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10-Feb-2004 Adventurous picnic at the cliffs of Ahrax tal-Mellieha Stephen Mifsud
14-Feb-2004 Saint Valentine's Day! Malin Hagglund
15-Feb-2004 Sad news from Birzebbugia Stephen Mifsud
8-Mar-2004 Our Visit to Selmun Castle Stephen Mifsud
13-Mar-2004 Walk along the coast from Lapsi to Hagar Qim Stephen Mifsud
18/21-Mar-2004 Holiday at Gozo including a 6 hour walk along the Eastern Coast Stephen Mifsud
27-Feb-2004 Piotr Birthday Party at Ulysses Lodge, Gozo Stephen Mifsud
28-Mar-2004 Picu Malin leaves to Finland Stephen Mifsud
3-Apr-2004 Sunny spring day at the summer cottage, Larsmo Malin Hagglund
5-Apr-2004 How I spent my 30th Birthday Stephen Mifsud



Tue, 10-Feb-04 Adventurous picnic at the cliffs of "Ahrax tal-Mellieha"
REFERENCE No.

A001-00

Today, 10th Feb, it is a national Public Holiday for the Maltese islands, where the shipwreck of Saint Paul on our islands is celebrated. It was a pretty, sunny day with some friendly clouds occasionally. I do not remember the last Saint Paul's day which was good whether - usually it rainy and cold. So I and Malin took the opportunity to go for a small picnic in the country side. We decided to go to a place at the North of Malta called l'ahrax tal-Mellieha, a place with countryside, sandy beaches, camping sites, fields, and wonderful cliff coasts.

We arrived around 12:45 and we parked the care somewhere at the center of this place, of about 4 x 2km in area. First we walked towards the northern sandy bays through the rocky and forest like wilderness in that zone. What caught my eye were like large broad holes (about 1-2m diameter) in the wild land at random places (and short distances) as if bombs have been dropped here. I wonder what they are, but they really could be some remains of bomb blasts in the ground at some bomb training during the Word War II. We made our way through trees, grass a rocks until we reached a small street which leads to further North, at the couple sandy beaches found at this zone. This street was quite long, and I think measured more than 1km.

I am not sure to which beach we arrived, but I think it was the Bay of Armier. It was nice to see the green blue water, but knowing it was as cold as 18cm, it was not inviting at all. Malin suggested that we should have brought swim suits, but I gave her a look which means "definitely not me!". We were getting quite hungry now, so we set our way to find a place on the grass and start eating our launch.

We walked agian through more trees, rocks and shrubs but this time it was much more dense than the previous part. Sometime we had to turn back and try another way becasue we could not go further. Finally we found a very good place covered with grass in the sunshine, and a nice view of Comino and Gozo. We eat our Nutella or cheese sandwiches accompanied with the chirping birds and sound of branches swaying in the light breeze. The clouds were 'big and slow' but at last the sun went out again and was so warm and caressing that we slept for a while on the grass.

Gun firing at some few metres away caused us to wake up. I was upset as I taught they were some bird hunters somewhere nearby. We cleaned the place and set up walking again. We walked towards the firing spot, but we could not see any hunters. To my pleasure we discovered it was some plate-shooting sport. We walked around and arrived at the top of the cliffs lining the coast facing South East, hence towards Ghadira Bay, Mellieha and the rest of Malta. Later I found out that this cliff is called "Rdum il-Hmar" . From here we spotted a way down the cliffs, and adventurous as we are we decided to go down

We soon arrived very near the seaside, it was not difficult at all, and since it was not difficult it meant no challenge for us, so we decided to travel further more around the coast and maybe climb back up the cliffs from another location. The way was not easy now, as there was no man made lanes or passages, but we had to skip on large stones or climb around huge boulders. Now it really meant exercise, but fun at the same time. The more we progressed, the more the way got harder. At one point we arrived near a rock with plenty of seashell fossils in it. It was very interesting. Now we have at least walked for 1 or 1.5 km from where we went down the cliffs. We were wondering if there was any way up, or if we have to walk it back to arrive atop (Option 1).

We pursued our way with the instinct that there is some way up ahead. Now the way got very difficult. Once we had to walk over a small cactus prickly pear (bajtra tax-xewk) plant, and several times we had to jump from one rock to another with a deep gap in between. We found a crack, about 1 meter wide, in the cliffs that was quite possible to climb up (option 2) but we decided to walk further maybe there is an easier "option 3" ahead.

We reached an area just beneath the cliffs which was quite spooky. There were large cobwebs, a squashed/smashed car which has been thrown from the cliffs, and huge boulders and rock walls around us, as if we were inside a container made of cliffs and rocks. However from here appeared that 'option 3' exists. There was a way up which could lead us on top of the cliff. We had to climb several boulders and rocks until we arrived quite high up. We climbed most of the way up without much trouble and we were about 4 meters below from our goal. We had to hang and climb up up a very large boulder resting between our location and the top. It was the most difficult part, and with lack of attention one could easily slip and fall. However the rocks and cliff wall had several places to hold strong with your arms and we finally managed to get our way up and reached back the civilized land. In fact when we popped up from the rocks we came near some people who had their cars parked their and were having a picnic nearby.

Well it was really fun, and I think we spent an hour or little more. Once we were up we sat at the edge of the cliff facing Mellieha and Ghadira and we eat a well deserved packet of crips and drank some water. We then made our way back to our car which was quite far away, about 2kms or more. We looked back at the cliffs were walked through and i think it was quite difficult! We derived back home safely, but unfortunately, on the way we saw a terrible accident - a car was upside down on the grass beside the main street. There was the ambulance and civil protection unit, but apparently there was neither casualties nor severely injured persons.

