Housewarming Party

7 07 2011

As I have already written before last week I moved apartment again. I will be sharing with my friend Monika, and the other room is now occupied by a guy called Joe, who moved in on Sunday. Therefore last Tuesday I invited a couple of friends (Ross, David, Zahra, Ali, Monika, Kevin and Joe) to a housewarming party/Maltese evening. I had a couple of Maltese treats such as gbejniet, twistees, galletti and Kinnie with me, thanks to visits by Bernard and Marco. To them I added a couple of other Maltese (and my favourites), thanks to Ross who took me to Tesco on the Monday.

Therefore together with the above treats I made Hobz biz-Zejt, garlic bread, stuffed mushrooms and bragjoli (with a potato salad and fresh salad). I was mostly scared about the bragjoli as I had never cooked them before, but thanks to Bernard who supplied me with his mum’s recipe and some trial and error I got it 🙂

Myself and Ross were at my place first, cos he thankfully came to help me in my preparations. Then came Kevin and Monika who decided to cook a Carrot cake for the evening (MMMMM…no complaints there). Then at the appointed time of 7pm (actually a bit later but Oh Well) Zahra and Ali and then David joined.

Overall it was a great evening. We enjoyed our time together I think…I enjoyed it at least…it was my favourite foods, with my favourite people in Ireland and some of my favourite Maltese music…although this at the end was not appreciated by all grrrrrrr. I think no one really liked the music, cos they even switched it off at some times…oh well. The conversation was flowing, the food was nearly all eaten and we laughed a lot. It was good to also meet our new apartment mate Joe for an extended period of time. He seems to be really nice…and a good storyteller…something he said I am definitely not…well I have never said I was…I am short and to the point…never see the reason to extend a 2minute story to 15mins…but oh well.

It was a great evening, and I look forward to a Polish evening?…a Scottish evening? or perhaps an Irish evening…possibly another Iranian evening. Will see!

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Day six: Home time :( and Final Thoughts

14 06 2011

We got up early enough as we had to be at the airport at 10:30am for Ann’s flight to Luton. We said our goodbyes and headed straight through security. We had no trouble there. It was definitely a lot easier than security at Dublin Airport. We were two hours early for our flight but on time for Ann’s. We queued up with her until we could go no further. We then went to our gate where we got to the top of the non –priority queue but didn’t get our front seats. We got seats beside sweaty mc sweaterson . It was depressing landing in Dublin with the clouds and cold [It definitely was 😦 :(] after our great weekend .

Finally thoughts: 

Overall it was great holiday. Malta is a great place to visit as it’s steeped in history and the people our lovely. My highs were the temples, Mdina by night, swimming with the Fenechs, Seaside reataurant and the fishing village. My lows were getting burnt but apparently I can’t avoid that. I’d like to thank all the Fenechs for their wonderful family [Thank you…I chose my family especially to make you happy with them :P] especially Cec’s Mum for putting up with all of us. I’d also like to thank Bernard for driving us around and being our tour guide. Ann it was great to finally have a conversation with you and you’re as nice as you sounded on Gmail chat. Also want to thank Stephen for giving up his room for me. Zahra and Ali , it was great to a have you with us your cooking and company made the trip great. Last but not least I have to thank Cec for inviting me without her the whole trip wouldn’t be possible. She’s a great host , tour guide and lab mate [WEEEEEEEEE]. I will definitely be back to Malta [OH NOOOOO!!!!!!! LOL…you are welcome whenever you want].

By Ross O’Dwyer





Day Five: Byes, Fenech swimming, Crafts village,

14 06 2011

I awoke to the sound of a hair dryer. Ann was getting her done in the house by the Fenech’s personal hair dresser. Zahra and Ali were taking their flight to Rome :(. So we dropped them to the airport and said our goodbyes we then went to the lovely fishing village of Marsaxlokk. The weather was really nice. As Zahra said she left us the nice weather. I had a look around the touristy stalls and bought a little figure of a traditional fishing boat.

