Last summer, Husband and I spent a lovely vacation all over Malta, a tiny country with many beautiful sights and at least one very amazing Eurovision song. It’s just below Sicily and to the east of Tunisia so, unfortunately, it’s often overlooked when people plan vacations to the area and choose the more well-known places. They/you shouldn’t, because Malta is a wonderful spot for a holiday. It offers a calmer, smaller experience than the more famous places in the area but with natural beauty and charm and (most importantly when coming from Britain) warmth. I wrote about Valletta, the capital, a while back and I’ll be writing about all the different places we saw eventually, but today I want to talk about Gozo, the even tinier island just to the northeast of the main island. Gozo was probably our favorite part of Malta. It had stunning natural beauty and interesting archaeological sites. The seemingly endless dirt ‘roads’ and desert-like atmosphere made it seem like we were discovering new land, which is a hard feeling to have in Europe.
Not gonna lie, I didn't even know Malta was a whole country until like a few years ago. Living in Europe really teaches you about European geography! We had a few extra vacation days to use up this summer, because the UK is a place where people who take a shittonne of vacation can actually have extra, because Europe is civilized (civilised) (well the UK used to be) (it's all going to shit now). So we thought, hey, what's a warm place that we can get to fairly easily that we haven't been to yet? Husband: Malta! Me: Like where the flufferpups are?!
I first went to Madrid, Spain about a decade ago. During my study abroad year (in Florence), I took a whirlwind 18-hour trip to Madrid to visit one of my best friends from high school. All I had was a spare Saturday night in the middle of my insane solo spring break tour of Spain (it was insane because it was solo, not because I went clubbing in Barcelona because I didn't) and so hopped over to Madrid for dinner with my friend, then sleep, and then a first-in-line sprint through the Prado.
This year, I visited for the second time, and luckily was able to almost triple the length of time spent in this glorious city! That is, a regular weekend. We were there for two main reasons: to see Audra McDonald in concert (can't break my 15-year streak of seeing her live every year!) and to eat at a Michelin-starred restaurant. (The latter will come in the next post.) But Madrid is such a fun, cosmopolitan, modern city that we barely had enough time to cover the basics.
Basque country is the land of pintxos, little bar food snacks which are kind of like tapas but are mostly on pieces of baguette with toothpicks sticking out of them. All the coolest places in Bilbao have bar tops covered in pintxos and rooms packed with people drinking and socializing and helping themselves to the various pieces of decorated bread. But you cannot be one of those people if you are vegan. No sir, you will miss out.
As soon as we stepped off the airport bus near our hotel in Bilbao, the pouring rain turned to hail. It was hailing on us. Serious, scary balls of hail pounding on us like we've never before experienced. What a lovely welcome, Bilbao!
Luckily, the hail stopped that night, but the rain continued for almost our entire visit. That sucks, but although Bilbao isn't as pretty in the rain as Paris is, it was still a solid trip in a nice city. Now, those adjectives might seem decidedly underwhelming, but I mean them with all my heart without going overboard with praise. Also, Gabrielle Union was wrong and you cannot just be whelmed in Europe.
Let's continue Berlin week with the general food guide! The unbelievable plethora of vegan food was the most surprising and enjoyable part of Berlin. We also have several amazing restaurant and special store spotlights coming.
I realize that my travel guides always tend to suggest that you eat like a hobbit (constantly/tremendously/gluttonously), but I really mean it this time. Like super mean it. Berlin is the most vegan-friendly European city. I'm pretty sure it's the most vegan-friendly non-American city, actually. If you disagree, please buy me a ticket to your city of choice and I'll let you know.
Berlin City Guide: Fun Museums, Depressing Museums, & the Most Fun Activity I've Ever Found While Traveling
Who would have guessed that the most vegan-friendly city in Europe was the city with some of the most horrific, heartbreaking history? It sort of makes sense, that as Berlin continues to rebuild, it forges a new path with more compassion and understanding not just for all people but for all living things. Those Germans though (that one’s for millytweet).
The majority of my posts about Berlin will be about this crazy surge in veganism, but first our city guide will focus on that horrific history and the importance of paying your respects to it when in Berlin. There are some absolutely wonderful museums about World War Two that I’ll go over. Also, Berlin offers some really fun tourist attractions, including one activity that was without a doubt the most unique, crazy, and fun thing I’ve found maybe anywhere (infra).
A few years ago, I traveled all through Portugal. This post will focus on my favorite part, Lisbon.
Lisbon gives you excitement and attractions of a big city but in a smaller, calmer (and cheaper) package than, say, cities in Spain. In fact, it reminded me a lot of certain parts of Spain, but on a smaller scale. It's like how New York compares to Philadelphia, although I don't think Lisbon could match Philly's crime rate if it tried. Anyway! It's a lovely city to visit, with great sights, nice people, and good food. In fact, Lisbon is where I learned to love olives! Prettayyy cool.