Sunday, 31 May 2009

Last morning and home

On our last morning, Phil and the boys had a last 'swim' in the pool before we had to check out and leave. As it was early, the pool was almost deserted, and the boys had a great time mucking around in their rubber tubes.

Malta has a plague of cats (Im sure that is the correct collective noun...) There was a 'feeding place' for the cats, and the boys often went up there to check out the antics of the large population of cats who lived around the hotel.

Thanks goodness this wasn't one of our towels!!!

The hotel often had lots of weddings, and often in the afternoon after we were back from the pool or beach, we would see small wedding groups getting married overlooking the bay, then moving off to the buffet for a healthy feed. They seemed to be mostly 'second weddings', and it was a lovely spot for them!

We caught a taxi to the airport and transferred back to Berlin easily. At the airport, Phil said goodbye to Nicole and the boys - he was 'bouncing' straight out to Copenhagen, whilst Nicole and the boys headed for home.

We really enjoyed Malta, and in between the small spots of touring, we spent a lot of time relaxing by the pool or at the beach. We really enjoyed our trip and our chance to get a bit of sun and relax.

Saturday, 30 May 2009

Grand Harbour Tour

After our great experience on the English Rose sailing to Comino, we 'signed up' for their tour of Valetta grand harbour. We had to motor our way down the coast (into the prevailing seas, which were a bit rough) until we entered the harbour.

We then had a great tour of all of the inlets, looking at the various parts of Valetta from the water level. Lots of history about the forts, the ship-building, and life in Valetta.
One of the smaller Aida cruise ships...

We motored back up the coast and enjoyed the rest of the afternoon by the pool.

One of the things that we had discovered was that the hotel had a bowling alley - and we soon got into the 'habit' of having a game of bowling after dinner. Lots of fun, and with the bumpers in place, even the worst bowling attempts normally got some pins!

Mdina - the silent city

We caught a taxi to the old capital - Mdina, which sits on a hill in the middle of Malta. It is an old walled city, with very little traffic. Mdina was the capital city until the Knights of St John made the Grand Harbour and Valletta as the capital city, and Mdina was then used by Maltese aristocracy.

It is a beautiful old town, and we wandered around enjoying the views, and all the narrow alleyways.

We visited St Paul's Cathedral

We also visited the Cathedral Museum. The museum was undergoing renovations, so it was very dusty and difficult to get around. However all the pieces were still on display, along with all the dust...I could just imagine some curators shuddering at the exposure to all the dust going all over the pieces, and seeping in through the display cabinets.

After a few hours here it was back to Mellieha Bay and to the important stuff - to the beach and the pool!

Friday, 29 May 2009

English Rose to Comino

Probably our best experience in Malta was the boat cruise we took from Mellieha Bay around to the small island of Comino.

We set off at about 11:00, and we cruised up the coast, stopping to look at interesting rock formations, caves and the like. We rounded the small island, and the boat parked at the popular 'Blue Lagoon'. When the sun is out, the water is a fantastic turquoise (as it was when we were there). We swam, snorkelled and relaxed there for a couple of hours. Alexander enjoyed building a sand-castle on the beach, and Cameron enjoyed trying to catch some of the fish that called the lagoon home. He thought that the fish here were 'too intelligent' to get caught in a net. The water was about 3 metres deep, with lots of fish (and a few stinging jelly fish).

The boat stayed moored in the lagoon, and on board they had food and drink (at great prices). So we chilled, had lunch, and then jumped back in the water again to continue our fun!

Next we motored around to Crystal Bay, where we again stopped for a while. The water here was deeper, and there were lots of bigger fish to see. Phil swam through a jellyfish tentacle whilst snorkelling, and his shoulder was very red and sore - didn't stop him, though! After another hour of swimming and relaxing, the boat headed back to Mellieha Bay. As we crossed the small strait, the kids sat at the front with their legs dangling down. With the boat easing into waves, they were having a great time getting splashed. Cameron decided that goggles were better for this than glasses, and changed up. Several other kids thought this was a great idea, and followed suit!

We got back to the hotel after a fantastic day of relaxing, cruising and swimming.

Thursday, 28 May 2009

Malta - Mallieha Bay and Valetta

This year for our 'Summer' holiday, we headed off to Malta. After an uneventful trip, we arrived at our hotel and got ourselves settled in. We spent the afternoon on the beach - Not really any surf, but just what the kids want for swimming and playing!

In the 'European' tradition, the beach is covered with sun lounges. There is no space to sit or lie anywhere else - and as soon as you hop onto a sun lounge (or grab some shade from an umbrella) someone races across and asks for 10 Euros for 2 lounge chairs and an umbrella.

We found a small supermarket for 'supplies' (mainly chips/crisps and bottled water!). The first night we discovered a few things:
The air conditioning was gutless.
The mosquitoes were very attracted to the boys.
The night was more humid than the day.
Leaving the balcony door open was a sure way to get lots of mozzies!

The next morning the boys were scratching, and we had not had the worlds best sleep!

We headed into Valetta, the capital of Malta, using the local bus transportation system. These old yellow buses are famous as a symbol of Malta. They are dirt cheap to use, are covered in religious quotes (which always scares me, as I would like the driver to have a little less faith in God and a little more in his driving ability or his bus!)and run regularly from most places on the island to Valetta.

