— EXTENDED STAY— In 15-Days, I’ll be on Aer Lingus headed for an extended trip to Ireland and Malta.
It’s tough being a travel writer that can’t travel. But I haven’t been alone. So much of the world has stayed home and connected through Zoom during the pandemic.
With fingers crossed and attitudes positive, my best friend, Kevin, and I have decided to take the plunge and go to Ireland and Malta for a total of 40-days. We leave on March 07, 2022.
Why Ireland & Malta?
When I tell folks about the trip, the first question is almost always, “Why Ireland and Malta?” I know; what could they possibly have in common? Right? However, I discovered Ireland and Malta do have something in common — filming locations for Game of Thrones.
The Game of Thrones had nothing to do with our reason for making the journey. Kevin wants to return to northwest Ireland’s Wild Atlantic Way, and I want to return to Gozo, Malta. We also wish to show each other our favorite foreign countries. So it made sense to travel together and share lodging expenses.
Extended Stay Planning
FLIGHTS— We spent endless hours talking about the trip and searching the net, looking at airfare and lodging prices. It took some time, but we found the perfect airfare saving almost $1000 from our predicted budget. But, of course, our best money saver was flying to Malta from Dublin instead of San Francisco.
MALTA LODGING— Deciding on our lodging took days. Finally, we agreed on Gozo for our Malta adventure. After looking at every possible vacation rental apartment on Gozo, we settled on Mgarr Harbor, and an apartment just steps from the ferry to Malta’s main island.
IRELAND LODGING— After many days of searching Air B&B, we found three perfect apartments in Donegal Town, Westport County Mayo, and Galway. Each is in the town center and close to buses and shops. We’ll be moving to a new town every six days, living like locals in each community.
Kevin and I are travel photographers and hotel scouts. I’m also a travel writer, so our trip has a few assignments. We are excited to be working with TravelAwaits. In May, TA will publish four narrative roundups about Dublin, Donegal Town, Westport, and Galway. Photos for the stories will come from Kevin and me.
GoNOMAD has also assigned two stories for Malta. one will unpack Malta’s multi-culture heritage. The other will create a ‘temple trail,’ visiting temples small and gigantic on Gozo and Malta. For Wander With Wonder I’ll be writing about hotels. and Foodie FlashPacker is in for food roundups of both countries.
We’ve been in touch with Tourism Ireland and Visit Malta. They are helping us pin-point some of the topics we’ll photograph and write about.
Dublin in One Square Mile
We’ll be in Central Dublin for 3-nights, leaving for Malta on our 4th day in Dublin. Because our time is short, we don’t want to spend it on buses and cabs to see the whole city. So instead, we’ve decided to spend the time entirely in Temple Bar District, never going outside a one square mile box centered on Arlington Hotel O’Connell Bridge.
We won’t lack things to do. This is one of Dublin’s most historic districts and the topic for one of our stories. We’ll see some of these: Dublin Castle, EPIC—The Irish Immigration Museum, Guinness Storehouse, Ha Penny Bridge, Irish Film Institute, March’s Library (1st public library in Ireland, unchanged since the 18th century), National Library, National Museum of Ireland, National Photographic Archive, Saint Stephen’s Green, Samuel Beckett Bridge, Shelbourne Park Greyhound Stadium, Temple Bar (the pub), Trinity College, And many more. (The map above shows some of our possible destinations in the pink box.)
Extended Stay On Gozo
On March 11, we fly to Malta through Frankfurt On Lufthansa. Then, we will go by taxi from Malta’s airport to the Gozo Channel Ferry. Twenty minutes later, we arrive at Mgarr Harbor, Ghajnsielem, Gozo. A three-minute walk will take us to our harbor-front apartment. Want to see the apartment view?
This modern 1 bedroom, 1 bath, 2nd-floor apartment with two balconies will be our home for 20-days. It’s a combo of work and leisure time. We plan to spend time looking for cultural evidence of the 12 conquerors of Malta. Walking the entire island of Gozo and eating the fantastic seafood and produce grown here for centuries will fill our days.
I found some tremendous walking tours covering most of the 9 x 4.5-mile island. They take you along the coast and into interior villages. Places to stop for a bite or beverage are suggested. I hope to slim down a bit between the walks and the Mediterranean diet.
We’ll often take the ferry to the island of Malta. There are places Kevin wants to visit as a first-timer to the island. But there are many places I want to see as a second-timer. One is Ħal Saflieni Hypogeum, the underground Neolithic cemetery built in 3300—3000 BC. Entrance is limited, and tickets must be purchased in advance.
Back to Ireland
After our Mediterranean escape, we head to Donegal Town, County Donegal, Ireland, on March 31. We’ll spend six days in a townhouse in the center of the village. From there, we move to Westport, County Mayo, for six days. Then to Galway for another six days before returning to San Francisco.
It’s a nice long trip with time in each small location to immerse ourselves in local life. We have secured an Air B&B apartment in each town with full kitchens, laundry, and proximity to shops, busses, and trains. Renting a car wasn’t attractive for either of us. We’d rather leave the driving to someone else.
Like the Locals
We’ll eat out at times, but will also make good use of our kitchens, not to mention the nearby shops and markets. We hope to learn to cook local favorites in Ireland and Malta. We just got wind of a Gozo farm that welcomes visitors. I can’t wait to go there. It will be spring while we are there and the island will be green. That’s a big change from the barren landscape I experienced in the fall.
My posts will likely be few before departure with only two weeks to go, but I plan to do at least one Instagram each day after we arrive.
Folks In Malta Helping With This Trip
Folks In Ireland Helping With This Trip
◘ Tourism Ireland ◘
See some of Kevin’s photos from a previous trip to Ireland.
Read about my last visit to Malta and Gozo –
Thanks for dropping by, MaryGo
*Thank you Aer Lingus for the lovely photo.