The Island of Malta

So I had the opportunity to visit Malta a few years ago, prior to covid of course. It was incredibly lovely, and I wanted to share some photos and tidbits.

For the official scoop on Malta, you can certainly check-out its Wikipedia page here. Otherwise, my casual interpretation of its info will be scattered throughout this post.

Malta is an island nation in the Mediterranean Sea, very close in proximity to Sicily and Italy. I had a great view of the sea from my hotel. There are small pockets of sandy beach to be found if you are determined, but most of the oceanside is rocky. It is still beautiful however. Some photos from the balcony of my hotel:

Since it is an island, there were impressive marinas as well as some navy ships to see…. Historically, it was considered a critical naval base for many ruling powers such as the Greeks, Romans, and now Europeans – so there is alot of nautical activity almost everywhere you go.

And as you can tell from the buildings in the background, there is historical significance here in Malta worth preserving. And one thing I’ve noticed of this city, is that they’ve kept their historical buildings very well-maintained which adds greatly to the impressiveness.

Malta has been inhabited since 5900 BC so there are many older sites, monuments, and buildings to view. There definitely is not a shortage of site-seeing here. You’ll be very busy.

I hope you’ve enjoyed my quick description of my Malta trip. I would love to go back sometime soon with my daughter. And I would highly recommend it to others as well. Let me know if you’d like to visit too!

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Crazy Summer Pool Destinations – Thornton’s Pool

Thornton's Pool

It’s summertime and the kids (me too!) are ready to hit the swimming pools again! We found Thornton’s Pool last summer and everyone loved it.

Thornton’s Pool has been featured on tv and in many articles by now, so you might’ve seen it already on all those extreme pool shows on the television. But here’s a handy link to one such article if you don’t want to search yourself (don’t worry – that’s not an affiliate link. I just included it here for your convenience). And if you don’t want to read through all the scoop, here are the highlights:

  1. This pool is physically in someone’s backyard.
  2. It is 500,000 gallons of water.
  3. You can visit this pool for a donation fee.
  4. It is located in Covington TN. If you’re travelling to visit this, then the closest large city will be Memphis TN.

Here are some of the photos I took while I was there last summer:

Thornton’s Pool / Image: Pepper V.
Thornton’s Pool / Image: Pepper V.

So, this was a great time and a great destination pool last summer. And I would highly recommend it. If you want to check it out for yourself, you do need to book a reservation. I think the easiest way to contact them is via their Facebook page.

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Spontaneous Roadtrip Through Ireland

Roadtrip Through Ireland

My last international trip before Covid shutdown everything was a roadtrip through Ireland. This trip was unique for me as in I had no itinerary except to arrive and depart Dublin at very precise dates/times. But in-between, I had no plans. I rented a car and figured that I would just stop whenever something interested me.

You’ll find several links throughout this post, but none of them are affiliate links. I’ve only included them for your information and for your convenience.

Trinity College Library, Dublin

The first day, I did stay in Dublin just to get a bit acclimated and to recover from the long overnight flight. I didn’t do anything too crazy, just walked around the city and absorbed what I could.

I did stop inside the Library at Trinity College because I am obsessed with history, and especially old books and old libraries. I just love that kind of stuff.

The Roadtrip Through Ireland

Seriously what I enjoy most about such a roadtrip is that I have complete control. I decided to take the country roads instead of the highways. And I end-up with the most amazing scenery as well as the most amazing finds. Here’s some photos of the scenery, and a photo of the inside of a 300+ year old pub named “The Dying Cow” that I never would have found if I tried to plan this trip.

Spike Island, Cork

Spike Island is in the County Cork area of Ireland. You can only arrive there via ferry. It was originally a monastery and later converted into a military fort, and then later converted into a prison where it was one time the world’s largest prison. It’s abandoned now. If you’d like more info of it, you can check out their tourist site. Lol, they even have ghost tours at night! (I was too scared to try).

This was probably my favorite part of the entire trip. There was a ton of historical information provided by a very personable and funny tour guide, and you also had time to yourself to spend however you please on the island. You really could make an entire day of it if you wanted. I was lucky that the weather was nice the day I visited, and I could enjoy the exhibits as well as the terrain at my leisure. And there was a comfortable cafe available for refreshments when necessary too.

St. Colman’s Cathedral, Cork

While waiting for the ferry to take me to Spike Island, there was a massive cathedral that you could see from miles around. It was St. Colman’s Cathedral and here is their website. We stepped inside to take a look and it was beautiful. I am obsessed with old churches because of their history and their elaborate structures.