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  WRITTEN BY LOCALITY / COUNTRY SUBMITTED ON
  Stephen "MarZ" Malta 10-Feb-2004
 
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REFERENCE No. WRITTEN BY LOCALITY / COUNTRY SUBMITTED ON
A001-01 Malin Finland 12-Feb-2004
TITLE:    My comments about this wonderful excursion.   This comment is in Swedish (Svenska)



Sat, 14-Feb-04 Saint Valentine's Day!
REFERENCE No.

A002-00

The first thing I saw when I woke up this morning was a beautiful red rose in a vase on the small table in my room. Could the day start any better?! I just had to go and wake up Stephen right away to thank him for it, although it was only half past eight in the morning :-) The weather was really perfect, sunny and I think it was about +20 degrees. Therefore we decided to go out to eat during the day, instead of going in the evening when it would be dark, cold and crowded with people in every restaurant. It turned out to be a very wise decision, because it was wonderful to sit outdoors in the Hagar Qim restaurant admiring the view over the old stone temples Hagar Qim and Mnajdra.

Hagar Qim is a very touristic place, and we noticed that Stephen was the only Maltese guest in the restaurant. We were served by a very friendly waiter, who got very interested when he heard that I am from Finland. He told us that one of his friends is married to a Finnish woman, it would be nice to meet her some day. We got garlic bread as appetizer, and then we ordered spaghetti / vegetable soup as starters and fillet with blue cheese sauce / chicken breast with herbs as main course, jum, jum! And not to forget, we also had my favorite soft-drink Kinnie and a very good rose' wine.

After all that food we really needed to get some exercise, so we went for a walk around the 4,000 year old stone temples . Since the temples are situated by the coast it was very windy, so after our short walk we started longing for our warm and cosy car. We drove along the coastline, and after several kilometres on the very narrow road we saw a sign: road ends :-( So poor Stephen had to drive all the way back along the bad road. But I did not mind, because the view was marvellous. We stopped at a nice view point and had a short nap in the car, before we continued on our way home.

When we arrived home we were still sleepy after the big meal and all the fresh air, so we took another nap in the sofa. Actually we were just lazying around for the rest of the evening, playing a game on the computer and watching the Maltese Song Festival on TV. One of my two favorite songs finished second, but the winner was not too bad either. I have to admit I did not manage to stay up long enough to see who was the winner, because I felt very sleepy and the counting of the votes took ages.

The day was really perfect, a whole day dedicated to each other. Thanks sweetheart!

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REMARKS by the EDITOR / WEBMASTER:

I would like to add some short points to this wonderful, romantic day:

1) we named the jolly, kind and friendly waiter as 'Harry' since he was always on the 'hurry' to serve all the diners at the restaurant. He was alone poor guy! Please read our review on this restaurant by [clicking here]

2) The place we drove by car from a narrow street was called "Fawwara" and we passed by a very small chapel dedicated to the Lunzjata. I felt a pity that we drove by car because it was an ideal place to walk along the narrow road and enjoy the fresh air, sounds of nature, and the blue sea of the Southern coast of Malta. However it was very cold and windy and so we stayed inside the car.

  WRITTEN BY LOCALITY / COUNTRY SUBMITTED ON
  Malin "Picu" Finland (Malta) 15-Feb-2004



Sun, 15-Feb-04 Sad news from Birzebbugia
REFERENCE No.

A003-00

The sun was shining from a cloud-free sky when I woke up, and it never seems to stop amazing me that the weather can be this perfect in February (since I come from Finland -20 degrees Celsius, grey clouds and snow is my conception of February). There was quite a cold wind though, so we decided to just go for a drive with the car in the afternoon, instead of our usual "Sunday walks" in the countryside in different parts of Malta.

We decided to drive to Birzebbugia, which is situated in the southeast part of Malta. Stephen has some relatives there, a very nice old couple that I enjoy visiting, because they are always so happy to see us. We popped in to see how they were doing, but their daughter was there visiting them so she and her two cute girls opened for us. After a short while the man came down to us, and told us some very bad news: his wife is very sick in cancer :-( They found out about it just a few weeks ago, but by then it had already spread so much that there is no hope that she will get cured. It was heartbreaking to see how devastated he was, and to hear her cry from pain from upstairs.

It was a very big contrast to walk out from their dark hallway out to the nearby beach Pretty Bay, where a lot of children were playing, laughing and having fun in the sun. I had a lot of conflicting feelings inside when we sat down to read for a while near the beach. The world is so beautiful, but it is so sad that not everyone can enjoy it. Apart from being very sorry for Stephen's relative, we were both also once more reminded of Stephen's mother, who died in cancer, and my own mother how gets radiotherapy to treat her bone cancer.

Although these sad thoughts we really enjoyed sitting in the sun, and we also enjoyed the hot chocolate, sausage rolls and cakes we ate in a nearby cafe. On our way back home we drove to Ghar Hasan (Hasan's cave). We entered the cave, but unfortunately we did not bring a torch, so it was too dark to walk around in the cave. We have to save that experience to some other day. It was almost dark when we arrived home and another weekend was over.

