, we stayed in Cologne and moved around by train.

We stayed at Chocolate Museum a-partments CologneCity. We paid €184 for three nights (€61 per night). It was very nice and central, only 12 min walking to the Cathedral.

Speaking about the cathedral, it is very impressive. The Cathedral of Cologne – the main symbol of the city – has been under construction from 1248 to 1888 (more than 600 years!) and it’s the third tallest cathedral in the world.

The Cathedral of Cologne is the final resting place of the Three Kings, whose remains are stored in a reliquary, which took artisans as many as 10 years to make. Furthermore, the cathedral also guards St. Peter’s Staff and his pyx. The world’s largest functional bell, called Peter, can be found in the belfry of the Cologne Cathedral. It weighs 24 tonnes.

Close to the Cathedral, we also visited Cologne’s Old Town, with its narrow streets with pubs and bars and its colourful old houses. Next to those houses, we visited the church Gross St. Martin as well.

The city is also home to the Chocolate Museum of Lindt, which not only acquaints its visitors with the history of this delicacy’s manufacturing process but also invites them to get a taste – degustation takes place on the museum’s roof. This museum was right next to our apartment. We didn’t do the tour but visited the shop and bought some nice chocolates for us and for our friends.

On the other side of the street, we also visited the Mustard Museum & Shop. We could try for free different and exotic mustards that Germans eat with their sausages, pretty much like curry. My favorite was the garlic mustard. Alejandro liked a citric one, that tasted like orange.

We also visited the Heumarkt on our way to the commercial streets of the city. This nice square is where Cologne’s Christmas market takes place every year. The Schildergasse and Hohe Straße are the most popular shopping streets in Cologne. We spent some time there, doing some shopping.

One thing I recommend you to do if you ever come to Cologne is to cross the famous Hohenzollern Bridge by metro and pay to go to the top of a building called KölnTriangle, where there is an observatory deck from where you can see the whole city. The tickets only cost €3 per person, so it is well worth it.

After seeing the panoramic city views, we crossed the bridge on foot back to the city center and saw all the love locks that couples left there over the years. I’ve seen many bridges in different cities with locks, but none with as many as this one!

Cologne has a top-quality array of cultural attractions. It is home to over 40 museums and more than 110 galleries. We didn’t have time to visit any, but I do recommend you visit Ludwig Museum. This museum includes works from Pop Art, Abstract and Surrealism, and has one of the largest Picasso collections in Europe. It holds many works by Andy Warhol and Roy Lichtenstein.

Another thing you should do while in Cologne is to try Kölsch, their local beer. Compared to any other German beers, it tastes sweeter and more refreshing than any other German beer.


Düsseldorf

Interesting facts about the city:

There are 400 advertising agencies in Düsseldorf, including three of the largest in Germany. With international agencies based there too, it makes the city a hotbed of creativity.

Düsseldorf’s Altstadt (Old Town) is often referred to as ‘the longest bar in the world’ due to the concentration of over 300 bars and clubs in the relatively small area.

The custom of turning cartwheels is credited to the children of Düsseldorf, who celebrated with them on 14 August 1288. Today, an image of the Düsseldorfer Radschläger (‘boy who does cartwheels’) can be found on many souvenirs and landmarks around the city.

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We spent a day in Düsseldorf. We paid €11 to go by train, a trip that takes about half an hour. Düsseldorf is in constant competition against Cologne. Both towns hate each other and compete whenever possible and in every matter possible against the other one.

Other reasons include rival football and ice hockey clubs, mostly in the lower leagues recently – only Köln has a team in the First Bundesliga at the moment. On the other hand, Köln got a shock when it didn’t become the capital of NRW – let alone Germany – after WW2. Düsseldorf instead became the capital of the state they are both located in.

After we left the train station, we walked along Königsallee, which is noted for both the landscaped canal that runs along its center, as well as for the fashion showrooms and luxury retail stores located along its sides.

Then we walked all the way to the Embankment Promenade. The sun was out and it felt like the whole city had decided to come for a wander at this promenade on the right bank of the Rhine. The view is very nice. You can see some houses on the other side of the river and the famous Rhine Tower. This tower is the tallest building in Düsseldorf. Next to this promenade, we visited the St. Lambertus church.

We met our friend Nicole in Burgplatz, next to the riverside. She’s German and lives close by. We met her in Malta, as she is dating a Venezuelan friend of ours and is currently traveling back and forth between the two countries because of that. She took us to this cozy coffee place called Rösterei VIER.  We drank cappuccino and ate banana bread, which was very good.

This coffee place is right in front of the Old Town Hall. This building’s architecture is amazing, super cute. It is located in the Marktplatz. The square is edged on all sides by rows of buildings that are listed monuments, all facing one of Germany’s most feted equestrian statues.

Later on, Nicole took us to a bar called Kürzer, where we tried the typical beer from Dusseldorf, that competes against Kölsch, the one from Cologne. This beer is called Altbier and it is darker. Even though Nicole prefers Kölsch, this one was our favorite.


Bonn

Interesting facts about the city:

Haribo is a German confectionery company known in the whole Europe for their gummy bears. The company was founded in 1920 in Bonn by Hans Riegen and its name comes from an abbreviation of Hans-Riegen-Bonn. The famous Haribo Factory Shop is located in Bonn and there are thousands of jelly beans. Colorful candies will make your day!

It functioned as the provisional seat of government of reunited Germany until 1999, when the government moved to Berlin. Some government functions remained here.

Bonn is the birthplace of the famous classical composer Ludwig van Beethoven, born in 1770. His birth house is now a museum.

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On our last full day in Germany, we decided to take another train, this time to visit Bonn. Just like Dusseldorf, it took us only half an hour to get to Bonn. This is a good day trip, as the city is very small, and you can see the main places in only one afternoon.

The first thing we saw as we entered the city center was the Bonn Minster. This is a Roman Catholic church in Bonn. It is one of Germany’s oldest churches, having been built between the 11th and 13th centuries. At one point the church served as the cathedral for the Archbishopric of Cologne. However, the Minster is now a minor basilica.

We then strolled around the commercial streets that lead to the market place and did some shopping there. While we were shopping, we saw a gate called Sterntor. It was built around 1244 at the end of the Sternstraße and was part of the medieval city fortification. At the end of the 19th century, the former city fortification gate was demolished, in order to improve the traffic flow.