Marsaxlokk Bay

Marsaxlokk Bay

We went to visit the ancestral home of the Fenech’s. Cec’s three aunts live in this huge house with a lovely garden in the old part Zurrieq. Ann was there already rocking her new hairstyle. Only two of the aunts were there at the time. All three are aunts are used for their cookery and sewing skills [And for their wonderful company too :)]. We had some Kinnie and torta stuffed with peas. It was great. I got to see some pics of the twins when they were young. It was difficult to tell them apart.

We then dropped in on Bernard and his Dad and their boat. I was then given a “choice” of “more battlements” in the three cities or a refreshing swim so judging by the facial expression of Cec I “chose” swimming. After a making a quick phone call to their mum where the sisters ordered her to get ready for swimming. We then went to the house for a quick change into our swimmers and we were off to Ghar Lapsi. The water looked lovely and clear. It was strange for me to get into the sea where the water is up shoulders straight away. I think the Fenechs found the water a bit too cold but for me it was much warmer than the Atlantic Ocean. We were treading water for a bit which was also unusual for me. It’s normally so cold that we have to keep moving! It was nice relaxing though.

At Ghar Lapsi

At Ghar Lapsi

After our swim and moving the lazy dog that fell asleep behind the car we went home for a quick shower and headed to Mdina Glass to look for presents. There was a huge selection of colourful artistic glassware. You could even see how they made the glass. We then walked to the craft village where Bernard found a plastic banana for 2 euro! We then went to get Cec’s ear re-pierced. After the third shop we managed to find a place that would do it. Cec put on her brave face in front of a scared little girl who was going to have her ears pierced. We then went to a supermarket to stock up on gbejna [Gbejna is definitely the one food item I miss most from Malta, and the one thing I always stock up on when I go home/people come visit]. I got one of each flavour. Then it was off to pick up Bernard’s ukulele. That’s right I said ukulele.

We then headed home to doll ourselves up for a nice and last dinner out :(. I finally got to wear my shirt! [Are you implying that we did not take you to enough fancy places?…next time it is high class Malta all the way :P] We went to this lovely restaurant called Ferretti by the sea at Birzebbugia. I got to have the stuffed squid that Cec had told me about but unfortunatetly it wasn’t stuffed with salmon but rice [Yet still the same prices as if stuffed by salmon, which I think is a bit stupid in hindsight but Oh Well]. It was really good though. For starters we shared a garlic ciabatta with rocket and parma ham. Delicious! Cec had an interesting dessert of lemon sorbet in a hollowed out lemon. The rest of us went for yummy banoffi pie. It was great evening. I am now the unpaid wedding planner for the Fenech-Brincat wedding of 2014/15.

Ross's Dinner

Ross's Dinner

The hosts

The hosts

Beauty and the Beast (figure out who is who :P)

Beauty and the Beast (figure out who is who :P)

When we got home we were pretty tired so went to bed early enough.

By Ross O’ Dwyer





Day Four: Its Gozo time

12 06 2011

After another early start Stephen drove Zahra, Ali and Marilyn (Ann and Cec’s friend) to the other end of Malta (about an hour away) to get the ferry over to Gozo. I went over with Cec and Bernard. Bernard wasn’t feeling too well but he still drove us and stayed with us. The other had gotten the ferry before us so were already in Gozo when we got to the ferry terminal. We parked the car and went for a quick walk around the quays where Bernard made Cec scream with fright (Nothing new there) [Evil Ross 😦 you don’t like me either :(]. We then hopped back in the car and drove onto the ferry. The ferry was larger than I was expecting and only took about 20 mins. It was quite cloudy so I couldn’t get any nice pics of Comino the small island between Malta and Gozo.  We then disembarked and drove to the main town in Gozo, Victoria or as the locals call it Rabat. We met up with the others and I finally got to try the famous pastizzi. It’s a pastry filled with cheese. It was perfect for me as I was feeling a bit peckish.

Pastizz

Pastizz

Then we walked up to the main church to have a look around but there was a mass on so we had a walk around the battlements and took some pics. We then went back to the church and had a gander at the interior.

