As You Wish, Your Highness! Fun Things to Do in Liechtenstein That Will Give You a Taste of Royalty

CheapOAir Miles Away. Nov 2019.

Liechtenstein is the 6th smallest country in the world and is located in the center of the Alps, between Switzerland and Austria. This breathtaking country has everything from beautiful scenery and a rich art scene, to fine dining and plenty of activities – all at surprisingly affordable costs — making it one of the best destinations to visit right now. Although it is a princely state (meaning there’s a monarch ruling the population of about 30,000), you don’t need to be royalty to enjoy a vacation in Liechtenstein. Here are some great things to do in Liechtenstein that will make you feel like nobility! Continue reading on CheapOAir Miles Away blog.

Your Guide to Visiting the Island of Malta

Cuisine Noir Magazine. June 2019.

If you have watched Gladiator, Game of Thrones or Troy, you will recognize the towering fortresses, medieval cities, rustic villages and rocky formations that make up the dramatic backdrops. A popular filming destination, Malta is an island country located in the Mediterranean between Europe and North Africa. Fishing boats on turquoise-blue waters, dry countryside landscapes, ornate palazzos, colorful balconies and Maltese Baroque architecture feel like a mix of Italy and Morocco.

Malta
Photo credit: Sucheta Rawal

Being at the crossroads of ancient trading routes, Malta has a rich history influenced by the Greeks, Romans, Normans, French, British, Arabs and Phoenicians.

Although Malta is a popular port of call for cruisers and day trippers from southern Italy, it is best to spend a few days soaking in the scenic rolling hills, isolated beaches, ancient towns and friendly locals.

Getting There

The easiest way to get to Malta is via Europe. Connect through Rome with a low-cost flight directly to Malta. Alternatively, combine a visit with Sicily, the Italian island known for its delicious cuisine, picturesque countryside and an active volcano. A ferry from Pozzallo arrives in Malta in less than 2 hours.

The people are friendly and everyone speaks English very well with Maltese (which sounds like Arabic) and Italian spoken widely on the island.

Getting Around

Although Malta has several islands, only three of them are inhabited. The airport is located on the main island, Malta, which is the point of arrival for most travelers. There are many resorts and boutique hotels on the island of Gozo, but Comino is mostly a nature reserve.

The easiest way to see the small country is by renting a car and driving. Be careful of narrow streets and traffic jams in the city centers. Public buses are budget-friendly and well networked.

Lodging 

The luxurious 5-star Phoenicia Hotel has guestrooms commanding glorious views of the Grand Harbor, cathedral and city. Maltese tiled floors, crystal chandeliers and lush gardens make this an ideal place to get a glimpse of the royalty that made Malta home. The Phoenicia has hosted a number of distinguished guests, including Queen Elizabeth II, Prince Philip, Jeffrey Hunter, Gérard Depardieu, Joaquin Phoenix and Arnold Schwarzenegger.

To be in the midst of activities, stay at Domus Zamittello, a restored 17th-century palazzo, located at the beginning of the bustling Republic Street inside the cultural capital city of Valletta. Grab a drink at the rooftop balcony overlooking an outdoor theater and watch the vibrant streets from the 16thcentury.

Dining

There is a wide range of culinary options in Malta, from family-run bakeries and food markets to upscale restaurants, and they are a lot less expensive than mainland Europe. Maltese cuisine, like it’s culture, draws on influences from the Mediterranean. Must-try dishes include Gozitan cheeselet, pastizzi, ftira sandwiches, stewed rabbit, and prinjolata. Meals are complemented by locally made wine, cheese, bread and olives.

Farm meal with wine in Malta
Photo credit: Suchata Rawal
Things To Do

With hiking spots, beaches, museums, cathedrals, cafes and festivals, Malta offers something for every kind of traveler. Must-see attractions include the UNESCO World Heritage sites —Hypogeum and the megalithic temples — that are some of the oldest in the world.

The ancient capital of Mdina, with its sandstone and marble buildings, is a delight for admirers of Arabic architecture.

One can easily spend an entire day in the current capital of Valletta, a World Heritage Site, soaking in the scenery from the Upper Barrakka Gardens, admiring the works of local artists at National Museum of Fine Arts, or simply strolling through the narrow streets filled with cafes and shops.

St John’s Co-Cathedral, built by the Order of St. John in the 16th century, is one of the finest examples of high Baroque architecture in the world, also located in Valletta.

A cruise to the Blue Lagoon or a small boat to the Blue Grotto is a relaxing way to spend the day. Enjoy some quiet time on the sandy beaches and swim in the clear blue waters.

Maltese people love to celebrate and villages often compete to see who has the biggest merrymaking. There are patron saint feasts held practically year-round with fireworks, music, parades and food.

With 300 days of sunshine and mild Mediterranean climate, you can visit Malta any time of the year. It’s location, history and mix of cultures make it a unique and exciting travel destination.

To plan your trip to Malta, visit www.mta.com.

~ Written for Cuisine Noir Magazine. June 2019.

