Maltese Mediterranean mood

Summer on my mind… Lately a friend of mine visited me and while singing karaoke (picking the most horrible choices like Geri Halliwell’s ‘Chico Latino’) our minds traveled to where it’s sunny, stunningly beautiful and the Mediterranean breeze is blowing.

Malta is definitely  one of these places, and I could share the whole series of Baleares, Sardegna and Adriatic tales to cheer up those still working and looking forward to the ‘real’ summer holidays. Since I am not a fan of high season travels, it’s not my case and I’ll share with you my impressions from this little Mediterranean island and country I visited in the springtime.

I spent some time in the Northern Part of Malta, where the widest and longest sandy beach is located, as well as the picturesque town of Mellieha. I strongly recommend visiting the town, since it’s still very authentic and has some stunning views to offer (when the visibility is good, one can spot the islands Comino and Gozo). For more spiritual or religious people, I’d recommend visiting the Sanctuary of Our Lady of Grotto, a very tranquil and soothing place for those searching for peace of mind and… oh well, shadow. Another interesting point worth visiting is the abandoned village of Popeye, since the movie was shot here years ago. Somewhat funny, somewhat scary!

Staying at the Northern tip of Malta allowed me to travel easily to the neighbouring islands of Comino (with its emblematic Blue Lagoon) and Gozo. Unfortunately, Blue Lagoon is already too popular and touristic – even off the high season, so I enjoyed mostly hiking around this small island and taking stunning photos of the blue waters.

However, Gozo will offer you much more: towns and villages with craft food, places to eat out authentic Maltese cuisine and again, excellent views of the Maltese sculptures of its own: rocks.

As opposed to the North, the South of Malta, including the Valetta-Gzira-Sliema three-in-one towns is full of history. Military buildings, museums and churches tell a story of years of battles and resistance of Malta.

I recommend a long walk throughout the Old Town of Valetta, including the port, and beyond: multicultural Gzira and posh Sliema. While Valetta reminds of a living monument, Gzira and Sliema are actually very lively places with the whole bunch of cafés and restaurants.

I didn’t have chance to visit St. Julian’s but its party image was not something I was looking for during this stay. All in all, I have to say that a couple of days on Malta made for a very relaxing, but also inspiring experience. It’s very well communicated, so it’s not too stressful to visit place, and yet not too expensive. I have a lot of thoughts around the sustainable tourism, which should be something to implement in places such as the Blue Lagoon, so please enjoy responsibly!

Hundstage – where to escape from heat in the heart of Berlin?

I learned this German expression after watching a controversial movie by Ulrich Seidl back in a day. ‘Dog days’ stand for unbearably hot summer days where the ‘dog’ star, Sirius, coincides with sunrise. I suspected the heat wave to hit only once (first weekend of July), but it seems it hit again and will stay with us for the next 10 days or so :). So let me share my 3 fave swimming pools & city beaches to escape from the heat.

Disclaimer: they can get crazily crowded during weekends (other 4 million people can really have the same idea!), or when extremely hot temperatures hit. If you decide to go there, better go first thing in the morning.

1. Badeschiff – a floating pool on the Spree river in between Treptower Park and Oberbaumbrücke within the Berlin Arena area. Entry as for 2015: 5 EUR, offers a nice bar, burger place and massages on the deck. Not so much healthy food options though. Swimming pool with a sunbathing decks, offering great views over the Spree is just worth the price of it all, even queuing to get into kaltes, klares Wasser.

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2. Haubentaucher – named after a lovely bird, this swimming pool is a surprise within the urban jungle of Urban Spree. It offers much more healthy cuisine, and the pool itself is pretty spacious. The only missing part is the smell of water, but it’s equally refreshing. Entry as for 2015: 3-4 EUR.

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3. Rampe – hidden in the bushes near Michaelbrücke, was a nice revellation to me on Sunday when temperature rose to 38 degrees and I was hopeless where to hide. I heard nice music and sneeked in, no entry fee was needed. Swimming pool was not as spectacular, but located in the nice shades of trees, and the beach had a typical seaside sand. There are various open air parties organized there on a regular basis, as I learned later, so depending on the line up, the entry fee can go up to 10 EUR.

