Digital Nomad Life Month Twenty Five

Month Twenty Five of Digital Nomad Life was an action-packed travel month which saw me traveling through three countries and three States, having a ball and blowing cash.

The beginning of the month was spent in Vegas, partying with my Denver family – although I was pretty lame and was in bed by midnight every night. I am not cut out for the party lifestyle anymore.

As well as partying I also spent time by the pool, eating out, doing my first Escape Room and wandering the Strip. The last couple of days we barely did anything at all. One week in Vegas is too long.

Volcano erupting at the Mirage Las Vegas

We were back in Denver for three nights but didn’t do much other than catch up on work and run errands before we were on the road again, this time to Nebraska for 4th of July Weekend.

Nebraska is my 25th State visited – half way there! – and it wasn’t somewhere that was high on my list of places to go but I enjoyed our three days at Lake McConaughy with the family.

We grilled, chilled, swam in the lake, read, went out on the lake by boat and on a giant lilo, and had drinks and smores around the campfire. There wasn’t a lot else to do there which was a really good thing for me as I often have trouble just relaxing and sometimes you just really need to. I needed to.

After leaving the lake, Toby and I drove back to Denver for the night then he dropped me at the airport the next morning for the start of my Euro trip!

I was so glad to finally get to Malta after a hellish journey and the next eight days were a highlight of the year for me. Malta was even better than I had hoped it would be and I actually felt like I was on vacation for the first time in a long time. Travel may be my life but I rarely feel like I am actually on vacation so it was such a treat.

Ghan Tuffieha, one of the most beautiful beaches in Malta

One of my best friends Megz and her boyfriend Josh met me in Malta for the first three nights and we had a magical time exploring the alleyways and squares in Valletta, hiring a car and driving to the medieval hilltop town of Mdina, the Popeye film set, the domed church in Mosta, then lively St Julians for dinner.

And then we caught the ferry to Gozo where I was meeting my friend Kathryn and spending the next three nights.

Gozo was even better than Malta in my opinion and I loved the lovely resort town of Marsalforn where we stayed. We also explored the biggest city on the island, Victoria, and its impressive Citadel and hidden lane ways, as well as watching the sun set over the Inland Sea, driving crazy dirt roads at night, and finding a gem of a restaurant in the historic town of Gharb.

After Gozo we headed back to Malta for two nights, where we revisited Valletta and St Julians, and walked the promenade in Sliema.

I ate so well during my time in Malta, with two-three course meals and amazing Maltese wine every evening. I swam in the incredibly clear sea every day. I had time to read, to wander around aimlessly and to actually have a real break. I couldn’t have asked for more from my time there.

And then from Malta, I was London bound!

Tower Bridge in London

I spent nearly six years living in London but despite it being my home for so long, I hadn’t been back for nearly five years, since I left in 2012 to travel then move to Sydney.

It felt incredible to be back and I quickly settled back into London life in my house and pet sit in Clapham Junction. In some ways it felt like I had never left, but so much has changed since my time there. I have changed. Although I mostly loved my time back there, memories of the past also haunted me and were hard to deal with at times.

But, I mostly loved it and got into a great schedule of getting up early, taking the dog for a one hour walk around the common, heading out for the day to explore for a few hours then coming back in the evening and doing some work. It was the work/life/exercise balance I had been searching for for a while. I just hope I can continue when I get back to Colorado.

The big focuses for my time in London were markets, parks and museums and I managed to visit quite a few of each. As well as visiting some of my London favorites like Camden Market, Greenwich, Brick Lane Market, bike riding through Richmond Park, strolling the South Bank to Borough Market then onto Tower Bridge, Soho, St James Park and the British Museum, I also got in a few London activities that I haven’t done before: walking Regents Canal from Camden to Kings Cross, Granary Square, the British Library, the Geffrye Museum, Leadenhall Market, Postman’s Park and Pop Brixton.