London’s Walks That Trace History, Food and Culture

For Cuisine Noir. September 2018. 

London is one of the largest cosmopolitan cities in the world, where different races are not only welcomed but celebrated. The influences of Africa, Asia and the Caribbean are felt throughout the city’s food, fashion, music and art.

Here are some ways to get a feel for the global influences in London in just a weekend.

Eclectic Music and Food

London’s premier neighborhood is filled with pubs, cafes and restaurants. And what better way to learn about the oldest multicultural neighborhood than through its food? When immigrants moved into the area, up until the late 1600s, Soho was known as London’s “French Quarter,” and cheap eateries, small theaters, brothels and music halls crept in. It is also where the bohemian arts scene took off.
Photo: Black History Walks

London Food Lovers offers 3–4-hour-long walking tours filled with colorful stories of Soho’s writers, poets, artists and historical figures. Along the way, you will stop to taste some of the best bites in town. From smoked bacon sandwiches grilled on lava at Kua’Aina; tender and juicy jerk chicken accompanied by crisp hush puppies at the Rum Kitchen; to the best chocolate drinks and desserts made with cacao sourced from Cuba, Tanzania and Ghana at Italian chocolatier SAID – you will go home with a content belly.

Return in the evening to Kinoly Court for blues, jazz, afrobeat or salsa. You can see fire eaters and fortune tellers at the circus-themed nightclub Cirque Le Soir, or transport yourself to a postwar 1940s underground tube station at Cahoots.

Banned Books, Movies and Walks

Black History Walks offers guided walking tours of 2,000 years of London’s black history. Historian Tony Warner has identified nine neighborhoods and spaces integral to the city’s black culture, including the Nelson Mandela Statue, African and Caribbean War Memorial and the Mangrove Restaurant, which was a meeting place for the Black Panthers. The tour lasts 2.5 hours and the information spans hundreds of years of history.

Photo: Black History Walks

They also host screenings of banned movies and talks on banned books through their African Odysseys series. Upcoming features include Best of Nigeria short films and African Superheroes Day. Hear from filmmakers, actors and leaders and get a behind-the-scenes look at the city that most travelers often miss.

International Bites and Architecture

You can’t come to London and not taste real English cuisine! Eating Europetakes you back in time to savor the best bread and butter pudding, fried fish and chips with homemade peas, and British hard cider at old-fashioned neighborhood pubs.

Photos: Sucheta Rawal/Go Eat Give

Wander the streets of London’s eclectic East End neighborhood to discover ancient Roman burial grounds, Georgian-style mansions built from the French silk trade, hidden synagogues and the most vibrant street art in the world. Stop at Old Spitalfields Market for global fashions and vintage arts and crafts. Lastly, settle on one of the 56 South Asian restaurants on Brick Lane for the national dish of the UK: chicken tikka masala.

East End is also home to many black writers, including former slaves brought from Nigeria — James Albert (aka Ukawsaw Gronniosaw) and Olaudah Equiano (aka Gustavus Vassa) — and is the backdrop of the Sidney Poitier movie “To Sir with Love.” It is said that the area of Tower Hamlets in East End was also known as the “Harlem of London” because of its black settlement and rich cultural identity.

Read the original story on Cuisine Noir

Why Mexico City Is the Cultural Destination You Should Visit Next

For CheapOAir Miles Away. September 2018

When you think of traveling to Mexico, you are likely charmed by the white sandy beaches of Cabo San Lucas, ancient Mayan ruins in the Yucatan, or the active night life in Riviera Maya. But, the capital of our neighbor south of the border has a unique, vibrant culture that often goes undiscovered by leisure travelers. Continue reading on CheapOAir Miles Away

Why Romania is the Next Hot Family Destination

For CheapOAir Miles Away. July 2018.

Historic castles, evil counts, wooden churches, and magical fortresses — forget Disney, THIS is where fairy tales come alive! Welcome, to Romania — one of the most affordable countries in Europe for families looking for adventure, culture, history, and relaxation.

Here’s what this southeastern European nation has to offer for visitors of all ages…

Read the full post on CheapOAir Miles Away.

Why Georgia (the Country) is the World’s Best Kept Travel Secret

For CheapOAir Miles Away Blog. August 2017.

While most people know of Georgia, the peach state in the southern US, very few are aware of Georgia, the former Soviet republic that’s tucked between Europe and Asia. The country is one of the oldest in the world, and has a rich culture that has managed to survive foreign occupation by Persians, Ottomans, and Russians.

Nowadays, tourism is beginning to develop in Georgia, so things are relatively cheap and uncrowded. Here are a few very good reasons to go to Georgia NOW before the secret gets out!

Read the full article on CheapOAir Miles Away Blog

 

6 Charming Small Towns of Croatia You Need to See Right Now

For CheapOAir Miles Away blog. May 2017.

This Eastern European country has been popular among tourists because of its magnificent national parks, long coastline along the Adriatic Sea, and enchanting islands frequented by sailboats and yachts. But Croatia also has many small towns that offer natural beauty, authentic culture and local cuisine. Here are some places you need to check out.

