Anda – an undiscovered paradise in Bohol

We took a bus from the bus terminal in Tagbilarean, close to the Island City Mall. It was a big green-yellow bus that had good seats and lot’s of space – going straight to Anda! Great. The ride was 80php per person, and took about 2 hours (100 km).

Local bus along the cost of Bohol!

Local bus along the cost of Bohol!

We thought we would have people offering us hotel when we got of the bus or something in Anda, but nothing – it was just a very sleepy small village center. A tricycle driver came to us and asked us where we had our accommodation, and we said we didn’t have anything booked yet.. And he was like ”oh, ok. There are some accommodations on that street there, you can walk there” and showed us where to go, about 100m away. We almost wanted to pay him just because he was so sweet and not annoying at all, haha.

We walked into 4 different accommodations, one was super fancy – like a small apartment with kitchen and everything, for about 1500 php per night, but the building didn’t have anything else but rooms, no hang out area or anything. The other three places were just a room with a bed in someone’s house, about 600 php per room. We looked a little bit online if there was some cheap resort here, and found one at Anda the Boracay offering a good price, about 1400 for a big room with sea view. We went there, but they didn’t have any rooms for less than 2000 php per night to offer, but we could still book it online for the cheaper price, so we did. Haha. So for 4 nights we are paying about 6100 pesos (118 euros/130 usd), which is quite good for this kind of luxurious accommodation! The resort has a pool, restaurant, massage, gym, shop and everything, and our room is perfect – with tv, AC, a really good bed with good pillows, bathroom, desk and everything. We are super happy we chose this place!

view from our porch, pool and beach!

view from our porch, pool and beach!

Our lovely room at Anda de Boracay Beach resort!

Our lovely room at Anda de Boracay Beach resort!

The pool was full of children when we arrived, it’s like the towns own local swimming pool, it costs 100php for them to use it. I like that this place isn’t exclusive and that the locals people can enjoy it too! ;)

After having a good dinner overlooking the sea, we walked along the Anda beach. We had some coffee at the only other restaurant/bar on the beach, the Old Castle. So happy to have real brewed coffee! And watch sunset :) The beach is really nice, it’s very tranquil since it’s not so much people here, and there is a breeze all the time, it was even a little bit chilly at night! Anda is really lovely, just what we had been looking for!!

 

Enjoying brewed coffee!

Enjoying brewed coffee!

Sunset by Anda beach

Sunset by Anda beach

At night, since it was Saturday, our resort had a live band playing there. When we checked in they told us if we were ok with the noice, ”yeah sure!” we said – and yeah, our room was just above where they were playing! Haha. So we sat by the restaurant having a few beers and watching the band. It was crowded with lots of local people, everybody in this town and the small towns next to Anda comes here for the weekends for some party :) They really like to party here in Philippines, more like hang out with a lot of people and drink beer – it’s true the philipinos are the latins of Asia, haha.

The band greeted us guests here, ”and Sofia Armenteros from Sweden” hehe. We were like 5 guests or something, the rest – over another 100 guests or more – were only locals enjoying their Saturday night here hehe. We had a bunch of guys talking to us and wanted us to dance haha, but we were happy to just sit and listen to the band.

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Hehe :)

Saturday - Band playing at the resort and people dancing by the pool :)

Saturday – Band playing at the resort and people dancing by the pool :)

Haha, this guy... he came to us about 20 times that night and talking about swimming to manila our something, he wasnt' that good at english and we didn't really understand what he wanted.. but he kept repeating the same thing everytime..

Haha, this guy… he came to us about 20 times that night and talking about swimming to manila our something, he wasnt’ that good at english and we didn’t really understand what he wanted.. but he kept repeating the same thing everytime..

Next day, a little hangover, we had a big breakfast at the café Coco Loco – yuuuuummmiiiiii!!! A little bit expensive, but so good with whole what brown bread and home made marmelade and everything. Loved the fruit, coffee, omelette… Just great! The owners are and english-slovakian couple with 2 kids, and they have been living here in Anda for 4 years!

Niiiiice breakfast!!!

Niiiiice breakfast!!!

We saw that they had vegetarian hamburgers there in the menu too, so we had to come back to eat dinner here! Twice! Hehe. I’ve been craving vegetarian hamburgers for a while now! :) We had a couple of artisanian beers from the Philippines, french fries and first night I had the sweet potato burger and Duilio had the beef hamburger. The second night I had the coconut burger :) Delicious!! Truly made with love.

In the evening they had some live music, a few guitars and singing, very small scale and acoustic, but it was cozy. All though they were drowned by the roosters that was just beside the house, and the karaoke from every house around. The philipinos really love the kareoke.. aaaall day singing, seriously, for like 6 hours in a row or even longer!

Me with my veggie hamburger, oh, I've been looking forward to this moment!

Me with my veggie hamburger, oh, I’ve been looking forward to this moment!

My vegetarian hamburger!!

My vegetarian hamburger!! This is the sweet potato one!

The disco toilet at Coco Loco! Hahah

The disco toilet at Coco Loco! Hahah

Tasting some artisanian local beer :)

Tasting some artisanian local beer :)

Coconut veg burger!

Coconut veg burger!

Sunday is a family day and the Anda beach is public and a lot of families and kids from the towns around Anda come to spend the whole day here, eating and enjoying some bath. Allthough the water is reeeeally shallow here, I couldn’t bath more than my feet, Duilio went out like 150 meters to have water up to his thies, haha. But another day there was actually a little higher, it changes a lot during the day too. But it’s nice, especially for kids :)

My bath. Hahah. Very shallow...

My bath. Hahah. Very shallow…

Duilio at Anda beach, and the kid writing in the sand!

Duilio at Anda beach, and the kid writing in the sand!

Anda beach, the kid wrote it in the sand :)

Anda beach, the kid wrote it in the sand :)

Duilio is also taking a nap...

Duilio is also taking a nap…

Haha... kid buried in sand and taking a nap

Haha… kid buried in sand and taking a nap too

We love Anda!

We love Anda!

Today it wasn't that shallow, I could actually bath my body if I laid down in the water :)

Today it wasn’t that shallow, I could actually bath my body if I laid down in the water :)

It’s still very quiet and peaceful in Anda, there are like 5 other tourists in Anda at the same time which we saw either in our resort, or in Coco Loco, or in the Old castle, like ”Ah, that’s the couple from the breakfast” ”ah, that’s the family from the beach” haha. :) You also see the same locals here, I love that they always greet ”Hello, good morning, how are you?” :) I got a lot of comments about my hair again, hehe. People can’t really believe it’s real haha.

We hung out quite much in the Old castle during the days and sat there in their sun chairs and had some juice or shake or coffee or ice cream haha. We also arranged the diving, Anda Divers have their office there.

Breakfast at the Old Castle, lovely! Love brown bread and vegetables... and the view!

Breakfast at the Old Castle, lovely! Love brown bread and vegetables… and the view!

Duilio, happy... with his pineapple shake and his book on the iPad... haha

Duilio, happy… with his pineapple shake and his book on the iPad… haha

It's windy enough to do kite surf here :) And kids play in the water all day!

It’s windy enough to do kite surf here :) And kids play in the water all day!

We went out for a 2-dive around the area of Anda, well, we had to take a van to another town about 10 minutes away from where the boat can actually anker to, because it’s to shallow here in Anda Beach. We were 5 divers and the instructor, well actually two of the divers were dive masters, german, and then one older man from France and me and Duilio. On the first dive the instructor and the french man dived together and me and Duilio went with the other two dive masters. We went down to about 25m along a wall, there is a place where there usually are many many different kind of sea horses, but it was quite current and sea horses are quite bad swimmers, they can’t hold on, so we only saw one :( We saw cuttlefish and nudy branches, and a a couple of turtles too :)The visibility wasn’t so good on the first dive.

That's a cuttle fish! It's really camouflaged

That’s a cuttle fish! It’s really camouflaged

A long.. sea horse I think

A long.. sea horse I think

Why do they look so funny... hahah. I love them.

Why do they look so funny… hahah. I love them.

Duilio sharing air with the dive master.. as always.. hehe

Duilio sharing air with the dive master.. as always.. hehe

 

The second dive spot was in ”Coral Garden”, and it really was a coral garden. Beautiful – so many different kind of corals everywhere – in all colors and shapes. And here we saw many many turtles! They like to hang out there, so we could really be close to them, like 1-2 meters, very cool. The visibility was a lot better on the second dive too, so we enjoyed it more.

