My First Week in Malta

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I made it to Malta!

My first week in Malta has been equal parts relaxing and crazy – or “mental” as Gabi and Ciara would say.

When I arrived to Malta with Sion and Jimena, I was greeted by Gabi, Russel, Zee, Aled and a warm breeze. We discussed dropping our belongings off at Aled’s house and going for a late night swim in the Mediterranean Sea. So that’s exactly what we did!

I was a little hesitant jumping into the sea after dark because I am not accustomed to swimming in seas and oceans. I think my first thought was something like, “how many sharks could be swimming in this water? I’ve seen too many scary movies for this sh*t.” Which is an understandable first thought to have when you grew up in a state known for The Great Lakes…with no sharks.

Luckily, the water was clear enough for me to see the bottom and Gabi assured me that the water is too warm for sharks. So we all jumped in!

I think we took turns jumping in and swimming in this spot for about 30 minutes before we realized we were in jellyfish infested waters…and then we got the hell out.

The next day, we took a walk to the beach and I realized all of my surroundings looked vaguely familiar.

To me, Malta looks similar to what I imagined the Middle East to look like from what I’ve seen in movies. Then I realized, that’s because the movies that take place in the Middle East were filmed in Malta!

Walking through the streets of Gzira, I felt like I was an extra in the movie 13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi – which is understandable since most of it was filmed here!

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Other movies/tv shows that were filmed in Malta include Captain Philips, World War Z, and Game of Thrones! I’m secretly hoping another Hollywood Blockbuster is filmed in Malta this summer so I can meet my future husband.

After spending two nights in Malta we headed for the ferry to take us to Gozo, where we would meet our second host, Ciara.

Ciara is Gabi’s best friend from Scotland, and she was generous enough to host six people in her apartment for over a week!

My days in Gozo have mostly been spent swimming in the sea, eating delicious pizza and seafood, drinking wine, visiting the Azure Window, shopping in Victoria and enjoying my summer.

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Most of my friends are leaving this week, so by next week Gabi and I are hoping to find our own apartment and get off Ciara’s couch. Although it is a pretty comfy couch. 😉

Stay tuned!

 

A Midnight Walk

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On a houseboat with Polina and Gabi.

I know I said that my previous blog post was my last post from the Netherlands, but I lied.

Something so amazing happened to me tonight and I had to share it with you all – even if that means writing this to you after a few glasses (or a bottle) of wine later, at 1 in the morning.

Let me set the scene.

My night started out at around 9 p.m. when my roommates and I decided to crack open a few beers and a bottle of wine to enjoy our last night together in Utrecht. Gabi, Zee, Polina and I sang a few songs in our garden (a tradition of ours) and decided to take one last walk along the canals together.

We packed a backpack with 6 beers and the rest of the bottle of Cabernet, and headed out for the closest canal to our apartment.

This canal happens to have a few bridges that are beautifully lit with Christmas lights and lined with houseboats.

In my previous blog post, A Tour of Utrecht, you may remember me mentioning Gabi’s plan to visit one of these spectacular houseboats.

Well folks, we finally did it!

As we were walking along this canal with the houseboats, we started hearing music in the distance. Since we just finished our karaoke session not too long ago, we figured we would follow the music. After all, we were still in a singing/dancing mood.

When we walked to the end of the canal, we pin-pointed the music to a houseboat and saw two people dancing in the living room.

We stood across the canal from this houseboat, dancing to the music and singing along with these strangers across from us. If you were around to witness this scene, you would have thought we looked crazy.

During a pause between songs, we shouted to the couple, “Hey! Do you mind if we join the party?” They invited us right in.

After running across the bridge and knocking on their door, we were greeted with open arms and loud music.

The two people who greeted us were a couple, Mieke and Herricke, in their late 40s. They reminded me of a young couple, carefree and in love.

We shared a dance, a few drinks, and Mieke shared some words of wisdom with all of us that I will never forget.

She said, “Go for [whatever you want out of life] totally. Don’t ever go for something half way.”

She also said a lot of other inspirational things, but my wine brain cannot remember them right now.

We shared an amazing 30 minutes together, sitting on their dock next to the lit up bridge, enjoying the beautiful view and each other’s company.

The four of us ended up leaving Mieke and Herricke’s houseboat after exchanging contact information and kind words. They were the sweetest Dutch people I have ever met and I will never forget this night.

A few months ago, when Gabi mentioned visiting a houseboat randomly with biscuits and tea, I kind of thought she was crazy. Yet here I was, with a six pack of beer and a bottle of wine, dancing on a houseboat with two strangers and my roommates, living life the way it was meant to be lived.

I love my crazy, beautiful life.

 

 

A Letter to Everyone I Love – Part 2

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Less than one week from now, I will be trading cobble stoned streets, canals and Dutch fries for sandy beaches, margaritas and the Maltese heat.

Although I cannot wait to arrive in Malta, I’m also feeling very bittersweet about my departure. I’ve fallen in love with Utrecht and can’t imagine leaving this beautiful city and all of the beautiful people I’ve met here.

Before leaving Michigan I wrote A Letter to Everyone I Love, and I figured I wouldn’t be able to leave the Netherlands without writing another.

The words from my first post, “I’m mostly afraid of how much I’ll want to return back to my second home. I haven’t even arrived, and yet I already don’t want to leave,” have never rang more true.

If I didn’t book a flight to Malta for Tuesday, I would be going home this Saturday. TWO DAYS AWAY! I just can’t comprehend that I almost threw away a European summer for a Michigan one – no offense to my fellow Michiganders! 😉

I may not want to leave Utrecht, but I am definitely ready to open new doors and see what waits for me behind them.

Although I am sad to leave behind all of the amazing people I have met here, I find comfort in knowing I will see these people again one day.

To Gabi, Zee, Polina, Andrew, Sion, Jimena, Jacob, Sharon, Joram, Wim, Lola, and the hundreds of guests I’ve met: I will remember all of you forever and cherish the countless memories we’ve made.

I believe these people were put into my life for a reason and have all taught me something very valuable. I have learned what it means to establish maintain a strong friendship with others, how to fully love myself, how to always search for the good in others, and how to live life to the fullest. After all, we only get one shot.

I am so thankful for my time in the Netherlands and I wouldn’t trade one second of it. This country hasn’t seen the last of me!

Until we meet again, Utrecht.