Read the full article on CheapOAir Miles Away blog

Burning Questions About the Pizza Pie in Naples

For One Travel. July 2016.

Last week, I set off to Naples, Italy with only one goal – to eat pizza! One of my Italian friends forewarned me, “Once you eat in Naples, you can die and go to heaven.” Each day I bit into the warm, fresh, crispy dough, crowned with creamy, melt-in-your-mouth cheese; sweet, juicy tomatoes; and earthy basil leaves, I felt I was getting closer to heaven!

As I obsessed over the world’s greatest food, I explored its fascinating history and traditions.

 

one travel logo

Click here to read the full story on One Travel 

What I Ate in an Igloo: Lappish Cuisine and Other Amazing Things I Discovered About Finland

For CheapOAir. April 2016.

I had seen countless pictures of Kakslauttanen Arctic Resort, the iconic igloo hotel, but being there was surreal. Even in April, the town of Ivalo was white as far as the eye could see. In forests covered in snow, reindeer peeked out from behind the trees, and the faint sound of barking Husky dogs could be heard in the background. I had arrived in Lapland, roughly 150 miles north of the Arctic circle!

As I explored this snow-covered lifestyle, a looming question remained in the back of my mind: What would Santa eat?

Read the full story on CheapOAir Miles Away 

What to See in These 7 Cities in Greenland (PHOTOS)

huffpost-travel-logoAs seen on Huffington Post Travel, September 2014

Until two weeks ago, I couldn’t even pronounce the names of the cities, and now they are deeply engraved in my memory. Greenland is one of those so close, yet so fardestinations that make you feel small, insignificant and detached from rest of the world.

When people asked me why I was going to Greenland, my response was “Why not?” Yet they gave me blank stares, not knowing much about the country as a tourist destination. “What will you eat, how cold will it be, what will you do there?” These were a few things that even I didn’t know of before I started doing my research on Greenland.

What I did find was one of the most beautiful natural sceneries in the world — whether you look from the air, sea or land. With only 60,000 people residing in the third largest country in North America, the towns are small and spread out. I traveled by air, chopper and boat between places, often found a handful of eateries, and comfortable accommodations in the charming old towns.

During my 10 days traveling around the Western and Southern parts of Greenland, I learned a lot about where to hike the glaciers, upcoming modern Greenlandic cuisine, best places to rest my head, and much more.

Here is sneak peek of places I visited…

Ilulissat (meaning Icebergs), a magical town located approximately 200 km (120 miles) north of the Arctic Circle. The most visited place in Greenland is home to Ilulissat Icefjord, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Tour by air, sailboat and on foot — all three if you can afford to (book through World of Greenland). Stay in an igloo at Hotel Arctic overlooking the Icefijord and Disko Bay.

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City of Ilulissat

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Sailing among icebergs

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Igloo rooms at Hotel Arctic

Kangerlussuaq — Site of Greenland’s largest commercial airport, the entire city is built around the runway. The only reason to visit is to see Ice Cap Point 660 along the Arctic Circle. Drive through the moraine landscape and walk directly on the vast ice sheets that make up the Greenland Ice Cap.

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Crossing streets in Kangerlussuaq

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Entering Ice Cap Point 660

Nuuk is the capital and largest city in Greenland. Admire traditional Danish homes as well as modern housing projects. The city offers museums, malls, restaurants and cultural centers where visitors can learn about Greenland’s ancient civilizations dating as far as 2200 BC.

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Nuuk Harbor

Narsarsuaq — This is the place to see blue ice glaciers; a phenomenon caused from compressed snow and increased size of air crystals. The best way to soak in the Narsarsuaq Glacier, or the Dead Glacier, because it doesn’t produce any icebergs is by hike (book through Blue Ice Explorer).

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Blue ice glaciers

Ipiutaq — The area around the settlement is home to many sheep farms that were inhabited by Norsemen. The only reason to come here is to relax at the Ipiutaq Guest Farm, a working farm with a two-bedroom guesthouse and French-Greenlandic cuisine. Picturesque valleys, vast pastures, and glaciers surround it, and there is nearby fishing and hiking.

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Backdrop of Ipiutaq guest farm

Narsaq — Another sleepy little town in south Greenland where photographers can have a field trip. With a backdrop of mountains, colorful homes and beautiful shore of Tunulliarfik Fjord, there is no reason to stay indoors.

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Plains of Narsaq

Qaqortoq — The capital of South Greenland can be identified as the Portofino of the Arctic. A dramatic approach from water captures the bay lined with shrimp boats and homes spread across the hilly slopes. The destination is known for kayaking, guided hiking, whale watching, cross-country skiing, and boating (book through Greenland Sagalands).

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Homes in Qaqortoq

To read more about my journey to Greenland, follow my blog at Go Eat Give.

~ Words and photography by Sucheta Rawal. Follow on Twitter,Facebook and Blog.