Many different corals, the dive spot is called "Coral garden" :)

Many different corals, the dive spot is called ”Coral garden” :)

More turtles :) So many here!

More turtles :) So many here!

Turtle with friend :)

Turtle with friend :)

Duilio happy with the dive computer :)

Duilio happy with the dive computer :)

It looks like an owl!!

It looks like an owl!!

Turtle! :)

Turtle! :)

Many corals here, in all colors! Haven't seen so much bright pink before..

Many corals here, in all colors! Haven’t seen so much bright pink before..

We were supposed to be back around 13-14, but instead the boat took us to the dive resort that the dive shop has and where the germans where staying, which wasn’t even in Anda, we had a few beers and wrote or dive logs there, and then we took the van back to us, about 40 minutes drive or something. So we weren’t back until 17. The owner Michael was very sorry for this, he was waiting for us at the place where he dropped us of, wondering where we were, haha.

But it was ok for us, much longer day than expected, we had only bought some fruit to eat in between the dives since we thought we were going to eat lunch around 14, so when we got back we were quite hungry. We tried the ”Food court” they have here in town, and it was great! They had like 20 different dishes to choose from, half of them vegetarian, and 30php per serving. So for both of us we paid a total of 140php for lunch (3 euro/usd). :)

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Having lunch at the local food court :)

There isn’t much to do in Anda, just relax. There is a couple of attractions, one of them visiting a small island where there is some witch thing, we had plans on doing that but in the end we didn’t.. haha. Time passes by really quickly. We spent 4 days in Anda and one day of them diving, the rest of the days the plan was something like ”we eat breakfast there, then we go to the beach, then we have a massage/eat lunch or dinner/do some henna tattoos” haha. It was very nice!

So yeah, we got a massage in our resort, ahh, so nice! It was Duilios first massage ever, haha. Full body for 1 hour was 500 php, about 10 euros/usd.

Got some massage today!! Hehehe.. about 300 php for one hour full body. :)

Got some massage today!! Hehehe.. about 300 php for one hour full body. :)

I really don’t understand how they can make profit on this resort, because it’s at least 20 people working there during the day (reception, boutique, restaurant, bar, gardening, pool cleaning, security, massage etc) but there are only very few guests here!

It’s probably during the weekend when all the locals go to see the band that they earn money maybe. I don’t know. We felt a little bad about not using the restaurant that much, we had to pass by the restaurant from our room to go out from the resort, and the staff is very sweet and friendly. There were always like 3 staff members sitting there waiting for customers… we didn’t use it much because the breakfast wasn’t so good and they only had one vegetarian option for lunch/dinner, but we had a few coffees there at least.. haha.

And we both did henna tattoos – there is one artist by the beach, he is from Manila but he comes to Anda for long vacations about 2-3 months every year, you can see him by the beach doing poi when he doesn’t have any henna costumers, hehe. The henna was different from the one I had in India, this is darker but still lasts for 3 weeks, and I had my whole back done! I showed some reference pictures and let him do what we wanted, took a couple of hours, but the artist said it was his master piece :) Duilio had 2 smaller ones, one with a ”philippine sun” and another with a turtle. :)

Poi and guitar at the beach!

Poi and guitar at the beach!

The sketch over my back tattoo hehe

The sketch over my back tattoo hehe, still in daylight!

Lovely henna back tattoo :) Might do it permanent one day.. heheh

The result a few hours later! Lovely henna back tattoo :) Might do it permanent one day.. heheh

Me and Duilio are very satisfied with our henna tattoos :)

Me and Duilio are very satisfied with our henna tattoos :)

We were really sad to leave Anda, we could easily have stayed 1 week… but the direct ferrys direct to Camiguin only leaves Monday, Wednesday and Friday at 1pm from Jagna, so we wanted to take it on Wednesday and stay for 5 days. It’s Duilios last destination before heading back home.

We took a bus in the morning to Jagna, about 1 hour from Anda.. But guess what – once we are there we get to know that the ferry was cancelled!!! We couldn’t believe it… it was because it’s ”holy week” or easter, and apparently a lot of people go to visit their families or to spend the holidays in Camiguin, they have a pilgrimage there during these days. And there is only one ferry, which they had taken from another city instead of from Jagna… so typical!! We were like… ”Fuck, we could have stayed in Anda 2 more days!!” It definitively would have been the best option to go back..

So we didn’t really know what to do. We met a polish couple there that also where supposed to take the ferry to Camiguin. They told us that they had talked to the travel office and they said that you can rent a private boat for about 5000php to get to Camiguin, but there is some problems with the coast guard, they don’t allow private boats to do it.. The other option was to take a ferry at 10pm instead to Cagayan de Oro, about 8 hours away, and from there take a 2 hour bus to a port, from where there were ferrys going to Camiguin… So we wouldn’t be there until next day around noon.

A Philipino lady that also needed to get to Camiguin to visit her family for easter, started to arrange a boat for us together with another french girl there. She spoke perfect english and philipino, and talked to some local people there that could fix a bout that could take up to 8 people and that it would be 1000php per person… Ok, so we went to a fishing village next to Jagna from where we would get the boat. We thought it was going to be a bigger bungo boat, like the ones we used for diving… But it reeeeally was a very very small boat, there was no sun shade and there wasn’t even a place for us to sit in, we sat on the proa! At first we thought we would take this little boat out to a bigger boat, because there were bigger fishing boats docked in the middle, but no, it was this boat going the whole way!! And it was about a 3 hour journey.

The guys taking the boat to the water! Haha

The guys taking the boat to the water! Haha

Not completely sure about this...

Not completely sure about this…

The big fishing boat... 6 travelers and 2 fishing men, crazy! This is on our way back to safety!

The big fishing boat… 6 travelers and 2 fishing men, crazy! This is on our way back to safety!

We had put all our backpacks in plastic bags inside the boat, but once we got out a couple of hundred meters from the shore, it was quite wavy and water kept coming in all the time in the boat, and we were already completely wet and I really didn’t feel ok with this, we were over weighted and it was very crazy, if we would have some motor problems or something we would probably go under.

I said to Duilio ”Duilio, this is crazy, I we should go back now before it’s too late, don’t you?” and he said ”YES PLEASE!” he was super scared. I asked the other people if they were ok about going back, at least we would, and they were all ”Yes yes yes!” haha. So yeah, we turned back. I think even the philipino lady was happy about it.

We had paid 2000php in advance for the gasoline, which we said they could keep (I think 1000 of them was for muting the coast guard or something), but we just felt that it was the right decision, that we get to live another day. :) Duilio was still all shaky about this. So we went back to the port in Jagna and bought the tickets to Cagayan the oro at 10pm for 570php each. Then we went to a café and sat there for about 8 hours haha.

Halo halo, the typical dessert here in Philippines! The white thing on top is actually real cheese... wierd!

Halo halo, the typical dessert here in Philippines! The white thing on top is actually real cheese… wierd!

Once in the ferry we were surprised to find it was a sleeping ferry! So it had bunk beds! Yay! We are happy we got there at 8pm because you could border the ferry before. I felt asleep early, super tired. We arrived in Cagayan a little before 6am, saw a beautiful sunrise.

In the sleeping ferry to Cagayan d oro!

In the sleeping ferry to Cagayan d oro!

Arriving in Cagayan - sun is about to come up!

Arriving in Cagayan – sun is about to come up!

We got a jeepney for 10php each to the bus terminal and from there a van for 150php to Baligoan port, from where the ferrys were leaving to Camiguin. The van was quick, took only 1,5 hours to reach the port…. And…. Disaster. There was a looong que to the ticket booth.

I had previously arranged with our contacts of the house we are renting through airbnb in Caminguin to meet up at 11am, if it would have been a regular day, that’s when we where supposed to arrive. But there where literally thousands of philipinos in cue to get to Camiguin. We started queing 7.30am and at 6pm we finally boarded the ferry that took us to Camiguin, at that ferry only takes one hour. It was crazy. You could see Camiguin from the port, it would have been quicker to swim there!

Waiting in line... sometimes we didnt move for over 30 minutes! This was after about 2 hours in line... .still 9 left!!

Waiting in line… sometimes we didnt move for over 30 minutes! This was after about 2 hours in line… .still 9 hours left!!

Duilio starting to get really tired.... little did he know that there were still 4 hours left haha

Duilio starting to get really tired…. little did he know that there were still 4 hours left haha

I was truly surprised that the Filipinos were in such a good mood! Like happy, talking, waiting without pushing or anything, just staying there in line. And they only have a couple of days of, so waiting 11 hours for a 1 hour ferry ride across the sea should be harder for them then for us, because we have months! We were tired and hungry and just wanted to arrive, but they didn’t show it.. Such a different mentality.