We then drove to this place (Cec help) for some lunch [Ta’ Kenuna]. It was a nice restaurant which in a little village that had some great views of the countryside. Cec and I had risotto romano which was a chicken and bacon risotto in a cream sauce. Now I hate to leave food behind but it was just too much for me. Cec left more than me so I won! [Congratulations Ross…you get a medal :P] We then changed into our togs (or as the others like to call them swimming costumes) and headed for secluded harbour area where we lay on some concrete and I got burnt through the clouds. After one failed attempt at entering the water Cec never one to give up got in again and her sister and brother soon joined. I thought I’d let the Fenechs bond [Excuses excuses Ross]. Zahra went in to wet her toes and then later for a swim. Poor Ali slipped on the way in and hit his head but still went in.

Dwejra Bay

Dwejra Bay: Inland Sea

[We also looked at the Azure Window…unfortunately the weather was not too nice so it was not really blue, but here is the whole group…except me…infront of this natural beauty].

Azure Window

Azure Window

We then went to a coastal town where we got some ice-cream. The flavour selection was pretty diverse but my chocolate orange was gone [Boohoofoo]. I shouldn’t have let that kid order before me. Anyway then we went to see the salt pans which were holes that had been dug to evaporate off the sea water so that salt would remain at the bottom [Actually we went to see the salt pans before hand hihi].  We also saw some crabs and sea urchins (which apparently goes well with pasta) [Next trip we will find a restaurant that cooks them and you will have to eat them MUHAHAHAHAHA].

We then headed to the ferry terminal but much to Bernard’s annoyance there was a detour in place except the detour wasn’t signposted. So  after a nice alternative view of Gozo we made it back to the ferry (a double-decker). We then left the love birds to it while we stayed put and watched the views. I then switched cars with Marilyn and went back to the Fenechs. Marilyn was dropped off home and the lovers joined us [First you complain that our embrace was not ”romantic”, and then you comment when we spend time together…you are never happy are you :P].

We had the aunts famous Ravoli which Cec had be talking up over the past couple of months. It lived up to its expectations though [WEEEE go aunties]. It was delicious. It was topped with a tomato and onion sauce and grated gbejna. Pure perfection. Thankfully Ali and Zahra weren’t too hungry so I got their leftovers [Such a nice friend :P]. The plan was to play some board games and then maybe go for a walk around Zurrieq but that didn’t come to pass as we were too tired. Instead we just watched TV while Zahra and Ali packed for their flight to Rome the next morning.

By Ross O’Dwyer





Day three: Hagar Qim, Mnajdra, Blue Grotto, The sister, Maltese lunch, Golden Bay, Mass, Iranian Dinner, village feast

10 06 2011

Please note: I’ve been informed by someone who shall remain anonymous that I may have been too harsh on a certain person in my previous post so I will endeavor  to keep this post positive towards that particular person as best I can but us Irish aren’t famed for our positivity. [Evil Evil Ross]

Saturday started early much to Zahra and Ali’s dellight (see positive!). We had some more fruit and fibre and were on our way to see the local delights. The first stop was the Hagar Qim temples. [These temples are older than Stonehenge or the Pyramids in Giza and we are rightly proud of them]. We got a lift to the visitor centre there by Cec’s mum’s friend [Mum was helping out her friend’s son, and needed the car to go to pick up Annfrom the airport later].  Bernard had wedding obligations [Not our wedding, but a friend’s wedding at which he will be best man and of all days they chose the day I am there Oh Well] so he couldn’t join us. Again we availed of our student discount and proceeded through the new visitor centre which Cec had not been in before. We weren’t very awake [Weren’t we happy to wake up early ??] so we kinda skipped through it fairly quickly. We then walked to the tent covered temple. Apparently it was quite controversial to cover the ancient temple but I liked the mix of modern and ancient and it also will preserve the area for future generations. I really liked the temple and ancient carvings. We then moved to the other temples called Mnajdra which was a bit of a walk away and it was quite windy but sunny.  The Mnajdra temple was also covered and was quite similar to the previous temples but had some nice carvings.

