Vlog: Tower Bridge and cheap ways to explore London

On the weekend we visited one of our favourite places to work as digital nomads – down by Tower Bridge with tapas in London!

With lovely views of the Thames, free Wifi and easy transport links, basing yourself at Butler’s Wharf for a rest, snack and a bit of blogging time is one of our top suggestions.

Here’s what else we found in the area and our tips on exploring London on the cheap…

Malta pictures: most Instagrammable

Over the summer we had the chance to visit a beautiful island on the Mediterranean between Sicily and North Africa; while we were only there for a few days, my Malta pictures are some of our favourites from recent travels!

We visited in August, European summertime and yes, it was hot.

The highlight for that month annually is the colourful religious festivals which take place in all the Maltese villages of the island. Every church and cathedral is lit up and evening street festivals are held just about every night, with performers and bands, fireworks and an all-round fabulous vibe.

There’s even daytime fireworks – something I’ve never seen before! Oh, and canon fire wakes you up at 8am which takes some adjustment but then it’s just plain amusing.

 

Malta - Sarah Blinco travellivelearn.com

Malta’s population is predominantly Roman Catholic and the churches, relics and crosses across the island make that very obvious.

Interestingly though, Malta feels really multi-cultural. I picked up on accents from all over the world on the street and even on their commercial radio stations where I heard a number of varying English and American accents along with Irish and even Australian.

The destination is renowned for its intriguing historical sites associated with a succession of rulers including the Romans, Moors, Knights of Saint John, French and British.

Malta boasts many fortresses, Megalithic temples and the Ħal Saflieni Hypogeum, a subterranean complex of halls and burial chambers dating to circa 4000 B.C. Really extraordinary.

 

Malta - Sarah Blinco travellivelearn.com

There’s something for everyone in Malta, and I’d pitch it as an excellent option against the coasts of Spain, France or Italy in the summer. It’s probably a bit cheaper than these neighbours too.

Travel for me offers a creative outlet, in that I relish the chance to take photos of the beauty of the world around me. Malta pictures are dreamy – the place is so sublime it’s basically impossible to take a bad shot.

 

Malta - Sarah Blinco travellivelearn.com

Malta pictures: most Instagrammable

Architecture

I can’t wait to get back to Malta one day and explore more – there’s much of the northern side we missed, but we had a good look around the south of the island.

We stayed in an amazing, authentic 700 year old villa that likely houses a ghost or two.

In fact, they used to make cheese where we stayed, and goats once roamed the lower part of the building that now acts as a casual outdoor area with a pool around which we spent hot afternoons drinking a local brew, Cisk.

 

Malta - Sarah Blinco travellivelearn.com

Napoleon reportedly stayed in the place next door to where we were based. It was then an armoury, and on further investigation I discovered that historically, relations between France and Malta have been tumultuous.

Malta’s positioned in such a spot that it’s ended up in the centre of many wars and struggles for power over the years, including during WWII.

I spotted several plaques in the capital, Valletta, commemorating Malta’s involvement in recent wars as part of the Commonwealth (same as Australia). In fact, Malta is one of just three European countries that form part of this alliance, alongside the UK and Cyprus.

 

Malta - Sarah Blinco travellivelearn.com

A rich history (both modern and ancient), change and rebuilding following periods of war, plus fascinating neighbours bringing a range of cultural influence means that every street, window, door and archway on the island offers an Instagrammable moment.

Blue Grotto

We were staying only about five minutes’ drive from the Blue Grotto, a haven for divers and free spirits alike.

Cliff drops, sparkling blue Mediterranean waves and the option to take a speed boat for just €8 means this is a must-visit in Malta.

 

Malta - Sarah Blinco travellivelearn.com

Get there early to avoid queues.

The sea caverns you’ll cruise into on the water are awe-inspiring and jetting around these parts feels like nothing less than an adventure out of a Bond film.

There’s plenty of Malta pictures opportunities here, but we also captured a little bit of video to share:

Travel tip: Book a meal at Blue Creek Restaurant which is positioned on a cliff-side not too far from the Blue Grotto. Request a table outside because the views are sensational. The food is well priced and delicious.