We thought we got to the end of the line, and then we came to this waiting area - crazy!! Took 2 hours to get through this...

We thought we got to the end of the line, and then we came to this waiting area – crazy!! Took 2 hours to get through this…

In the end of the waiting hall you had to get "numbers" on paper, and after they called the numbers to get to the other waiting area for yet another hours wait... Crazy!

In the end of the waiting hall you had to get ”numbers” on paper, and after they called the numbers to get to the other waiting area for yet another hours wait… Crazy!

But yeah, we are aware of how bad this was organized, like really, the worst. Everything was suuuuuper slow, and just completely.. bad. One ticket booth for maybe 3000 travelers… Stupid!!! When we left, there was still about another thousand people waiting to cross… Really crazy!! So after this experience, yes, we would definitively have enjoyed to turn back to Anda and stay 2 more nights and take the direct ferry on Friday instead, with less hustle. But but….. an experience too.

 

Well… next post will be about Camiguin :)

 

 

Enjoying Bohol on a scooter

The journey from Dumaguete to Tagbilaran in Bohol was about 1 hour and 45 minutes. It was the nicest ferry we have taken so far, big and comfortable!

The ferry from Dumaguete to Tagbilaran - big and comfortable!! We got our own seats, they where showing a movie and selling some snacks.. very nice!

The ferry from Dumaguete to Tagbilaran – big and comfortable!! We got our own seats, they where showing a movie and selling some snacks.. very nice!

When we arrived in the pier in Tagbilaran we grabbed our backpacks from the storage and walked outside – boom – all the taxi and tricycle drivers jumped us, and followed us all the way up to the street! They are really a pain in the ass sometimes. One van driver said he could take us to Loboc, where we were going to stay,for ”only 800php” but when we kept walking and saying ”no thanks” he ended up offering it at 300 php, haha.

Up from the road we took a tricycle for 60php – We bargained it down from 100 php, thinking the bus terminal was just around the corner, but it was actually quite far away! Philipinos always say ”just 1 or 2 kilometers away” but it felt much longer.

Tagbilaran is the capital of Bohol, and it’s only city. There was quite much traffic and many university students everywhere! Once at the Island City Mall, we took a jeepney to loboc, about 1,5 hour, which costed us 27php per person (0,50 euro or usd). Quite cheap :)

We arrived in Loboc, 24 kms inland from Tagbilaran and one of Bohol oldest towns. We crossed the bridge over the loboc river to get to our accomodation – Stefanie Grace Paradise Inn. It was not where it was pointed out on google maps, as nothing never is here in the Philippines, but we found it in the end.

On our way there we passed by a lady singing karaoke in her yard, you can hear it kilometers away. Philipinos LOVE karaoke, it’s everywhere, and they are not ashamed at all, sometimes they are good singers, but mostly not, and literally the whole neighborhood and more can hear it too. But it’s funny.

The staff at Stefanies was suuuper friendly, showed us our room – which was very basic, the bed was really uncomfortable and squeaked all the time, but the place it self was nice – it had a pool, a restaurant, a small shop, and a view over the loboc river.

Morning view over the loboc river lake!

Morning view over the loboc river lake!

Duilio going in to our room at Stefanies

Duilio going in to our room at Stefanies

We were hungry and had dinner there, I had some vegetables for 100php and Duilio had some fish, and then they asked us if we wanted to do a firefly boat tour along the loboc river, because there was another couple doing it that night. The price was 350php per person. We said sure, and the boat came to pick up right there at Stefanies by the river! :)

We went out for a small tour down the river for about 1,5 hours – I really enjoyed it, we were only 4 people plus the captain. He himself had started this firefly river tours a long time ago, but now it has become quite big. I saw fireflies for the first time in my life, there where hundred or thousands of them, and they all hanged out around the same tree, so it looked like a christmas tree! Super cool.

Fireflies!! I don't really have the best camera for night pictures, but you can still see something there! :P

Fireflies!! I don’t really have the best camera for night pictures, but you can still see something there if you have it at maximum brightness! :P

Fireflies!! I don't really have the best camera for night pictures, but you can still see something there! :P

Fireflies!! I don’t really have the best camera for night pictures, but you can still see something there if you have it at maximum brightness! :P

 

Next day we started with a nice breakfast there at Stefanies.  We had arranged to rent a scooter for 500php for a full day, and the scooter with keys was there at Stefanies in the morning, super comfortable that they can offer everything from here, we didn’t have to move anywhere haha. They are truly friendly and helpful at this accommodation. The owner spoke portuñol, he had been living in Brazil for 9 years and then 30 years in the states, before retiring back to his hometown here in Loboc. Well, he couldn’t just ”retire and do nothing”, so he started this instead :) He helped us with what we should visit and gave us a map over bohol.

some people doing stand up paddle around 8am on the loboc river

some people doing stand up paddle around 8am on the loboc river

We went up to Carmen to see the Chocolate hills, and on our way we passed by beautiful green grass fields and the stunning Mahogny man-made forest in Bilar. It’s about 2 kilometers densely planted mahogny treets, shady and chilly but really beautiful.

Around bohol, huge houses and big farm lands

Around bohol, huge houses and big farm lands

The beautiful mahogny man-made forest!

The beautiful mahogny man-made forest!

We kept driving up to Carmen, passing by many locals, always smiling and waving to you when you pass by, and it’s not only kids – also the construction workers! So cute. It still amazes me how friendly people are here.

After around one hour on the scooter we finally arrived to the famous Chocolate hills, we paid the entrance fee of 50php and climbed up some steps to the top of a hill, where we had a 360 degree view over the hills – there are over 1200 hills spread over an area around 50 square kilometers. It’s called the chocolate hills because of the color they get during dry season, which makes them look like chocolate, but when we were there there were mostly green hills :)

Drying wheat in the heat that they have harvested

Drying wheat in the heat that they have harvested

A cementary!

A cementary!

View over the chocolate hills and the nature around Bohol

View over the chocolate hills and the nature around Bohol

The mandatory picture in front of the chocolate hills :)

The mandatory picture in front of the chocolate hills :)

The chocolate hills

The chocolate hills

On our way back we stopped at Bilar looking for the butterfly sanctuary, which we couldn’t find on our way there, and barely on our way back either – once again said it should be on one site on google maps but was at another place, haha. They are not so good with signs here either!!

Very typical. The red dot is where it is supposed to be, but the blue dot is where it actually is.

Very typical. The red dot is where it is supposed to be, but the blue dot is where it actually is.

We couldn’t find it either because it only said ”Habitat”, nothing wit butterflies. It was interesting, they give you a small tour explaining about all the phases of a butterfly and how they help them grow and survive there. It was ok, I love butterflies and I had heard good about this place so I had high expectations, but it was very small and they only had 2 different kinds of butterfly now (changes depending on season). But still, I learned a lot. I didn’t know a butterfly only lived for 21 days! :(

Close up of a butterfly at the sanctuary

Close up of a butterfly at the sanctuary

Butterfly at the butterfly sanctuary

Butterfly at the butterfly sanctuary

While having a coffee break at the butterfly sanctuary, a cat just jumped up to duilios lap. I gave him half my muffin that wasn't so good.. haha.

While having a coffee break at the butterfly sanctuary, a cat just jumped up to duilios lap. I gave him half my muffin that wasn’t so good.. haha.

After a coffee break we went to Corella, another small inland town closer to Tagbilaran. There we visited the Tarsier Sanctuary, where tarsiers are observed and protected. They are freely living there in a natural habitat. There is another Tarsier place in Loboc but there the tarsiers are not free and feels very bad about being in captivity, so we didn’t want to go to that place.

Here it was really nice, it’s a big forest/park and there where only 5 tarsiers living there in different areas of the park. You are not allowed to touch them or to speak highly there, which is good.

The tarsier sanctuary in Corella, or the research center.

The tarsier sanctuary in Corella, or the research center.

 

Now you know!

Now you know!

Tarsiers are the smallest primates in the world, a fully grown tarsier weights maximum 150 grams! They have bigger eyes than their brain, and long tails – they look like a mix between a monkey, a bat and a rat haha. But they are super cute!