I was a busy, busy girl.

Now onto the Stats!

Valletta city wall views, Malta

Countries visited: USA, Malta, United Kingdom

Places visited:

  • Nevada: Las Vegas
  • Colorado: Denver
  • Nebraska: Lake McConaughy
  • Malta: Valletta, Sliema, Mdina, St Julians, Mosta, Melleiha
  • Gozo: Victoria, Marsalforn, Qala, Gharb, Ramla Bay
  • United Kingdom: London

Islands visited: Malta, Gozo

National Parks and Monuments visited: None this month

Best meal: Like usual, there is no way I can choose – the food in Malta was particularly spectacular. Here are my favorites of the month in no particular order. I LOVED my traditional Ftira (Maltese pizza) at Gululu in St Julians, the ricotta ravioli that is made on the island that I had at Murella in Marsalforn on Gozo, the pumpkin, pistachio and mozzarella risotto at Qbajjar Restaurant near Marsalforn, the Maltese Platter at Caffe Cordina in Valletta, and the Mezze platter from The White Swan in Richmond, London. There were so many other delicious dishes that I consumed this month (along with waaaay too many sweet treats), but these dishes stood out the most.

Worst meal: Even in my drunken, day-drinking state – I still thought that the shrimp meal I had at some random food court in Vegas was disgusting. Just squishy and weird. Luckily I didn’t get food poisoning. Also, the fish soup I had at a restaurant in Valletta was pretty gross – way too fishy with little bits of crab through it. Not a fan.

Best craft beer: Sadly there were very few craft beers this month as I was largely focused on the Maltese red wine and Aperol spritz in Malta, then I detoxed for a bit in London. I did try a couple of London crafts but wasn’t impressed unfortunately so I didn’t note down the names.

Hikes:

  • Coastal Hike from Marsalforn to Ramla Bay on Gozo 2 miles/3.2km

I didn’t do a lot of hiking per se this month but damned if I didn’t walk EVERYWHERE including daily one hour loops around either Clapham Common or Wandsworth Common during my time in London.

Hiking in Malta from Marsalforn to Ramla Bay on Gozo

Reading: Bright Shiny Morning by James Frey. This book basically was a load of short stories that are intertwined together that portray the dark side of LA. I enjoyed it a lot.

Watching: Orange is the New Black Season Five. Season Five is set during a prison riot that kicked off when a guard was shot at the end of season four so there was a lot of excitement. I took a while to get into Season Five, I devoured all of the previous seasons in about a week, but I did still enjoy it.

Listening to: The Night we Met – Lord Huron

Highlights

Doing my First Escape Room in Vegas

I have wanted to do an Escape Room for a while so I was excited when Ticia organised one for everyone as part of her 40th Birthday celebrations in Vegas. We were split into two groups and had to ‘break out of prison’. My team ended up winning and I was actually the one that figured out the code to break us out so that was awesome. It was a lot of fun and I would love to do another one.

Relaxing at Lake Mac

Sometimes you just need to go somewhere where there isn’t a lot to do so that you can actually relax without getting FOMO. Lake McConaughy in Nebraska was perfect for this – there really wasn’t a lot there so I actually allowed myself to just kick back. Sure, I swam in the lake, went out on a boat for an hour and walked the 20 minutes up to the General Store and back, but I also spent many hours sleeping, reading, and sitting around talking. I felt refreshed, and a little sunburnt, after three days there which was what I needed before heading to Europe (minus the sunburn).

Entering my 25th US State - Nebraska

Loving all the Food and Wine in Malta

As I mentioned in my run down of the month above, Malta was a great destination for food – I was so in love with the cuisine which is a delicious mix of Italian, northern African, and Greek. It was phenomenal and I ate some of the best pasta of my life there. I also loved the pastizzi – little pastries with a range of fillings, Ftira – a Maltese flatbread with various toppings that is similar to a pizza, and the Maltese wine was also very good. I used my friend Dani’s guide to the food there and she didn’t steer me wrong!

