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Photo Diary: Doors of Malta


Doors of Malta - photo by Katie @ Second-Hand Hedgehog travel blog

There probably aren't many places I would visit, then come back with enough photographs of doors to make an entire blog post of them. But then, Malta does have some incredibly beautiful buildings. 

I'm not just talking about buildings like the Grandmaster's Palace in Valletta, or any of the island's opulent churches. I'm talking about the ordinary buildings, happened upon while strolling down ordinary streets. One of the distinguishing features of these buildings are the little enclosed Juliet balconies that jut out over the road. Some are in stone, but most of them are wooden, and often brightly painted to match the window frames, and of course the doors. 

This whole post started on our first full day on the island. We went for a wander close to the hotel (just outside Mellieha on the north of Malta), and spotted a building with a little wooden door. It was half size, patched up with extra planks of wood, and the bright yellow paint was flaking badly. I liked it immediately, and took a photo of it. 

After that, I just kept on noticing beautiful doors. They were everywhere, around every corner: some well kept and brightly painted, others flaking and looking a bit more shabby chic. Many of them also had fish-shaped handles, presumably because everywhere on Malta is so close to the sea. 

So here are a few of my favourites. Not interested in photos of doors? Don't knock it till you've tried it! I didn't think I was either, until I reailsed I'd come back from Malta with a camera full of them...


Loo with a View: Hangout Hostel, Mount Emily

Loo with a View: from the roof garden at Hangout Hostel, Mt Emily, Spingapore - photo by Katie @ Second-Hand Hedgehog travel blog

I'm on a mission to find toilets from around the world with beautiful views. 
Why? 
Erm, do I need a reason? Combining the everyday necessity of using the toilet with the extraordinary beauty of travel - what's not to love?! 
I'm one of those people who always uses the free toilets, because you never know how long it will be until you find another one... Maybe it's a girl thing. Maybe it's just me. 

I came across this one during a 3-day stopover in Singapore on my way back from Melbourne, after I'd been living in Australia for a year. I was staying at the Hangout Hostel, Mt Emily (incidentally, the best hostel I'd ever stayed in, until it was pipped at the post by the Boutique Hostel Forum in Zadar earlier last year).  

The online blurb had mentioned a roof garden at the hostel, so I thought I would check it out. Expecting a patio with a couple of plastic chairs, and maybe a wilting pot plant if I was lucky, I made my way upstairs. 

What I didn't expect was this: loungers surrounded by lush plantlife; fairy lights wound around a pretty white gazebo; and a magnificent view across the city. And the icing on the cake? There was also a loo! 
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[this post is part of my Loo With A View series - other loos with views can be found here]

Saturday Beach: Kaiteriteri


Kaiteriteri Beach



I'd heard a lot about Abel Tasman National Park before I saw it. I have to say, it didn't disappoint. Kaiteriteri was the first beach I saw there, and we were all quite literally jumping for joy at the beauty of it. Just what we needed after several hours on a minibus!

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Saturday Beach is a series of weekly posts celebrating beaches around the world, whether cold and rocky or tropical with white sand. I love water; I love lakes; I love the sea. But most of all I love the edge of it: the boundary between the water and the land; where one thing turns into another. This is my weekly excuse to share that love with you.

Malta Photo Diary: Marsaxlokk Sunday Market


Marsaxlokk Sunday Market, Malta - photo by Katie @ Second-Hand Hedgehog travel blog

Marsaxlokk Sunday market sells everything. Well, you would expect it to: it's absolutely huge. It's also a place where tourists buying souvenirs can rub shoulders with locals stocking up on their groceries. But one of my favourite things about it is the setting: right on the edge of the harbour, which is filled with luzzi (brightly painted boats) bobbing up and down on the water.

It's no wonder that half of the market is dedicated to fish. (If you're vegetarian, and don't like looking at photos of dead fish, this post might not be for you.)

We visited Marsaxlokk through a tour company who were selling tickets outside our hotel. Normally, I would advocate using the buses in Malta (which are super cheap at only €1.50 for a day ticket or €6.50 for a week), but the man selling the tour convinced us to pay our €10 each.

Actually, I'm really glad that he did. Judging from our later experience of Malta's buses, the bus from our hotel into Valletta would have been fine. But I doubt we would have got a seat on the bus from Valletta to Marsaxlokk, if we even got on it at all. (Pretty much everywhere on Malta closes on a Sunday, so most tourists and quite a number of locals will be heading to Marsaxlokk for the market.) As it was, we had a completely hassle-free morning, and had just the right amount of time to browse the market. Definitely worth our €10 each.


Discovering the Feast of St Paul Shipwrecked in Valletta

The Feast of St Paul Shipwrecked, Valletta, Malta - photo by Katie @ Second-Hand Hedgehog travel blog

Full gun salutes, a procession, a marching band, street decorations, and lots and lots of confetti: the Maltese people certainly know how to rustle up a celebration.

Malta is a Catholic country, and has been since St Paul was shipwrecked on the island in 60AD and converted the local population. Malta celebrates this every year on February 10th, wih a public holiday. 

Enormous fabric hangings waft across the streets, while garlands festooned with light bulbs cross from building to building. Stalls selling nougat and halva pop up right across the city, and there are people everywhere, listening (and sometimes singing) to the apparetly tireless performances from the marching band. 

The Church of St Paul's Shipwreck holds back-to-back mass in celebration, and at the end of it all, a huge (and very heavy-looking) statue of St Paul is carried from the church and paraded through the streets, which are crammed with hundreds of people wanting to get a glimpse of it. 

From the balconies lining the route, people throw bags and bags of cut-up-paper confetti. Down on the street, people look like they've been caught in a jubilant snow storm, with white paper clinging to their hair and coats. 

Every day in Valletta at noon, the Saluting Battery fires a cannon. But, because this is a special day, they fire all of the cannons at noon, and another one at 4pm. (The crowds were too thick for us to see anything of the midday cannon fire except the smoke, but we got a pretty good view of the afternoon one from the Upper Barrakka Gardens.) 

Everywhere, people are celebrating: spending time with family or friends, relaxing, watching the entertainment.