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REMARKS by the EDITOR / WEBMASTER:

P.S. Later I came to know that she passed away around the end of February
  WRITTEN BY LOCALITY / COUNTRY SUBMITTED ON
  Malin "Picu" Finland (Malta) 17-Feb-2004



08-Mar-2004 Our Visit to Selmun Castle
REFERENCE No.

A004-00

Today was Monday and Malin took half day leave for some duties she had to make. At about 2pm she was ready and so we took the opportunity to go somewhere in the countryside, since it was a nice sunny (but windy) day. Since the traffic was calm this afternoon, I drove up to Xemxija and parked near the fire station. We decided to go to Selmun castle through Mistra's magnificent country side.

We walked along the high rocks, facing Saint Paul's coast and Xemxija bay. It was quite windy and so we had to put on our jackets. The view of the deep blue sea was fantastic, accompanied with the lighter blue sky and white fleece of clouds. I soon warmed up the camera and took a photo of us here.

While we walked further towards Mistra we came across some tourists walking and enjoying the panorama here. Finally we arrived at a point to start climbing down towards Mistra Bay. This bay is also very nice but not much popular for bathing as much as for barbecues, probably due the amount of sea algae which irritates many people's feet. When we arrived down into the street we walked away from the bay to reach the pathway which leads to the Castle of Selmun. It appeared to be a tough steep uphill passage - but not enough to frighten us and give up.

First we walked from the asphalt and easy-to-walk passage but soon realized that this was not leading to the castle, so we turned back and instead took a rough passage covered with wild plants, loose stones and soil, which was the only alternative way left that may lead to the castle. After climbing a bit up the rough passage improved a lot and was quite easy to walk up, apart from being tough steep. However every several metres ahead, the view behind us became more wonderful. At about half way up we stopped for some photos inspired by a field of red plants called Italian Sainfoin.

We climbed up further more and the last 15 metres were really steep, literally about 45 degrees incline! I still had energy left but not patience to climb it slowly so I ran these last few metres - an exercise to my heart which was comparable as if I have sprinted some 200 metres on a normal plain track!!! Malin 'tried' to run it too...

The view was superb and I took some photos. The whole panoramic view could not be fitted in just one photo! In the meantime Malin took a break, found a cool place and started to read her book. After our little break, we continued our walk towards the castle which was very near now and we arrived within few minutes. The symmetrical architecture of the castle is impressive. After several centuries of age it is still in very good shape. Closer look to the castle revealed the secret of its endurance - it was built by the strongest rock found in our island - The Lower Globigerina (Zonqor) and not by the softer rock - the Globigerina Limestone (tal-Franka). Of course, we took some more photos by the castle

From here we went to take a warm and deserved coffee break in the hotel adjacent with the castle. I am not sure but the Hotel is also called Selmun Palace Hotel. At first glance the hotel looked large, beautiful, tidy, and high class apart from the important advantage for me that it is situated in the center of the countryside. I asked the receptionist (who happened to be my ex-girlfriend brother!) where to find the cafeteria, and he indicated the way upstairs.

So we went up to 'Charlie's bar' and ordered a cappuccino and apple pie. They were superb, especially the apple Pie. Malin was very gentle to give me some of hers too when I finished mine. We stayed there relaxed for a quite a while. Then we felt that is better to leave since it was getting late. When we left the bar we came into a games room and there was a table tennis board with rackets and ping pong ball. There was no need to question - we dropped our things and started playing. We made 3 sets of 10 points each and Malin won them all three. I consider that she was lucky in several occasions where the ball landed on the edge of the table, but she claims that it is pure skills!!! Hmmm... whatever, we left the hotel and started our walk back to our car.

We passed from the road this time and it wasn't much fun with the noisy cars passing by and all their exhaust in the air. We finally reached back our car and drove back home happily after spending together another wonderful day.

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  Stephen "MarZ" Malta 09-Mar-2004



Sat 13-Mar-2004 Walk along the coast from Lapsi to Hagar Qim
REFERENCE No.

A005-00

Today, I, Malin and one of my best friends at my work, Emmanuel Schembri, planned to walk along the coast from Ghar Lapsi (Siggiewi) to Wied iz-Zurrieq. This is found at the south of Malta However, I can tell you immediately that things did not go as planned and we walked it only up to Hagar Qim (Qrendi) which is approximately half way as much as planned.

The aim of the walk was first of all to enjoy ourselves walking in a nice warm sunny day, to explore a bit the surroundings, and to take photos of some wild flowers growing in this area, especially that rare white-flowered Common Borage - "fidloqqom" - that Manwel saw few days ago when he walked this way on his own.

We started to walk along an easy path towards the east of Malta. Upon the first 5 minutes there were 2 particular scenes which impressed me:

a) On our right side. there was the wonderful coast line of white/green rocky cliffs contrasting with the deep blue sea with aquamarine green patches towards the coast.

b) On the left side was then the huge cliffs with several caves and large apertures along its wall. This particular cliff have 2 holes as if it was a face!

After some time of walking we noted two large caves in a nearby cliff which were possible to reach. We decided to climb up and have a look inside. The way wasn't the easiest one, we had to climb several loose rocks and avoid bushes or spiny plants. Finally we arrived to one of the caves. There were a number of interconnected cavities, which would have been fun to play in if I was 10 years of age. One could also observe the location where water used and still dripped down for thousands of years due the presence of streaks of darker rock and short, stubby stalactites. The view towards the coastline was even much beautiful from this high place as you can see in this panoramic photo . As I took the photo for the first time, I got a big disappointment becasue the camera batteries got drained. Thankfully, Manwel lent me his batteries of his cameras. He sacrificed of not taking photos (even if he claimed that since he lives there it is not a problem) but still for me his action was a big deal. These are true friends! Then we walked to the other cave few metres away which was larger but similar to the other one. We took a little rest here and set to walk down back to the foot path.