They are nocturnal animals, thats when they move and hunt their food (they eat mostly insects and butterflies) – but during the day they sleep and don’t move, I was very surprised in the beginning how the guide could find them in the forest since they are so tiny and hidden! But the guide told us that they are very territorial so they always hang out at the same spot during the day.They go out hunting at night, and then they come back to the exact same tree for the day.

Where is the tarsier? :) (Look for the eyes!)

Where is the tarsier? :) (Look for the eyes!)

Sleeping tarsier!

Sleeping tarsier!

A cute tarsier who opened his eyes!

A cute tarsier who opened his eyes!

Now, before saying ”aaaww, bring me one home!!” – As me and all my friends say when looking at a tarsier, you should now that they are very shy and scared animals. They live completely alone except for the first 6 months of their life when they live with their mother, after that they go separate ways and never in groups with other tarsiers, the only time they ”hang out” with another tarsier is when they are mating, it only happens once a year and for about 10-15 seconds. So yes, they are very lonely and like to be lonely.

When they are scared or held in captivity, they commit suicide, banging their soft skull head against some hard object.. So sad! So please no, don’t touch them or hold them or captivate them, they will literally kill themselves then.

The bones of a tarsier, it's like a mini dinosaur!! So tiny! And look at the size of the eyeballs!

The bones of a tarsier, it’s like a mini dinosaur!! So tiny! And look at the size of the eyeballs!

Read!

Read!

After the Tarsier sanctuary we started to move to Sevilla to go to Sipatan twin hanging bridge, said to be one of the most dangerous bridges around here. From Corella we followed a sign to Sevilla to get there, and got in to our first bumpy and not cemented road here in Bohol. We were all covered in dust and our asses were soar when we finally arrived at the bamboo bridge, which was in the end of the road. It’s just a couple of kilometers in if you take the road from the other side – from Loboc, which I guess everyone else does, since we didn’t meet a single vehicle on our 9 kms on the road from the other side. Haha.

You pay 20 php to cross the 40 m long bridge. They have 2 bridges, one to cross to the other side, and the other for the way back. And on the other side they also have some handicraft store and refreshment booths (I bought a coconut, very much needed) before taking the bridge back. The bridge was build after the second world war to help local residents transport their farm products across the Sevilla river. What was before rope has been reinforced with steel wire cables for the security and stability. Sure it’s a little different to cross this kind of bridge than a concrete one, since it’s swaying and bouncing, but it didn’t really feel dangerous :)

Hehe... passing by albuqurque, Breaking Bad!

Hehe… passing by albuquerque, the hometown of Breaking Bad, on our way to sevilla :)

DCIM100GOPROGOPR0985.

On the Sipatan twin hanging bridge :)

The bridge

The bridge

We took the scooter back to Bohol and passed by the Loboc Adventure Park, so we stopped there to do the famous zipline over the Loboc river. It costs 350 pesos and you do it twice, one to cross to one side and the other to return. It was Duilios first Zipline, I thought maybe he would be afraid since he really hates rollercoasters, bu the enjoyed the zipline and was all euphorios about it! Haha. Nice experience, I felt like superman!

Ziplining over the loboc river! :)

Ziplining over the loboc river! :)

After that we were tired and had done everything we wanted to do in Bohol, so went back home, filled up the scooter with gasoline (about 80php – 1,5 euro/usd – after driving over 100km!).

We were completely covered in dirt and dust, so we took a bath in the pool (with a shower prior to it) – aaah, so good to feel completely weightless! Haha. Then we bought a wine and some chips at the shop and had it outside overlooking the sunset on the river, delightful! Then we finally had dinner :) I tried the Chop suey, which was the only other vegetarian plate they had, but it looked exaclty the same as the vegetables the day before, haha.

Our pool at stefanies! ahhh!

Our pool at stefanies! ahhh!

Sunset view from Stefanies porch... so nice!

Sunset view from Stefanies porch… so nice!

This is life!

This is life!

I was so tired so I fell asleep like 8pm or something, and slept until next morning!

After breakfast and some internet time (internet is fast at Stefanies!), we checked out. The owner drove us to the jeepney station in his car – once again – so sweet!! We where very thankful since walking a couple of kilometers in over 30 degrees with backpacks wasn’t something we were looking forward to, haha.

He also explained for the driver where to drop us of so we could go to Panglao, and it wasn’t the same place as where we took the jeepney to Loboc from. We just stopped somewhere and switched jeepney to another going over to Panglao.
More info about that in the next entry from Panglao!

A typical jeepney :)

A typical jeepney :)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Snorkeling with Whale Sharks in Oslob, Cebu

After arriving in the airport in Cebu we went straight to Oslob. We were looking for a taxi to the southern bus terminal, where there are buses to Oslob.

In the airport the information desk said ”go down to the taxi station” but we went out instead, and found a taxi driver there instead. We had to walk about 5 minutes to the taxi though, but it’s a lot cheaper than taking it from the proper airport terminal.

We dealed a taxi to take us the whole way, mostly because there was a lot of traffic and we weren’t that keen on arriving in Oslob about 8 hours later, haha. It takes at least 1 hour to get to the bus terminal from the airport, and a lot of more hours with bus to Oslob. Instead we paid 2500php and it took about 3 hours to Oslob, of which 2 where just to get out of Cebu. And we passed by maaaany buses to Oslob along the way, so glad we had taken the taxi. :)

Cebu is a big city with a lot of vehicles and the highway consists of two lanes, one in each direction. This highway is also the only road along the villages on the way down to Oslob, so there are buses, cars, bicicles and tricycles on the road. It took forever. It’s actually just about 100 km away….

The drive was quite bumpy. Our driver wasn’t the best, it felt like he was the only one honking all the time. The sun went down and he had his high beam on all the time. I understand it’s easier to see the pedestrians along the sides, but he got a lot of angry signals from the meeting traffic. Every time we passed by a church he touched the cross hanging in the mirror and prayed.

We finally arrived around 8pm and we were hungry and quite tired. We stayed at Germaroze Guesthouse, and it was beautiful! A big house just by the sea, with a huge saloon with sofas and tables and framed family pictures of kids and grandchildren. It felt like we were at my grandmother’s house or something. The room was fantastic too, clean, with AC, nicely decorated and the best was the big and comfortable bed. We were just above the ocean so we could hear the waves super clearly too.

Our room at Germaroze Guesthouse, lovely! So confy bed!

Our room at Germaroze Guesthouse, lovely! So confy bed!

The saloon at Germaroze guesthouse

The saloon at Germaroze guesthouse

But before enjoying the bed we walked about 700m to the center of the town to find some food. Cute kids along the way waiving and saying ”Hiiii”, but the town center was really… nothing. This is a small town, it has around 25.000 habitants. There were some stands outside with food – but ONLY meat – a couple of kiosks and one restaurant – for the tourists I guess, and they had 1 vegetarian plate. The food and the beer were super cheap, half price from Coron and El Nido!

The town center of Oslob with the food stands

The town center of Oslob with the food stands

Having dinner at the only restaurant in Oslob. Duilio and the ass.

Having dinner at the only restaurant in Oslob. Duilio and the ass.

Then we finally enjoyed a couple of hours nice sleep before waking up at 5.30.
We had coffee and buns we got in the bakery last night and enjoyed the beautiful sunrise.

The sunrise at 6am at our hotel..

The sunrise at 6am at our hotel..

We took a tricycle from the guesthouse to Tan-Awan, about 10 kms to the south of Oslob, where you can snorkel with whale sharks.

Whale sharks and the largest known extant fish species, and they are friendly, slow-moving filter feeding sharks who mostly eat plankton.

We had a briefing about the rules – don’t go closer than 4 meters, don’t touch them, don’t use flash on the camera, don’t wear sun lotion etc. After the briefing you pay for your ticket (good, so everyone does the briefing first – but of course there’s always one or two stupid who have to disobey). After that you get your snorkel and then you jump into a small boat and go out to the ocean.

The rules

The rules

You have about 30 minutes to snorkel with whale sharks. And wow! Amaaaazing creatures. Local fishermen feed them there in the morning so there is a 99% possibility to see whale sharks. And we did! They are so cute! And really big. They can reach about 12 meters, but the ones we saw was about 4-6 meters I think, but still, only the mouth was like 1 meter wide.

We saw maybe 3 or 4 sharks, difficult to say since they weren’t all there at the same time.

Selfie with a whale shark!

Selfie with a whale shark!

Duilios selfie with the whale shark

Duilios selfie with the whale shark

So cute! Whale shark eating

So cute! Whale shark eating

This one passed just under me! huge!

This one passed just under me! huge!