Next to these commercial streets and to the market place, there is the Old City Hall, built in 1737 in Rococo style, under the rule of Clemens August of Bavaria. It is used for receptions of guests of the city, and as an office for the mayor.

Bonn is known for being the birthplace of Beethoven. Beethoven’s House is located in Bonngasse, also near the market place. The museum is actually an annex of two buildings; the street-front facade and the building around the back in which Beethoven was born and grew up.

In low-ceilinged rooms at the back are captivating artifacts from his time in Bonn up to 1792, like his baptism entry or original portraits of his family. The front building delves into his move to Vienna and has hand-written sheet music, instruments played by Beethoven, ear trumpets for his deafness and even his death mask. In the city, there is also a large bronze statue of Ludwig van Beethoven that stands on the Münsterplatz.

We continued walking and headed down to the riverside, to see the boats. When we came back to the city center, we passed in front of Kurfürstliches Schloss, built as a residence for the prince-elector and now the main building of the University of Bonn.

It was a very short visit, but we definitely enjoyed our time there. Close to Bonn, there is a very nice castle called Schloss Drachenburg. We didn’t have time to visit it. I recommend you go there though.

We came to Malta more tired then we left, as we walked a lot during these few days in these three different cities. However, as always, it was worth it. It felt good to be out of our normal daily routine again.

Another brick in the wall

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We traveled to Berlin, Germany, for Valentine’s Day this year. It was an interesting trip, with lots of different activities, like a Twenty One Pilot concert and a football match.

BERLIN (GERMANY)

Interesting facts about the city:

There are more museums in Berlin (180) than rainy days per year (106).

The city has half a million foreigners who hail from 185 countries. Every day, 435 people move into Berlin.

Berlin Subway systems’ (SBahn and UBahn) combined length equals 473Km. Add another 120Km of tram lines and you have one of the most impressive public transportation systems in the world.
Currywurst has been called the city’s “culinary emblem” thanks to its popularity, and about 70 million servings are consumed every year in Berlin!
Berlin has more bridges than Venice – around 1,700 – and more waterways than Amsterdam, Stockholm and Venice combined. The most famous and instagrammed bridge is the Oberbaumbrücke.
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Alejandro and I flew to Berlin with Ryanair and flew back to Malta with AirMalta. We decided to stay in a flat with kitchenette in order to save some money by avoiding eating outside everyday. The place where we stayed is called Citadines Kurfürstendamm Berlin Aparthotel. We paid €293 for four nights (€37 per person, per night). The apartment was nice and the location was amazing as well, close to the famous Kurfürstendamm, which is the largest and most famous shopping street in the city, with around 200,000 square metres of shops and restaurants.

We walked around that commercial street and went crazy with the huge Primark shops they have in Berlin. At the end of this street, there’s the Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church. The original church on the site was built in the 1890s. It was badly damaged in a bombing raid in 1943. The present building was built between 1959 and 1963. The damaged spire of the old church has been retained and its ground floor has been made into a memorial hall.

We also visited Alexanderplatz, which is a large public square and transport hub in the central Mitte district of Berlin. One of city’s the most visited squares, Alexanderplatz is the site of many attractions and sights in Berlin.

We were walking around the city when we saw a nice street market in Hackescher Markt square. There, I saw this family selling Portuguese pastries called ‘Pastéis de Nata’. I missed them so much! 😀 In Malta unfortunately there are no Portuguese food places so I take every chance I get to eat food from my country. We spoke with them a bit – he is Portuguese and she is Brazilian, and they are planning on opening an actual Portuguese cafe soon.

On our second day, we went to see the Museum Island. This is the name of the northern half of an island in the Spree river in the central Mitte district of Berlin. It is so-called for the complex of internationally significant museums, all part of the Berlin State Museums, that occupy the island’s northern part. In 1999, the museum complex was added to the UNESCO list of World Heritage Sites.

On Museum Island, there is Berlin Cathedral. This place has a long history starting as a Roman Catholic place of worship in the 15th century. The current building was finished in 1905 and is a main work of Historicist architecture of the “Kaiserzeit.” The Berlin Cathedral has never been a cathedral in the actual sense of that term since it has never been the seat of a bishop. We paid €7 to visit the interior of the cathedral and to go up to the rooftop, to see the view.

After that, as we were walking around the museums of Museum Island, wondering whether we should buy a ticket to see at least of them, a nice couple approached us and offered us their ticket, which was valid to visit all museums until the end of the day. They were leaving and didn’t need the ticket anymore, so they just offered it to us. We were lucky! 😀

Since we got this free ticket, we decided to visit some museums. The first one we visited was Pergamon Museum. This museum houses monumental buildings such as the Pergamon Altar, the Ishtar Gate of Babylon, the Market Gate of Miletus, reconstructed from the ruins found in Anatolia, as well as the Mshatta Facade.

After that, we went to visit the Atles Museum (altes means old). One of the most striking buildings in Berlin, the Altes Museum houses a vast range of ancient artefacts from the Greek, Roman and Etruscan eras.

Last but not least, we went to the Neues Museum (neues means new). Exhibits include the Egyptian and Prehistory and Early History collections, as it did before the war. The artifacts it houses include the iconic bust of the Egyptian queen Nefertiti.

After seeing all these museums, we were tired. However, since it was Valentine’s Day, we went to a concert of the famous band Twenty One Pilots. The concert took place in the famous Mercedes-Benz Arena, close to the East Side Gallery. We paid around €60 for the tickets, per person. We listened to their biggest hits, like ‘Stressed Out’ or ‘Heathens’ and had fun. Twenty One Pilots is not exactly our cup of tea or one of our favorite bands or anything, but we decided to go because of the date. Alejandro didn’t like the concert that much, but I enjoyed it.

The next morning we went to visit the Brandenburg Gate. This get is Berlin’s most famous landmark. It is an 18th-century neoclassical triumphal arch built on the orders of Prussian king Frederick William II. Built according to the plans of Carl Gotthard Langhans from 1788 to 1791, the Brandenburg Gate is modeled on the Propylaeum of Athens’ Acropolis. The monument is 26 meters (85 feet) high and 65 meters (213 feet) wide, with 12 Doric columns, six to each side measuring 15 meters (49 feet) in height.

I had booked in advance a tour inside the Reichstag building, which is located right next to the Brandenburg Gate. If you want to visit it and go up to the cupola on the rooftop, you should book it in advance as well, free of charge.