An amazing Ftira, Maltese flatbread pizza, from Gululu in St Julian's, Malta

Seeing old Friends in Malta and London

I always love catching up with friends and I got to see a number of them during my time in Malta and London. One of my best friends Megz and her boyfriend Josh joined me in Malta for a few days followed by another travel friend, Kathryn, who I met in Alaska, coming out for the second half of my time in the island nation. In London I got to see a few friends that I haven’t seen in nearly five years and even met a new friend who I hung out with a couple of times. It was a great month for socialising.

Swimming in the sea Everyday in Malta

I miss swimming in the sea – it’s not something I get to do so often now I am based in Colorado for a lot of the year – so it was so amazing to swim every day during my time in Malta, often multiple times a day. Malta is known for having some of the clearest water in Europe and it is also rather cold which was perfect to cool us down in the super hot temperatures. I think swimming in natural bodies of water is healing to the mind and body and I definitely felt good after all the swimming I did in Malta. The stress just melted away.

Marsalforn Coast on Gozo, Malta

Staying in Marsalforn on Gozo

I loved the little town of Marsalforn on the island of Gozo – in fact it was my favorite place in Malta. Marsalforn is a fishing village turned low-key resort town and has a little beach, a handful of seaside restaurants and a rocky coastline with lots of little coves that are perfect for swimming. It was the perfect place to relax for a few days, the pace was just slower there.

Beach in Marsalforn, Gozo Malta

An Afternoon and Evening in Victoria

Valletta is a beautiful city but I preferred Gozo’s capital city, Victoria, which is smaller and even prettier in my opinion. Kathryn and I wandered the maze of small streets that led to peaceful plazas, and headed up to the historic citadel for 360 degree views over the island. We had dinner at the renown Jubilee Cafe then watched the horse races that were taking place on one of the main streets. My afternoon and evening in Victoria was a definite highlight of my time in Malta.

Exploring the Citadel in Victoria, Gozo's capital city, Malta

Exploring Historic Mdina

Mdina is a stunning 1300 year old fortified city in central Malta, and is the perfect place to wander aimlessly and take lots of photos – it is ridiculously photogenic. We visited as part of a self-guided tour around the island and the few hours we spent in Mdina were the highlight of the day. Along with wandering the windy streets and enjoying views over the countryside, we also had an amazing lunch on a sunny garden terrace and visited the interesting and horrifying Dungeon Museum. Mdina is definitely worth a visit on any visit to Malta.

The streets of Mdina in Malta are so photogenic

Visiting London’s Best Markets

I love the markets in London, and there are so many to choose from. I ended up visiting eight of my favorite London markets during my ten days in the city, including three in one day! I tried loads of delicious foods including halloumi fries, a sweet chilli prawn wrap, fried chicken bao, empanadas, sweet potato gnocchi, dumplings, and pierogi among other things. I also enjoyed browsing the market stalls and picked up an awesome bed cover at Camden Market. The market vibe alone makes them worth a visit, but the food is the main reason I love the markets in London so much and they definitely didn’t disappoint this time around.

Camden Market in London

Finally Making it to the Geffrye Museum

I have visited pretty much all of the museums in London over my years of living there, all the big ones at least, but there was one that I never made it to: the Geffrye Museum. The Geffrye Museum in East London is an excellent museum that showcases the evolution of London homes from the 17th century through to today, with rooms set up to represent the different time periods with very detailed descriptions of what life was like through the years. It is housed in a beautiful 18th century Almshouse building and there are also period gardens out the back. It’s one of my new favorite London Museums.