Inch Beach, Dingle Peninsula

And there’s even beach life in Ireland which I didn’t expect! This was a surprise find just from driving. Unfortunately, the weather wasn’t very cooperative on this day, but I would definitely enjoy this setting with some sunshine and some extra heat. 🙂

Haunted Leap Castle, Roscrea

And the final day in Ireland was when I stopped at Leap Castle on the drive back to Dublin to catch the flight home. I dedicated an entire post to this specific stop for all the ghost fans…

I hope you all have enjoyed my summary of my roadtrip through Ireland. I’d love to go again because I do enjoy the long scenic drives and the surprises to find along the way.

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Extremely Cold Skiing at Lake Louise Canada

Skiing at Lake Louise Canada

We typically do a family ski trip every couple of years. Our last family trip was over 2 years ago and we went skiing at Lake Louise in Alberta Canada.

It’s a bit of a trek to get there, however. We flew into Calgary International airport in Alberta Canada. Then we took a car service into Canmore which was about 110km / 70miles away from the airport. Canmore was where we were staying each night, and it’s quite near the Banff National Park area which is very popular.

We stayed at the Lodges of Canmore and it was a very comfortable stay; I would stay there again and recommend it to others. At the time, we had restaurants next door that we could walk to for breakfast and dinner every day. I’m unsure if that’s still the case now due to covid lockdowns. Below are some photos of the Canmore area we stayed at.

Flying into Calgary International Airport, Alberta Canada / Image Source: Pepper V.
Canmore Canada / Image Source: Pepper V.
Canmore Canada / Image Source: Pepper V.
Canmore Canada / Image Source: Pepper V.
Canmore Canada / Image Source: Pepper V.

We had also picked the coldest week possible to go! When we visited, the temperatures never got above -10F / -23C and got as cold has -22F / -30C. I’ve never been anywhere so cold in my life! We did invest in some extreme weather gear for this trip and we were terribly cold the whole time, but, we survived.

Cold Temperatures! / Image Source: Pepper V.

Then daily, we would take a shuttle bus to go skiing at Lake Louise, which was another 80km / 50miles from where we were staying at Canmore. The shuttle bus-stop in Canmore was also a convenient walk from our lodge.

The shuttle bus ride was actually really nice for resting, for warming-up, and also for sightseeing all the beautiful mountain landscape. We considered it our sightseeing tour and it was great.

And then we would arrive for skiing at Lake Louise each day. I’ve included some pics I took below. I don’t have many photos from the snow-skiing because my phone would actually die after being outside for a few minutes due to the extreme cold.

Skiing at Lake Louise / Image Source: Pepper V.
Skiing at Lake Louise / Image Source: Pepper V.
Skiing at Lake Louise / Image Source: Pepper V.

But all in all, this was a great ski trip and I would definitely like to go back one day, but maybe not when it’s so cold. My daughter is actually a pretty good skiier at this point and I can no longer keep up with her, so I’ll have to find her a companion that’s as good as she is so she won’t have to ski alone because I’m so far behind.

None of her friends know how to ski so finding this companion for her might be the hardest thing for me to figure out before our next trip. Hopefully this year! 🙂

My Luxurious First Class Boeing Dreamliner Flight

Boeing Dreamliner Flight

I was lucky enough to find myself on a Boeing Dreamliner flight in 2019 due to a business trip, from Los Angeles to Beijing. I was even luckier to find myself in 1st class seating too! That never happens to me, except I was travelling with executives that were absolutely MORTIFIED that they would be in the same company as an employee in Economy Class and they made me change seating at the last minute.

I was ok with that.

I went online to look-up some facts I could share with you about this plane, and I found that Boeing actually encourages people to post their stories about flying on this aircraft, and to use the hashtag #Dreamliner. And the most recent posts appear on their official Boeing Dreamliner site! I’m going to try exactly that when I promote this post on my social media, and then I’ll stalk their website to see if my post appears there. It’ll be so cool, if so! If you have a story to share about your Boeing Dreamliner flight, you should try it too!

So I don’t have a photo of it, but the seats recline almost flat so this is the ONLY flight I was able to fall asleep on. I definitely cannot sleep on a flight otherwise. And I’ve tried absolutely everything I can think of to fall asleep on an overnight flight. I’ve tried alcohol, sleeping pills, sleep deprivation ahead of time, etc but nothing has worked until I experienced these reclining seats. Brilliant. My problem must’ve been positioning, because I had no problem at all on this flight.