This impressive building is the seat of the German Parliament. It was constructed to house the Reichstag (“Imperial Diet”) of the German Empire. After its destruction by fire in 1933 and in World War II, much of the former structure was rebuilt in 1970, but with the decision to return the seat of government to Berlin from Bonn after reunification, the Reichstag underwent a complete renovation in the late 1990s.

We were given some headphones to hear the history of the city, as we climbed to the very top of the glass dome in circles. The view is very impressive from up there, one can see most of the city’s landmarks. I totally recommend this tour.

After the tour, we made a quick stop to see the Holocaust Memorial. This is a memorial to the Jewish victims of the Holocaust. It consists of a 19,000 square meters site covered with 2,711 concrete slabs or “stelae”, arranged in a grid pattern on a sloping field. It was inaugurated on May 10, 2005, sixty years after the end of World War II, and opened to the public two days later.

On our way to the Topography of Terror, we passed by Postdamer Platz. The Topography of Terror is a free museum located both in and outdoors on the former site of the Gestapo and SS headquarters and the Reich Security Main Office.  These were the principal security agencies responsible for policing, forced labor and maintaining despotism under the Nazi regime. Nowadays, little physical evidence of its dark past remains on the site, as allied bombs damaged the buildings in 1945 and its remnants were torn down by 1956.

A visit to the Topography of Terror can be a truly chilling experience, as one must confront the evil that took over Germany while standing at the site of countless abuses against human dignity.

We ended the day with a visit to the famous Checkpoint Charlie. Checkpoint Charlie was the name given by the Western Allies to the best-known Berlin Wall crossing point between East Berlin and West Berlin during the Cold War. After the dissolution of the Eastern Bloc and the reunification of Germany, the building at Checkpoint Charlie became a tourist attraction.

We also visited Charlottenburg Palace. One of Berlin’s most famous and best-loved sights – the rococo palace, built for Sophie Charlotte, Queen consort in Prussia.

We started our full day in Berlin with a visit to the famous East Side Gallery, the longest open air gallery in the world with a little over 1.3 Km. The East Side Gallery showcases over 100 murals from artists from all over the world on the remainings of the Berlin Wall. Perhaps the most famous is “The Fraternal Kiss”. The section was painted by 118 artists from 21 countries with 101 works.

The Berlin Wall was a guarded concrete barrier in and around Berlin, Germany, that physically and ideologically divided Berlin (in East Berlin and West Berlin) from 1961 to 1989 during the era of the Cold War. It was thrown up overnight, on 13 August 1961. When the Berlin Wall fell on November 9, 1989, its destruction was nearly as instantaneous as its creation.

After seeing the Berlin Wall, we went to a place called Gendarmenmarkt square, that houses several monuments: the KonzertHaus in the middle,and two identical churches on both sides – the French Cathedral on the right side and the New Cathedral on the left side.

At night we went to see a Football match – Hertha BSC vs. SV Werder Bremen. We paid €21 per person. The match took place at the Olympiastadion Berlin. The game ended 1-1, but we missed the last goal, as we were already walking to get to the S-Bahn. Even though our seats were not the best ones (we were siting too low, in one of the corners), it was still a very nice experience.

The next morning we returned to Malta. Alejandro was lucky that people from Air Malta didn’t notice that his name was wrong in the boarding pass, and he didn’t have to pay any extra fees.

This trip was a nice break from the routine. When we arrived in Berlin we were both super sick, but we were lucky with the weather there, and actually got well after only one day there.

Berlin is a city that is very alive, with lots of cultural events happening all the time, and with a very efficient public transportation system. Even though it is not one of the prettiest European capitals, as it was destroyed by the war and rebuilt in a modern style, it seems to be, however, a very good city to live in.

The land of Uncle Sam

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In December 2018 Alejandro and I went to the United States of America to spent Christmas there with his family. We went to Miami Beach in the sunny state of Florida, spent a day in amusement parks in Orlando and enjoyed family time in Atlanta, Georgia. Amazing!

ISTANBUL (TURKEY)

Facts about the city:

Istanbul is the only city in the world that’s half in Asia and half in Europe. The Bosporus strait which divides the two continents passes through Istanbul and is the link between Sea of Marmara and the Black Sea.

Istanbul is the city of mosques. You will find a mosque in every corner of Istanbul. It has a total of 3,113 mosques.

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We flew to USA with Turkish Airlines. We don’t have direct flights from Malta to Miami, so we had to fly with Turkish Airlines to Istanbul, Turkey, and get a connection flight from there. We landed in Istanbul at 10.30pm, and our flight to Miami departed only the next day, at 1pm.

With Turkish Airlines, passengers having a connection time of 10 hours or longer can benefit from hotel service free of charge in case there’s no transit flight with a shorter connection time. This was our case, so we had free accommodation provided by Turkish Airlines. We stayed in a very nice hotel called Ramada Encore Istanbul Bayrampasa. The airline offered us transportation to/from the hotel and we also had breakfast included.

Istanbul is the largest and most populous city in Turkey. Spread across Bosporus Channel, Istanbul is one of the world’s greatest cities, known for its magnificent historical monuments and scenic beauty. I’ve never been in Istanbul until this trip, and it was on my bucket list for years, so I was very excited!

Despite the short time we had, we took a taxi to the city center and tried to explore the city the best we could. We managed to see some mosques – the Blue Mosque and Hagia Sophia. These two mosques are connected by a nice park – Sultanahmet Square.

Sultan Ahmed Mosque is also known as the Blue Mosque because of blue tiles surrounding the walls of interior design. This mosque was built between 1609 and 1616 years, during the rule of Ahmed I.

Hagia Sophia, often referred to as the eighth wonder of the World, is easily one of Istanbul’s most impressive sights. It is the second most visited museum in Turkey and attracts over 3 million tourists every year. Another interesting fact about Hagia Sophia is that it was the largest church in the world for about 900 years until the Seville Cathedral of Spain was completed in 1520.

After seeing these two mosques, we went to visit the Basilica Cistern, which is the largest of several hundred ancient cisterns that lie beneath the city. The cistern, located 150 meters southwest of the Hagia Sophia, was built in the 6th century during the reign of Byzantine Emperor Justinian I.

Then we walked around the city for a bit and saw other small mosques and interesting buildings.