Whale shark under our boat

Whale shark under our boat

There were many tourists around, it felt a little chaotic sometimes, especially one older man that had to go really close (not respecting the 4m distance at all) and take selfies. I’m both amazed and feel a little bit sad that this is a tourist attraction, but the whale sharks are free to come and go, and they come, so it can’t be too bad for them I hope.

For the town Oslob it has put it on the map though
, and you can see that there are many constructions going on around and new dive shops and hotels/guest houses opening.

The boats to the left are the snorkelers, and the ones to the right are the local fishermen giving food to the whale sharks

The boats to the left are the snorkelers, and the ones to the right are the local fishermen giving food to the whale sharks

We were finished about 7am in the morning, and took the same tricycle back – our driver Emanuel Luna who was very kind and chatty – waited for us during the whole time and guarded our bags :)

We had our second breakfast at the Germaroze guesthouse together with Dave and Lindsay from Holland who also did the snorkeling with us, and then we enjoyed our room a little longer, had a shower, packed our bags, slept a little bit – the check out wasn’t until 12 ;)

We checked out and took our bags and moved to the other side of the road waiting for the yellow Ceres bus going south down to Liloan. It passes by every 30 minutes and we waited for about 20 minutes, and you just wave at it for it to stop :) The bus ticket 32php each and took us to the southern tip of the Cebu island, from where we took a ferry over to Negros island for 62php each.

 

Next destination: Dauin, where we are going to dive and do the advanced open water diving course!

Discovering historical Belém and Lisbons nightlife

Note: This post is from April 2015

After breakfast we walked down to the station Cais do Sodre. We bought a so called ”Zapping card” – 5 euros, and you can travel with every transport within Lisbon, even to Sintra and Cascais. Today we were going to Belem, so we took the Tram 15 to Belen. There were SO LONG cues and the tram was completely filled. Poor people that lives there and have do deal with all us tourists!

So Belém is famous as the place from which many of the great Portuguese explorers set off on their discovery voyages, like to India and Brazil. It is also a former royal residence and features the 17th–18th century Belém Palace, now occupied by the President of Portugal.

In the gardens and fountains in front of the Jeronimo Monastery

In the gardens and fountains in front of the Jeronimo Monastery

The cues outside the Jeronimo Monastery

The cues outside the Jeronimo Monastery

Once there we saw some very long cues at Dos Jeronimos, were we wanted to enter. So we thought, maybe a little bit later. Instead we walked down to Torre de Belém.

On our way there we passed by some big monuments, like the Padrão dos Descobrimentos (Monument of discoveries).

The Belém tower was built as a fortified lighthouse from the 1500 and made to guard the entrance to the port. It’s been a military outpost built to protect from Pirates and enemy attacks.  It’s a beautiful little tower on a small island in the Tagus-river, attached to the mainland with a small bridge, but the cueues were also sooo long…. So we just watched it from outside and walked along the path and the port. More people tried to sell us weed and stuff again.

The Stone of the discoveries. Huge!

The Stone of the discoveries. Huge!

The Tower of Belém, from the 1500, a military outpost to protect from pirates and enemies

The Tower of Belém, from the 1500, a military outpost to protect from pirates and enemies

Cute turquoise house down the port

Cute turquoise house down the port

We walked back to Mosteiro Dos Jeronimos again, and there were not fully that long cues now, but enought. While Duilio was in the cue I went to buy us some really nice sandwiches, some beer and some pastel de nata. That’s the good thing about being 2 who travel.

Inside it was a quite fantastic place. The Tower of Belém was party built to defend this place. There are so many details, I loved the roof.
There are different saloons with history and it was a pleasant stay. All though I do not recommend to visit the Chapel, which you have to make yet another cue to go in there, and is definitively not worth it, just a dark room.
Both the Belém-Tower and the Monastery is listed by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site.

Inside the Monastery. Really cool!

Inside the Monastery. Really cool!

The roofs around the monastery are spectacular!

The roofs around the monastery are spectacular!

We enjoyed our first Pastel de Nata inside the Monastery :)

We enjoyed our first Pastel de Nata inside the Monastery :)

We walked around a bit and found a nice park where we watched people and then took a siesta. It was a nice park with a lot of people around, we were asked about 2 or 3 times from different kids sport teams if we wanted to buy some lottery or something. Cute :)
I made some macramé bracelets and Duilio got together with a bunch of guys playing fotball. :)

Duilio joined a team and played some fotball

Duilio joined a team and played some fotball

We took the tram back and walked up the hill to Bairro Alto. We went into a coffee shop just beside our hostel and hade some ”fika” – Pastel de coco, sandwich of mortadela and 2 coffees for 5,6 euro. Totally ok, in Sweden it would be around 17 euros :)

Went home and showered again after yet another sweaty day, and then we met up with my mothers friend Filippa who is now living in Lisboa with her Portuguese ”boyfriend”Jose or ”Ze” as they say to all the Joses here.

We walked to the Alafama area and ate at a restaurant, we sat outside which was a little bit chilly actually (and no seat cushions), but it was ok :) We had some Vino Verdhe for the first time, really good wine!

We all talked in ”Portuñol” – which is a mix between Spanish and Portuguese, since all of us didn’t speak the same language. We talked about the traffic, politics, the differences between Portugal, Spain and Sweden. It was a very interesting and pleasant evening. We also brought them a swedish ”Påskägg” – a big egg filled with Swedish candy, which was appreciated :)

Dinner in Alafama with Zé and Filippa

Dinner in Alafama with Zé and Filippa

My vegetarian dinner

My vegetarian dinner.. not o much to brag about, but no meat, thats good ;)

After we said our goodbyes me and Duilio walked back to our hostel, we made a stop at Cafe A Brasileria in Baixa/Chiado area , it’s one of the oldest and famous cafés in the old Lisbon. It opened 1905 :) We had some Vermut there.

Having some Vermut in Cafe A Brasileira

Having some Vermut in Cafe A Brasileira

Then we walked to Bairro Alto and went higher up to visit the lively night neighborhood. It has small streets, it’s full of people and it’s packed with a high variety of bars. On weeknights bars close at 2 am, weekends at 3 am. There was people literally eeeeeverywhere!

It’s like a big street party, you go in to a bar and order something, and then bring it out and drink it out on the streets. Haha. We first sat down in a place and tried some more local liquors like ”Licor de Beirao”, but then we just ordered from some bars and took it with us around the streets and some people-watching. One Moragnoska and one beer costed 8 euros. Totally ok once again :) (swedish price would be around 20 euros).

In the lively streets of Bairro Alto at night

In the lively streets of Bairro Alto at night

 

Time to go again….

Hi again!

A few days ago I checked the statistics of this blog, which I haven’t updated in a couple of years with more then a couple of posts.. and guess if I was surprised over to see that some travelers out there actually are still reading my blog :) I have about 20-30 visitors per day, that’s very very very fun to see, you are so welcome! :)

So… why have I been so quiet? Well… When I started blogging, it was mainly to have as a diary and to give updates to friends and family while I was traveling. I did this on my 1 year trip to South America during 2013. After that I came back to Sweden with an Argentinian boyfriend who I met during my trip in Mexico and we have started to settle down in our apartment here in Sweden now after 2 years living together and he has just received his permanent residence permit in Sweden :) We are super happy!

We have only been able to do a few short trips during these years due to our economy, so we visited Malta and Spain in 2014 and Portugal and Argentina in 2015. We have actually been in Spain plenty of times since it’s close and I have family there. So the first time was to visit my Spanish family and travel around by car in Spain, then to visit family again, then actually it was my Swedish family that went to Barcelona to celebrate my mother turning into 60 years, and then also this for Christmas to meet up with the whole Spanish family!

Anyhow. We have been planning for a little bit longer trip now soon outside Europe – and it’s not much time left until we leave!! Today we took up our old backpacks from the cellar and started to sew what was broken on them and checked our travel gear to see if we need to update anything (yes we do).

The past few weeks we have been taking vaccinations (going to a new continent = lots of new injections) and applied for visas.

So… I’m happy to inform you that… WE ARE GOING TO ASIA!! Yaaay!
I think nobody is happy about this except for ourselves, but anyways…  (Right mum?;)

I’m leaving for India the 1st of February and I’ll be there for 3 weeks visiting Delhi, Agra, Jaipur and Goa. Then I’m flying over to the Philippines where I’m meeting up with Duilio who comes straight from Sweden, and we are spending 7 weeks on beautiful islands doing lots of diving and snorkeling! :)

Sooo… Now I’ve started to write a little bit again, let’s hope I can update something while I’m away, I’ve heard the internet connection is REAALLY bad in the Philippines.. so we’ll see if I manage :)

Byyee, take care!!

