Malta Once More – 2018

20180512_105411Malta gets under your skin…deep. If you have a penchant for Mediterranean food, a soft spot for history and culture, an affinity for warm sunny days, a propensity for relaxing vacations, or a weakness for gelato, you will most definitely fall under Malta’s spell.

I recognized the first signs of the boy’s addiction to the tiny island when he booked his third trip in less than a year and a half. It took me three years to return to Malta. And I’m a thrilled to report that I have fallen head over heels in love with this country. My return felt like coming home. A warm hug filled with promises of great food, good times, and reconnecting with family.

Although the island isn’t much bigger than the city I currently live in, there is so much to see and do. And definitely too much to put into a blog post. As with most of our other vacations, we parked ourselves in a rental apartment for two weeks. This gave us plenty of time to explore and relax.

I hope you enjoy the glimpse I will share with you here.

20180428_10392520180428_104333 20180428_104432-120180509_16193920180428_104658  20180429_07113120180501_14122320180507_05475020180428_183317   20180504_143223  20180501_14000520180501_140233   20180501_14244820180501_14243620180501_16055720180501_160640   20180508_05470720180430_16351520180508_063344  20180502_173535 20180508_05452720180504_125554  20180501_15534620180504_12443720180504_12450020180504_065203  20180504_125124 20180504_12450720180512_17092420180502_17140620180429_141611 (2)   20180429_13120420180502_172455   20180502_17233120180430_07062320180510_08070320180512_065358-1    20180512_190236  20180510_19313520180503_204000-1  20180429_21212220180429_15160020180429_141742 (2)  20180429_14090920180509_14262920180429_205011A stay in Malta is definitely a celebration of the best life has to offer. At any point in time, there are festivals and events around the island that highlight the culture and the beauty of one of the smallest islands in the Mediterranean.  I hope you don’t just take my word for it, go visit!20180430_163755Sign-off

Enchanted Vilnius

20170530_135249 (2)Sometimes taking a leap of faith, or a road trip, to a place unknown can lead to the most beautiful surprises. When my cousin proposed a visit to Vilnius, Lithuania during my three week stay in Europe, I wasn’t immediately swept off my feet. I dreamt of Vienna, Prague or Stockholm. The small country  of Lithuania was never on my radar as a tourist destination. Images of many former eastern block nations danced in my head like a depressing film noir. What could I possibly see or enjoy in Lithuania for one day, let alone three! I was primed to be enchanted.

The six hour comfort bus ride from Bialystok (for which I paid $38 round trip!) to Vilnius was filled with naps and stork spotting, wifi and snacks. I barely realized how much time had passed when we pulled into Lithuania’s capital city. A city where almost 700 years of history mingles to highlight its past with the emerging bright future. Where any visitor with euros in their pocket and speaking nothing more than English can feel at ease. Where I was reminded of how much this city and country were a part of my own Polish heritage.

20170530_172032 (2)20170530_172538 (2)20170530_172715 (2)20170530_173036 (2)      20170530_172829 (2)20170530_172648 (2)20170530_173153 (2)20170530_173733 (2)20170530_175717 (2)     20170530_174822 (2)20170530_180004 (2)20170530_175651 (2)20170530_173529 (2)20170530_172507 (2)20170530_172205_HDR (2)20170530_182358 (2)20170530_182412 (2)20170530_183520 (2)20170531_184953 (2)     20170531_190636 (2)20170531_190625 (2)20170530_183447 (2)20170530_182533_HDR (2)20170530_182549_HDR (2)20170530_184359_HDR (2)20170530_184529 (2)20170530_185021 (2)20170530_184858 (2)20170530_185311 (2)     20170530_184840 (2)20170530_184915 (2)20170530_183912 (2)20170530_185535 (2)20170530_190200_HDR (2)    20170530_190119 (2)20170530_191730 (2)20170530_191615 (2)     20170530_191618 (2)20170530_204718 (2)20170530_194214 (2)20170530_195652 (2)      20170530_195346 (2)20170530_191802 (2)20170530_191953_HDR (2)    20170530_191914 (2)20170530_192417_HDR (2)     20170531_132520 (2)20170531_132323 (2)       20170530_182504 (2)20170531_182256 (2)20170531_135653_HDR (2)20170531_140949_HDR (2)20170531_140800 (2)       20170531_140810 (2)20170531_141457 (2)20170531_123012 (2)20170531_123152_HDR (2)As always it is near impossible to present in a few words and photos what a country or a city has to offer. There are so many beautiful places around the world that need to be seen with your own eyes. I’m still slowly checking off my extensive travel list, as each year I make a choice between seeing something new or returning to a place I have come to love.