We had a great walking tour of Valetta,

These horse and buggies are everywhere, asking you to come aboard...the driveres were persistents, following you down the street...even when we said "No thanks, we prefer to walk", they would still follow and drop their prices!

Valetta is a tiny city, measuring only 600 metres by it really is an easy walk!

Our Lonely Planet guide suggested we do the walking tour along the outer forifications which would take 1 1/2 hours and offer "great views"...sadly the gates were closed to get up to the top of the city gates, it would have been a great view, so we wlaked ground level instead!

The views of the harbour were fabulous.

We went to the National War Museum During WW1, Malta was used as a military hospital, provding over 25,000 beds for casulties of Gallipoli.

It really gave an interesting context to Malta's role in WW2, as a harbour for submarines and a base for aircraft activities

The trip back to the hotel was a bit rougher than the one on the way to Valetta, and Alexander was getting a bit 'green around the gills' - he survived, though! On the bus we met a guy from Broadmeadows (another suburb of Melbourne) who was over visiting family. Small world. The bus needed to stop for petrol on the way home, so we had to wait 5 minutes to refuel!

We were back in time for a few hours by the pool, where Nicole read her notes for Uni and Phil read the story of Colditz Castle. The boys - spent all their time in the pool!

Nicole celebrated her birthday whilst we were in Malta, and with a sparkler in her plate of desserts from the buffet, and a bottle of sparklie thrown in by the hotel, she felt like a queen.

Wednesday, 20 May 2009

If technicolour makes you ill, look away now!

Here are our school photos for the year....I have nothing to say because I am astounded with this background!

Sunday, 17 May 2009

Alexander's 2nd movie

Here is Alexander's 2nd movie

144 photos

Saturday, 16 May 2009

Alexander's First Movie

Alexander's first movie with Movie Maker Software.
It has 197 photos altogther

Monday, 11 May 2009

60 Jahre Luftbrücke

60 Jahre Luftbrücke Celebration
link from RBB online click on the left hand side for video. About 23 seconds into the clip.

Tomorrow the choir will sing and hand out medals.

Stalin cut off all rail and road links to West Berlin - the Berlin Blockade. This was seen as an attempt to starve Berlin into surrender, so the Allies decided to supply West Berlin by air.
The Berlin Blockade lasted 318 days. During this time, 275,000 planes transported 1.5 million tons of supplies and a plane landed every three minutes at Berlin's Templehof airport.
On 12 May 1949, Stalin abandoned the blockade.
Here is a link to the BBC story and an interesting video.

and a report by our friend Steven

Saturday, 9 May 2009

Who looks at our blog...

Using the sidebar tool of NeoCounters, Feedjit and Blogcounters, we can see who/where our visitiors come from. Sometimes it is interesting to see what people's key search words link into our site. There was one last night that made me wonder, so I backtracked to find it. Naturally Natalia is a fan website for Natalie Tena....and we found our photo on there!

Sunday, 3 May 2009

A long weekend in Berlin

The May Day long weekend came around fast this year - we had planned to go away, but since it feels that we only have just arrived back from our trip to Wales, we decided to stay in Berlin.

On Thursday night we took the boys to the 'wrap party' for the movie that they took part in. Unfortunately, there was some delays in everyone getting there (they were filming a scene with a baby, and there was some issue with 'co-operation...) The boys and Lynes had a great time, playing table football, drinking Fanta and Sprite, and attacking the buffet.

Eventually most of the cast and crew arrived, but to the boys disappointment, Natalia, Matt and Michael were not there to say hi to. At 12:30 am, the boys were getting a bit tired so we headed off for home.

After a lazy Friday morning, we hopped on our bikes and rode to the Siegessäule(the Statue of Victory near the Brandenburg gate.) Although we have lived in Berlin for 4 years, we have never been up the monument (to historic victories over Denmark, Netherlands and France in the 1800's). With 285 steps (290 by the boys' count) we climbed up and had a magnificent view over Berlin.

After this we rode back to Charlottenburg, to the Lichtensee. It is a lovely lake in a park not too far from our house. We met Sonia and BJ there. The boys had a couple of hours playing in the park, in the glorious sunshine. Nicole, Sonia and Phil had a couple of coffees and enjoyed the fresh air (if a little dusty)

Saturday dawned beautifully sunny again. We took Alexander to theatre club, and whilst he was there, Cameron had some play time in a great park, we had a coffee and Nicole and Phil bought some new shoes (Phil had worn the soles out of his last pair with all the grit on the pavements for the snow). Later that afternoon we went across to Alan and Sonia's home for a relaxed afternoon, a few beers and some delicious chilli for dinner.

Sunday was more relaxed. We knocked around at home. After lunch, we all went out into the garden. The boys painted some great pictures for Phil's office, Nicole read her book and knitted, and Phil enjoyed watching the boys. Our new neighbors joined us with their 2 year old, and it was a relaxed, fun afternoon in the garden.

Overall, a relaxed weekend, with lots of family time, fresh air, friends and sunshine. Can't do much better than that...