Sella Ronda: Better hide your mama

I had another one of those mornings this past Monday. The kind where you have so much fun the night before you wake up thinking that maybe you inappropriately propositioned the chambermaid – or perhaps damaged the d├ęcor of the guesthouse you were staying in.

After a quick look around (and eye contact with said chambermaid that revealed nothing) I passed if off as just another crazy fun-filled evening with the Bavarian Ski Club.

This was our third trip with the club, second this year, and they never disappoint. 69 skiers, snowboarders and snow bunnies boarded a double-decker bus and headed for the border. Ending late Friday night in Italy (Dolomites), we geared up to ski the Kronplatz on Saturday and the Sella Ronda on Sunday. 

Jeremy continues to shred on his snowboard each trip, while I slowly move from drunken baby on skis to semi-professional. We’ve had to hit it hard this year, quickly, as our usually warm-up Bavarian bunny hills are still green and snowless. The Alps, however, continue to quell our downhill desires. 

On Monday, we headed back to the Kronplatz where half the group braved the elements again the other half nursed aching bones and headaches. We decided to toboggan – which I believe is actually more dangerous that skiing, but just as much fun. Hairpin turns at 50 kilometers per hour with no steering and Fred Flintstone-style brakes. Yeah, I got this.

Our gypsy feet are slightly frostbitten after this last trip, but we head to London on Friday, where we will replace the snow for rain. The good times, however, will remain.


Magnificent Malta

We had such a great first night in Malta – meeting up with friends of a friend (Valerie and Adrian), their friend (Mario) and a fellow traveler, coincidently visiting from Germany. They took us to a local, off-the-beaten-path establishment where the conversation flowed as effortlessly as the wine. We returned to our hotel fat and happy and thinking the rest of our holiday would be hard to live up to this inception – instead, it set the bar to what has proven to be an awesome week, and it’s not over yet.

Today we’re taking a break from our vacation as the wind is blowing fiercely outside (not the best condition for cliff hikes), but we have been blessed with spectacular weather and even more spectacular sights.
Malta is a tiny island in the middle of the Mediterranean sandwiched between Italy, Tunisia and Libya, with visible influence from each. The language sounds like a mix between Arabic and Italian (heavy on the Italian). Its last conquerors, however, were British, so everyone speaks English, and for being such a small island, it packs a big punch.

Our first full day here we took the 20-minute ferry to Malta’s sister island of Gozo - an even smaller island measuring at around 25 square miles.

Hiking to the Dwejra (Azure Window) provided the most breathtaking of views. 
 We explored a few small towns …
and relaxed on the red-sand beaches of Gozo’s east coast at Ramla Bay.
Wednesday we experienced Malta’s city life at the center of Valetta. Shops, bars, restaurants and more shops. 

From there, we traveled to the southern coast to the fishing harbor of Marsaxlokk. It’s picture perfect with brightly colored fishing boats lining the shore and numerous family-friendly restaurants offering the catch of the day. Yum.

Thursday we explored Golden Bay, said to be the most beautiful sandy beach on the island. (Most of the beaches here are rocky, so sand is a luxury.) 
The water is currently too cold to swim, but the benefit of the winter months is the production of waves in the usually calm bay. A handful of surfers and stand up paddlers took advantage of this. We opted for a cliff hike to Ghajn Tuffieha Bay. (photo at top)

Working up an appetite, Jeremy managed to polish off the biggest burger I’ve ever seen. 
(As an aside, it may seem odd to travel to Malta and eat a burger, but we live in Germany. As talented as they are in preparing pork a hundred different ways, they don’t do beef as well. We haven’t had a decent burger in two years. We were due.)

Getting around has been rather easy - we have expertly navigated the Malta bus system and already feel we seamlessly slipped back into “island life.” There is an island mentality no matter where you are - the culture as a whole seems to slip back a millisecond in time to soak in the present. 
We have already stopped time, sat back and soaked it in ourselves – as well as predicting what the next few days will bring.