Vilnius is definitely going on the “must return” list. I hope you will travel there yourself and become enchanted!

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Welcome Home – Bialystok

20170525_164849I am almost embarrassed to say that it has taken me 14 years (eek!) to return to my homeland and the city where I was born, Bialystok. It also feels like it has taken me ages to write this blog post. In my defense, I wanted to do justice to a beautiful city that shaped my childhood and my initial outlook on the world.

I poured through almost 300 photos knowing I could only share a glimpse of my three week visit. Many of the photos were very personal as I met with family (thank you Agata for being an amazing host and cousin!!) and old school friends who made me feel like I never left (I can’t wait to continue these friendships for years to come!). I ate the most incredible food, practiced my language skills (not as bad as I thought) and even caught up on this summer’s best movie, Wonder Woman! The weather was incredible as I explored the city mostly on foot, stopping more often than not for a daily dose of ice cream. I cannot believe I didn’t gain weight ;). I hope you enjoy my adventure!

The historic and colourful city of Bialystok, situated in northeastern Poland, received town rights in 1692 but there is documentation that in 1437 the area was identified for settlement and gifted by the Duke of Lithuania to local nobility. In the intervening 5 centuries, it has undergone many changes that reflected the evolution of world history and politics. And even the last 14 years have created a city that is making its mark as a wonderful place to live and a new travel destination, especially for eco adventurers. I am very proud of what the city has become and look forward to many more visits.20170525_164739 (2)20170525_164729 (2)20170529_134123 (3)20170603_185746 (2)20170603_180912 (2)20170525_165120 (2)        20170525_164744 (2)  20170525_164843 (2)20170529_134132 (2)20170529_134356 (2)20170529_133115 (2)20170605_175408 (2)20170605_175014 (2)20170609_145025 (2)20170609_144734 (2)        20170609_144918 (2)  20170606_120146 (2)20170606_120313 (2)        20170606_120532 (2)20170606_120205 (2)20170526_130438 (2)20170603_181653 (2)       20170606_115453 (2)20170606_120752 (2)20170606_120757 (2)        20170606_120809 (2)  20170606_122237 (2)20170609_141202 (2)20170606_122451 (2)20170606_121714_HDR (2)        20170607_163042 (2)20170607_163422 (2)20170525_164804 (2)20170529_135514 (2)   20170529_141626 (2)        IMG_20170529_135745 (2)20170607_151231 (2)20170607_151303 (2)20170607_150951 (2)        20170607_144525 (2)20170606_151239 (2)20170606_151456 (2)20170606_151310 (2)        20170606_154431 (2)20170606_151509 (2)20170609_212320 (2)20170609_212326 (2)20170609_212659 (2)20170609_212536 (2)20170610_212651 (2)I hope that you enjoyed this brief introduction to my home city. There is so much to do and see in this beautiful part of Poland. I invite you to take on the adventure and visit a place that is not often on the tourist radar.

While in Poland, I took a brief trip to the old town of Vilnius in Lithuania. In an upcoming post, I will introduce you to a city that had played a major role in the history of my country. It was my first visit and one of the most pleasant surprises of my vacation.

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Paris…Encore!

Eiffel Tower, Paris, FranceI hardly need an excuse to hop on a plane headed to Paris. When the opportunity arose to visit one of the most beautiful cities in Europe for a second time in less then a year, well…the photos tell the story. And boy were there ever many photos. It has taken me a while to sift through all the images (and to deal with my feelings of coming back to earth after the best vacation EVER!).

