We work hard here at Stellar, but we also play hard and are true believers in balancing the day-to-day with worldly adventures, most of us choosing to jump on a plane once a year to unplug from daily life and surround ourselves in the unknown.
Our travel memoirs are a regular discussion over Friday afternoon snacks – where we went, what we did and of course what we ate – so we thought we’d share some of our tips with you in a new series of posts on our Stellar blog.
As we roll into Winter here in Australia, we figure it’s the perfect time to reflect on some of our favourite hot spots around the globe to keep the sunshine vibe alive – from the crystal blue waters along the European coastline to the tranquil island surroundings of Southeast Asia.
We’d love you to contribute any of your own experiences as we catalogue our Stellar travel diaries…enjoy!
Summer hotspot: Malta
Last September I traded Spring in Sydney to catch the tail end of a scorching European summer. London, Paris, Roma, Firenze were a few of the non-negotiable stops from the outset, but boy was I pleased that my husband and I squeezed in three days in magnificent Malta – an archipelago formed of two main islands in the heart of the Mediterranean sea.
Located only 90km from Sicily, Malta has a rich and long history dating as early as prehistoric times. Phoenicians, Normans, Romans, Spanish, Arabs, French and English have occupied Malta but it is The Knights of the Order of St John whose impact is most heard and felt amongst the colourful and cultural Malta of today.
Valetta, Malta’s capital is an incredible sight from the sea as the ancient city is encased by forts (St James’ Bastion) which were built by the knights in the 1500s to protect it from pirates and invaders. However, it’s St John’s Cathedral in Valetta city that holds pride of place for the people of Malta with its elaborate interior.
History aside (and Malta has plenty), it’s the natural beauty of this tiny country that stole my heart. The many bays that form the coastline and the warm blue waters of the Mediterranean Sea are simply spectacular. Gozo (the second largest island in the archipelago) and the smaller uninhabited Comino are equally beautiful and can be explored by boat on a day trip from Valetta.
We stayed in Saint Julian’s and I’d go back in a heartbeat. Little wooden fishing boats bop up and down in the bright blue bay – a spectacular vision of turquoise, yellow, white and red. Hotel Juliani offers boutique accommodation with a rooftop pool and view over the bay.
Comino’s Blue Lagoon is a star attraction and quite simply, stunning, but for us it was the ocean swimming around St Julian’s and Silema that was a highlight.
Don’t: expect a comfy lounge or day club set up – it’s all about rock swimming around Saint Julian’s bay.
Do: pack your snorkel, a towel and the essential accessory to a hot day in the Mediterranean sun – an icy cold can of local beer, Cisk, or Malta’s famed Kinnie – a local soft drink made from bitter oranges and aromatic herbs.
For a modern Italian/Mediterranean restaurant in Saint Julian’s check out Lu Lu, but for the ultimate Maltese delight- a pastizzi (a savoury pastry filled with ricotta or mushy peas) washed down with a cold can of Kinnie is a must.
Summer hotspot: East Islands, Thailand (Koh Samui, Koh Tao and Koh Phangan)
Since Leo (Di Caprio) introduced us to secret beaches and turquoise waters in 2000, Thailand has since been a hot spot for throngs of bright young things in search of a unique adventure. I took the plunge and headed to the East Coast Islands ALONE recently, hoping to master ‘island hopping’ solo, while enjoying stunning scenery, endless massages and more Thai food I could shake a stick at in Koh Samui, Koh Tao and Koh Phangan.
There’s so much to see and do in Thailand, but Koh Tao was by far my favourite island. Make sure you pack your snorkel gear, hire a kayak for a day and leisurely paddle the 2hr round trip to visit Koh Nangyuan. North East of Koh Tao and tucked behind the island’s main rock face is a stunning small beach enclosure, complete with one small cafe, fantastic snorkelling spots and breathtaking look out areas across to Koh Tao.
Yogarden hidden in the depths of Fisherman’s Village, Koh Samui was most definitely a highlight of my trip. As the name suggests it was a small yoga community offering classes, workshops, wisdom and fresh, healthy food within a colourful secret garden escape. The daily yoga classes were uncrowded, unpretentious and inexpensive, which was incredibly welcoming; as were the staff who encouraged you to pull up a brightly coloured bean bag after class and try that morning’s fresh juice blend.
You’re often spoilt for choices for authentic cheap Thai food but the best I tasted was at my small, family run beach resort in Koh Phangan. Cooked on demand by the sweet Thai owner, it was fresh, quick, incredibly cheap and bursting with Thai flavour. Their full English breakfasts are also worth a mention!
Posted by Stellar Team