Category: New Zealand
The adventure begins!
Yes. I am finally posting about starting our adventure and setting out to explore the world. Not sure how far we will get or where we will go, when and for how long. If you are curious about why? where? and how? read on and follow the adventures of our family as we explore our world, whilst living and learning.
In my last post I mentioned we had just arrived back in New Zealand and were contemplating selling our house. My apologies there was almost a year in between that one and this one! We rented a house in Rangiora for 3 months while we decided what to do. Husband decided to take on a job so we asked our tenants to move out and moved back to Southbridge. The house was left in a bit of a state due to the negligence of our property managers. We made them pay for cleaning (it was awful), a gardener (waist deep in weeds) and to fix the 5 broken windows that hadn't been dealt with following our inspection months prior. We decided to redecorate and put the house on the market. The next few weeks were a blur of deep cleaning, scraping, sanding, filling and painting as we attacked the external weatherboards to repair and fix up before two full coats of paint. Inside got a complete repaint too - never again! My Dad (our very own handyman builder fixed the bits that needed fixing including a new door frame, the sash windows, the plumbing, and more....couldn't have done it all so quickly without you Dad!). We wanted the house on the market for Southbridge's 150th Anniversary celebrations during Labour Weekend from 24th to 26th October. Less than six weeks and we did it, but were very tired for all our efforts of completely redecorating inside and out and landscaping!
Time to De-clutter!
Unfortunately the house sat on the market for a few months, eventually selling in March 2016. We decided that we would finally realise our dream of travelling! As soon as the house had an offer we started seriously thinning out our belongings and advertised garage sales in the local paper. The first weekend saw us sell all the extra bits'n'pieces, and by the end of 3 garage sales and a few donations to charity we were left with a chest of treasures, some boxes of reference books, 3 large containers of Lego and a few pictures to store at my parents house. Our remaining belongings (including too many toys) fitted into an assortment of 6 bags and suitcases plus a backpack each. The suitcases needed to weigh less than 30kg each as we had flights booked with Emirates but our aim is to get them down to 20kg and even lose a bag or two after Malta!
We spent our last two nights in New Zealand at the Rakaia Campground in their Fisherman's Cottage. The children had a bunk room and even George slept in his own bed all night! I was still doing last minute kitchen cleaning and packing the night we had to leave the house! We absolutely did not drive around late on Sunday evening looking for room in wheelie bins to dump rubbish (including a printer and a suitcase), not us, that must have been some other family the night before bin day who already had a full bin!
Leaving New Zealand was not exactly smooth: we had to pick up Jack's passport the morning of our flights as there had been a mix-up (it was posted from Wellington instead of being printed in Christchurch!). We dropped the car off at Turner's auction house; had pre-arranged a sale price as much easier than selling privately. The taxi was late and when I called to ask where, they said I hadn't confirmed the booking - arrghhh!!! I had by email, but they sent one quickly anyway. Luckily we had built in extra time before our flight check in time. Was very hard saying goodbye to my parents.
Flight was an evening flight so by the time we got to Melbourne and were waiting for our flight to Kuala Lumpur we were all rather tired. Downside to booking via skyscanner is that the cheapest route via Sydney and Melbourne meant we officially 'landed' in Australia even though our luggage was booked all the way through, we didn't leave the airport and were transiting less than 4 hours in each airport; meant Paul travelling on his UK passport needed a visa (me and kids had valid NZ passports). Our children are apparently pretty good at sleeping anywhere when very, very tired!
First stop was Kuala Lumpur for 10 days to explore a little and rest from the craziness of the previous year. We weren't too touristy, two youngest picked up a bug which knocked them out for 4 days. We did manage to visit the local mall, take rides on the trams and visit the Discovery Science Centre - will post more soon. Image is the night view from our 31st floor apartment. The image is blurry - I need a 'real' camera for my birthday: hint, hint husband!
Overnight in Istanbul
Our next stop was just overnight on our way to Malta via Istanbul. Crazy taxi driver! How we didn't collect 100's of wing mirrors and pedestrians on that trip I do not know. Poor accommodation choice saw me making up sofa beds on arrival late at night with 4 tired children after an 11 hour flight from Kuala Lumpur. Six of us crammed into a 1 bedroom apartment - will get better at booking online - must not believe descriptions or images! So pleased I had the foresight to pack us all overnight supplies in a carry-on as our bags were checked right through from Kuala Lumpur to Malta!
North Quay Apartments, St Paul's Bay, Malta
I had booked our entire stay in one apartment at a great rate through a letting agent before we left New Zealand. However, while we were in Kuala Lumpur we received an email to say the property couldn't be let to us - some absolutely fabricated nonsense about Paul's name being flagged as "at risk" and that the landlords bank would not accept our deposit. I believe he got a long-term tenant and needed an out. We lost money in fees when our deposit was returned and had to scrabble to find accommodation at short notice. We ended up having to pay tourist rates for a week in a lovely apartment with a nice partial sea view in St Paul's Bay.
Sunflower Flats, Mellieha
Very grateful for the assistance of Frank Salt Estate Agents for negotiating a 10 week rate for us of 250 euros per week (rather than the 650 it should be per week for spring in Malta). Our promised side sea view is just that, one of those ones where you have to lean out on your balcony to see it! Apartment is approximately a 10 to 15 minute walk uphill to the bus stop and another 5 minutes to the supermarket. Our 3 bedroom apartment is on the second floor and there is no lift. We have not hired a car - we are walking a lot and getting fit in the process! WiFi is included but we will have to pay for electricity and water usage by the meter.
Adventures so far!
We waited and waited for our bus passes to show up - more in an upcoming post about public transport in Malta.
We have seen: ancient pre-historic temples, a roman house, a Medieval festival in Mdina, catacombs, the Natural History Museum, the National Aquarium. We have walked along the waterfront in Sliema, St Paul's Bay, Bugibba and Mellieha. We visited Valetta briefly but the day was cut short when Jack walked into a cannon and put a good sized gash in his head that bled through my fingers! Quick clean and patch up with steri-strips, arnica for shock and swelling, and home on the bus for a rest!
We have eaten out too much, drank lots of local wine and sangria and been fairly successful sourcing gluten free fare and avoiding peanuts. I have to say that avoiding peanuts is much easier in Malta than either Thailand or Malaysia! Jack, our eldest suffers from anaphylaxis to peanuts so we carry two epipens everywhere he goes.
We still have two weeks left in this apartment and plan to see more of Valetta, more temples, caves and museums. We move to a villa with a pool on Gozo for the last 10 days in May. Then we are off to the UK to catch up with some family in Cornwall, Nottingham and Newcastle. Whilst there we will be getting the children their British passports as we plan to travel to somewhere in Europe - haven't decided exactly where yet?
We're going to spend a bit of time reading about the adventures of other travelling families for inspiration and destination ideas. One of our favourite families to follow is World Travel Family. One time we even managed to co-ordinate a meet up in a curry house in Wales quite early on in their travel adventure! Check out their family travel blog for fabulous images, tips and reviews.