Once arrived we noted a bird hunter (or this one better described as one who catches birds by traps). He was not arrogant or whatever and we walked along and passed him without any hassle. Some people have sometimes reported that encounters with hunters are not very sociable. The hunters take a piece of land in the wild and 'claim?' that it is theirs and use it to trap wild birds migrating from other distant countries. So presence of people passing by is not much granted by the hunters.

Anyway, now we have arrived at a place known as "Ras il-Hanzir" or in English the Pig Point. In geography a "point" is referred to as a piece of land along the coast which is projecting out into the open sea. I started to take some photos of the wild flora of this area. There are quite a number of flowers which are not so common around Malta (see bottom of event for some photos). We soon arrived near a large valley formed by two adjacent huge cliffs . It would be very interesting to be here after (or during!!) a heavy rain storm and see the huge quantity of water flowing by.

We continued our walk over an area known as "il-mitqub" (I do not have an idea what it means) which was quite easy to walk and had several different wild plants which are not so common. The view of the cliffs we passed by was very nice here. Manwel suggested that we should start looking for that white-flowered borage as he thinks it was somewhere here. We walked and tried to trace the plant but without success. Actually I did not put much effort in it becasue I preferred to enjoy the walk and look at the views.

Now we were approaching a very interesting place known as "l-ilsna" or in English 'the tongues'. The name was given due the fact that this was a piece of land with few tongue-like projections extending out into the sea from the same zone. The sea water around here was also very beautiful and inviting for a swim; but unfortunately , at about 15Celsius, it is still too cold for me (but not for others !!!). However, I and Malin agreed that in June we should attempt to come here for a 'private' swim, since I do not believe that anyone would dare to come here. But I think that in the hottest months of July and August, it will be impossible to reach (or to go back from!) this place since of the extreme heat. The small islet of Filfla was close close here.

After several minutes of walk we arrived near a site where this land was separated from the main land by this wide ridge (gap) as if once they were united together. It may have happened due a small earthquake long time ago. We also noted that the 'edge' at the right side (hence the mainland) was smooth, while the opposite edge of the other isolated land was rough and stony. I think that water flowing down from valleys and cliffs down the mainland for a long period of time smoothed in the cliff edges, while since no water could flow down at the other opposite edge, there was no smoothing effect. Another interesting fact was that down below there was a small opening in the wall of rock and there was a pool of sea water. Anyway, lets stop talking about geography now. Once we were here I asked Emmanuel to take us some photos and he did a good job! (Malin and I - Photo 1 , Photo 2 ). I also took a last photo of the incredible blue sea water in this area.

It was already 4 o'clock past and we had much more to walk (I guess we were about half the way). Since we had then to walk it back, (and yeah, we got bit tired) we decided to stop our walk here. We still had to walk it back and about 5:30 it starts to get dark. So we climbed the very steep cliffs and arrived near Hagar Qim. We were quite exhausted after this tough exercise so I suggested to go and have a drink at the Hagar Qim Restaurant, a couple of metres away. We were bit worried that it may be closed, and actually we found out that it was closing, but thankfully the owner allowed us to sit and have a beer for some 10mins until they clean up the tables.

At about 16:45 or so we started to walk back to Ghar Lapsi where we had our cars parked. We took a much relaxed path, hence from the street along the countryside and fields in that area. We talked a lot on many things on our way and honestly we did not felt the 3km walk to be long. It took us just a little bit more from half an hour. However, as we arrived near a large quarry , Manwel indicated a short cut. Instead taking the long street path, we climb down through a 'sort of passage' of large pipes descending all down the steep and rocky cliff to Lapsi . These pipes come from the Reverse Osmosis plant found at Lapsi and supply water to the South / South-West part of Malta. At a certain point the incline of the steep was about 45 degrees or even more! - but there was no danger of falling. When we made our way down, we came accross this curious building which resembles a small palace , probably being a house of some rich family in the past. After few more minutes we arrive near our cars. We thanked Manwel for the walk and he left to his house, few kms away in Siggiewi.I took the last photo again to the lonely island of Filfla and packed the camera.

I and Malin decided to eat in the luxurious restaurant at Lapsi. We took a small nap in the car until the restaurant opened at 7pm. It was a very beautiful restaurant and excellent service. I ordered Quail and Malin was confused between 'Osterich' and Duck, but finally she took the latter. The food was superb, and quickly served. For this reasons the prices where on the expensive side, but was worth it. It was a pity I did not bring the camera with me for a photo here!!! We left at about 9pm and arrived home tired but delighted with this, once again, perfect event.

Finally here are few examples of wild flowers found in this area which are not so common in Malta:
Flower photo 1
Flower photo 2
Flower photo 3
Flower photo 4
Flower photo 4
Bonus photo!!: cute insect

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  Stephen "Marz" Malta 16-Mar-2004



Thu-18 to Sun-21
March 2004
Holiday at Gozo including a 6 hour walk along the Eastern Coast of the island
REFERENCE No.

A006-00

Between the 18-21st of March 2004, I and Malin went for a holiday to Gozo. The main event for this holiday was a planned walk around more or less half the coast of Gozo. This was going to take place on Saturday, 20th of March.