We finalized our mini-tour in the Grand Bazaar, before heading back to the hotel, to go back to the airport. In operation since 1461, the Grand Bazaar in Istanbul is one of the oldest and largest shielded markets in the world. It is a shopper’s paradise with over 5,000 shops and 60 streets, which attract over 300,000 visitors daily. The Grand Bazaar was the world’s most visited tourist attraction in 2014 with 91,250,000 visitors annually.


 

MIAMI (USA)

Facts about the city:

Miami is the cruise capital of the world. The large seaport city of Miami has the world’s busiest cruise port.

Miami Beach is known as America’s Riviera and the Latin Hollywood. More than 70% of the population comes from Cuba and other countries from Latin America and you can hear Spanish everywhere you go!

Miami was once a mangrove swamp and the land we now know was mostly man made. As a result, some of the beaches need to be replenished with sand regularly.

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After 13 hours on a plane, we finally arrived in Miami, Florida (USA). It was my first time in the land of Uncle Sam and from the very beginning I felt like I was in a movie. At the airport, they easily let me in, as I am European. I just had to pay for the ESTA online, no need for Visa.

Alejandro’s parents and brother (Arturo) were there at the airport, waiting for us. I was super excited to finally meet them, as Alejandro and I have been together for almost two years and so far I could only see them through the phone. They seemed super nice and friendly from the very beginning and I really felt at home with them 🙂

We took a taxi to Arturo’s place. He’s living in a very nice neighborhood, with the typical american houses, with nice porches and front gardens. Since it was Christmas season, all the houses were very well decorated with lights and festive stuff. His house was very nice and even had a back terrace with a view to a lake.

On our first day in Miami we went to a place called Knaus Berry Farm. We thought that this was an Amish farm/shop, as many people do as well. The folks who run the farm look Amish, with bonnets, long beards and plain cotton clothes. However, they are members of the German-origin Church of the Brethren, often called Dunkers because they believe in full-immersion baptism. Even though they are not Amish, they do produce some of the finest fresh baked goods ever.

In the right season, Knaus Berry Farm is one of the few u-pick strawberry farms left in South Florida. It also offers u-pick tomatoes, and variety of other locally grown vegetables. This means you can go and pick your own vegetables and fruits from the ground.

The item that causes those long lines to form out front – from early morning until they close at sundown – is their world famous sticky cinnamon rolls. We had to wait in the queue for a while, but it was worth it. We bought there some cinnamon rolls, pecan rolls, cheesecake and bread. The milkshakes are amazing there as well. We bought a pumpkin milkshake and I really think it was the best milkshake I’ve ever tried in my life!

In that same day we went to the Everglades National Park. The Everglades is the largest tropical wilderness park in the United States. Unless you have a boat, you can only visit a fraction of the park, since the Everglades are a network of wetlands and forests fed by a river. The park is home to manatees, American crocodiles, a huge number of birds, and even panthers. This fragile ecosystem is listed as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO and it is an International Biosphere Reserve.

We did a mini tour inside the park, where a guide explained us everything about alligators, turtles and snakes. Then we went on an Airboat Tour across the swamps, where we could spot more alligators in the water. It was raining a lot, but it actually felt very nice to feel the clean water running down our faces. It was liberating!

Miami is one of the world’s greatest and most iconic tourist destinations – thanks to its sub tropical climate, pristine beaches and relaxed ambiance. I took only winter clothes with me, but the breeze was very warm and wet. So warm we even went to the beach – to the worldwide famous Miami Beach!

Many celebrities visit Miami Beach every day. This may be because it’s not only just a few miles from South Beach, but it is a little less than two hours from the luxurious city of Palm Beach. There are more than 800 buildings that feature Art Deco architecture in Miami Beach. This makes it the largest collection of this type of architecture in the entire world.

Miami Beach is one of the few man-made islands in the United States. It was once a desolate coconut grove plantation. It is also a very diverse place. It is estimated that there are at least 150 ethnicities as well as over 60 different languages spoken there. When visiting Miami Beach it doesn’t matter what race you are or what language you speak, you will probably find someone who speaks the same language as you.

The beach is exactly as I expected it to be, just like in the movies and TV series. You can expect to see fit people doing exercise and playing sports at the beach, good looking girls in bikinis, luxurious cars cruising down the Ocean Drive avenue and over the top bars right in front of the beach. The weather was good so we even had the chance to go for a quick swim at the beach.

Miami is a complex city and has this beachy-relaxed side, but also a cosmopolitan side. The Downtown has lots of skyscrapers. At night we went to see the famous Miami Port and went to a shopping center at open air called Bayside. There we saw Bubba Gump Shrimp Co., the company from the movie Forrest Gump. We even took pictures outside, in his famous bench.

On our last day in Miami, we also went to an artistic neighborhood called Wynwood and visited Wynwood Walls. This place is a unique outdoor destination featuring huge, colorful street murals by artists from around the globe.

Open to the public, free of charge, the Wynwood Walls was established in 2009 by the legendary placemaker and visionary Tony Goldman as an outdoor museum of international street art.


 

ORLANDO (USA)

Facts about the city:

Tons of films are shot in Orlando. The Waterboy, Days of Thunder, Parenthood, Transformers, Apollo 13, Armageddon, 2 Fast 2 Furious, Magic Mike, Sydney White, My Girl and Ocean’s 11 all had scenes shot here.

Orlando is home to more than 100 lakes, many of which are the result of sinkholes.

Orlando is the ‘Theme Park Capital of the World’, with theme parks like Disney Magic Kingdom, Universal Studios, Universal’s Island of Adventure, Busch Gardens Tampa, Legoland Florida, and SeaWorld.

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We took a Megabus bus to go from Miami to Orlando, and in Orlando we rented a car to make it easier to move around. The bus ticket costed us around $17 per person. The five of us stayed in a 4-bed room at Orlando Continental Plaza Hotel. Arturo paid for our stay – thanks Arturo 🙂

We went to two amusement parks in Orlando – Universal’s Island of Adventure and Universal Studios. We didn’t get the chance to go to Disney Magic Kingdom. I cannot complain at all, since Arturo also got us free tickets to go to these two parks, as he has a friend that works there.

Universal’s Island of Adventure opened on May 28, 1999. In 2013, this theme park hosted approximately 8.1 million guests, ranking it seventh among United States parks and eleventh worldwide.

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We entered the park and went to Marvel Super Hero Island. There, we went for a ride on Hulk’s roller coaster. Then we visited the Spider Man attraction, a motion-based ride, combining 3-D film, ride movement, and special effects. The ride takes place in New York City and since it was the first ride I experienced of this kind on that day, so close to reality, it really blew my mind away!

