Monday, September 21, 2015

Big 50 birthday trip- Day 4 Mon Sept 21st 2015

Happy birthday to me! We were all up bright and early as it was a normal work/school day for everyone else.

We grabbed some breakfast and then I had the chore of opening cards and presents :-)

My mum had found the tag from when I was born.

My sister had some cards made with photos on from when I was probably about 9 years old and some taken earlier this summer.

We drove the back roads to Gatwick airport and dropped off the hire car in time to have a coffee and wait for the Air Malta flight.

I'd not heard anyone speak Maltese and discovered that the flight crew spoke it very fast! It has some Arabic sounding words, and some Italian in there somewhere- probably Sicilian too but it's an impossible language to try and guess. The flight seemed to go quite quickly (2 hrs 40 minutes) and before we knew it we were walking off the plane to the terminal.
Hotel entrance

We were met by a driver from the hotel which makes the transfer so simple. He was a young man driving a BMW which we later discovered took some nerve in the tiny streets as it was a relatively big car. The drive took us out of the busier roads up to the center of the island to the ancient town of Medina. You are not allowed to drive into the city unless you have special permission and it was quite surreal to drive across the old city moat past all the tourists wondering who we were to be able to be driven in.

The hotel is the kind of place where they sit you down to have a refreshing drink while they check you on and take your bags up to the room... The drink was a local soda called 'Kinnie'-bitter sweet soft drink made from orange flavouring & aromatic herbs which apparently you love or hate. I really liked it.

We were led to our room which was not exactly a room either- more like a fabulous antique laden apartment on two floors, with a seating area downstairs and spiral staircase leading to a loft upstairs to sleep with a en-suite bathroom.

Downstairs looking from the spiral staircase

The upstairs loft sleeping area and bathroom.

The City of Medina is a walled city with narrow passageways built in the limestone that is all over Malta and I couldn't wait to take a look, so after unpacking we headed out to explore.

Medina Cathedral

That night we had at the roof top restaurant in the hotel. Originally we had an outdoor table with fabulous views but were then asked to move due to a mix up in the bookings- there was an outdoor event that was booked before us. However the staff more than made up for it with free drinks and excellent service. It was a great end to the day.

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Big 50 trip- Day 3 Sun Sept 20th 2015

Sunday morning was breakfast and fond farewell's to Mike and Cathy. This was followed by the road trip to my sisters house just outside Farnham in Surrey stopping off for coffee on route. Jane is having some work done on their house, so it is a little like camping there at the moment but it was what we expected and exciting to see some of the changes.

My mum and step dad Ron also drove down from Birmingham and all of us went for a walk with the dog down by the river to stretch our legs and make the most of another lovely day. This sign made me smile...

Wish there were!

That evening we went out for a lovely meal with the family in Farnham- complete with a surprise chocolate birthday cake covered in Maltesers- for my American friends, these are chocolate malt balls and a play on the fact that I was born in Malta.

Saturday, September 19, 2015

Big 50 trip- Day 2 Sat Sept 19th 2015

A great night's sleep followed by a 'Full English' is the perfect way to start a day in a new time zone :-). The boys spent the morning fixing bicycles while Cathy and I went into 'Bury' (St Edmunds) to take a quick look around the local market, grab a coffee and do a bit of shopping.

Where are we?
Love this!
Upon our return we all saddled up and set out to do the equivalent of our boozy bike tour (wineries where we live) by cycling around a couple of local Suffolk pubs. The weather was perfect and we managed two pubs and about 20 miles in a circular route in the beautiful British countryside. Dick was in heaven.

Home to another cup of tea and crumpets, followed by a not so traditional soak in a hot tub with a glass or two of bubbly for me. Let the celebrations begin!

Lovely Thai style curry cooked by Cathy, several glasses of wine and another relaxing evening. Great start to the holiday!

Friday, September 18, 2015

Big 50 trip- Day 1 Fri Sept 18th 2015

I'm not counting yesterday as it was basically a very early morning (due to Wellness screening at work) followed by crazy running around, a train trip to SFO and then the normal (though admittedly shorter than normal) flight to the UK. I do wish to note that I slept pretty well considering though!

The  flight arrived a little early and the car pick up at Avis was simple. We managed to get a Ford Focus which also makes life easier when you know all the car controls. The drive was the normal craziness around the M25 but a longer than usual stop off to get coffee. Turns out that the one place we chose happened to be where people stop to wait for the cell phone call to pick up at Stansted airport. Took probably 20 minutes to just get in and out of the place!

Got to Mike and Cathy's around 4pm- time for tea and crumpets :-) Then off to the pub for an early evening pint or two (Cathy knows us well!). A roast chicken dinner kept us going until Mike arrived home late from a conference in Italy.


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