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Of course, if you are more determined, you can escape to the Baltic Sea coast, both on the German and Polish side. Or to catch a train and discover the beauty Beyond Berliner Ring.

Ausflüge pt.2: Suddenly in Mrzeżyno

Two weeks ago, quite spontaneously, I decided to visit Polish coast within the train reach and I landed in Miedzyzdroje on the Wolin Island. This post have totally surpassed my expectations and here we are, two weeks later, with a bunch of my friends living in Berlin, asking for the Baltic Sea destinations worth recommending both on the German and Polish side.

So this time I decided to check out the seaside town from my childhood memories: Mrzeżyno, where my parents use to have a tiny cottage and since then, regularly visited. In short: 90s music, arcade games on rainy days, fish and chips and friends I played football and watched FIFA World Cup 1994 with. Like in the Roots Manuva’s ‘Dreamy Days’: this used to be fun and lots of laughter. Surprisingly, some things have not changed at all, while the time has passed.

The port where Rega river enters the Baltic Sea (or: the other way round, when the sea is as rough as today) is now completely refurbished and offers great sights during the sunset. For those who like more active tourism, it’s also great for renting kayaks and discovering West Pomerania’s treasures (including a medieval towns such as Trzebiatów).
The port also offers now yacht marina, and fresh fish for the hungry ones. I still remember when Mrzeżyno was a very isolated town in between two military bases, and quite undeveloped infrastructure in the 90s. These times are long gone, hence there are crowds of Polish families. Don’t go there in the high season if you search for remoteness!However, there is a very interesting techno festival proposal coming up in August: Plötlzlich am Meer (Eng. Suddenly by the Sea, PL: Nagle nad Morzem) – yet another edition of the Polish-German Electronic Music festival on the beach of Rogowo, one of my all-time faves. It’s probably best to book the trip in advance and rent a car, but if one’s well-determined, this place can be reached by the combination of train + bus, plane + bus, whatever + hitch-hiking, etc.

And then, suddenly, by the sea, interesting things may happen!

Ausflüge pt. 1: Wolin Island

Most recently, I have spontaneously decided to leave the city for a weekend getaway (Ausflug in German) to visit the West Pomerania coast in Poland. First of all, most of my Berlin-based friends seemed to be away, secondly – after the heat wave in Berlin at the beginning of July, I decided I should be prepared the next time the weather is matching the sandy beach better than the concrete surroundings. Even if the quality of the sand in the fancy outdoor swimming pool places in Berlin is really good! I have shared my tips on the best summer-in-the-city locations, but when the temperature rises up to 38 degrees Celsius, there’s really not that much you can enjoy doing while staying in the city. So sorry, Berlin.

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For the weekend get-away I picked a resort town Międzyzdroje (Misdroy in German), well-connected with rail and bus connections, and possible to reach within 3 hours only from Berlin. It is a perfect location both for those who simply enjoy the summery vibe of the beach resort (with all the quirky attractions, fish-and-chips menus and strolling on the pier watching the romantic sunsets, among many others) and for those who enjoy the active plan better (there’s plenty of trails on the Wolin National Park). To get there you can either rent a car or use (please, consider the environment!) a very good Deutsche Bahn and PKP (Polish Rails) connection via Szczecin (Stettin in German). If they are not on strike (DB strike rate is pretty elevated in 2015, just saying)! You can take the advantage of the stop-over and see some attractions of the city, while you’re awaiting for the connection.

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To me the Ausflüge do wonders – changing the setting, weather, and this time – coming back to places which were invariably connected with the holidays in my childhood. I probably miss the sea the most while living in Berlin, but now I’m happy to find out that either choosing to go to Rügen or to Pomerania in Poland is not a big deal in terms of time and money investment. Obviously, these places seem to be much more crowded in July and August, and this can be annoying, but at the same time, you won’t be disappointed by the variety of restaurants, sightseeing option and, if you are lucky, good weather. So… I’ll be back to the Polish coast almost within one week again! Keep you posted.

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