After that, we went to the Jurassic Park attraction, where you get a bit wet at the end. This scenic water cruise starts out innocently enough. You’re gliding along in your raft, watching a baby stegosaurus and its mother share a moment. When out of nowhere, you’re bumped off course and thrust into the ominous “restricted area” of Jurassic Park. This is where they keep the dangerous creatures. Your only possible escape is going down a big waterfall.

After this wet adventure, we entered the Wizarding World of Harry Potter. It opened at Universal’s Island of Adventures in 2010. Disney had the rights to Harry Potter first, but sources say J. K. Rowling went with Universal for better collaboration. Hogwarts and Hogsmeade are located in this park.

We went inside Hogwarts and made our way down the familiar passageways, visited iconic locations such as Dumbledore’s office, the Defense Against the Dark Arts classroom, the Gryffindor common room, etc. In this ride, we flew above the castle grounds as joined Harry Potter on an unforgettably thrilling adventure, coming face-to-face with an array of magical creatures and even playing Quiddich. This amazing attraction uses groundbreaking, state-of-the-art technology to create a one-of-a-kind ride. Amazing!

Then we visited Hogsmeade, with all its famous shops. We drank butter beer and went to Ollivanders, to see if I would be the chosen one for a free magic wand (they always choose one person from the crowd from each show). These wands can also be bought, but are quite expensive, since they are interactive wands and let you ‘spell’ casts at several things around Diagon Alley and Hogsmeade.

After Hogsmeade, there’s the famous King’s Cross station. There, we took the famous train – Hogwarts Express – that connects both parks  (Island of Adventure and Universal Studios). The ‘Wizarding World of Harry Potter’ continues in this second amusement park.

At Universal Studios, we entered the wizard’s bank, Gringott’s, beneath the massive fire-breathing dragon at the far end of Diagon Alley. Inside, we walked through the bank’s grand marble lobby and saw the goblins at work. Then, we took a 5D journey through cavernous passageways that lead deep underground as you climb aboard this mind-blowing, multi-dimensional thrill ride. Along the way we encountered Harry, Ron, and Hermione. Then, we had to evade the wrath of malicious villains Voldemort and Bellatrix, as well as trolls and other creatures.

Gringott’s is one of the most recent attractions of the park and it was definitely one of my favorites. This enchanted world of Harry Potter on both Universal parks is reported to have cost more than half-a-billion dollars.

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Inside Universal Studios, there’s Springfield, Home of Simpsons. It was pretty cool seeing all the characters and places from this animated TV show.

Another thing I really liked in this park was the huge roller coaster they have there, called Rockit! It has a height of 51 m, a length of 1,200 m, and a top speed of 105 km/h.

It was super scary but thrilling to go on this roller coaster! It was definitely the biggest one I’ve ever been on. I really liked the fact that you can choose songs like ‘Born to be Wild’, ‘Rollin’ or ‘Gimme all your Lovin’ to listen to while you’re on that crazy ride! You have 7 seconds to select the song and then you can hear it from the speakers they placed close to your head. It was so cool I even went twice!

We went inside many other rides, like Shrek, Jimmy Fallon, Men in Black, etc. After all the excitement, at the end of the day we rested a bit watching the parade, with all the famous characters.

It was an amazing day. Two amusement parks in one day! I still don’t know how we had the energy to do all that. I think it’s so cool that Alejandro’s parents came with us and did pretty much everything (apart from the roller coasters) with us! My mom wouldn’t last two hours 😉

On our second day in Orlando, we went to this very typical american all-you-can-eat restaurant called Golden Corral. It’s amazing how you pay around $10 and can stay there all day and eat everything. I would be super fat if I lived in the US for sure.

We also stopped by Hulk’s Hogan shop, the famous mustached-wrestler from WWE. We also saw two very unusual houses – Ripley (a leaned house) and Wonderworks (a house that is upside down). We didn’t go inside any of these houses, but just seeing them from outside is quite a show already.

Then we wanted to get close to NASA and Kennedy Space Center. It was a bit too expensive, so we decided not to go inside. However, since we were in the area, we decided to explore the Canaveral Cape and saw the SpaceX launch complex. They design, manufacture and launch advanced rockets and spacecraft there.

After trying to (unluckily) see any rockets, we headed out to Cocoa Beach, a very famous beach in the area. A historic landmark on Florida’s Space Coast, the world-famous Westgate Cocoa Beach Pier stretches 800 feet over the Atlantic Ocean and is home to restaurants, bars, gift shops and live musical entertainment. It is a nice place for surfers as well. “I Dream of Jeannie” was set in Cocoa Beach and the most famous surfer in the world — Kelly Slater — is from Cocoa Beach.

At night, since we didn’t manage to go to Disney, at least we went to Downtown Disney. Downtown Disney, now known as Disney Springs, is an open shopping, dining, and entertainment venue. You do not need any pass or ticket to go there and shop or eat and it is totally worth a visit.


 

ATLANTA (USA)

Facts about the city:

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Atlanta is one of only two cities in the world to be the home of two Nobel Peace Prize winners – both Jimmy Carter and Martin Luther King, Jr. called Atlanta home.

It has the busiest airport in the world. The terminal is as big as 45 football fields.

Gone with the Wind was written and set in Atlanta. In fact, Atlanta is becoming the new Hollywood: The Hunger GamesZombielandDriving Miss DaisyThe Walking DeadCaptain America: Civil WarThe Vampire DiariesInsurgentFurious 7, etc.

We took another Megabus bus from Orlando to Atlanta. The bus ticket costed us around $31 per person. Alejandro and Arturo went to drop off the car that we had rented in Orlando, took too long to get back and missed the bus! I had stayed with Alejandro’s parents close to the bus stop, so the three of us managed to take it. We took a night bus, while Alejandro and Arturo only got to Atlanta the next day, in the afternoon.

I got to meet Alejandro’s sister – Adriana, her kids – Annette and Amy, and her husband – Charbel. They all welcomed me very well and showed me their house, where we spent most of the time.

We didn’t sleep there though, we rented an apartment for Alejandro, Arturo and I, and only slept at Adriana’s place on Christmas eve. We stayed at Suburban Extender Stay and shared the cost of the apartment between the three of us – I paid around $226.

