Spinola Bay, St. Julian’s on Malta

A week ago, I was on Malta for three sunny days. We were told, this time of year is called St. Martin’s summer. This stands for a short period in mid to late November with slightly higher temps and sunshine (in Maltese: Is-Sajf ta’).

We arrived in 26°C weather and had built up a sweat on our brow by the time the hotel transfer driver showed up. He drove like a maniac and I had trouble with the seat belt, because I’m not used to buckling in cars designed for left driving.

This was the first impression we got while riding with that maniac from Valetta airport to our destination Spinola Bay, St. Julian’s.

Entering Valetta

Our hotel, Cavalieri Art Hotel, a four-star hotel (country rating), has a seafront terrace and pool,  and … construction on the other side.

Pool am Morgen

St. Julian's, Malta

The lobby was impressive and the food was good. The breakfast buffet was very British with lots of bacon, ham, sausages, beans, and the likes. We had sunny mornings with a good breakfast sitting outside, which was the best part. The rooms are rather simple, but the maid service was excellent. With a personal touch.

Cavalieri Art Hotel lobby

We had lunch at the Restaurant Gululu, which is located along the waterfront of Spinola Bay in St Julian’s. Yes, we enjoyed the food and the view.

lunch at Restaurant Gululu, St. Julian's

Don’t let the appetizer prices fool you – the portions were rather big. Try the peppered sheep cheese and Kapunata, which is a Maltese version of Ratatouille made from tomatoes, capers, aubergines, etc.

appetizer menu on Malta

 

It takes 2:40h to fly from Frankfurt to Malta and three days there were perfect for me.

At the hotel, most guests stayed weeks at a time – most of them were either retired Brits or work-force Germans having long vacations.

Three Days in Riquewihr, Alsace

Again, here are a few more impressions of our visit to Riquewihr.

The last time, we had been here was in 1996. Back then we could only stay for one day, because suddenly we had a baby with a high fever on our hands. Being new parents, having just moved to Europe from Japan, with only mediocre French skills, we decided to head back to Germany to see a doctor.

This time around, we were on our own. That little boy is now a college student in England and our daughter was in Poland on a school trip. The only rise in temperature we expected to get was from having red wine. 🙂

The whole town is so neat and clean. There is something interesting to see around every little corner. While we were there though, there was often a sour smell wafting out of courtyards (wine making in process).

Store front Riquewihr

This is either a vegetable storage bin or the recycling of one’s no-longer-edible vegetables, serving as decor.

vegetable box

 

 

corn in window

Main street,  rue du Général-de-Gaulle, is very inviting with its many restaurants (30 of them, I’ve been told).

Rue du Général-de-Gaulle à Riquewihr

At the restaurant La Grappe d’Or , we were seated upstairs. That’s nothing unusual in itself, only the fact that the ceiling is extremely low. We had to walk in bent over, so did the waitress serving the food. With the help of some good red wine, we made it out of there OK. Slightly more bent over.

Nevertheless, I had the best salad ever there. Look for “Salade Automne” with figs, chestnusts, strips of zucchini, mint leaves, on a bed of lettuce, with a bread basked. My husband had the “Escargots Baeckaoffa” (some potato casserole specialty with snails). He was not raving about the food as much as I was, but he liked it.

La Grappe d'Or à Riquewihr

La Grappe d’Or à Riquewihr

We had a very pleasant time in Riquewihr.

Sabai Sabai Thai Restaurant Review, Oberursel

A couple of weeks ago before our son Thomas flew back to England to resume his studies, we went to Sabai Sabai * Thai Restaurant for dinner. It was our son’s idea as he had just returned from a two-month teaching stint in Thailand and wanted to compare Thai food made for the German palate.

He now knew quite a bit about Thai food and so this seemed the obvious choice for our farewell dinner in style. The restaurant itself used to be the German guesthouse Gaststätte Stadt Strassburg, which closed its doors around 2007.

The interior looks spacious when you first come in. There’s the obligatory portrait of the Thai monarch on the wall with two big elephants underneath. The window sills are lined with orchids and other Thai decor. The ambiance is pleasing.

But for four people and four dishes as well as beverages, the tables are a bit small. We had to do a bit of moving plates and glasses throughout dinner.

Service was excellent. We enjoyed listening to Thomas’s small talk carried out in Thai with the waitress (yes, they have an authentic staff) and then ordered his recommendations.

I chose the Pat Thai which was excellent. The crumbly topping is roasted peanuts. Delicious!

Pat Thai

Pat Thai

Another dish we ordered was Gung Sabai Thai, a house specialty with prawns.

Gung Sabai

Gung Sabai Thai

Gaeng Kiew Wan is a green curry, and duck was my husband’s meat choice.