On the Thursday the 18th, we arrived to Marsalforn, Gozo at about noon, where we met Gorgina, the flat owner, and handed us the keys of the flat. After we settled our things we were hungry and an ideal place to find many open and good restaurants in one area was Xlendi. We drove there and parked the car in the small parking up the steep hill at the left side of the bay. I remembered someone suggesting a good restaurant somewhere near the steep street. There were 3 restaurants there, one was closed, one had expensive prices and the other one seamed Ok. It was called il-Cima restaurant. It was a perfect choice becasue we were very satisfied with the service and food.

While we were at the restaurant looking at the bay and cliffs, I an Malin decide to climb up the huge cliff at the right side of the bay. Since we were very full of food, it was a very good idea to make some extra exercise and climb the rocky cliff. It was not easy at all and quite exhausting but when we arrived we where rewarded by a magnificent view of whole Xlendi, fresh air, peacefulness and that nice effect when you are in a very high place looking down at the world under you! We took some photos (photo 1 and photo 2) and then we found a nice flattened area on the rocks and we slept there in the warm sunshine for an hour or so.

At about 5:30, we climbed back down, facing towards the church and valley of Xlendi and went back to the flat at Marsalforn. At night we just went for a walk around Marsalforn Bay. Although it was getting darker and darker, we walked along the seaside until we arrived at a very dark corner facing the seaside Marsalforn was hidden after the rocks and so it was nearly complete darkness. It was very romantic to stay by the seaside and watch the sparkling stars. Coldness and love made us hugged all the time. After several minutes here, we walked back to the flat. I used the digital camera screen light as torch, to avoid slipping in a pool or stumble on a rock.We reached the flat safely and slept.

Next day, 19th March, was a public holiday in Malta - The feast of Saint Joseph. We took a bit long to get out of bed. We went at Nadur and walked through the countryside and fields until we reached the coast, an area known as tac-cawl (crows). We walked along the coast until we reached a well-known bay called Hondoq ir-Rummien. The walk was a very beautiful one, it was warm sunshine with some clouds and wind. While walking through the countryside, we noted many many green lizards (gremxul) along our way. I find them very cute creatures. We also came across some nice small rocky beaches like this one in the photo . We stopped at Hondoq ir-Rummien for a break and here we have seen numerous jellyfish. There were two types, brown and small, and large with purple cross and brown dots. The latter also had long, thread-like, white tentacles which measured about 1 to 2 metres (or even more) in length.

At about 12:30 we had to walk all the way back so that we will be in time to eat in a nearby restaurant. At one point we got a bit lost, but then we did find our way up, near the car. Here there was a great view of Comino and Cominotto . We drove to one of my favourite's restaurants called Martin's Diner Restaurant. We arrived at about 1pm and had a very good meal. I took T-Bone steak, and a half roasted Nadur Chicken for Malin. At the restaurant we made friends with a family who were quite funny and friendly. Apparently the husband did not dine much and he was complaining about how hungry he was, and how long the food takes. Since we were nearly finished, I offered him our bowl of bread and we talked a bit with each other. Here, I and Simone, a dear work mate with whom we planned the 'large walk around Gozo' planned to meat this night at Victoria. She said that she has been in the queue waiting for the ferry for almost 3 hours.

We left the restaurant at about half past 2 and went to the flat. We had a mediocre bath (we could not fill much of the bath - maybe 1/5th of it - since the water geyser will not cope for 2 consecutive baths) and rested for a short while. At 7 we dressed up and met Simone and her boyfriend Piotr at 8pm in Victoria. Piotr was a tall polish-born, handsome guy who was moved from Ludz (Poland) to Ghajnsielem (Gozo) and living here for these past 10 years or so together with his family.

First we went to eat at a Bar+Restaurant called Red Star at Victoria. Here we met 2 dear friends of Piotr and Simone, James and his girlfriend Charlene. They were also nice, intelligent, educated people with whom you can talk and discuss on many topics and discussions. After our meal we walked through the heart of victoria, and its small narrow (and confusing) streets. The street in this photo is the most narrow I have seen. it is barely more than 1 metre wide! We also came across a cute white kitten who was looking down from the terrace. We then arrived at cafeteria which was called Sopos. This place had a very nice environment inside especially by the fact that the lights were left dim, We took a cappuccino and very good cakes. Malin took a carrot cake (?!) which resulted to be more good than I expected from a cake of carrots would taste like. I took a chocolate fudge, which was superb (thanks Piotr for the suggestion). We planned for tomorrow's walk and decided to walk from Hondoq ir-Rummien to Marsalforn, which is about 1/3 or little more of the whole perimeter of Gozo. It was late night, we were full and sleepy so we all decided to leave and go back home.

Saturday, 20th March was the big day for the walk, which we started to plan about 6 months ago. The weather was very good, not too warm, not too humid, and little wind. A description of the whole walk can be found in a dedicated photogallery (Click here). At the end we were quite tired, tanned, and had some blister in our toes, but we were very satisfied of the 6 hours walk along the Eastern coast of Gozo. We took a soft drink at Marsalforn, and then we went back with my car to the starting point of the walk at Hondoq ir-Rummien, where was Simon's car by which we arrived there this morning. Seeing the car was like travelling back in time as if we have just arrived to start the walk. We left each other and went back to Marsalforn to take a much-needed warm bath.