Zahra, Ali and Me!...You can see how windy it was

Zahra, Ali and Me!...You can see how windy it was

Ross...ensuring the Temples stay up

Ross...ensuring the Temples stay up

We then went for a short walk to the Blue Grotto viewing site which was quite impressive and it was nice to hear some stories from Cec of her swimming and diving days around the grotto.

The Blue Grotto

The Blue Grotto

We moved onto to a port and diving area further down the road where we sat, chatted and dipped our toes into the sea. I think we all found it nice to sit down and watch the divers while we soaked our feet in the clear water. [The ‘port’ is Wied iz-Zurrieq…it is where I spent many a day swimming in past summers, it being a short 20minute or so walk from my house] I saw the famous Italian in Malta joke that Cec was talking about before on a tea towel for sale at a local shop.

At Wied iz-Zurrieq

At Wied iz-Zurrieq

Wied iz-Zurrieq again

Wied iz-Zurrieq again

We then got picked up by Cec’s sister Ann and her mum. Cec was picked up by Bernard who was bringing her to their friends to give them a wedding present. It was the first time that I saw Cec’s sis in the flesh [Not true…you had seen her for a few seconds when she visited the lab over Easter] as we had only chatted over gmail before. She had just arrived home and was in good form. She looks and sounds like Cec but most of the time I can tell them apart [Good for you Ross :P]. Ali had more trouble distinguishing them. We then went to the house for a traditional Maltese lunch. I’m sure Cec can give you the proper name [Hobz biz-Zejt] but it consisted of bread roll with tomatoes, tuna, olives, capers, onions and gbejna. Cec instructed her mum and sis that I wasn’t to have tuna in mine because I’m not a major fan of it. So they made a special one without tuna. It was yummy! I later tried some of Cec’s with the tuna in it and it did enhance it.

For the afternoon we went to Golden Bay beach as Zahra was hankering for some sunbathing.  Ann kindly drove us there. The Fenech sisters were quite competitive about their driving skills. Zahra and I decided that Cec drives faster but Ann drives smoother. They are going to kill me now! Anyway we arrived at the beach which was definitely golden. There was a hell of a lot of steps down to it but it was worth it. We lay on the beach for a bit whilst waiting for Bernard and Cec to arrive. Once they arrived, Cec, Ann and I went for a swim. They found the water cold but for me, being used to the Atlantic Ocean, it was relatively warm. The sea was so clear but I that wasn’t good for me as it made my legs look eerily translucent .The others lay on the beach. When we got back to the beach Zahra and Ali went for a romantic walk while we dried ourselves off. We then went for some Ice-cream at the cafe and Zahra and Ali joined us. Zahra got herself a long awaited coffee.

Golden Bay: A photo taken on a previous trip by my sister's bf Michael :)

Golden Bay: A photo taken on a previous trip by my sister's bf Michael 🙂

Off we went back to the house where we left Ali and Zahra make their Iranian food. I tried to help but you know the saying too many cooks spoil the broth. Cec, Ann, Bernard and I went to a Maltese mass where one of the numerous aunts was saying a reading. Obviously I had no idea what the priest was saying but I could follow some of the responses and prayers by reading the pamphlet and looking at the projected screen. The young priest a friend of Cec’s and Bernard’s was really nice and said body of Christ to me when I went up for communion. I thought it was nice of him to make the effort although it was pretty obvious that I wasn’t Maltese as I was translucent (as Ann kindly described me) and also was taller than everyone in the church.  After a lengthy chat with the priest and Cec and Ann’s doctor and his wife, we headed back for our Iranian grub.

The food was impressive as always and everyone enjoyed it. I think I’m getting a taste for Iranian food after Zahra’s yummy birthday feast. We had a chicken, lemon, mushroom soup to start which was certainly different to any soup I had had before and tasted really refreshing. We then had the main course of stuffed bread which is a favourite of mine from Zahra’s birthday.  As usual Zahra with the help of Ali made a great dinner. With all the slagging I give her I can’t slag her cooking. I can’t wait for her to open her Iranian restaurant in Dublin! We had some walnut Ice cream for dessert which was a first for me and some fresh fruit.