Gaeng Kiew Wan

Gaeng Kiew Wan

* The meaning of ‘sabai sabai’: very calm/tranquil/easygoing/comfortable

In Thai, one of the many ways of making a meaning similar to ‘very’ in English is to double the word (this might also apply to a few other Asian languages). This is called reduplication of adjectives, e.g ‘dee dee’ means very good and ‘arroy arroy’ means very delicious, etc.

Sabai Sabai Restaurant website: http://www.sabai-thai-cuisine.de/

Review for Indian Restaurant Shilpa in London

Just this past Saturday, around the same time, my travel companion and I had dinner at the Indian restaurant Shilpa on King Street in London.

Before we left Frankfurt, we looked at quite a few restaurant recommendations on King Street and chose Shilpa for its good reviews. King Street has a big selection of ethnic restaurants to choose from (Lebanese, Moroccan, Indian, etc). I say big selection, because I live in a German town with a population of only 44.000 residents and just a few ethnic restaurants.

It was early Saturday evening, so there was only one other table seated with guests.

Indian Restaurant Shilpa in London

Indian Restaurant Shilpa in London

We chose Lamb Roganjosh and Chicken Tikka Masala, with a Pappadam set for starters.

It took quite a while for our food to make it to our table, but we used our time wisely and comforted our hungry stomach with beer and wine, respectively.

Indian food

The Chicken Tikka Masala was good, but the Lamb Roganjosh was better. I had assumed it came with rice, so when we were asked whether we’d like to have bread or rice with our meals, we ordered rice. Surprisingly, this was charged extra at  £ 3 a bowl.

Our waitress was very patient and friendly. Her service almost made us feel like we are at home (without my teenage kids bickering, that is). I felt like I could have asked her for just about anything, and she would have delivered.

Service definitely gets *****, the food was good, but less would have looked more appetizing. We really enjoyed our Pappadam set (£ 2 ) with the various dips and chutney.

I can recommend it if you like a simple ambiance, value good service, and enjoy big meals at decent prices.

* Restaurant Shilpa: http://www.shilparestaurant.co.uk/

London in Seven Hours

Yes, I saw quite a bit of London in seven hours. We had gone to London for my daughter to attend a concert and meet someone special, and not knowing what time the celebrity’s Meet & Greet would take place, we decided to take a taxi from Heathrow Airport to the Hammersmith Apollo.

I had read somewhere a black cab would take us from the airport to the Apollo for  £ 30. We ended up with a white cab, which cost us  £ 50. It was worth it, as getting there quickly was crucial, especially sitting next to a nervous teenager.

When we arrived at the Hammersmith Apollo at 4 p.m., the lines were already long.

Apollo queue

With nothing better to do, I looked up and took some photos.

London buildingThen I looked down.

London shoes

We got her ticket from two box-office employees, who were working their way down the line. As a matter of fact, we got two Meet & Greet tickets! I was neither in the mood for the concert, nor interested in meeting a 21-year-old pop singer. We ended up giving the ticket to a very lucky girl.

I can’t recall ever seeing anybody cry so much for happiness. What a beautiful reward, I thought.

My brother and I were free then to explore London. All this excitement got us old folks mighty hungry, whereas my daughter went without a bite to eat until 10:45 p.m.

We quickly checked into our Hotel Adria on 44-46 Glenthorne Road, and headed towards King Street (a two-minute walk). Kings Street has a big selection of ethnic restaurants to choose from. We had a good meal and excellent service at the Indian restaurant Shilpa (more in a separate post).

Dinner at Shilpa Restaurant

Dinner at Shilpa Restaurant

After dinner, we almost contemplated skipping the pub experience. We felt relaxed and had a full stomach at 9 p.m., but had to wait till 10:30 p.m. to pick up my daughter after the concert.

We thought of something really smart – why not stop at the pub Hop Poles, have a tiny drink and sip on it leisurely. Yeah, right.

Within two minutes, I met three British guys. 70 minutes later, we had downed three pints, two Jägermeister, I had taught my new friends how to say “Hau weg die Scheisse!” (instead of Prost) and I danced to Dancing Queen with a stranger. So glad my daughter was somewhere else having a good time.

I did thank the manager Angela (between hiccups), a woman my age from Poland, for the wonderful selection of 70s music they play there.

We only had to walk a few minutes to the Apollo and picked up my very excited daughter, who then had short bread for dinner in bed.

Apollo

Just before midnight, my brother and I stood outside the hotel in our pajamas to take in the London air. Just so glad no police officers came by.

London was very bright the next morning. We had to rise at 6:15, be at Hammersmith Station at 7:00 to catch the Piccadilly line to the airport.

London on a Sunday morning

London on a Sunday morning

Yes, one can do London in seven hours, and see/eat/drink/laugh much. It was worth it!

*Hop Poles Pub: http://www.hoppoleshammersmith.co.uk/FindUs.aspx

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