Believe it or not, it took me half a year to go and explore Manoel Island, which is off the coast of Gzira town and is known for parties and events. In winter especially, it looked like the best parties take place at Funky Monkey, expats′s go-to bar on the island. On the other hand, I also knew the island as an obscure development project, whereby a company, MIDI PLC, is building commercial venues in exchange for restoration of the island’s historical quarantine and other heritage areas. The agreement was signed in 2000 by the ruling PN administration at the time – the political party that tried to win elections this year promising greater transparency than the incumbent government. However, a part of the contract with the developer reportedly went missing. According to Eurostat, three in five Maltese men and a third of women have not read a book over the past year, probably because news look like detective novels or thrillers. As the plan for the island contains a hotel, a luxury casino, and a shopping area, some NGOs fear emergence of the second, but less ambitious, Dubai, while the company promises that most of the space will be accessible to the public.
The island is connected to Gzira by a narrow bridge, which is a road without a sidewalk (not surprising in Malta). The first thing one notices upon entering is the famous Duck Village.
I attended a debate in Marijampolė, the seventh-largest town in Lithuania, which was an occasion to visit this town for the first time. As a regional center of Lithuania’s historically most affluent region, Suvalkija, it continuously appeared in school textbooks. Many prominent writers and Lithuanian independence activists were from this region and had studied in Marijampolė. Still, I couldn′t have named any major landmark. It was not a part of the itinerary of high school trips either. Still, the town has a very interesting history and is worth exploring. Continue reading →
I love birds – as a child, I used to spend hours and hours studying bird encyclopedias and trying to recognize them as I see them. Birds used to be my favorite subjects for drawing, especially orioles, nightingales and pigeons. So a two-day stay in Ayutthaya, the ancient capital of Thailand, made me really regret I did not have a proper camera to take photos of all the interesting birds there. There is a huge park right in the center of the city, and birds there seem to really feel free to go about their business regardless of tourists. For identifying the species, I used Peter Ericsson′s very informative database of birds in Thailand.
Let′s start with water birds, of whom little egret is probably the most gracious. Continue reading →