In Atlanta we rented Charbel’s car, as he did a special price – we shared the cost and I paid $79. For approximately $70 we decided to buy the City Pass to visit several attractions in Atlanta. With this pass you can get access to Georgia Aquarium, World of Coca Cola, CNN Studio Tours, Zoo Atlanta OR National Center for Civil and Human Rights, and Fernbank Museum of Natural History OR College Football Hall of Fame.

The Georgia Aquarium houses more than a hundred thousand animals and represents several thousand species, all of which reside in 38 millions liters of marine and salt water. It was the largest aquarium in the world from its opening in 2005 until 2012, when it was surpassed by Marine Life Park in Singapore.

Originally intended as a patent medicine, Coca-Cola was invented in 1886 by Atlanta pharmacist John Pemberton. The World of Coca-Cola is a museum, showcasing the history of The Coca-Cola Company. The 81,000-square-meter complex opened to the public on May 24, 2007.

Centennial Olympic Park is a public park located in downtown Atlanta. It was built by the Atlanta Committee for the Olympic Games (ACOG) as part of the infrastructure improvements for the 1996 Summer Olympics.

CNN’s global headquarter is in Atlanta. We did the CNN Studio Tour.

The Zoo Atlanta was founded in 1889, when businessman George V. Gress purchased a bankrupt traveling circus and donated the animals to the city of Atlanta. The Zoo offers memorable close encounters with more than 1,000 animals from around the world, like giant pandas, apes, flamingos, etc.

Arturo, Alejandro and I went for a quick visit to Kennesaw Mountain Park. Unfortunately, the visitors center was closed that day and we didn’t have much time, so we just took some pictures at the entrance. This national park preserves a Civil War battleground of the Atlanta Campaign, where over 67,000 soldiers died.

We also went with the whole family to Amicalola Falls State Park. The park is home to Amicalola Falls, a 222 meters waterfall, the highest in Georgia.

In that same day, later on, we also went to visit a very cute town called Dahlonega. Dahlonega is rich in culture and charm and has a beautifully preserved downtown historic district.

While we were in Atlanta, we decided to go with Charbel to watch some live sports, since it’s something we can’t do in Malta. First, we went to a Hockey game: Atlanta Gladiators vs Jacksonville IceMen, at Infinite Energy Center. They lost, but the game and the atmosphere was amazing, and I even got the chance to take a picture with the mascot.

We also went to a Basket game with Charbel: Atlanta Hawks vs Indiana Pacers, at the State Farm Arena. This stadium was amazing! When they introduce the players, in the beginning of the game, I really felt like I was in a different dimension. It is really quite a show! Loved it. Also, the entertainment shows they have during the breaks and a show on their own! From kiss cams, to people performing acrobatics, they really know how to keep viewers entertained.

We visited Martin Luther King, Jr. National Historical Park. This park consists of several buildings in Atlanta, including Martin Luther King Jr.’s boyhood home and the original Ebenezer Baptist Church, the church where King was baptized and both him and his father were pastors.

In 1977, a memorial tomb was dedicated to Martin Luther King. His remains were moved to the tomb, on a plaza between the center and the church. King’s gravesite and a reflecting pool are located next to Freedom Hall. After her death, Mrs. King was interred with her husband on February 7, 2006. An eternal flame is located nearby.

Apart from all these cultural activities, we spent some quality time as a family at Adriana’s place as well. In one of the days we went bowling and it was super fun. Christmas was also very very nice, all together, preparing and eating Venezuelan food. I felt blessed to have the chance to know this family, that is now my family as well 🙂 I hope I get to see them again soon!

Greece, the ancient land of Gods

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In September 2018 my boyfriend and I went to Greece. We visited Athens, Santorini and Mykonos for about a week. It’s a country with amazing views and amazing history.

ATHENS

Facts about the city:

Athens’ history dates back to 3000BC, making it one of the oldest cities in the world and Europe’s oldest capital. Athens has been continuously inhabited for those 3,000 years.

Famous as a philosopher, scholar and mathematician, Plato was also responsible for creating the Academy, the first institute of higher learning in the Western world, making Athens the home of the first university.

The Parthenon hasn’t had an easy past. During the 2,500 years it has overlooked the city, the temple has been used as a munitions store, converted into a mosque, looted by Lord Elgin, served as army barracks and been bombarded with canons by the Venetians.

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Our flight arrived  in Athens very late – at around 1 am. We decided to book a room in a cheap hotel close to the city center, since we would have another flight to Santorini the next day at 11 pm and therefore we wouldn’t have a lot of time to visit Athens. We chose Hotel Cosmos and paid around €29 for the night. It was actually a good choice. The room was OK and they even kept our luggage for free the next day so we could walk freely.

We started the day by visiting the low part of the ancient city – the Ancient Agora. The ‘Agoras‘ were public squares where the inhabitants would meet to discuss politics and their quotidian lives. It is also where elections, religious celebrations, athletic competitions and various types of shows were held. Furthermore, they were also important commercial spaces and considered the heart of the city.

The first excavations in the Agora area took place between 1859 and 1912. During the following years, important remains, including large sculptures, were found in a deep trench when the railway tracks were being installed. Subsequently, 360 modern edifices were demolished to expose the whole Agora. When the entire area was excavated, the Stoa of Attalos, a large building constructed during the Hellenistic period, was rebuilt according to the original plans. Nowadays, it features the Ancient Agora Museum.

After visiting the low part of the ancient city, we walked all the way up to see the higher part – the famous Acropolis. This is an old fortification on top of a hill that overlooks the old Theater of Dionysus, which could hold up to 17,000 people and is considered to be the world’s first theater. The sacred buildings on top of the Acropolis include the Erechtheion (a temple known for its “Porch of the Maidens”, with six draped female figures supporting the columns), the Propylaia (a monumental gateway that was the entrance to the Acropolis), and, of course, the Parthenon – all of which date back to the 5th century BC.

The construction of the Parthenon began in 447 BC when the Athenian Empire was at the peak of its power. It is the most important surviving building of Classical Greece, generally considered the zenith of the Doric order. Its decorative sculptures are considered some of the high points of Greek art.

