Top 5 Ways to Get Around Malta

Train travel may be one of the most relaxing and effective ways to travel, but it’s not possible to get everywhere by rail. The Maltese islands in southern Europe are a classic case in point. This small archipelago isn’t traversed by train tracks, so while you’re visiting the islands, you’ll need to think of other ways to get around. Luckily, there are plenty of options. Here are five of the best modes of transport on Malta, once you’ve landed.

3409461789_555fdc33ba

1) Bus

The distinctive, brightly painted vintage buses that used to be a feature of this country may have gone, but what the new bus system lacks in character it makes up for in efficiency and comfort. In 2013, the system was taken over by Public Transport Malta, which was run by the Government, and offers impressive coverage of the island. Many of the bus routes run from the terminus in Valletta and they snake out to virtually all parts of the main island. You can purchase tickets on the buses, at the airport, in Valletta and Sliema bus stations or from machines that are found near to the stops.

2) Taxi

Taxis are also a good way to get around. Official cabs are white and have a taxi sign on their roofs, and they’re usually Mercedes. Drivers are now obliged by law to use meters to determine the exact fare unless they’re traveling from the airport or sea port. Set fares are offered for these journeys. As an alternative to these white cabs, you can use unsigned black taxis operated by private companies, which tend to be cheaper. The best way to book a cab is to ask your hotel reception for the contact details of their preferred service.

7402481738_7aae588db6_z

3) Ferry

It’s easy to get between the islands too. You can travel from Malta to Gozo on the service operated by Gozo Channel. Departing every 45 minutes between 6am and 6pm, and around every 90 minutes overnight, this car ferry runs from Ċirkewwa on the main island to Mġarr on Gozo. There’s also a car ferry from Sa Palma to Gozo that runs on Mondays, Tuesdays and Thursdays and takes some foot passengers.

4) Bike

In addition, it’s easy to get around Malta on two wheels. Bikes are available for hire from around €5 per day and shops offering rentals and repair services can be found in the main towns. You can also book yourself on organised group tours. Meanwhile, with its quieter roads, Gozo is particularly good for cycling.

5) On foot

Last but not least, there are lots of good hiking routes to be found. Your best bet if you want to stretch your legs is to get away from the urban areas and resorts and head to more secluded spots. Picturesque walking areas include Dingli in the north of the main island and Delimara Point in the south. Much of Gozo is great for hiking too.

So, while it may not have any trains, Malta certainly isn’t short of transport options.

Leave a Comment

Filed under malta, travel

Boston Bacon and Beer Festival 2015

shojo boston

I have been dying to go to this event for literally YEARS. Every time it came around it would sell out immediately and I was never able to attend until this year. In their 6th annual year, eatBoston’s Boston Bacon and Beer Festival moved venues to Fenway Park and so could accommodate more people. Even with space for additional attendees, the event was still a sell out.  I found out why!

While it was fun to suck down some cold pops and sample some new brews, the beer wasn’t the highlight of this event for me at all. The inventive chefs of 38 restaurants were what stole the show. The things they did with bacon were incredible. My personal favorites were…

The Bacon Doughnut by Blackbird Doughnuts

blackbird doughnuts

A Bacon Smore by jm Curley

JM Curley

Bacon Flavored Ice Cream by Lincoln Tavern

https://instagram.com/thercj

The “Beast in Show” winner of the event voted by Bacon & Beer attendees was Shojo Boston with their Togarashi Mantou Stuffed with Bacon & Cheddar. Unfortunately, I didn’t try this one out.

shojo boston

Other bites I’m disappointed I never got around to trying were the Bacon Mac & Cheese and the Maple Bacon Cotton Candy by Sweet Cheeks BBQ. (apparently a favorite for several years)

The winner received the obvious recognition but even better $750 donation toward their charity of choice. That’s right, this delicious fun-filled event has a charitable aspect too! In fact, the entry fees to the event went to several charities including Lovin’ Spoonfuls – dedicated to rescuing and distributing healthy food that would otherwise be discarded to organizations where it’s most impactful. Community Servings – not-for-profit food and nutrition program that provides medically tailored meals to people with critical and chronic diseases in Massachusetts. And the Red Sox Foundation – raising monies for several programs focused on children and families in Massachusetts.

fenway

What I loved and what I didn’t love:

Fenway was an AMAZING venue. Perfect for this event. Better yet was getting access to the grandstands when the park was practically empty – what a treat!

Since this was my virgin Boston Bacon and Beer Festival I didn’t know exactly what to expect but one thing for sure, I thought I’d get a TON of plain ole bacon and those tasty strips were NO WHERE to be found. Also, carting around a map, beer and plate for the various tastings (as well as an iPhone for photo evidence) I wish there had been a few empty tables scattered about so that attendees could put down things and enjoy a bit more instead of juggling things in their hands. Other than that, I thought this event was truly fun and worth the ticket price! I’ll be back next year AND I hope it’s still held at Fenway. I know I have a few followers that now want to attend too.