We then went to a village feast. This was nice for us tourists but the Maltese were probably sick of going to them. From what I could gather most villages in Malta (apparently towns don’t exist) have feasts to celebrate saints. Each village could have more than one feast. Each feast has a colour and the village would be decorated in this colour for the week of the feast. The village feast we were at (can’t remember the name) was decorated in green [St. Joseph’s feast in Ghaxaq].  For the feast the church is decorated and the particular saint’s statue is proudly put on display. It was Saint Joseph’s feast that we attended. In the village square there was a great atmosphere where the band played. Most feasts have firework displays which are made by local volunteers with no chemical experience. We moved to the viewing area where the fireworks are supposedly timed to music but most didn’t seem to match with it. Ann had to leave us to pick up Stephen her brother from the airport but joined us later with jackets as some people were getting chilly. The fireworks were pretty amazing but Cec and Bernard didn’t seem impressed as they had seen so many before. It was longer than other fireworks display that I had been at. Zahra and Ali said they had never been as close to the fireworks as we were. We got a little shrapnel near us but nothing too dangerous. Zahra wasn’t impressed when a piece hit her square on the nose. We then moved to see the ground fireworks. Apparently it is quite common to have these at the feasts. I had never seen them before and I was quite impressed with the intricacies of the designs. Zahra should have some pics and videos of them [Will upload them once I get my hands on them]. Once one of the ground fireworks was lit another is lit and we moved forward to the next. Every time I thought we were moving to the last firework more appeared. After the finale firework we went home to bed.

By Ross O’Dwyer





Day two: Valletta, St John’s Cathedral, state rooms, Mdina, Kinnie

9 06 2011

We got up early at around 8:30 which Ali and Zahra were not happy about as they like there lie ins. We had some breakfast and we were on our way.  We went to Valletta the capital city where we went to a park and got ice lollies that dripped everywhere. It was cloudy but sunny. Bernard couldn’t come with us because he was working [Boohoo 😦 ]. We were waiting for some gunfire reenactment at 12 but it turns out we were waiting in the wrong place and missed the shot [Oops]. Oh well!

At the Upper Barrakka

At the Upper Barrakka

We then walked around Valletta for a bit and went to visit the palace at Valletta where we saw the state rooms and armoury which we did have to pay for but Ali got in as a student as no one asked for student I.D [That’s Malta for you]. You gotta love the laid back Maltese! The armoury was what you’d expect, a lot of guns, canons and full armoury sets. I liked the state rooms more especially the tapestries. They were so well preserved and so detailed. We then went to St. John’s cathedral for free.  Zahra said the queue for the entrance was long so Cec being her patient self decided we would go in a different entrance which turned out to be the exit but it was amazing inside with all the lavish gold decorations and it was free.  Zahra was getting hungry so we went to get some lunch at Mdina.

Walking Through Valletta

Walking Through Valletta

We had lunch at a pizza pasta place which apparently Bernard does not approve of. It was good though. I had pasta with salmon and the others had various pizzas. Cec was the nicest pizza as it had Maltese sausage and my favourite cheese gbejna! Zahra tried out the famous maltese drink that cec is always talking about, Kinnie. It’s made from bitter oranges. Zahra and I liked it but Ali didn’t seem so sure. I tried a local beer called Cisk. We then went for a quick swing in the playground because we are kids at heart. Then went to walk around Mdina by day and got a got value tour of the archbishop’s house/cathedral museum and cathedral. It was only 1.75 for students and again they didn’t check our cards. Ali decided to sit this one out and went for a walk. The rest of us wandered around the museum looking at gold and silver and lots of coins and some disturbing pictures and sculptures. We then headed over to the cathedral with Ali. As expected it was very ornate with lots of red curtains and marble tiles but definitely worth a look.

Kinnie Happy

Kinnie Happy

View from Mdina

View from Mdina

[Ross has forgotten this :P…or he tried to forget this cos he wants to think that the Cliffs of Moher are the best: We then went to Dingli Cliffs to see the Maltese cliffs and enjoy a bit of the country air and coastal air.]

