Malta’s capital, Valletta, is a grande dame undergoing rapid change. With more than 300 monuments crammed into the city’s small peninsular borders, Valletta has one of the most concentrated historic areas in the world. This means that there are lots of things to do in Valletta, whether you’re an architecture aficionado, military-history buff or passionate wanderer eager to see a city reawakening from a long slumber.
Shawn and I were delighted to have called Valletta home this past year, living on one of the city’s most infamous streets – a narrow lane which was once a red-light district that lured sailors. When we first learned we’d be moving to Malta for Shawn’s studies, we thought we might develop island fever living on a tiny island nation for twelve months. Surprisingly though, there was so much to experience in and out of Valletta that our weekend calendar was always replete with activities.
A decade before moving to Valletta, I also played tourist in the capital city, making it my home base during a long-weekend visit. Back in 2006, Valletta was eerily quiet. Half of the city’s buildings were boarded up and abandoned. Accommodation in Valletta was so scarce that I literally had to sleep in a spacious maid’s closet for one night, until a proper room became available. Coincidentally, ten years later, my future in-laws would choose to stay at a boutique hotel located just across the street from the same guesthouse in which I stayed as a solo female traveler in 2006. It’s funny how life comes full circle like that!
Continue reading “A Guide to Exploring Valletta: Malta’s Tiny, But Mighty, Capital City”
Malta was ruled, occupied and colonized by a great number of different peoples throughout the last few thousand years. Not surprisingly, since the island is in the heart of the Mediterranean, the Romans were among them.
Situated just outside the popular and atmospheric walled city of Mdina is the small Domus Romana Museum. It was once a townhouse for a Roman aristocrat living in the ancient Roman town of Melite, in what is now Mdina and Rabat. (In Latin, domus means ‘home’ or ‘residence’.) It’s believed that it was built in the 1st century CE.
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With eye upraised his master’s look to scan,
The joy, the solace, and the aid of man:
The rich man’s guardian and the poor man’s friend,
The only creature faithful to the end.
If you were to stroll the atmospheric Chippiannock Cemetery in Rock Island, Illinois, you’d likely happen upon the weathered headstones of siblings Eddie and Josie Dimick, which are guarded by a life-sized statue of a dog.
The children died on the same day in 1878, and their family’s descendants left Rock Island long ago. Still, strangers routinely place flowers on their headstones, photograph the family monument, and sweep away tears when they learn the story behind the arched granite epitaph and the likeness of a dog beside it that is carved out of stone.
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For two thousand years, Croatia’s Klis Fortress has held a coveted position among Central Dalmatia‘s craggy landscape. Having been one of the filming locations for Season 4 of a Game of Thrones, as well as host to dramatic events over the millennia, the Klis Fortress appeals to Game of Thrones fans and history enthusiasts looking for things to do in Split.
Admittedly, I’ve never seen an episode of the popular television series, but during our three months in coastal Split, Croatia, we couldn’t escape the hype surrounding Game of Thrones filming locations in and around the area. From “my brother was an extra and met Daenerys” to “our friend acted as a slave girl” to “they filmed a scene on the cobbled street in front of our office” residents were excited and speculative about which Split scenes would make it into the upcoming episodes. Trailers helped them exercise their detective skills and pinpoint some Game of Thrones filming locations even before Season 4 debuted.
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“If you want to see heaven on earth, come to Dubrovnik.” – George Bernard Shaw
Dubrovnik. The Croatian city’s name conjures images of forbidding city walls, fire red rooftops, buildings crafted out of white stone, and a graceful city perched above the vast Adriatic.
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Traveling is almost like talking with men of other centuries. – René Descartes
How Trogir tempts me with its fanciful flourishes fit for a fairy tale!
At almost every turn in the Croatian town’s labyrinthine lanes, there emerge weathered faces, coats of arms, religious motifs, and even a nautical-inspired element. Embarking on a grocery shopping mission is a hapless endeavor, for I always become distracted, craning my neck to see the treasures on the façades above. At times, I expect my trusty Nikon (or husband) to start puffing out smoke, exhausted from my maniacal snapping.
Continue reading “Flourishes Fit for a Fairy Tale: Admiring the Details in Trogir, Croatia”