 

Doing snorkel in Tulum

Doing snorkel together in Tulum, Mexico, February 2013. Here we had only known each other for 3 weeks!!

My favorite hidden gems in South America

After a year traveling around Central & South America, these are the places I liked the most. Since they are not very well-known, I’d like to call them ”my hidden gems”.

These ”cities” are very down-to-earth and laid-back places where I have felt something special inside, like a bubbling feeling of happiness, calmness and fulfillness.

 

1. — Holbox – Mexico —

The beach at Holbox

The beach at Holbox

Sunset in Holbox

Sunset in Holbox

 

Shallow water, birds, and blue sky.

Shallow water, birds, and blue sky.

 

There is just something special about this small island outside of the Yucatan peninsula in Mexico. This island has a natural beauty – white sand, palm trees, shallow ocean, thousands of flamingos and pelicans. Most of the habitants work as fishermen and it’s considered a virgin tourist destination unspoiled by mass tourism. There is only a main square and a few streets which are made of sand and there are just a handful of ”cars” on the island. You sleep, eat, do some small excursions, go to small music events, visit small shops with handicraft and just relax. You eat and live cheaply here too.

 

2. — Isabela – The Galapagos – Ecuador —

The mainstreet in isabela... beautiful with sand!

The main street in isabela… beautiful with sand!

The tuneles

The tuneles

Bluefooted boobies

Bluefooted boobies

Beautiful surroundings!

Beautiful surroundings!


I love all the Galapagos islands,
but if I would have to choose one of them for living – it would be Isabela. although it is the biggest island it is the less populated of the habituated islands. Most tourists only come here for day tours so the ambiance feels very local. Also on this island, the streets are made of sand. It is very safe here. There are plenty of things to do and see here, you can visit lava tunnels, active volcanoes, you can snorkel with big tortoises, watch blue footed boobies, pink flamingos. It is not expensive here either.

 

3. — Jericoacoara – Brazil —

Enjoying life!!!

Enjoying life!!!

Windsurfers and a man playing capoeira-music

Windsurfers and a man playing capoeira-music

The streets are full with hantcraft stands

The streets are full with handicraft stands

Sunset in Jericoacoara

Sunset in Jericoacoara

A little street filled with restaurants

A little street filled with restaurants


This is like a bigger version of Holbox
, with more people, more shops and more activity, but still it has a lot of charm. This place is a paradise for windsurfers and kitesurfers. So yes, it is very windy but hey! – there are no mosquitoes :) If you get tired of the wind you can visit the Blue Lagoon, lovely calm lagoon famous for the hanging hammocks in the water. Jericoacoara is a mix of great people – during the day you’ll see all the active sporty people, and during the nights you’ll see all the musicians and the handicraftsmen out selling their work. There are always live music in a bar or a restaurant, always something to do. The main streets are of course – made of sand. :)

 

4. — Lagoa da Conceição – Florianopolis – Brazil —

Barra Da lagoa

Barra Da lagoa

View over Lagoa do Conceicão

View over Lagoa do Conceicão

Praia do Joaquina in Florianopolis

Praia do Joaquina in Florianopolis


This is a magical place
. It’s a laid-back neighbourhood with super nice surroundings. The area has a small town center and some of the island’s best beaches, and a lagoon that is surrounded by beautiful green hills. Surfing is a popular sport here. There is a lovely big mixture of all kind of Brazilians, but also a lot of Europeans that decided to stay or study here. The city Florianopolis has a lot of culture and bars to offer too.

 

5.  —  Isla del sol – Copacabana –  Bolivia — 

IMG_3168

Boats, beach, small houses and snowy mountains behind

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Clear water and hills with place for cultivation

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Local people in the south of Isla del Sol


This is an oasis in all the chaos between Bolivia and Peru
. This small island in the lake Titicaca is beautiful and super quiet. There is no noise, no cars, no rubbish on the streets. Not even lampposts (bring your head-torche). Beautiful sunsets and sunrises and the sky is super clear so you can see a lot of stars during the night. People live in harmony here with the nature and it’s surroundings. You can walk from the north to the south and see llamas and donkeys and some old inca-archaelogical sites along the way. Sweet local kids will offer you a little guided history about the history of Isla del Sol. There are a few small museums on the island too. I really enjoyed the landscapes in the south.

 

¿Have you been to any of these places? ¿What was your impression?

 

~ If I would extend the list these cities would probably make the list too, all though there are all not ”hidden gems” since some of them are capitals.

• Cusco (Peru) • Puerto Maldonado (Peru) • Quito (Ecuador) • Rio De Janeiro (Brazil) • Salvador (Brazil) • San Cristobal De Las Casas (Mexico) • Isla Mujeres (Mexico) • Tulum (Mexico) • La Paz (Bolivia) and • Buenos Aires (Argentina).

Marsaxlokk and Birżebbuġa in Malta

(So yes, it was a while ago we came back from Malta, but I’ve been to busy to write about it, at least about all days)

On our fourth day we visited Marsaxlokk, it’s a traditional fishing village located in the south-eastern part of Malta with about 3500 inhabitants.The bay of Marsaxlokk is in the southest point of Malta.

It’s about 40 minutes with public bus from the capital Valetta (public bus 81 or 85). It’s a really nice trip there, filled with vineyards on both sides of the road.

Nice restaurants and cafés at Marsaxlokk

A church and nice restaurants and cafés in Marsaxlokk

Marsaxlokk is well known because of the many colorful and traditional fishing boats called luzzu. The painted eyes on these luzzus are believed to protect the boats from danger.

Marsaxlokk bay

Marsaxlokk bay

Marsaxlokk bay

Marsaxlokk bay

The small fishing boats and the Luzzus

The small fishing boats and the Luzzus

Pretty colorful boats

Pretty colorful boats

In Marsaxlokk bay!

In Marsaxlokk bay!

I was surprised about how small the village was, you walk it through in about 10 minutes haha (at least the central point of it). We were happy to find a street market along the bay with delicatess food, souvenirs and clothing. We bought a few traditional souvenirs and some more :) The Marsaxlokk Market has a long history. The market took place even before the sea side restaurants who sell delicious food especially the fish.

A merchandist from Senegal, we bought some really cool stuff from there to our living room, for a very good price! :)

A merchandist from Senegal, we bought some really cool stuff from there to our living room, for a very good price! :)

Then we thought about visiting Birzebúgga, which is close by. The bus only goes once per hour, so we had a stop at a small shore/beach nexto the stop and bath our feet (cold water) and picked some sea shells before heading there.

A small beach outside the busstop

A small beach outside the busstop

Picking out some sea shells for future handicraft work :)

Picking out some sea shells for future handicraft work :)

Birżebbuġa is a seaside resort not far from Marsaxlokk with a population of about 10.000. It is popular among Maltese holiday-makers, and it has some important archaeological sites, like Għar Dalam and ”Borg in-Nadur”. It also has an artificial sandy beach commonly known as ”Pretty Bay”.

We were really hungry when we got there, so we looked around on a few of the restaurants by pretty bay and chose one. And boom, delicious food!!! I had a veggie burger and Duilio had a big plate with different typical Maltesean traditional foods. I’ve never seen him so happy! He said it was the best he ever tasted, haha.

Duilio, superhappy with his plate with different traditional maltesean food.

Duilio, superhappy with his plate with different traditional maltesean food.

 

With our stomaches full we went to the beach and fell asleep right there. Lovely. The beach is a really nice beach for Malta (which has very few beaches with white sand), but the view is only nice from one side, if you look at the other side, you see big cargo ships and a big main power station just there. Quite interesting, but not paradise-alike, haha.

Zzzzzzz! Best siesta ever.

Zzzzzzz! Best siesta ever.

Pretty bay in Birzebugga!

Pretty bay in Birzebugga!

View over Pretty bay on the other side, with the cargo station.

View over Pretty bay on the other side, with the cargo station.

Well home, we enjoyed our last night on our balcony in Sliema. You know one of those moments when you really enjoy and love life? That’s how we felt.

Perfect evening at the balcony in Sliema!

Perfect evening at the balcony in Sliema!

I love you!

I love you! (Doing a pose we saw some other girl do at the beach with her hair, haha)

 

Malta – Mdina, Rabat and Búggiba

We started the day by taking the bus to Mdina, commonly called ”The Silent City” by natives and visitors. It is a small medieval town and has about 300 habitants. The town is surrounded by thick defensive walls and a wide moat, separating it from its nearest town Rabat.