The Geffrye Museum in London, UK

A Sunny Day in Richmond

Richmond will always hold a very special place in my heart after living on a boat for a year there back in 2011, so I chose a gorgeous sunny day to return there and it was perfect. After walking through the green and Richmond Palace, I hired a bike for two hours to bike along the Thames to Teddington Lock then through Richmond Park to the peaceful grounds of the Isabella Plantation. Back in town I visited my old haunt, The White Swan pub, for lunch, grabbing a table in the sunny beer garden. It was so great to be back.

Sunny Richmond riverside, London UK

Lowlights

Let Down by Old Vegas

I’m not a big fan of Vegas as it is – I much prefer to be somewhere with a more natural beauty – but I really wasn’t a fan of Old Vegas. I thought I would be, it’s cheaper there and it has more of a vintage Vegas appeal, but in the end I just found it a tackier, seedier version of the Strip. Oh well.

A Series of Unfortunate Events Between Vegas and Denver

It just wasn’t my day when we were flying back to Denver from Vegas. I wasn’t feeling well, Toby and I didn’t get a seat together, the plane trip was super bumpy over Vegas because of the super-heated air, then Denver because it pretty much always is. We landed and I went to use the restroom, knocking my arm really hard on the metal tampon box in the stall, then when we were on the train to the baggage claim, a lady wasn’t holding on so when the train stopped suddenly she stomped on my foot, hit me in the head with her bag, and then sat on me. That was it for me and I burst into tears. A month later my toenail is still black from where she stood on me.

A Rough Time Getting to Malta from Denver

I knew it would be rough getting from Denver to Malta, it would have been anyway even if everything went as planned. But it didn’t, so it was worse. The first leg of my insane travel itinerary was my flight from Denver to New York, which departed on time but had to turn around after ten minutes in the air because of a medical emergency. I had a seven hour layover in New York and on arrival I took a shuttle from LaGuardia to JFK. My six-hour overnight flight ended up departing about an hour late from there and I was in the middle of the plane in a middle seat next to a large lady that didn’t quite fit in her seat and a tiny lady that was an arm rest hogger. No sleep was had.

I arrived in London which was unseasonably hot and because I had missed the bus I booked, I had to fork out for the train into Victoria. From there I went to Clapham Junction to meet the guy I was going to be housesitting for then had to head back to Victoria to catch a bus to Luton, then a flight to Malta which was delayed by over an hour. We were forced to wait in a stinking hot stairwell. It was great fun *sarcasm*.

Finally, after around 30 hours of travel, I got to Malta, met up with my friends, and got a shuttle to the hostel. And then I slept for ten hours.

Extreme Heat in Malta

Damn the humidity and heat in Malta was crazy, and it only seemed to get worse the longer I was there. Luckily we were able to swim in the super clear and refreshing water everyday for some respite but pretty much every other second of the day was spent wallowing in a pool of sweat. Nowhere that we went had air-con and sleeping in the humidity was really hard – one night I was so unbearably hot I ended up getting up at 2am and hopping in a cold shower, then getting back into bed wet. The hike we did around the coast in Marsalforn was also pretty intense, with it ending up taking longer than we thought it would and running out of water. I was quite worried I might pass out for a while but luckily we made it intact, with just red faces and heat induced headaches.

Dealing with a High Maintenance Dog

I’ve been pretty lucky with housesitting so far, and although the flat and location of my housesit in London were great, I wasn’t a big fan of the dog: he was just way too needy. I would be trying to do work and he would bark at me because I wasn’t giving him attention, he would follow me everywhere around the house including to the bathroom, and he chewed up the wooden clasp on my handbag. I don’t think I will be looking after a French bulldog again, although I did enjoy walking him. If only he was a bit more chilled in the house. I’m still definitely team cat.

Petsitting a needy dog in London UK

Lonely in London

As I found out during my six weeks in Field in 2015, I am actually a lot more extroverted than I realised and I don’t like to be away from people for more than a couple of days. I did meet up with friends every couple of days in London but by the end of the 11 days, I was craving more time with other people, especially in the evenings. I don’t think I would cope well if I lived alone.