At evening I and decided to go to a Chinese restaurant. Simone and Piotr suggested us to go at FuHua at Victoria. When we left, Malin had a bad pain in her toe due to a 'blister' she could hardly walk. When we arrived we found out that it was full up. Since Malin was quite painful, it was not possible to walk around Victoria to find another restaurant so we went back at Marsalforn and hoped that teh Chinese restaurant (BLUE dragon) would have space. I told Malin to wait for me at the Hotel's sofa while I checked if the restaurant had a table for 2 available. I was very happy that he managed to find the last table. It happened to be the same table (no.8) that we ate for the last time, and also the time before. It is the worst table of them all becasue it is situated near some heating blocks. Well the food is also really good here and we definitely accepted the table. We took starters, main course and dessert too - our body deserved it after that long walk. We left back to the flat and maybe Malin could treat a bit her blister, but to our surprise, when she checked it out there was no blister - all it was was a spine from some plant, and she suffered all the pain which could easily been removed! Poor Picu !!!

On Sunday, 21st March the weather was really cloudy and windy. So we were a bit lucky that during the walk, yesterday, we had good weather. Being a bit tired and not much nice weather, we did not had any idea were to go. We took the car and started to drive and we finished at Gharb . We then passed in the countryside and walked till the chapel of Saint Dimitri. Then we went to Dwejra, and stayed in the car reading for a while. We started to get hungry and so we drove to find a restaurant. Since I really liked the food and service of that restaurant at Xlendi called Il-Cima, that we went last Friday we decided to go there again. I got another delicious Pizza from here, while Malin took pasta with blue cheese cream. I don't know if there is some spell, but it happened to take the same table of last Thursday was the one available near the windows. We had not taken starter to make space for the dessert. We ordered an Ice cream, and it was an excellent choice. it was huge and very very good, especially the Pistachia and Vanilla. We took more than 15minutes to finish it off.

We then met Simone and Piotr at Xlendi and went for a little walk near the tower at Xlendi. We then planned to play Monopoly at our flat. With us came also James and Charlene that we met on Friday. I started playing quite well but soon the smelly luck turned on Malin's side. We were all amazed of how lucky of the dice numbers she got repeatedly. I think she got more double-numbers (which means play another turn) than not in her dice throws!! I was the first loser and was a bit pissed off - I was extremely unlucky this time. Well we had fun and laughed a while during the game. At about 5pm everyone left and we packed our things since it was time to go back Malta.

We paid the flat owners and gave them the keys and met again Simone and Piotr so as to leave to Malta together with the same ferry. There we met more friends of Piotr, of which Jason and Blanche are the 2 I remember most. We had to wait for the next ferry so we had more time to get to know each other. The next ferry arrived soon and we talked abit more abroad. Then we arrived at the harbour of Cirkewwa in Malta nad we had to leave each other. We arrived home about 8pm. It was really a perfect holiday.

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  Stephen "MarZ" Malta 29-Mar-2004



Sat-27-Mar-2004 Piotr Birthday Party at Ulysses Lodge, Gozo
REFERENCE No.

A007-00

This weekend I and Malin have been invited by Simone and Piotr for a big party to celebrate Piotr 23rd Birthday, which actually took place on Wednesday 24th. At this time of writing I do not have yet asked permission to include much photos of the event, because maybe some one that I do not know would not like to be seen on the internet without first seeing the photo.

However I have included few photos of us, Piotr and Simone which I know that it is ok for them.

We arrived Gozo at about 2.20pm and we had to go to a farmhouse called Ulysses Lodge and situated just beneath Calypso's cave (near Ramla l-Hamra beach). I tried to take a short cut by passing via Nadur instead Marsalforn, but it resulted to be a much longer cut. (Picu is laughing right now! - she teased me about it alot). When we arrived, there was Piotr and his friend setting up the sound. We gave a look around the house and it was quite large, with air-conditions, TV, water geysers, 2 bathrooms and the best part being the wonderful view over Ramla Hamra Bay. They gave us the key of the farmhouse so that we could go somewhere else and return back whenever we wanted. We were not much hungry because we have eaten our sandwiches while waiting the ferry at Cirkewwa, but instead we went to Victoria, capital city of Gozo, to find a supermarket, because Malin wanted to buy some Maltese traditional food for her parents since she will be visiting them next Monday. She bought wine, figolli, and gbejniet today. We then went to the farmhouse and settled our things there. We slept a bit there too so as to be able to stay up late for tonight's party.

At this moment Simone phoned and we planned to meet her at Victoria. We first went to Arkadia and visited the shops in this shopping complex. Then we went to take a coffee and cake from Cordina. Here we fancied a white chocolate cake which I bought it for Piotr. The cake was really good, because during our stay at the Cafeteria I chosen to eat a piece of this cake with our coffee. Malin wanted another figolla from here (since here, they are much better from those at the supermarket), and Simone offered to pay for it (Thanks!). The next task was to carry some wood to the farmhouse for the making the barbecue's fire for tonights mega party - and our adventure to seek wood started.