 

Malta - Sarah Blinco travellivelearn.com

While you’re in this area, you might like to visit the Hagar Qim temples (Megalithic temple structures built on the Maltese islands between 3600 and 3000 BC), Mnajdra temples (three conjoined Neolithic temples dating from about 3000 BC) and the Ghar Dalam cave and museum which contains bone remains of animals that were stranded and subsequently became extinct in Malta at the end of the Last Glacial Maximum.

Valletta waterfront and city centre

Malta’s striking capital, Valletta, is surrounded by spectacular bodies of water; cruise ships line the harbour alongside expensive yachts moored at Vittoriosa.

In stark contrast to these contemporary symbols of wealth and decadence are the fortified structures that date back thousands of years.

We highly recommend investing a couple of hours of your time in a harbour cruise where you get the best views of such buildings. Plus, there’s really no better way to experience the grandeur of the area and some of the world’s prettiest waterways.

Cruises here take in two of the largest natural harbours in the Mediterranian, Marsamxett and Valletta.

 

Malta harbour - Sarah Blinco travellivelearn.com

Travel tip: Captain Morgan cruises are heavily advertised, but if you buy tickets on the ground you can also cruise with Luzzu. Start at Valletta and take a fast ferry over to Sliema, or make your way to Sliema first and begin there. Tickets are available on the waterfront in both spots.

We scored tickets for €10 (down from €16 each) on Luzzu, and while we had a small panic that the boat was much smaller than that of Captain Morgan’s, the experience turned out to be much more fun, personal, free and enjoyable. We absolutely recommend you take this option that we happened upon by taking a chance on a street vendor working for Luzzu.

 

Malta harbour - Sarah Blinco travellivelearn.com

While you’re in the city, you might also be interested to see the Malta Experience which offers an immersive trip through Malta’s fascinating history, and the Knights Hospital which showcases more about how this critical 250-year period in Malta’s history influenced everything from architecture to folklore and even the nation’s flag.

 

Malta - Sarah Blinco travellivelearn.com

Marsaxlokk fishing village

This small and picturesque fishing village is a must-see for perfect Malta pictures and sublime Instagrammables.

Marsaxlokk is popular for a daily open-air market and offers a selection of some of the best fish restaurants in Malta.

I was there around lunchtime and can verify there are plenty of specials to enjoy, the only problem is figuring out which one to try.

There are lovely walks to be had around the harbour here, and you can even take a dip in secluded and untainted swimming zones.

 

Malta - Sarah Blinco travellivelearn.com

Mdina

The history of the walled Mdina can be traced back more than 4000 years.

It is said that in 60 A.D. the Apostle St. Paul lived here after being shipwrecked. Wandering the narrow old streets of Mdina is like taking a trip back in time.

 

Malta - Sarah Blinco travellivelearn.com

The romantic alleyways date back to the 12th Century and over the years has shifted from housing nobles to then falling into disrepair around war times; and now are called home by those who can afford an apartment in unique, historical surrounds.

 

Malta - Sarah Blinco travellivelearn.com

Malta is a destination brimming with beauty, history and plenty of wonderful Instagrammable moments.

A highly recommended destination, and one we suggest you enjoy with friends or family.

A huge thank you to Robin who inspired the trip, and Anna + Anna who also made this escape such fun!

 

Malta

We’d love to hear from you – if you have a comment or tip to add, drop us a line below.

6 reasons why you should create a YouTube account

While I’m more a woman of the written word, during the summer break Cooper really started to explore the visual world of videography and encouraged me to create a YouTube account to showcase our newer content.

Inspired by the Casey Neistat-esque vloggers of the world, I’ll admit that Cooper’s actually gotten pretty good at setting up creative shots and editing stories together. He’s simply gone about teaching himself, which is how I’d encourage anyone to better understand digital content production (e.g. social media, blogging, vlogging). He’s the first to acknowledge that we need to improve our editing software and invest in new technology (no Cooper, we’re not buying a drone!); but despite every day offering a new learning, I’m actually really impressed by what he’s come up with, particularly as the resources he’s had available are very average by professional industry standards.

Here’s a sample:

We’ve all heard it before: content is king and video reigns supreme.