Spending:

Total: USD$1430

Yep, this has been a really high spend month for me but it is as I expected. Back to the budget again next month.

Accommodation $265

I paid for accommodation for 11 nights in month twenty five in Vegas and Malta, so $265 is actually pretty good value! Next month I am mostly housesitting and staying with family so it will be right down around $0 again.

Food and Drink $783

Oh Lord. I really went over board this time. I blame the amazing food in Malta and London. I may have also packed on a few pounds. Urgh. Next month, bar a few days in London and a week in New York, will (should) be much cheaper. And healthier. Here’s hoping.

Clothing $0

Geez, at least one of my totals is low this month.

Transport $208.50

  • Cab in Vegas $5
  • Train for two people Denver Airport to Downtown $18
  • Transfer LaGuardia to JFK $16
  • Bus and Train Airport Transfers in London $42
  • London Public Transport $78
  • Late Night Airport Transfer in Malta $6.50
  • Public Buses in Malta $14
  • Return ferry from Malta to Gozo $5.50
  • Two day car hire in Malta $17.50
  • Transfer bus from Luton to Victoria $6

I don’t include Flight costs in my Monthly Round Ups

Activities $51

  • Gambling in Vegas (is that an activity??) $16
  • Prison Museum in Mdina $6
  • Entrance to Popeye Village in Malta $14.50
  • Two hour bike hire in Richmond $14.50

Other $122.50

  • Toiletries $14.50
  • Skype Credit $12.50
  • Monthly Phone Plan $10
  • Camping Mattress and Blanket $24
  • Rechargeable Battery Recharger $20.50
  • Kindle Book $2
  • Replacement camera cord $26
  • Bed cover $13

Plaza in Victoria, Gozo's capital city, Malta

What’s in Store for Next Month:

The first couple of days of Month Twenty Six will see me rounding off my time in London before flying up to Edinburgh for a night.

I will have a short amount of time to explore Edinburgh, which will be my fourth time in the city but my first visit in eight years, and I am hoping to wander the Royal Mile, and maybe hike up Arthur’s Seat.

From Edinburgh I fly to New York where I will be spending a week, housesitting a kitty in Cobble Hill, Brooklyn. My friend Dani hooked it up and will be staying at a housesit nearby in Prospect Park. Toby will also be flying in for the week to meet me and I am looking forward to seeing him after three weeks apart.

We are largely leaving it up to Dani to play tour guide as it is something she is very good at – I have visited her before at housesits in Tucson and Seattle and they were both fabulous trips.

I do know we will be hitting up food markets, street art in Bushwick, Coney Island, Central Park, the Highline, a Speakeasy, a rooftop bar and lots of other cool stuff including lots of New York pizza. I am excited to spend time in New York with a local as I didn’t love my first visit back in 2012.

After an action-packed week in New York I will be saying goodbye to Dani, who is heading to Germany, and Toby, who is flying to Maryland for work, and catching a plane back to Denver by myself.

I have a housesit for a week near one of my favorite places in Denver, the beautiful mountain town of Golden, where I will be looking after another kitty.

During my time in Denver I plan on catching up on work, doing some hiking around Golden, seeing friends and family, and maybe heading into the city. I’m hoping to keep busy so I don’t get lonely like I started to in London, but I also think I do need some downtime: the last month was craziness.

I have five days after the housesit until Toby gets back and I am still deciding what I want to do in that time. I may take the van out by myself to camp for a couple of nights, which would definitely be a big step out of my comfort zone. Which is why I should do it. But another housesit might still come up too so I am going to play it by ear.

When Toby gets back, the last week of the month will definitely be spent camping and backpacking – we are planning to do a two-three day hike in Maroon Bells, I just need to decide on a route and do some planning. Whatever we decide on I’m sure it will be beautiful.

It’s already shaping up to be a great month!

To read additional Monthly Round Ups, you can find them here

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