The Parthenon itself replaced an older temple of Athena, which was destroyed in the Persian invasion of 480 BC. Like most Greek temples, the Parthenon served a practical purpose as the city treasury. For a time, it served as the treasury of the Athenian Empire. In the final decade of the sixth century AD, the Parthenon was converted into a Christian church dedicated to the Virgin Mary. After the Ottoman conquest, it was turned into a mosque in the early 1460s. On 26 September 1687, an Ottoman ammunition dump inside the building was ignited by Venetian bombardment. The resulting explosion severely damaged the Parthenon and its sculptures.

From 1800 to 1803, Thomas Bruce, 7th Earl of Elgin removed some of the surviving sculptures with the alleged permission of the Ottoman Empire. These sculptures, now known as the Parthenon Marbles, were sold in 1816 to the British Museum in London, where they are now displayed. Since 1983, the Greek government has been committed to the return of the sculptures to Greece. As of 2007 the Greek Ministry of Culture was carrying out a programme of selective restoration and reconstruction to ensure the stability of the partially ruined structure.

After the Acropolis, we passed in front of the Acropolis Museum, but decided not to go inside. Instead, we kept on walking and went to visit Plaka, a neighborhood with cute narrow and colorful streets. This area has a lot of restaurants, jewelry stores, tourist shops and cafes.

We also saw the Temple of the Olympian Zeus and Syntagma square, both very close to the National Garden. Another area I liked was Monastiraki. There are a lot of people in that square and some nice shops in a famous flea market close by.

We had dinner in a place that sells the typical pita gyros and then at night we went to the airport to catch our flight to Santorini.


 

SANTORINI

Facts about the city:

Before it was called Santorini, the island was known as Kallístē, meaning “the most beautiful one”. The name Santorini was invented in 1153 by the Venetians and it is the pronunciation of the words Santa and Irene (Saint Irene), one of the martyr virgin sisters of Christendom.

The island sits in the water-filled caldera of a massive volcano. The ‘Minoan eruption’ was one of the largest volcanic events on Earth in recorded history and it is thought to have ended Minoan civilization. This eruption split the island into three. Many believe Santorini may be the Atlantis Plato wrote about.

There are more churches than houses on Santorini, however most are small and private. Also, there are more donkeys than men.

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We landed in Santorini after midnight. Since we were arriving so late and we had rented a car, we decided that we might as well sleep in the car for the first night and save that money, and so we did.

We rented a car with a rental company called MotorInn. We paid €193 for four days (this amount includes full insurance and a fee for picking up the car out of working hours) and they gave us a Fiat Panda.

My father gave me a Ford Fiesta when I turned 18. I drove that car until I moved to Malta. In my current job, the company gave me a car – another Ford Fiesta. I realized I don’t “know” how to drive a car other than that one! At first it was a bit stressful trying to get used to this Fiat Panda, but actually by the next day I felt more confident already. By the end of our stay in Santorini, I felt like I was back in my own car.

Like I was saying, we slept on the car on our first night in Santorini. We stopped at a beach close to the airport – Monolithos Beach. The next day our backs hurt but it was fun. We watched the sunrise from the car. It was beautiful.

Then since it was too early to check in at the hotel, we decided to drove around the coast and visit some Greek beaches. We visited Kamari Beach and Perissa Beach. These beaches are very close from the archaeological site of Ancient Thera.

The scenery that the black lava sand along with the sandy sea bottom and the dark blue, crystal clear waters compose is impressive. These are two of the longest and most famous beaches in Santorini, a characteristic sight of the volcanic island. Due to its volcanic past, Santorini has white, black, AND red beaches.

One of the things I loved the most about these beaches are actually the bars and restaurants next to them. They all have this cool beach vibe decoration and look super cozy.

On our way to the hotel, we made a stop in Pyrgos. The former capital of Santorini and the best-preserved medieval settlement on the island, the village of Pyrgos is really a hidden gem. Pyrgos affords panoramic views. Yet, located a bit further from the famous caldera, it has been spared the terraces, balconies, infinity pools and master suites and it remains a bit more authentic.

After Pyrgos, we went to our villa to do the check-in. We stayed at Agia Irini and paid €216 for three nights. That place was amazing! It’s a family-run business, owned by a Greek family. They don’t speak English very well, so their son decided to hire the services of Milan, a tourist guide that also works part-time there, helping the guests to check-in and to know more about the island.

Milan was super helpful. He gave us a map of Santorini and explained everything about the island. The places we should visit. The restaurants where we should eat. The history of the volcano and the Minoan civilization.

Santorini is one of a kind. This series of volcanic islands in the Aegean Sea is the only inhabited caldera (underwater volcano structure) in the world. The Minoan Eruption at Santorini created a devastating tsunami in the Aegean Sea, believed to have destroyed the Minoan civilization on the island of Crete.

More than 3,600 years ago, someone saw the signs and knew when to get out.  Scientists believe the nearly 30,000 residents of the island successfully evacuated prior to the volcanic eruption. In the late 1950’s archaeologists uncovered the near perfectly preserved city of Akrotiri encased in three to six feet of ash.

Artifacts recovered from the site indicate the city was active in trade with other parts of the world and sophisticated in design. The site, now open for tours, reveals multilevel buildings, indoor bathrooms, sewage systems, and elaborate frescos. With no trace of human remains or valuable objects left behind scientists believe the residents most likely successfully evacuated the island.

After resting for a bit and taking some nice pictures at the villa‘s pool with the sea in the back, we drove to watch the sunset. Milan told us that it would be best to watch it from Ammoudi Bay, down there, and not from the top of Oia, where all the tourist gather around. We had bought a bottle of wine and sat there on a wall to see the spectacular colors in the sky. It was a magical moment! It’s very cliche to watch the sunset in Santorini but now I understand why.

After the sunset, we went to one of these fancy restaurants in Ammoudi Bay, called Sunset Ammoudi Taverna. This place had the pictures of some famous people that had visited the site, like Oprah Winfrey or Dani Alves. The fish was OK but for the price we paid, we expected to have something else other than a basic salad to go with the fish.

After dinner, we went for a walk across Oia. It was a bit more peaceful at night, but still packed with lots of tourists. Oia’s name should be pronounced “Ia“. It is the most famous of all villages of Santorini. It is known throughout the world for its quiet life and fantastic sunset, and is certainly the most beautiful and picturesque village of Santorini. The village is also situated on top of an impressive cliff and offers a spectacular view over the caldera.

The next day we went to visit Imerovigli. Its position at the highest, most central part of the caldera gave it visual command of the whole area. There is a path from Imerovigli caldera walkway to Skaros Rock. We didn’t go to this rock, because we already had a pretty amazing view from the village. Imerovigli has many lovely churches, all made in the Cycladic architectural style.

