A Travellerspoint blog

June 2019

Cornwall, England

sunny 22 °C
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A direct flight from Malta to Exeter was good time saver after thinking we'd have to get from a London airport. We'd been to Cornwall before however planned to go to areas we hadn't been before landing at a friends wedding in St Austell.

We picked up a car from the airport and drove through some of England finest scenery and villages. We drove to Port Isaac which is a small fishing village on the Atlantic coast of north Cornwall before winding our way down to England's surfing mecca - Newquay for the night. A cool place - and we fittingly ate some tasty pizza with a cider at The Stable right by famous Fistral Beach.


We explored the town the next day and then toured through the picturesque St Ives which we loved right before getting swooped by aggressive sea gulls trying to eat our lunch!

Zennor was our next stop before we went on a walk from Kenidjack and down the Kenidjack Valley to the ocean. With family roots from this old mining area, it was great to experience. From St Just, we made our way to a nice Airbnb in Penzance before enjoying some local Chinese cuisine!


The following day stared with a visit to the iconic point 'Lands End', which is the most westerly point of mainland England. St Michael's Mount was next which is a tidal island and civil parish that is linked to the town of Marazion by a man-made causeway of granite setts. The island is only passable between mid-tide and low water. A beautiful area with fish and chips, followed by tea and scones adding even more to the experience!

The wedding at St Austell, right by the water was idyllic - great times into the night.


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Silema, Valetta & St Paul's Bay, Malta

sunny 28 °C
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Malta got off to a rocky start at the airport - as my luggage didn't arrive! A first for me and according to the attendant in Malta, it's a regular occurrence on flights from Rome! It was great to catch up with Lucy with good times ahead.

Malta is a fascinating place to visit.It's small landmass however there's a huge variety of things to discover and it has immense historic significance. As it's located in the centre of the Mediterranean, the area has been fought over fiercely which has led to vast fortifications that need to be seen to be believed. That combined with rocky coastlines, limestone cliffs and golden beaches with crystal clear water, it's a wonderful place to explore.

We based ourselves in Gzira for the first few nights in an Airbnb - and used it as a base to explore Valletta, The Three Cities and we also did a day trip to Marsaxlokk, a fishing village in the islands south east. From there we walked to St Peter's Pool and Il-Kalanka Bay for a couple of swims and a picnic.

St Paul's bay was next allowing us to do easily do trips to other parts of the country. The island of Gozo has loads to explore, Pop Eye Village was quirky and fun, Mdina was beautiful and we relaxed on the beach at Golden Bay.


Be sure to check out:

  • Valletta - A UNESCO World Heritage site, referred to as 'one of the most concentrated historic areas in the world'.
  • St John's Co-Cathedral - Malta's most impressive church, encrusted with rich ornamentation.
  • The Three Cities - A wonderful mix of buildings and fortresses, with an authentic insight into Maltese life, and without the crowds.
  • Ġgantija Temples - Large megalithic temples with 6m high walls, spanning over 40m and dating from 3600 to 3000 BC.
  • Mdina - One of Europe's finest examples of an ancient walled city with a mix of medieval and baroque architecture.
  • Marsaxlokk & St.Peter's Pool - An idyllic fishing village just a few kilometres walk from a stunning natural swimming pool.
  • Popeye Village - A purpose-built film set village that's now a fun park. A great place to spend the afternoon.
  • Golden Bay - one of the island's best large beaches, with golden sand and warm water.


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Alberobello - Bari, Italy

sunny 29 °C
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We reluctantly left Matera and drove on to another gem in the Puglia region - Alberobello.

It’s known for its trulli, whitewashed stone huts with conical roofs and has around 1,500 of them! It's akin to a Smurf village and wowed us yet again.

We stayed in an Airbnb for two nights which allowed us to wander through the streets and enjoy some great Italian food - pizza, pasta, ice-cream, taralli and calzone di cipolla and more.


We also took a half day trip to Grotte di Castellana, a vast and complex area of underground caves that extend for a length of 3348 metres and reaches a depth of 122 metres. It's Italy's longest natural subterranean network with an incredible range of underground landscapes, and extraordinary stalactite and stalagmite formations.

From Alberobello, we drove to Bari via some other Italian coastal gems - the towns of Monopoli and Polignano a Mare.


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Matera, Italy

sunny 31 °C
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Matera is not the stereotypical destination to check out in Italy, however it was a highlight of our trip. Not only is it visually stunning, with a fascinating maze of streets and laneways, on a hillside right by a massive gorge, it's also said to be the world's third-longest continuously inhabited human settlement. The first inhabitants were here some 7,000 years ago living in natural caves in the tufa limestone

This year the UNESCO World Heritage Site was awarded the title of the 'European Capital of Culture 2019' and is quickly becoming one of the country's most singular tourist destinations. It's a city that makes you feel like you've been transported back in time and offers so much to travellers.

We explored the town on foot and ate some delicious food at Trattoria del Caveoso.

Be sure to check out:

  • Palombaro Lungo - A giant cistern lying under the city's main square with arches carved out of the existing rock, it is huge and was still supplying water to the city within living memory.
  • Casa Noha & Casa-Grotta di Vico Solitario - A glimpse into the how life used to be in Matera. The house within the cave has a bed in the middle, a loom, a room for manure and an area for a donkey and a pig.
  • Cathedral - A stunning 13th-century Pugliese-Romanesque cathedral set up high.
  • Museo della Scultura Contemporanea - Italian sculpture from the late 19th century to the present day with examples of graphic art, jewellery and ceramics.
  • Chiesa di Madonna delle Virtù - This monastic complex from the 10th century is one of the most important monuments in Matera with dozens of chambers carved into the limestone.
  • Chiesa San Pietro Barisano - From the 12th century, St Peter's is Matera's largest rupestrian churches.
  • Matera Gravina - Take the trip across the gorge and explore more caves as well as getting a great view back over Matera itself.


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Pompeii, Italy

sunny 28 °C
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Pompeii is home to one of Europe's most fascinating archaeological sites. The ancient Italian city, now a UNESCO World Heritage Site, was buried under 4 to 6 m of volcanic ash and pumice in AD 79 following the giant volcanic eruption of Mount Vesuvius which towers beside it.

Now largely excavated, it has revealed a preserved city showing a unique snapshot of Roman life, frozen at the moment it was buried. Roads, buildings, paintings, as well as entombed wooden objects and human bodies are on display. It's one of the most popular tourist attractions in Italy and fascinated us for hours as we explored the vast area.

The following day, we drove up to the volcano that caused the destruction - Mount Vesuvius. You drive part the way up, get a shuttle bus to a second point and then climb the rest of the way right to the crater. The views across Pompeii, Naples (which is Europe's most densely populated city), and the ocean is immense. As is the view into the crater itself which is steaming and a stark reminder of it's the destructive forces that lie deep inside.


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