When Malta was under the Roman Empire, the roman Governor built his palace here. Mdina lies on one of the highest points on the island Malta and as far away from the sea as possible, so it’s probably the first fortified city because of the strategic location. There are evidence of settlements in Mdina back to 4000 BC.

The streets of Mdina

The streets of Mdina

Hello!

Hello!

Streets in Mdina

Streets in Mdina

Wtf? Hahaha. Why put a childrens head there? It's creepy.

Wtf? Hahaha. Why put a childrens head there? It’s creepy.

Beautiful with the red flower.

Beautiful with the red flower.

Super catholic here. Statues in every corner.

Super catholic here. Statues in every corner.

The transport in Mdina

The transport in Mdina

The church that wanted us to pay 5 euros to go in. Nope.

The church that wanted us to pay 5 euros to go in. Nope.

We walked around for a few hours, visited some museums (glad it was included in the ticket, because it wasn’t worth 10 euros), bought some typical Mdina Glass-souvenirs and had the greatest lemon cheese cake I’ve ever had at a café just above the wall with a nice view over the farmlands beneath.

It is a super cozy little town, with narrow streets and all buildings of lime stone, as everywhere else. It has plenty of churches and viewpoints over Malta.

Visited the national museum of Mdina. This was the coolest thing. Haha.

Visited the national museum of Mdina. This was the coolest thing. Haha.

Enjoying our coffee (fika) with a nice view in Mdina!

Enjoying our coffee (fika) with a nice view in Mdina!

Some maltesean farmers :)

Some maltesean farmers :)

Love the small details.

Love the small details.

 

Later we walked to the nearest town Rabat. The name of the village is derived from the Arabic word for ”suburb”, as it was the suburb of the old capital Mdina.

We had some nice sweets from a vendor on the street, delicious small things. We just wanted to try a few of the local sweets, so we asked for 2 different kinds, and it costed 2 euro! Quite expensive we thought, but then we looked in the bag, and apparently you get 4 each of every kind, so it ended up being very price worth :)

In Rabat!

In Rabat!

Streets of Rabat

Streets of Rabat

A church that looks like a cirkus :)

A church that looks like a cirkus :)

Duilio, always investigating what things are and how they work..... this

Duilio, always investigating what things are and how they work….. this

Local sweets!

Local sweets!

The two sweats we chose :)

The two sweats we chose :)

Rabat is home to the famous Catacombs of St. Paul and of St. Agatha. These catacombs were used in Roman times to bury the dead as, according to Roman culture, it was unhygienic to bury the dead in the city Mdina and parts of Rabat were built on top of an ancient Roman city.

It was included in our multi-pass ticket. We got an audio-guide and walked around in the catacombs. Two catacombs are open to the public, but these are only a small part of the entire St. Pauls and St. Agatha’s complex. And still: It was huuuuge!

The first catacomb we visited was quite small, there are surgical tools carved in relief in one of the blocking stones in the inner chamber and they think that it was the burial place of a group of surgeons.

In the small catacombs, the carving suggests that there were a group of surgeons lying in this catacomb

In the small catacombs, the carving suggests that there were a group of surgeons lying in this catacomb

Then we walked down to the main complex, which covers an area of more than 2000 square metres! It is a extensive system of underground galleries and tombs dated from the fourth to the ninth centuries BC. Very interesting. I loved it!

Plenty of catacombs, if you watch closely you can even see that they have carved out "pillows" of stone in the tomb!

Plenty of catacombs, if you watch closely you can even see that they have carved out ”pillows” of stone in the tomb!

Main complex in St Pauls Catacombs

Main complex in St Pauls Catacombs

Discovering the many many graves in the catacombs

Discovering the many many graves in the catacombs

Catacombs everywhere

Catacombs everywhere

It was so fun to see some other tourist doing poses in front of the catacombs that me and Duilio had to make some of ourselves.  But seriously, who poses in catacombs? Hahahah.

This is Duilio, in St Pauls Catacombs

This is Duilio, in St Pauls Catacombs

This is me, in St Pauls Catacombs

This is me, in St Pauls Catacombs

Then we took a bus to the north of malta, to visit the town Bugibba in St Pauls Bay. Buġibba’s sea front is very popular, so we thought we would have a day on the beach….. but the beach was almost the worst beach I’ve ever seen, haha. It looked like a construction site.

But we enjoyed the sun, took a siesta, a bath (Duilios first one in the Mediterranean sea) and I read my book. (And hated in silence some really disturbing Maltesean that thought they owned the beach and were the most cool on earth, drinking beer and yelling to women around them ”fuck you bitches!!”).

At the beach in Búgibba

At the beach in Búgibba

When we got tired we walked along the sea walk and found some public toilets. Here in Malta there are really good free public toilets EVERYWHERE, it’s great!! :)

Then we stopped by a nice small food stand with a view over the bay and had some veggie burgers, french fries and cisk-beer. And reeeally really loved life.. Haha.

Duilio having a veggie burger in Búgibba

Duilio having a veggie burger in Búgibba

Enjoying Cisk :)

Enjoying Cisk :)

View over the bay in Bugibba

View over the bay in Bugibba (and the ”beach”)

On our way back with the bus along the coast, we decided to jump of at St Julians and walk around there. It’s very touristic with hotels, pubs, bars and shops. Lot’s of young people on the streets and a big party vibe. It’s nice but I’m glad we are not living there haha. :) Bought like 3 pairs of earrings. Love them!

St Julians at night

St Julians at night

 

Malta – Hypogeum, Tarxien, The 3 cities, Sliema and Valetta

Well, HELLO again!!!

It’s been a while!! Haven’t been traveling lately, just enjoying spending some time at home in Stockholm, Sweden. But as we say in Swedish ”det kliar i fingrarna” (sort of that my fingers started itching) meaning that I really wanted to do just a little trip to someplace new! So I gave my boyfriend this gift for his birthday – a trip to Malta! (He didn’t know anything about it until his birthday :)

So the 20th of may we flew to Malta – an island in the mediterranean sea, somewhere between Sicily and Tunisia. Malta’s location has given it great strategic importance throughout history. Phoenicians, Romans, Moorish, Normans, Aragonese, Habsburg Spain, Knights of St. John, French and the British have ruled the islands during different periods. Malta gained independence from the United Kingdom in 1964 and became a republic in 1974.

Malta is a quite big tourist destination because of its warm climate with crystal clear water and architectural and historical monuments. It has plenty of UNESCO World Heritage Sites and temples.

We landed in the evening, took a bus from the airport to our hotel in Gzira close to Sliema. The bus really went everywhere and we didn’t understand at all were we were, but we arrived well. The bus ticket fare is 1,50€  for a day, as many trips as you want, so it’s really nice!!

Arriving in Sliema!

Arriving in Sliema!

Our room!! :)

Our room!! :)

Our ”room” was much better then expected – I thought it was only going to be a hotel room, but it also had a living room, a kitchenette and a balcony, and bathroom of course. So we were happy! And really hungry. After packing up we went to find a restaurant which the receptionist had recommended, called ”Ta Kris”.

The entrance to the restaurant, it's in Sliema close to Zara.

The entrance to the restaurant, it’s in Sliema close to Zara.

The prices are ok, a little bit expensive at first. We chose the little cheaper options, I had a pasta with basil and tomato and Duilio had a maltese cuisine called ”Dad’s Famous Braggioli”….  and the food….. AMAZING!!! It was sooo goood. Fresh local food, and I don’t know what the heck they had done – but it was the greatest pasta sauce I’ve ever had. We spent about 20€ for two meals with a beer each and it was totally worth it.

Check it out – Ta Kris Restaurant – 80 Fawwara Lane, Sliema, Malta.

Duilio looks forward to eat his plate! Cheers with the local beer Cisk!

Duilio looks forward to eat his plate! Cheers with the local beer Cisk!

The greatest pasta I've ever tasted!!!!!

The greatest pasta I’ve ever tasted!!!!!

Having a Cisk at the balcony!

After dinner we enjoying another Cisk in our balcony! Cozy!

Day 2

Enjoying the breakfast buffet! Haha. We ate all we could!

Enjoying the breakfast buffet! Haha. We ate all we could!