Having already done three other posts on Paris, which you can find here, here, and here, I have decided to share images that best represent my favourite aspects of this trip. And you will surely notice all the food shots liberally sprinkled throughout. The boy and I truly indulged in a range of gastronomic delights. Enjoy!

Rooftops, Paris, France      Place des Voges, Paris, FrancePlace des Voges, Paris, FranceChantilly cream and strawberries      Coffee, Merci, Paris, FrancePamela Popo Exterior, Paris, FranceGraffiti, Paris, France      Falafel, L'As de Falafel, Paris, FranceLe Sevigne restaurant, Paris, FranceTango dancing along the Seine, Paris, FranceCafe Louis Phillipe, Paris, FranceSky, Paris, France      Cafe Louis Phillipe, Paris, FranceStreet crowds, Paris, France   Sunbathing along the Seine, Paris, France      Street, Paris, FranceShelves at Maison Plisson, Paris, FranceDeli counter at Maison Plisson, Paris, FranceBuildings in St Paul, Paris, FranceStreet art, Paris, France      Installation, Place des Voges, Paris, FranceArt Installation, Place des Voges, Paris, FranceMacarons, Paris, FranceFrench pastries, Paris, France   Eiffel Tower, Paris, France      Boule players, Jardin de Luxembourg, Paris, FrancePony rides, Jardin de Luxembourg, Paris, FranceAu Beurre Sale creperie, Paris, FranceRestaurant patio, Paris, FranceCafe tables, Paris, France      Crepes for lunch, Paris, FranceCrowds at Jardin de Luxembourg, Paris, FranceEiffel Tower, Paris, France      Spectators, Jardin de Luxembour, Paris, FranceBoule players, Jardin de Luxembourg, Paris, FranceBee hives, Jardin de Luxembourg, Paris, FranceTuileries, Paris, France Conran Shop, Bon Marche, Paris, FranceThe Tuileries, Paris, FranceGarden, Petit Palais, Paris, France      Statue of a girl with a monkey, Petit Palais, Paris, FrancePalais Royal, Paris, FranceThe Tuileries, Paris, France      Duck confit with crisp potatoes, Cafe Hugo, Paris, FranceMaison Angelina, Paris, FranceCafe gourmand, Cafe Hugo, Paris, FrancePatio, Cafe Hugo, Paris, France      Cheeseburger and fries, Cafe Hugo, Paris, France  Cobblestones and Cappuccinos, Paris, FranceUntil next time Paris! À bientôt!

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Door Knockers of Malta and Gozo

Lion head knocker on red door, MaltaThere is one more thing I have to share with all of you from my trip to the magnificent islands of Malta and Gozo. At every turn, and down every street, beautiful knockers dot the doors of Maltese buildings like opulent jewels. Known as “Il-Habbata” many are intricate works of art in bronze and brass.

The sea-faring nature of the island is reflected in many of the motifs like dolphins, seahorses, and sirens. But you will also find faces, coats of arms, and animals. More importantly both the knocker and the colour of the door, some dating hundreds of years, represent the personality and taste of the home owner. And based on some of my examples, I would be more than happy to make their acquaintance.Brass hexagon door knocker, MaltaBronze angel knocker on wood door, MaltaCoat of arms knocker on red door, Mdina, MaltaPig head knocker on red door, Valletta, MaltaEagle knocker on pink door, MaltaLion head knocker on purple door, GozoAngel head bronze knocker on wood door with studs, Valletta, MaltaDetail of angel knocker on wood door, Valletta, MaltaBronze dolphins and Malta Cross knocker on wood door, MaltaBacchus face knocker on green door, GozoBrass Bacchus face knocker on cream door, GozoBrass Bacchus face door on brown door, GozoBronze creature face knocker on white door, GozoDolphin knockers on blue door, GozoBronze stylized dolphin on blue door, Valletta, MaltaBrass circle door knockers, MaltaStylized dolphin on purple door, Valletta, MaltaGirl Scout clover knocker on navy door, Valletta, MaltaBrass mythical creature knocker on wood door, MaltaBronze mythical creature knocker on wood door, MaltaThere are many more whimsical knockers and colourful doors than I could possibly include in this post. I encourage you to discover them yourself on a trip to to the mystical island of Malta.