We first went to Simone's uncle in Victoria who was a carpenter, who should have some spare wood and so take it with us. His son (hence Simone's cousin) was there and unfortunately he told us that there is not much spare wood for us. We did not know what to do. Simone phoned Piotr but he was away from his mobile. Her cousin, suggested to go to another uncle at Kercem. Some minutes earlier I asked Simone where is Kercem and now it ended up that we were going there for a duty! I think I would not go to Kercem again in my life - the streets are so confusing and difficult to drive, and also very narrow and couple of blind corners. There is nothing interesting either, just an old city beside Victoria. We finally arrived at their aunt's place and they had 2 large bags (xkejjer) of wood for us. The problem was now where to put them in the car. One fitted at the back but there was no space for the other one. Finally we found a solution, Malin, Simone and her cousin stayed at the back seats, the cake and figolla on Malin, and the 2nd bag of wood on the front seat. At Victoria there was crazy traffic so we took a longer way, but for me less stressful to drive, and also more safe for us, my car, the wood and the cake. I and Malin finally arrived at the farm house, dressed up and watched TV until we waited for Simone and Piotr to come.

At about 8pm they came and we started to organize a bit the table, food and other things for the barbecue. Then came Marie and her cousin, named BoBo, of which his real name I do not yet know. Next came James and Charlene which we already know from last weekend. While waiting for the others to come we watched the photos that I developed mostly from last walk round Gozo. Then many guys and girls started to come over that I lost the count and we did not even asked names for. There where many dips, crackers, snacks etc on half of the table, and more than 60 bottles of spirits and wines on teh other half!!! Additionally there was also sausages and hot dogs for barbecuing. At about 9pm the music started and we were about 35 people. So far I knew only Blanche and Jason from the last weekend in Gozo while waiting the ferry back to Malta. Now, the fire for the barbecue was started. few minutes later another group of about 15 people came, and now we counted more or less 50. The music was high, almost classic and Pop Rock, and so Malin liked it very much (unlike me!).

We soon started to eat the snacks and filling the plastic cup with alcohol. What we have done cannot be much described here, both because there were so many thing happening together, and because after some time my recording device in my mind went out of function with the alcohol. However I remember chatting with Charlene about her scholarship in China, with Blanch and Marie about stars, and that we waited and 'polite' refused a batch of Barbecued sausages which where over-burned and ccharcoal We went again after 10 mins and I took 2 safely barbecues sausages for me and Malin. With the sauces available on the table and fried onions, it turned out to be a very delicious hotdog. Even after 1 hour or so, some were completely drunk, laying on the sofa. I and Malin were only about 5/10 alcohol level (0 = early morning, 10 = unable to walk). When it felt hot or overcrowded we just went in one of the terraces outside for fresh air or just to be able to talk without shouting. One occasion I, Malin Simone, Blanche, Marie, Bobo and Jason and were on the terrace and started to dance there. (Bobo did not feel to dance today!) We laughed a lot and started to take some funny photos like this. One of my favourite is however this sweet photo of Simone kissing Piotr with his expression sort-of "what the fu**?!"

I brought more drinks for me and Malin. I remember we took Baileys, several Malibu with fruit juice (my favourite), several cups of Wine, Vodka, and other spirits that I forgot. Once I mixed Vodka, Malibu, little white wine and orange juice in one cup. I do not remember the taste, but it is not worth to remember.

At about alcohol level 7, I am Malin where very happy roaming with the other freaks in the house. We danced a lot mostly with Marie, Simone, Blanche to mention few examples - we really had fun and laughed. Here is a photo of such an action. It is a pity I am not in the photo too but someone has to take photos! (that's me). At about 01:00 many where either unconcious, or sleeping, or wiggle to walk. I an Malin where 8/10 alcohol level, but still walking perfectly and knowing what we were doing. Also we were not tired at all, and could have danced more, but there where no many dancing. I and Malin went outside and here I met a guy who was studying for a doctor. We had a long conversation about medicine, and science and it helped alot to lower the alcohol level by one scale. We went back and it could be said that the party was nearly over. I still wanted a last drink, and there where still much available and to choose from.

At about 2:30 the music was turned off, many guys left, other where just lying on sofas or in their cars and there was just a small group in our bedroom. They made an effort and left soon after. There was a complete mess in the main room, and especially the bathrooms.

I am not trying to make an emphasy on the mess. The day after (Sunday) many of the guys at the part come to help us to clean the farmhouse, and in a question of one hour, everywhere was spic and span again, probably cleaner then before the party. All of us gave a hand in the cleaning bu there where 4 or 5 guys who really made the dirty cleaning which I do not know their names but deserve a big congratulations and thank you.

I and Malin spent most of the morning chatting with Simone, Blanche and cool guy with name George who was responsible for the keys of the farmhouse (who was also in the party last night). Simone was feeling really sick and had a terrible headache.

We packed and took all our things and went at Piotr house and had the nice opportunity to meat his parents. Hes father congratulated me for the website which was given and admired by his brother in Sweden and college in NewYork. We had a slice of cake that I bought to Piotr for his birthday and then I and Malin had to leave back to Malta.

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  Stephen "MarZ" Malta 29-Mar-2004



29-Mar-2004 Picu Malin leaves to Finland
REFERENCE No.

A008-00

Today I woke about an hour earlier so as to transport Malin to the airport. She was leaving back to Finland. No, its not becasue we had a terrible fight, oppositely we have a wonderful relationship. She had to leave to visit her family, especially her mother who turned to be quite sick lately. The last moments at the airport where a bit sad. I will not forget easily her half-teary green eyes that I saw today. From here I wish you Malin to have a nice stay at Bennas and give all the best to you family esp. your mum. Good Luck. At least we can know about each other's happenings from this Picu Marz event Diary.

