16 July 2018

London :: Day 11 - The Last Day

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Welp, it's time for our travels to come to an end. The last day. Our Airbnb host was kind enough to let us keep our bags at the apartment while they got it ready for the next visitors. So we packed up, then walked to The Summerhouse for a traditional English breakfast. The boys even got to try Black Pudding! Can't say they were huge fans. I opted for the vegetarian version, which was amazing. The restaurant was so cute inside and right on the canal. Even in the time we were there, however, it turned green! This summer has been the warmest London has ever had, and it caused all the duckweed to grow on it. As we were eating, a family of swans swam by. Aren't those babies the cutest? After breakfast, we had scheduled a car to pick us up and take us to the airport. Once there, we spotted Yo Sushi -- served on a conveyer belt -- and had to go. Last year when we were in the Paris airport, the boys saw this for the first time and wanted to try it but we didn't think we had time. They've been talking about it ever since and were so excited. We finished just as it was time to go to our gate. Unfortunately, we had a 1.5 hour delay in Montreal so by the time we got home, it was nearly 1am.

Travel is something I've always loved to do and something that really fuels my fire. I've always said I don't need a fancy car, or a fancy house, but I need to be able to travel. It seriously feeds my soul. I love experiencing new places and culture and have major wanderlust. I'm always dream of the next place to go. Travel makes me appreciate the world, as well as my own home. Plus, I'm such a schedule person that frankly, it's invigorating to get away from that once in awhile. I'm always so sad to see it come to an end. Actually, the only person excited to come back was C! He missed his friends, his bed and his Xbox. What an amazing trip.

London :: Day 10

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Our biggest walking day yet. I logged over 12 miles. Crazy. I know the boys are older, but I'm still phappy they've been such good sports about it. That's a lot of walking. And they know the London Underground system well too. We've been taking it everywhere. Our first stop this morning was Abbey Road Studios and to see the famous street from the Beatles album. We wanted to recreate it, of course, but so did a ton of other people. And it was a busy street so we decided to skip it. After we went over to Buckingham Palace. I tried to avoid the changing of the guards, but we ended up getting there in the middle of all of it so it was a bit hectic. Nevertheless, cool to see. Lunch was fish and chips. Finally! Then we had a couple hours to relax at the apartment before meeting up with my parent's friend, the Ross's who were in town for the Wimbeldon. Last time we saw them was Italy last year. Was happy we were able to meet up. Dinner was at Dhaba@49. Brian was happy to get his Indian food, and we all really enjoyed it. Honestly, it was some of the best I've ever had. Great dinner for our last night.

London :: Day 9

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Another big day. So much to do and see in a short amount of time. First stop -- Borough Market. It is such a happy place. We tried oysters, meat pie, meringues, chorizo sandwiches, goat milk ice cream and salted beef sandwiches. We would have done more damage, but it's a gorgeous day and the place was a madhouse. It seriously got way too busy. Next, we had a quick walk by a smaller demonstration and the baby Trump balloon. I was a little worried about all the protests today with Trump's visit to London. We avoided the main route, but everything has been very peaceful. Thank goodness. Next stop was the London Eye. Not the cheapest attraction, but the boys loved it. Even H who is afraid of heights mastered it. One thing we wanted to try that we've never done before is Afternoon Tea. After much research, and nearly splurging for one of the fancier places, we decided to keep it low-key and had traditional tea at Tea & Tattle. Honestly, it was perfect. I'm not sure we would have been up for such a fancy shindig after a day of walking around all day. After our big day, we came back to the apartment, and Brian and I walked around the neighborhood a bit. We are staying in Maida Vale and it's really nice. You never really know what to expect, but our rental is great. It even has a large outdoor garden out back. Gorgeous. We came back, grabbed the boys and went to check out the canal, which has a bunch of houseboats on it -- so interesting. We got caught in some rain (we are in London after all) so dried off, then went to the local pub -- The Hero of Maida -- where we opted to have a cocktail and light snacks for dinner.

15 July 2018

Malta :: Day 8

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Last morning in Malta. We picked up some pastizzis and sat on a bench for breakfast. They are the traditional pastry of Malta, cost about 30 cents each and are amazing. Pea, cheese and chicken are the common flavors. None of them suck. Afterwards, we walked along Grand Harbor to check out the boats one last time. We walked to the end of Vittoriosa and around Fort St. Angelo, which is what our apartment looked out on. It's crazy, imaging everything that went on there over the years. Afterwards, we had to go back and finish packing. So sad. We had a taxi pick us up and take us to the airport where we caught our flight to London. The flight was great, but customs was a nightmare. There were two large flights ahead of us (from China and India) and it took over 2.5 hours to get through. It kind of ruined our plans for sure. All the restaurants were closed, as it was 11 pm by the time we got to our apartment. We ended up picking up cheese and crackers from a little all-night corner stand and calling it a night. I don't think we ate real food the entire day today. Thankfully we have a couple days ahead of us yet.

13 July 2018

Malta :: Day 7

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Today we took the water ferry to Gozo. It was about an hour drive each way to get there, but so worth it. Our first stop was the Salt Pans. They were created by the Romans and seriously look like they are from a movie set or another world. They are still in use by several families, and we even bought some salt from a vendor by the side of the road. Next, we drove to the Inland Sea and Blue Hole on the other side of the island. At the Inland Sea, we took a boat trip. Like a lot of this trip, we didn’t know what to expect. It wasn’t very long, but such a fun experience. It cost 4 Euro each. It’s a little boat that fits about 10 people. It squeezing through a cave and into the ocean. The sea was pretty rough so it was crazy we were in a little boat like that, but so fun. We also went into 3 different caves and saw the rock below where the arch was (it collapsed only a couple years ago). The water though! Oh my gosh, so blue – it looked like melted sapphires. We also rented snorkling equipment for a little bit. We swam around the Inland Sea for awhile. Wasn’t super interesting, but fun. Next, however, we went to the Blue Hole and oh my gosh am I glad I had the equipment there. The hole is so deep (60 meters - 196 feet) and completely fascinating. There’s an opening that scuba divers go under that brings them out to the ocean. Amazing. The only regret is that we didn’t have water shoes. The rocks were so rough and there were a ton of sea urchins. I can’t believe we didn’t step on one.

After a fun day on Gozo, we drove back to the apartment, showered quick, then headed out to watch the England vs. Croatia World Cup game. The streets were packed, and after an unsuccessful attempt to go to the restaurant we went to on the first night, we ended up snagging the last table at the Snack Bar. I’m telling you, there’s nothing like being in a different country during the World Cup. We were bummed that we would be spending our last dinner at a snack bar, but it ended up being amazing. I had chicken, and it tasted so good, especially after eating pretty much only pasta and pizza the last week. Another amazing day in Malta. It’s going to be hard to leave.