Location of the Week: Malta

Malta’s Language and History – “Merħba, ħabib!” Hello, friend!

It may sound like it but Malta is not located in the Middle East. Although it’s not far from the Arabic-speaking Maghreb, this small island archipelago in the Mediterranean Sea has a rich cultural history dating back to the Stone Age. It’s no wonder then that it has the highest concentration of UNESCO world heritage sites in the world. Aside from the great weather and beaches, tourists flock to Malta for the prehistorical temples – including the only known prehistoric underground temple in the world – and the medieval city of Valletta, Malta’s capital and the first planned city in Europe.

Balconies in Valletta
Balconies in Valletta, Malta’s Capital








The Maltese language (Malti) and the island’s culture, is closely tied to the Arabic conquests of southern Europe in the 800s. But the island’s history also owes a lot to its proximity to the Italian island of Sicily, where the ancestors of Malta’s modern inhabitants originate. As a result, the language is mostly influenced by Arabic, Sicilian, a bit of French, and, due to more recent history, English. It is, however, the only official Semitic language in the EU as well as the only one written in the Latin alphabet.

Food in Malta – “Ghandi l-guh!” I’m hungry!

Thanks to the island’s multi-ethnic cultural background, there’s something for every taste. But the national dish is quite special, and deceptively simple. Fenkata, a rich rabbit stew, uses every part of the rabbit except for the hop.  It is served in two courses, starting with a spaghetti ragout, followed by the hearty stew with potatoes. The Maltese like to make big and loud social gathering out of it – not unlike Valencians and paella – which is why it’s special and maybe not all that simple.

Fenkata rabbit stew from Malta - Image by Bellyfirst
Maltese Fenkata rabbit stew – Image by Bellyfirst

There are other popular local dishes,  of course: bigilla, a savoury bean spread, zalzett, the small, coriander flavoured sausages, minestra, which, you may have guessed, is the Maltese version of Italy’s minestrone soup, and the omnipresent pastizzi pastries

Pastizzi from Malta
Pastizzi from Malta – Image by

With all this fine Mediterranean food, the important words to know are, “L-Ikla it-tajba” (‘Bon Apetit’) and “Grazzi!” (‘Thank you’).

Now that we’ve added Maltese on, you can start translating between English and Maltese text and documents right away. If you want to learn more about Malta, or the Maltese language, the internet is a great place to start, but if you really want to get to know Malta, book a trip to this stunning place and meet its people.


Location of the week: Baylands Nature Preserve, Palo Alto

The Palo Alto Baylands Nature Preserve is the largest marshland in the San Francisco Bay encompassing 1,940 acres in the Palo Alto and East Palo Alto area. It is home to various species of migratory birds and as such it is considered as one of the best bird-watching locations on the West Coast. Birdwatchers from around the world are brought together during wintertime to observe birds migrating on the Pacific route; since the site serves as their stopover. Numerous other species of plants and animals inhabit the preserve which makes it the perfect location for the naturalists.

The Baylands Nature Preserve trails are great for cycling, walking and running; and the site offers windsurfing and boating facilities. The city of Palo Alto also offers many activities such as nature, ecology and history walks, horseback riding and fishing.

Are you attending #SDLConnect16? Then why not make some time and have a walk around this beautiful preserve.

Jiuzhaigou Nature Reserve

Location of the week: Jiuzhaigou Nature Reserve

The Jiuzhaigou Nature Reserve and national park is a stunning valley located in the north of the Sichuan province in China.

Jiuzhaigou means the “Valley of the nine villages,” although only seven of them are still populated today. Due to the protected nature of the site, locals rely heavily on tourism as their main source of income. This mystical scenic area is covered by virgin mixed forests, waterfalls, a large number of lake groups and a variety of plants and fauna. UNESCO recognized the Valley as a World Heritage Site in 1992, but some locals consider those scenic spots as holy.

Today, the number of visitors is increasing rapidly as the location not only provides the view of captivating landscapes, but also an opportunity to get a closer look at how the locals live. Definitely a lifestyle and a virgin landscape that big cities have been missing.

How Halloween is celebrated around the world

How Halloween is celebrated around the world

Happy Halloween! It’s that time of year once again to put on the scariest outfit you can find. Nowadays in the UK, Halloween is often celebrated by trick or treating but across the globe it’s not all about candy and costumes. Let’s take a closer look at how Halloween is celebrated in different countries:

Spain and Latin America

In these countries, All Souls Day is celebrated. All Souls Day last for 3 days beginning on 31 October, building up to the grand celebration on 2 November. These celebrations are held to honor the dead, where it is believed that during this time they will return to their homes on Earth. Their homes include the dead’s favorite items, which could be anything from photographs to their favorite foods.


In Mexico, Day of the Dead lasts for 3 days beginning on 31 October and coincides with the All Souls Day celebration in Spain and Latin America. Families and friends pray for and remember the ones they have lost during this time and look to continue to support them through their spiritual journey.


On Halloween, candles are lit to pay respects to the memory of their dead relatives.


Halloween, or ‘Teng Chieg’ as it is known in China, is celebrated with bonfires lit to light the paths of spirits of the dead as they return to Earth. Water and food are also placed in front of deceased family members photos.


On All Hallows Eve, people will hide knives and sharp objects in draws to protect themselves and the spirits from any harm.

Hong Kong

Halloween is known as ‘Yue Lan’ in Hong Kong, with its translation meaning ‘Festival of the Hungry Ghosts.’

We hope you have a great Halloween, wherever you are in the world and however you are celebrating.

Halloween in London

Location of the week: Halloween in London

The 31st of October is fast approaching and Halloween excitement is spreading over the capital city. Today’s location of the week is featuring one of the most haunted cities: London!

London is a very old city, and as such it has survived plagues, fires and mad rulers. The spookiest aspects of the metropolis include tours at the whereabouts of Jack the Ripper, ghost-haunting in haunted tube stations, Halloween-themed Museums at Night and visits in the Tower of London.

Of course, apart from ghost mystery solving, London is preparing for another vivid weekend to celebrate this year’s Halloween with themed parties and events taking place all over the city.