6 Comments

Filed under boston, massachusetts, travel

Fun Jewels on Loan with Rocksbox

rocksbox

Have you ever heard of Rocksbox? It’s a new discovery I have found that I simple adore. Rocksbox is a premium jewelry subscription box where you become a “Shine Insider” and rent from an ever-changing inventory of designer jewelry – unlimited – for as little as $19 a month. As a frequent traveler, jewelry is one of the smallest, easiest and best ways to change-up an outfit so I love the idea of borrowing items for trips. AND it’s as easy as 1-2-3 to sign up. Look…

rocksbox

 

rocksbox

 

rocksbox

As a “Shine Insider” you get $10 every month to apply toward anything you’d like to purchase from your Rocksbox at an “Insider” discounted price. You may be thinking where’s the catch… there is NONE. Your Rocksbox is shipped free to you with a free pre-paid return label for when you are ready to ship your jewels back. The wish list process is simple. You take a survey to help curate your style. Next, you can look at every option or narrow your options down by your interests. For example, I almost always wear the same earrings so I only chose rings, bracelets and necklaces for my wish list. You can leave feedback expressing specific things or you can leave it up to a Rocksbox stylist to curate your box. I left it up to the stylist and was so excited to receive my first box. I was not disappointed. It was like receiving a birthday gift.

rocksbox

The Rocksbox arrived in a darling sturdy box with a big ribbon bow to untie. Once you open it up there’s a personalized note from the stylist. I was super impressed with the quality and presentation of everything in my Rocksbox and have literally worn the two items that the stylist chose for me almost daily.

rocksbox

Even better, Rocksbox asked me to be a #RBItGirl and that means YOU can try Rocksbox for free for your first month using my promo code LAURENDIXOXO. I can’t wait to receive my second Rocksbox soon. Watch my Instagram to see what the stylists selected for me next!

rocksbox

Rocksbox treated me to a three-month trial subscription so I could review and share my thoughts on their service. I LOVE IT – it is completely LOLA APPROVED!

lola_blackpink

3 Comments

Filed under fashion, travel

Fun Forecast: New Finds in 4 Great US Cities

Over the course of four weeks this spring I traveled to 3 out of 4 of the United States’ biggest cities and was lucky enough to uncover some great new finds in four US cities. From tours, to shopping, to galleries to where to see and be seen, check out if any of these ideas tickle your fancy too.

New York City

still house whiskey

Small batch distillers in NYC have become ALL the rage so much so that you can find self-guided and somewhat more official distillery tours offered there now. While I have not officially tried the Brooklyn Booze Trail (self-guided tour showcasing the borough’s new generation of spirits, from whiskey and rum to grappa and hibiscus liqueur) or New York Craft Cocktail Tour, I have sampled some of these small batch distillers’ products. My favorites were The Noble Experiment, a small batch rum distiller and Van Brunt Stillhouse, makers of rum, whiskey and grappa. I only sampled their American whiskey and while I would not say I’m a whiskey connoisseur, I found Van Brunt Stillhouse’s whiskey delicious. One or both of these tours are on my radar for a future visit 100%.

Los Angeles

abbot kinney

Abbot Kinney Blvd. located in the Venice Beach neighborhood of LA is a cool street full of fun boutiques, galleries, restaurants and amazing architecture. One of my notable favorites is Beach House Brand – a boutique meant to inspire wanderlust – carrying personally curated items to bring you an “Endless Summer” travel experience of your dreams. I found beautiful dresses, never before seen bikini brands and all kinds of awesome travel accessories. Burro was my other absolute do-not-miss. They carry an eclectic, thoughtful selection of items from all over the world – from stationery, jewelry and home decor to modern toys for kids. Burro says that while their shops are a destination location for tourists they remain the local “go to” favorite. I found some of the best greeting cards ever there as well as a very entertaining selection of gift items.

Miami

peter tunney

Peter Tunney Experience is a gallery located in the Wynwood Walls area of Miami. Peter’s work helps us redefine our way of interacting with and understanding the world around us. Using optimistic headlines such as ”BELIEVE”, “GRATTITUDE” and “CHANGE THE WAY YOU SEE EVERYTHING”, Tunney is counter attacking the media’s constant relay of stories of death, destruction, hysteria and greed. It is a refreshing way to think positively and not think or live in fear. The Wynwood Walls area is an international destination within itself, giving Miami a place to gravitate to and explore and serving as tribute to graffiti and street art, which has been somewhat under appreciated and not always respected historically. Both of these things are an absolute, take the time out, must-see.

Chicago

soho house chicago

Opened a little less than a year, Soho House Chicago is a private club with some public spaces such as their ground floor restaurants and bar. Soho House was founded in 1995, in London, as a private members’ club for those in film, media and creative industries BUT you don’t have to be a member to enjoy a drink at Fox Bar or a slice at Pizza East. The Allis is a spot within Soho House Chicago for a coffee, quick bite or cocktail. Also, let’s not forget Chicken Shop where you can enjoy free range chicken from the spit. Now, if you are lucky enough to be a member or know one, I think the roof top deck is the place to see and be seen while viewing downtown Chicago’s skyline. Located in a historic former belt factory in the Fulton Market neighborhood, Soho House Chicago should be a must-do.

PS – all four of these US cities I’ve highlighted have a Soho House!