This is for several reasons, the top ones being that video is engaging, plus it is easy to digest in a world overflowing with more hours of content than we have available in several lifetimes. Whether you are producing or simply consuming video, there are excellent reasons why you should create a YouTube account to enhance your own experience and enjoyment.

With Cooper exploring the world of vlogging and professional YouTubers, I’ve become more interested in the merits of the medium and have been thinking about why it’s a worthwhile idea to create a YouTube account for personal use.

Here’s some ideas based on my own experiences that might be worth considering if you’re not already signed-in to the service:

 

Enhance your own user experience: 6 reasons why you should create a YouTube account

 

Enjoy a more personalised experience

I’ve been using YouTube as a signed-in member for a few years. Yes, this has been linked to the fact that I use Google Chrome and I’m also logged-in to Google+.

Essentially this just means that I’m a registered user, and I can see my name and profile picture up the top of the screen.

YouTube remembers what I watch and what I’m subscribed to, and helpfully suggests similar content. I’m a huge fan of Hayhouse authors like Gabby Bernstein and Doreen Virtue, and because I watch so much of their content, YouTube recognises this and shares other ideas with me. I’ve discovered plenty excellent vloggers, authors, musicians and content producers through these personalised suggestions. This would not happen if I did not create a YouTube account to sign-in to.

Never miss awesome new content again

So you start using YouTube to view interesting content, which is great, but what happens if you do not create a YouTube account?

First off, you’ll have to search for those channels every time you visit the site to see what’s new, and second, you’ll miss new content created by your favourite channel producers.

If you create a YouTube account, you can opt in to receiving alerts about your favourite vloggers or channels that produce content that inspires you in life, whether it be about health, fashion, food, travel, beauty, news, sport or entertainment.

Learn new things

The best thing about YouTube is that it is free to use. If you’re a savvy viewer you can use YouTube to teach yourself absolutely anything, from how to set up a podcast to learning a language, taking yoga classes or developing an interest in knitting.

Similarly, if you’ve got knowledge to impart yourself, you could create a YouTube account to share your own wisdom and generate publicity for your business or service.

Get involved in communities

Like any other social media, you can use YouTube to get involved in communities with like-minded people.

Unfortunately I have to say that in my personal opinion I don’t find YouTube to be brimming with the kindest of digital consumers (head over to Instagram for a more supportive experience). However, that’s not to say that if you’re following content producers who inspire you that you can’t connect with other genuine fans or people with similar interests.

The same rules apply here as on other social media – if you like something, show your support by giving a thumbs up, leaving a positive comment, sharing the link or subscribing to the channel.

It’s called ‘social’ media for a reason, so be social – the more you put in, the more you’re likely to get out of the it.

Obviously though, you need to create a YouTube account to have this user experience.

Set up playlists

I go to the gym most mornings around 5am (true story!). It’s thanks to Cooper – he drags me there, pretty much. I’m not that motivated on my own. I’m particularly expert at hitting the snooze button on my phone, but I digress… It’s really early, as you can appreciate, and my brain isn’t in any shape to figure out what I need to watch or listen to in order to be properly motivated. This is where my playlists come in handy!

I often come across interviews I want to ‘watch later’ or music that I can work out to. I save it all to various playlists so I can easily access without any hassle or thought.

You can create content too

If you’re inspired – as Cooper has been – then you too can create a YouTube account to share your own wisdom, adventures, life or business tips. The world as we know it is only going to continue to grow in this direction. The upside of being so connected is that we can all contribute to the sharing of positive and useful messages (and drown out those that are not-so-helpful).

Once I would have simply accessed YouTube to play a video I’d sought out for one reason or another. I’ve realised that as an active signed-in user I can get much more out of it, making the service work for me and my own unique lifestyle needs.

More information:

If you’ve not already (and you’re not adverse to the internet knowing more about your likes or dislikes), here’s more on how to sign-in on YouTube’s help page.

Once you’re set up, maybe you’ll consider subscribing to our new channel too. In the future we’ll be sharing plenty of fun travel content, plus digital media tips and tricks. If this is something you’re interested in, then maybe we can inspire you.