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Comments and feedback to this message
REFERENCE No. WRITTEN BY LOCALITY / COUNTRY SUBMITTED ON
A008-01 Malin Hagglund Bennas, Finland 03-Apr-2004
TITLE:    Long and exhausting trip to Bennas
A008-02 Stephen "MarZ" Malta 04-Apr-2004
TITLE:    Long and exhausting trip to Bennas - prt 2



Sat 03-Apr-2004 Sunny spring day at the summer cottage, Larsmo (Finland)
REFERENCE No.

A009-00

I have been very lucky with the weather so far during my stay here in Finland, it has been sunny every day and between 0 and +10 degrees. This Saturday morning I decided to wash some of the windows of my parentsí house, so I fetched a ladder from our storage room and got started. I really enjoyed the work on the sunny side of the house, but in the shadow it was freezingly cold (especially for my poor hands), so I did not clean all the windows.

After lunch I and my parents decided to drive to our summer cottage in Larsmo, to enjoy the sun and the view there. There is still quite a lot of snow in the Forrest, so we did not manage to arrive all the way to the cottage by car. Luckily my father had foreseen this, so he had brought his snow scooter and gave my mother a ride with it. I walked behind them, it was only about 1 km distance. When we arrived to the cottage we sat down for a while on the terrace sunbathing (only the face, it is still too cold to remove the winter clothes) and watched the brave people out on the ice. Because of the sunny and windy weather the past week the ice is melting quickly and is getting very weak, so we did not dare to take the risk and walk on the ice.

Instead we went inside the cottage and lit a fire in the fireplace, and after a while we barbequed some sausages and made coffee. It tasted delicious, and now we had enough strength to walk back to the car and go back home.

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  Malin "Picu" Bennas, Finland 04-Apr-2004



Mon, 5-Apr-2004 How I spent my 30th Birthday
REFERENCE No.

A010-00

Today was my 30th birthday, and so I did not go to work. Fortunately the weather was perfect today after some days of dull clouds an wind But, unfortunately my girlfriend was in Finland, so I spent most of this day alone. Most of my friends were at work. In the morning I had several duties to be made like buying spare parts, checking shops, and talk with some people. Then I had planned to go to Gozo and have a small holiday on my own. Well the main purpose was to take photographs of a rare plant called Asphodel fistulosus which I only found in Gozo.

They changed the queuing system at the ferry so it was a bit confusing. I left with the ferry about 11:45am and at about noon I was in Gozo. I went to Ramla Bay, where this time I managed to take a good short cut from Nadur, instead passing all way round from Victoria and Marsalforn. There were not much people at the Bay - it was ideal to lay down in the sun. However I walked towards Calypso cave area, until I reached Ulysses Lodge where the plants I wanted to photograph were located. I spend about 90 mins taking photos from my digital camera and accessories. They really came fine.

At about 2pm I got very hungry and I was undecided if to go at Xlendi, or much nearby at Nadur. Since the Ramla bay was invited I decided to eat at Martin's Diner at Nadur and the return back to the bay and lay there for some time. I was very hungry and very worried that on an un-active Monday the restaurants will be closed - they do not know it's my birthday. To my surprise, Martins's Diner was open with nearly all tables free. I did not wanted to stay upstairs in the open air because it was windy, so this time (and for the first time) I stayed inside. It was also very beautiful and cosy. The food took a while to be served but then it was very good (and not expensive). I ordered lasagna, Cheeslet+Beans Pie (very large indeed) local wine and Sprite.

Here the local wine is served in 1 or 1.5 L bottles. Sometimes it is not so good, but today it was superrb (I think they really knew it was my birthday!) I drank so much that I got quite drunken and stood up with difficulty when it came to pay. All the training that I took few years ago - hence of drinking but staying sober as much as possible to enjoy the nights did come into action today, because after about 500ml of wine I could still be 'somehow' sober. I paid and went to drive to Ramla to have a deserved peaceful nap there

I could drive normally, despite the alcohol and I found my way back to Ramla without any problems. For me, when I know that I am little drunk while driving, makes me super alert and very cautious. It is nearly safer than normal conditions. Of course I drive slowly too and keep long distances from my front driving car. So there is nothing to worry about my precious readers and the price of this drive was the wonderful beach of Ramla. It got a bit windy, but I found a nice sheltered place between bamboo pipes growing in the wild there at the back of the beach. It was just a peaceful 2 hour nap in the warm sunshine, sound of waves, full tummy and alcoholized blood.

At about 5pm, I woke up and I was now in perfect normal conditions again. I went for a half an hour walk around the countryside there and then left to Mgarr to return back to Malta. On the ferry I was thinking what it is the best in life whether to stay free, independent but 'alone'(I mean without love rather than alone) , or have to make all those sacrifices to build a family. While for many conventional people (including me when I was much younger) it is automatic that they want to marry, modern people have these decisions to make. What I see that happens is that a good proportion of the conventional people will start taking into account whether if it was good to marry or not after few - several years of their marriage. Some of these stay, some divorce, some plays a double life.

Anyway, lets not get philosophical, I arrived home about 7pm and then chatted with Malin via MSN messenger for a while. It wasn't much amusing chat but I got a my 4th happy birthday greetings of my birthday from her family 'A Cappella'. Aah!, my 5th half-greeting came at night from my father : "you have your bitrthday today? " Other earlier greetings came from Karen (friends when we were students at the university) and Bernardet from Hungary who sent me a nice birthday card, and finally but not least from Malin of course. Days later I got more greetings, but in my opinion what counts most are those greetings on the exact birth date - the 5th of APRIL.

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  Stephen 'MarZ' Malta 15-Apr-04
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