5 Comments

Filed under chicago, los angeles, miami, new york, travel, USA

Catrinka – Every Bag has a Story

untitled-603_large

I’m very excited to tell you about this amazing company I’ve discovered Catrinka that makes ethical fashion accessories from around the world. BUT there is so much more to these bags and accessories than that… Every bag really has a story because these bags are employing women in countries that meet Catrinka’s ethical criteria.

Catrinka is about leveraging the power of women and girls to invest in each other and the future. Catrinka pieces are made by women, who invest twice as much of their income in their families as men. And with each bag sold, Catrinka provides a week or more of education and mentoring in crucial life skills for adolescent girls on the margin, so that they have the tools to take charge of their own future. Girls who have the ability to postpone marriage and childbirth beyond the age of 12 or 14 can make a better life for themselves, and then invest in the next generation.

Now, this all sounds well and good but even better is that these bags are just wonderful. I’m in LOVE with their new Indian Summer Collection. India is a colorful country I recently visited and this collection reflects that wide range of brilliant colors. India is also a place of extreme poverty and opportunities for women are far less than men. Here are the stories behind the Indian Summer Collection.

The Kanta Weekender

WeekenderBlue-061_large

The Kanta Weekender is a hand drawn Indian street scene embellished with hand embroidery and mirrors by a mother-daughter team in Jodhpur, Rajasthan. The bag is named for Kanta, the 33 year old daughter on the team. Bhagwati, Kanta’s 52 year old mother learned the embroidery craft from her mother and taught Kanta when she was 10. Kanta and Bhagwati were both born and raised in Jodhpur, known as the blue city for its tradition of washing homes in light blue. This dreamy bag fits this imagery perfectly, don’t you agree?

IMG_3497_large

The embroidery work used for the snowflake pattern comes from Chikankari, originating out of Lucknow, and is called the Ulta Bakhiya stitch. The mirror work is traditional to Jodhpur. Each panel takes 2 days to complete. Locally, Kanta and Bhagwati are known for their hand embroidery talents, and Catrinka is excited to bring their work to the world. Each bag made provided 3 days of fair work to women in India. The sale of each bag will provide a week of life skills mentoring for adolescent indigenous Mayan girls through Catrinka’s NGO partner, Redmi.

Lalita Beach Bag

PinkTote-028_large

The Lalita Beach Bag is a Lola Approved item since it is SO PINK! And, PLEASE, don’t the “beach” fool you. This bag has become my full-time summer bag. The inside is lined with contrasting fabric and 3 pockets perfect for holding everything from your iPhone to your favorite lip glosses. lola_blackpinkThe bag was stitched and assembled from market fabric in a small woman-owned workshop in New Delhi by a number of women including Lalita. The workshop was established in 1996 with the motive of reviving the dying arts of India, and providing regular work to home workers – women in India who traditionally work irregularly from their home to earn income while also retaining responsibility for their work at home. The workshop’s directors also run and fund a girls school that offers free tuition and midday meals. Each bag provided 1 day of fair work to women in India. The sale of each bag will provide a day of life skills mentoring for adolescent indigenous Mayan girls through Catrinka’s NGO partner.

Anita Bucket Bag

BucketBag-073_large

I just adore the Anita Bucket Bag. It reminds me of a dear friend, also named Anita, who just loved colorful things and would have worn this bag with true style. The bag was stitched and assembled from market fabric in a small woman-owned workshop in New Delhi by a number of women including Anita. The workshop was established twenty years ago to preserve the dying arts of India, and providing regular work to home workers. The workshop’s directors also run and fund a girls school that offers free tuition and midday meals. Each bag provided 1 day of fair work to women in India. The sale of each bag will provide a day of life skills mentoring for adolescent indigenous Mayan girls through Catrinka’s NGO partner.

Educating a girl is the single most effective way to reduce poverty around the world, and can literally change the world. We invest in girls because when girls have full access to their rights and are empowered and supported, they transform structures of poverty and inequity. That not only positively impacts their own lives, but entire communities, countries, and the world.
updated_info_graphic_1024x1024

More on Catrinka’s NGO Efforts

Since early 2014, they have been working on a pilot project with a Population Council program called Abriendo Oportunidades (AO) and one of their NGO’s, Redmi in Guatemala. AO is a community-based initiative (it was founded by the first female Guatemalan doctor) to provide education and life skills mentoring to indigenous Mayan girls aged 8-19. In Guatemala, 14% of girls start secondary school, 3% graduate, and only 1 in 10,000 goes to university. There is enormous work to be done to make it possible for these girls to access the life skills and basic education they need to survive, and the further training and education they need to thrive. AO has found that many girls who enter the program between the ages of 8-12 face enormous pressure not to continue past age 15, because they need to generate an income. The pilot project with AO is to develop a mentoring program for these girls (aged 15-19), which will give them an excuse to spend time in their safe spaces; while they are there to be educated on reproductive health and other crucial information by the mentors in our program; to develop their social network with their peers; and to practice and deepen their financial literacy skills.

HOW LOVELY that you can do all of this just with the purchase of a beautiful bag!

7 Comments

Filed under fashion, india, travel