One really cool thing that I’ve never experienced before, was their windows! You control how much light they let in! But there aren’t any physical shades to pull down. You have a magic button that gradually allows light in or not, just like a dimmer switch. But on the window. I was obsessed with this feature when I first discovered it, because I could not figure out how in the world it worked. I didn’t call it a magic button for no reason.

Another thing I appreciated about being in first-class on this flight, was the unlimited alcoholic beverages. It just really helped to relieve the boredom a little bit and also helped to relieve the physical confinement of being in a small space for such a long period of time.

And the meals were pretty good too. I’m not sure how they were prepared, but they didn’t taste like the normal microwaved meals that I usually have on airplanes. I actually enjoyed these meals. And you cannot minimize how much of a difference it makes, to actually have a tray large enough to fit everything comfortably. It’s stressful having to balance your entire meal on a crammed tray that is too small. So I was incredibly delighted to not have that problem finally.

And I watched a TON of Zac Efron movies too. Some more than once. Some of his movies I paused and rewinded several times. I think his movie that I watched the most was “Baywatch” and “17 Again”. I like the no-brainer movies when I’m travelling, because I have a hard time concentrating while I’m flying for some reason so anything that requires brain power for me to follow-along just doesn’t work for me.

But I digress. It truly is a beautiful plane and their first-class experience was quite impressive for me. Have any of you been on one yet?

Boeing Dreamliner Flight / Image Source: Pepper V.
Boeing Dreamliner Flight / Image Source: Pepper V.
Boeing Dreamliner Flight / Image Source: Pepper V.
Boeing Dreamliner Flight / Image Source: Pepper V.
Boeing Dreamliner Flight / Image Source: Pepper V.

Great Wall of China

Great Wall of China

Last year I had the chance to visit Beijing, and of course while I was there I just had to stop at the Great Wall of China.

History – Great Wall of China

It was amazing to comprehend how much square footage this architectural feat encompassed. I had to look it up on Wikipedia, where it said the Ming Dynasty built about 8,850 km (5,500 mi) worth of the wall between the years 1300 – 1600.  And some parts of the wall are as old as 7th century BC. Most of the original wall is in disrepair and cannot be visited, but the areas that are still available to visit, have had to be renovated and maintained.

Once you are there, you completely understand why they did it.  It definitely made sense as a fortress against enemies – where the visibility across so much terrain would have been critical to their defense.

Some Tips for Your Visit

I must say, I was not prepared for this because I extended a business trip a few extra days, so I had only packed heels and sandals – which I will strongly advise against! You NEED sneakers. Need. So much of the surface area is uneven, slanted, wobbly, or comprised of stairs so no footwear can properly equip you for it. However, sneakers are probably your best bet.  I slipped and stumbled so much in my sandals that I want to go back just to enjoy it more carefully.

Another tip is mostly directed for the female visitors, but, the restroom situation there is BYOTP (Bring Your Own Toilet Paper) so make sure you keep enough for your visit in your purse or backback. The ride to/from the Great Wall of China is very long so you’re very likely to be visiting the restrooms there.

My Favorite Part of the Visit

That probably was my favorite part of the visit – the view of all the surrounding area. So impressive. So beautifully breath-taking. I do plan to return so I can bring my daughter. I’ll wear sneakers too.

Here are some of my amateur photos:

The Great Wall of China, Beijing / Image Source: Pepper V.
The Great Wall of China, Beijing / Image Source: Pepper V.
The Great Wall of China, Beijing / Image Source: Pepper V.
The Great Wall of China, Beijing / Image Source: Pepper V.
The Great Wall of China, Beijing / Image Source: Pepper V.
The Great Wall of China, Beijing / Image Source: Pepper V.

That Time I PhotoBombed Royalty

When going through my old photos, I found this one where I photobombed royalty when I found myself in the same room as a member of the British royal family about 4-5 years ago.

This was a business event for me and I had to make a work appearance at the Queen Elizabeth II Centre in London. And Princess Anne was there as well, also making an appearance.

PS: It was Paul at Lightly Seared on the Reality Grill that correctly identified her for me as Princess Anne, the Queen’s only daughter. Thanks so much Paul! I originally could not recall who she was. Oops. 🤗