Then we went to Thira, the capital. There are lots of cafes, bars, restaurants, all with views and some with several levels of patios and balconies to make the most of the space they have and the fact that when there are several cruise ships sitting below the town is packed with tourists. We stopped close to the Orthodox Metropolitan Cathedral and watched a live concert there. We were lucky enough to be there for the Ifestia Festival 2018, which celebrates the birthday of the big eruption in the volcano. There were fireworks in Volcano island and we watched the colorful lights in the sky from Thira.

The day after we went to see Oia again, this time during day time. I loved the charming houses in narrow streets, blue domed churches, and sun-bathed verandas. Its streets have plenty of tourist shops, taverns, cafes, art galleries and other shops.

We walked all the way to the Byzantine Castle Ruins. Everything is white and blue in Oia and every place is a good opportunity for a nice picture – and we took many.

We ended the day with a visit to several beaches. We went to Theros wave bar, to the Red Beach and ended the day in the Black Beach, close to Akro, with a nice relaxing swim. When we got back to our villa, we swam at the pool as well, and went outside to watch the stars in the sky and try to meditate together. Very nice! Another thing I forgot to mention is that the previous day we woke up super early to watch the sunrise again, this time from the swimming pool of our hotel. It was worth it 🙂

We had dinner in an amazing place close to our villa, called Aēdáni. We both ate fish (octopus and squid) and some typical fried tomatoes (tomatokeftedes) and it was delicious! This place is a family-owned business and the guy serving us was super friendly. He even introduced us to his parents and his mum prepared a nice typical digestive for us after the meal, with cinnamon.

It was similar to another typical drink I had tried in Athens, called Rakomelo. which is made by combining raki or Tsipouro with honey and several spices, such as cinnamon, cardamom, or other regional herbs. Ouzo is the national drink, a dry anise-flavored aperitif and we tried it as well.

For our last day in Santorini, we didn’t do much. We went to the port to catch the ferry to Mykonos, but the ferry was delayed by two hours.


 

MYKONOS

Facts about the city:

The windmills of Mykonos are some of the most recognized landmarks of the island, some of them date back as far as the 16th century.

The only colors allowed for doors and windows are blue, green and red. This dates back to the old days when sailors painted doors and shutters blue, farmers green and the other red.

‘Petros The Pelican’ has been a local celebrity and it became the mascot of Mykonos. Back in 1958, a local fisherman discovered a wounded pelican, and decided to take of him. When the pelican finally regained his strength and was set for release, he decided not to leave. When Petros died, everyone on the island went into mourning. With many donors throughout the years, Mykonos welcomes three pelicans in and around the main town, with one always given the name of Petros.

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Our last top in Greece was Mykonos, the party island. Many top DJs have played sets on the island of Mykonos in recent years. It’s now an island that has two of the best 20 top clubs in the world because of this. In our case, we didn’t go to Mykonos to party, but to enjoy the views and beaches.

We went to Mykonos by ferry. It took us about three hours to get there from Santorini and we paid €85.50 in total for both of us. You can buy the tickets here.

We rented another car in Mykonos, this time with a company called Car n Motion. We paid €87 for two days and they gave me a Suzuki Alto. It is important to note that for both I paid for full cover insurance, just in case. This car was awful! I really didn’t like it.

The guy from the company gave me the keys and just left, and I couldn’t make the car move at first, because the crotch was in a really bad shape. By the end of the trip I kind of got used to it. But still, I really didn’t like this car. Also, when we tried to return it at the airport, on our last day, there was a queue of people waiting to do the same, and no one was there. We had to wait approximately 20 minutes. I actually don’t recommend this car rental company.

In Mykonos we decided to stay at Mykonos Pro-care Suites. We paid €159 for an apartment for two nights. The apartment was so nicely decorated and so cozy that I even said I wouldn’t mind having a place like that one day. The villa had a nice swimming pool and an amazing jacuzzi. We followed the advise of the girl who welcomed us there and decided to try the jacuzzi at night. It was very cold and windy at night, and the jacuzzi was outside, but with the hot water you don’t even feel the cold and it is actually a very relaxing experience!

On our first day we had dinner in a small town called Ano Mera, in a restaurant located in the main square (I confess I forgot the name). We ate so much meat there that I felt full for the entire night!

My favorite places in Mykonos were the beaches. First went to Super Paradise Beach. This is a magnificent beach with crystal clear blue water in a small, deep bay. It is one of the busiest and youngest beaches on the island, with a restaurant and a nice beach bar with music all day long.

Then we went to Psarou Beach. This was my ultimate favorite, as you can see from the videos we recorded at the end of this post. I know I live in Malta, another summer island, but nothing can compare to this amazing sandy beach. It is one of the most popular and famous beaches on the island, with pure and clean white sand and crystal clean waters (the waters are always calm, as the beach is enclosed by mountains around), ideal for sunbathing and relaxing and also for watersports. Psarou attracts many movie stars,the world famous celebrities. Unfortunately, we didn’t see anyone!

We also visited Kelafatis Beach. We didn’t go for a swim on this one, we just went there for a nice walk. We wanted to go to Delos, another small island that belongs to Mykonos, but we didn’t have enough time.

Apart from beaches, we also visited the main town, Hora. I loved it. Hora is a warren of narrow alleyways and whitewashed buildings. The streets are crowded with chic stores, cool galleries, jangling jewellers and both languid and loud music bars – plus a catwalk cast of thousands.

White cube-shaped houses with colorful wooden balconies, the circular-shaped white spots on the floor and the tiny churches with blue and dark red domes – the locals claim there are 700 churches on the island – make it memorable as one of the most beautiful places among the Greek islands.

In Hora there is the famous Little Venice: two storey buildings built literally in the sea with colorful wooden balconies hanging over the water, facing one of the most beautiful sunsets in Greece.  The Greek version of Venice is full of bright sunlight, colors and sea breeze.

The Venetian connection dates back to the roots of Mykonos. Whilst Greece and Mykonos is connected with the Roman Empire, the island was under direct rule of the Venetians from 1390. The final Venetians left the area in 1718 once it was conquered by the Ottomans.

Just across Little Venice of Mykonos there are the famous Windmills. Don’t miss the chance to visit the islands most visited and photographed place and feel the Aegean Sea winds blowing your minds away.