View from the restaurant at our hotel

View from the restaurant at our hotel

We started early by enjoyed the hotels breakfast buffet – yummi yummi. Had everything. Then we went to the Hypogeum which I had booked tickets for long before. You have to be about 2 months ahead to get tickets there, and they cost 30€ each. :/
The Ħal Saflieni Hypogeum is an underground prehistoric burial site. Earliest remains at the site date back to about 4000BC, and the complex was used over a span of many centuries, up to c. 2500 BC. Cool place sure, but you couldn’t take any pictures and only walk around were they had a pavement, and also they only lit up only a few places at a time, if someone was in the way for you to see you missed it. So to me, it wasn’t really worth it.

Picture of the Ħal Saflieni Hypogeum from Malta Heritage Site. Didn't look like this while you were there though since only a few parts were lit up at a time.

Picture of the Ħal Saflieni Hypogeum from Malta Heritage Site. Didn’t look like this while you were there though since only a few parts were lit up at a time.

Went to the hypogeum. You are not allowed to take any pictures inside. :(

Went to the hypogeum. Just there, in the middle of a neighborhood! Haha

After the visit we went around in the streets in Paola and went to the Tarxien Temples that are quite close, thanks to a map. A funny thing here, nothing is marked out well! We got to the bus station closest to the hypogeum, which is a mayor site of interest, and there are no signs of where it is, you have to ask around how to get there. People here are super friendly, and everyone speaks english! Old ladies, men, teenagers. But there are not really any signs on the street of where the site is until you get to the same road where it is located.

They drive on the wrong side of the road!! Haha. Looks crazy!

They drive on the wrong side of the road!! Haha. Looks crazy!

Walking around on the streets

Walking around on the streets around Paola

We figured we would ”win” on buying a Malta Heritage Multi Ticket for 35€ each with entrances to all the places/museums/temples by Malta Heritage, instead of buying ”loose” entrances to the places we wanted to visit. Very good decision!!! All entrance fees are between 6-10 euros, and I would have gone quite mad at some sites since they didn’t live up to my expectations, but since they entered in the multi ticket (which as a value of 95€ if you visit all the places) – I didn’t mind so much. Hehe.

The Heritage Malta Multi Pass

The Heritage Malta Multisite Pass

The Tarxien Temples was built between 3600 and 2500 BC and re-used between 2400 and 1500 BC. It’s a UNESCO World Heritage Site, one of six inscribed as ‘The Megalithic Temples of Malta’ in the World Heritage List and one of the largest and most complex of the prehistoric sites on the islands. Home to some of the best examples of prehistoric art which have survived the millennia. Sure a nice place, but much smaller then I thought, took less then 30 minutes to walk through.

The Tarxien temples, a UNESCO world heritage site, dated to approx 3150 BC.

The Tarxien temples, a UNESCO world heritage site, dated to approx 3150 BC.

Old water hole from 3150 BC, nowadays you can throw in a coin and make a wish :)

Old water hole from 3150 BC, nowadays you can throw in a coin and make a wish :)

Some nice engravements

Some of the parts left. Cute little whole there, looks like the big entrances to temples, but a mini version.

This alter is believed to be the place where they sacrified animals, due tu the stone gravings

This alter is believed to be the place where they sacrified animals, due tu the stone gravings

After the Tarxien temples we took the bus to The Three Cities, the harbor in front of Valetta. We visited Vittoriosa, an old fortified city in Malta, very pittoresque and sweet with narrow streets and all limestone buildings here as well as the rest of Malta. We bought some stones there for future jewelry and visited the The Inquisitor’s Palace and the Malta Maritime Museum. The Maritime Museum is nice but nothing I would pay 9€ to see if it wasn’t included in my ticket.

Walking around in Vittoriosa

Walking around in Vittoriosa

The Borgo himself in Vittoriosa!

The Borgo himself in Vittoriosa!

Old diving equipment - omg.. scary!! I'm glad I'm living this decade and using the modern equipment! (At the Malta Maritime museum)

Old diving equipment – omg.. scary!! I’m glad I’m living this decade and using the modern equipment! (At the Malta Maritime museum)

The Inquisitors Palace is the only one open to the public in the world and an architectural gem, representative of the chequered history and European heritage of the Maltese islands. It’s a former centre of power accountable directly to the Pope.  At first a little bit of a deception too, until we got to the prison complex and the torture chamber – where you can see some ”grafitti” from old prisioners – day counting, names and some images carved into the soft limestone. They also have put up som printed stories from the old prisioners that were released. So it was quite cool after all!

Nice place to hang out (The Inquisitor’s Palace).

Nice place to hang out…eh?? (The Inquisitor’s Palace).

A old prisioner was counting the days in the cell in the The Inquisitor’s Palace

A old prisioner was counting the days in the cell in the The Inquisitor’s Palace

Nice bathroom. You can see old rests of excrements along the wall, from the cell window down to the well.

Nice bathroom. You can see old rests of excrements along the wall, from the cell window down to the well.

Duilio trying out the cells bathroom.

Duilio trying out the cells bathroom…

Then we took a boat taxi over to Valetta – the capital city of Malta. It only lives about 7000 people there, and it’s quite small with a couple of main streets.  The city serves as the island’s principal cultural centre and its unique collection of churches and palaces.

Taking a boat taxi with this man over to Valetta!

Taking a boat taxi with this man over to Valetta!

Enjoying our little boat trip in the harbour area for  4€ each!

Enjoying our little boat trip in the harbour area for 4€ each!

We arrived by the water and climbed up for maaaany stairs to get up into the Upper Barraka Gardens. You could also pay 1€ to take the elevator. Funny, a woman came to us and asked for money, we thought it was a beggar at first, but she only wanted to change because the elevator only took 50 cents-coins or 1€ and she had everything in 10 and 20 cents haha. Then I realized – there are no beggars here and you don’t see homeless people either. Weird!

View from the Upper Barrakka gardens

View from the Upper Barrakka gardens

<3

<3

At the upper Barakka Gardens we had a couple of Maltesean pastizzes and pies, filled with chick peas and Ricotta-cheese. Delicious, and the pastizzes only cost 70cents and the pies 1,5€. We sat there for a while and then started to walk around Valetta.

In the upper barakka gardens where we had some snacks and beer

In the upper barakka gardens where we had some snacks and beer

Enjoying some pastizzes and lokal beer with a nice view over the city!

Enjoying some pastizzes and lokal beer with a nice view over the city!

We visited the The National Museum of Archaeology. It serves as a good introduction to prehistory and early history in Malta and puts Malta’s archaeological sites in context, but we were a little bit tired of seeing artifacts and tools.

Very cool timeline at the National Museum of Archaeology, showing about 2000 years of Malta

Very cool timeline at the National Museum of Archaeology, showing about 2000 years of Malta

Old tumb at the National Museum of Archaeology

Old tumb at the National Museum of Archaeology

Instead we walked around Valetta, which is also a UNESCO world heritage site and plenty of films like Troy, Gladiator, World War Z have been filmed here. We even found a leather craftsmen who made the costume to all those movies! Hehe. This city is quite weird, there are totally abandoned buildings with a super nice sea view, just next to some church.

For a second Duilio thought someone had stolen his sunglasses, but then we walked back a block and they were lying there on the ground. Malta is actually super safe, you can easily walk around with money and phones and camaras, you don’t feel like a target for robbery. It’s one of the safest countries in Europe. 

We bought some local sweets (honey rings) and went down to the wall that surrounds Valetta and enjoying the last sun of the day.

Tourists...... hahah

Tourists…… hahaha. (how many people can fit in a phone cabin?)

Sitting on the wall in Valetta with a view over to Sliema.

Sitting on the wall in Valetta with a view over to Sliema.

Traditional honey rings! Yummi.

Traditional honey rings! Yummi.

Reminds me of Roma :)

Reminds me of Roma :)

Churches and saints in every corner!

Churches and saints in every corner!

Cats are everywhere in Malta! The locals give them food so they seem well, even though they are everywhere.

Cats are everywhere in Malta! The locals give them food so they seem well, even though they are everywhere.

View over a roof, the dog and the cats starring at us. hehe.

View over a roof, the dog and the cats starring at us. hehe.

View over the ferry terminal in Valetta, and the wall were we were sitting before

View over the ferry terminal in Valetta, and the wall were we were sitting before

We thought we were lost until we saw this sign to the ferry haha. Generally things are not marked out so well here! Very important museums and archeological sites are just next to total regular neighbourhood, without any signs pointing them out until you reach the same street the site is at. Haha.

We thought we were lost until we saw this sign to the ferry haha.

So, this was the first days in Malta….. More to come!!