At Dingli Cliffs

At Dingli Cliffs

At Dingli Cliffs 2

At Dingli Cliffs 2

We stopped off at a supermarket on the way back to the Fenech’s to get some food for Zahra as she wanted to cook some Iranian dishes for us the next day. Cec bumped into an old friend. Ali, Zahra and I were fascinated at the frozen octopus and octopus salad. The smell was not attractive but it’s the same smell you get in all continental supermarkets. We then headed back to the Fenech’s  for a night on the town.

Bernard met up with us and we went to Paceville which is the party place in Malta for all the young people. It’s what I’d imagine Ibiza is like except to a smaller scale. On our way to dinner Cec bumped into her softball coach in a bowling alley of all places [Well, he is a bowling coach too]. We then made our way to a shopping centre that was pumping out music. We went to the top where there were a couple of restaurants. They all served similar foods so we went into one and got some food. The portions were huge compared to Irish restaurants but I was hungry so there was no problem. I had a double chicken burger which was delish. Zahra and Ali shared as they were not too hungry. We then headed to the clubbing district. The music was pumping hard out of every bar and the place was full of people handing out drink offers.  We walked around for a bit and settled on a club. Zahra soon felt tired but that didn’t stop the rest of us. Bernard got the drinking going with his buy one get one free vouchers on drink. We ended up dancing in front of the DJs booth. Bernard and Cec met some of their friends in the club and they stayed with us for a bit. We danced the night away and walked back to the car around one. Ali kept saying the place was for me and that I should go off and find a girl but that ain’t my style! [So what is your style? Enlighten us please :)] We headed to bed straight away once we got home to the Fenech’s.

By Ross O’Dwyer





Malta Day one: Beginnings

9 06 2011

After our lab meeting where Cec was told that apparently she’s a cheap skate we left DCU. When we left at around  one it was really sunny and warm we had to take off our jumpers on our walk to the bus. I had my sexy new hand luggage and Zahra had a monster of a suitcase. I don’t know what was in it but it was heavy. We met Ali at the airport and he was carrying two more bags.  We had slight delays getting the Iranians through check-in and security with over loaded bags and misplaced passports but we got there. We waited at the gate for Zahra to buy perfume so Cec and I took our place in the queue and let Zahra and Ali skip in front of us. I was paranoid that they would check my bag size and say it was too big but luckily they didn’t. Cec the cunning maltese  girl got us great seats up front in the plane so I could fit my lanky legs. We slept and played hang man on the plane for a while and Zahra had her four sugar coffee.

We landed 10 mins early but had to wait 10 mins for Z and A to fill out some immigration paperwork. Cec and I went straight out to the arrivals to be greeted by Bernard and Cec’s mum while Zahra and Ali got their luggage. I was expecting more of a romantic embrace with Cec and Bernard but that didn’t happen.  Zahra Ali and I went here mums car and cec went with Bernard for some alone time. We arrived at the Fenech household ten minutes later. The house was really big and nicely decorated. We were shown to our rooms. I was to be put in Stephen Fenech’s room in Cec’s bed (Side note from Cecilia: I was not sleeping in my bed, hence Ross could sleep in it). It was complicated! The room was really nice and spacious though. We then went down to the kitchen for some home cooked grub which consisted of vegetable broth which Cec complained was too hot and some nice stuffed marrow which I had never had before.  It was lovely but according to Cec I say everything is lovely so u can’t go by me.

Then Cecilia and Bernard gave us a tour of Mdina (the original fortified city) by night which was great. I preferred it at night as it was nice and cool, everything was floodlit and there was no sun to burn me! The views were great from the top of the fortifications. We then got a driving tour of the coasts, forts and ports of Malta.  Bernard pointed out all the work he was supervising on the roads and let me tell you they needed work. I thought Irish roads were bad but Malta is in a different league altogether. It was really nice and our tour guides were very informative and helpful. We were quite tired so we went home and went to bed.

Mdina by Night

Mdina by Night

By Ross O’Dwyer