Malta scuba diving day 1 – Diving in Gozo

Despite its small size, Malta can provide one of the best ways to experience via discovering its underwater treasures through scuba diving! And there is a ton of water since Malta is just a few islands surrounded by, what else? Water! So on this day of diving, I got outfitted with gear, loaded it up on the vehicle, and then we were off to go catch the ferry to go from the island of Malta to the island of Gozo. Gozo is the other inhabited island (other than capital island, Malta) that is just north of Malta. So basically, if I didn’t go scuba diving, I would not have had the chance to go see the other island. It’s kind of like with me scuba diving on the Canary Island of Gran Canaria – without diving, I would have not seen other parts of the island.

diving gozo malta islands Mediterranean Sea

I saw this group of divers lining to jump into the water. I was going to do the same thing a short while later. It is cold water diving in the Med and it might still be during summer.

diving wreck ship sunken sunk underwater salt water

As we’re going down and into the wreck, you have to keep your eyes open for anything unusual and the extraordinaire.

camo fish sculpin scorpionfish on bottom

For example, you might not see anything at first (well, maybe an outline of a fish in the middle)…

sculpin ambush fish waiting for prey

… and upon closer inspection, there it is! A sculpin!

On this shore dive or more like jump in from the edge, it was a wreck dive which means plenty of wildlife to see as long as everyone keeps their eyes open for anything that sticks out. That’s the key with scuba diving because otherwise, all you see is just mainly water and “stuff.”

gozo shipwreck engine motor room

I thought that this was neat seeing the engine room of this wreck.

moray eel hiding ambush

There was a Moral Eey hiding near the wreck in its hole.

hermit crab cangrejo ermitaño

As we made another turn into another part of the shipwreck, I spotted this hermit crab on a handrail. I had to use someone’s light to get a good photo of the little guy.

decorator crab cangrejo camo weeds plantas

This was the most spectacular part of the diving which was spotting this decorator crab! If you don’t look carefully, you will miss the wildlife hiding among the weeds due to its camouflage.

fine details of the decorator crab

Here’s a more upclose and detailed picture of the decorator crab.

Tip: The water is cold as what you can expect? It’s the Mediterranean. The water is always cold so either wearing dry suits or thick wetsuits is a MUST. It reminds me of the rest of the Mediterranean such as Costa del Sol, Barcelona, Nice, and Athens where the water is quite cold for diving unless it’s the summer time which is when the water warms up a bit. And even then, you still need some thickness on that wetsuit.

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Malta – European island nation in the Mediterranean Sea

Ahhh, Malta, the small island nation in the middle of the Mediterranean Sea. Well, actually Malta is the name of the largest island of 3 big islands (which two are only inhabited due to their size and capability to hold people). Malta also has a bunch of smaller islands or rocks as well but might be too small to hold any humans on them. In its history, the Maltan islands have been fought over for many years for its importance as a sea way-station by various European and Arab/North African powers which have both contributed to Malta’s unique history, culture, and even language. The Maltese language is said to be most commonly related to Arabic even though there is a heavy British influence to the islands due to Malta being a former British colony which lasted until the 1960s meaning that many Maltese can speak English as well. Malta was an important stopping point when British ships would sail from their home ports in Britain, stop at Gibraltar, stop at Malta, before heading off to Egypt.

Maltan island countryside castle in the distance island myst mist

Malta has a lot of history in its islands. Many churches were built with supposedly St. Paul landed on the island to preach the gospel during the early Roman times in first century AD.

St. Paul's cathedral Dom Maltese Malta island nation small country

St. Paul is celebrated throughout the island. There is even an old site that was supposedly the first church built on the island but in terrible shape (since it’s old). However, St. Paul’s cathedral is in far better condition.

below view of st. paul's cathedral malta looking up

Even the St. Paul’s Cathedral is impressive when up-close when you realize that it’s actually bigger than it seems.

Today, Malta has become a big financial and banking hub in addition to being a popular tourist destination. Unlike the rest of Europe, Malta gets quite a bit of tourists due to its great weather and climate particularly during the winter when the rest of Europe is covered by avalanches of snow and cold wind. One area that has gotten a lot of attention is the scuba diving there. Because Malta used to be a transport hub/stop for sailing vessels, there are a quite a few shipwrecks and artifacts that make Malta a great place for scuba diving. Combine that with great weather generally all year long and you got a pretty good place for vacation. Or great living. Hey, can’t complain when you’re retired living in a nice climate especially if you’ve lived in cold weather your entire life. I met a Russian in Malta who loved living there after him describing his climate/weather life in Russia as being “cold for 2 months and then really, really cold for the other 10 months.” So much for a summer there or wherever he used to live in Russia.

sunny beach Malta maltese sands island nation resorts tourism snowbird

I can see why that Russian guy loved living in Malta. Compared to freezing temperatures back where he used to live, it’s almost shorts and t-shirt weather year-round.

farmlands farms growing places fields Malta

Even farming can be done year-around in Malta. Wine and other crops are suitable in these growing conditions.

Malta beach at night noche isla playa

Even the nights are not that cold compared to other places in Europe. So it makes for much more pleasant living.

Tip: The people in Malta do speak English so there is no need to worry about any language differences if you are a non-English speaker. The Maltese do have their own language but they can all speak English since Malta used to be a British colony when it was used mostly as a British Navy stopping point for fuel, supplies, and a chance for the royal marines and sailors to stretch their legs. The Maltese language is actually closer to the Arabic language than Italian due to its conquest history of when the islands were under the Muslim control and slowly evolved into its own language with a lot of input from nearby Italy and its eventual British controllers. Just note that the Maltese do drive on the left hand side of the road and on the right hand side of the car like in the UK due to the cultural inheritance from the British. Malta is now a sovereign nation that is part of the European Union.

valleta capital former british colony islands islas med sea european eu

You can see Valletta, the capital of Malta, from this view. The city is sprawled out showing how much the island has grown from being a poor island town to being a modernized cosmopolitan city.

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Bydgoszcz – unknown Polish city near central Poland

This is one of the few Polish cities that you don’t read about or hear about because one, no one knows where is it and two, it’s impossible to pronounce since it’s in Polish. The city has changed hands between the Polish, Polish-Lithuanians, Teutonic Knights, Prussia, Germany, and Polish/Soviets throughout its history that its German name was Bromberg. Due to its location being on the western side of the Vistula River probably meant that even the Romans might have even extended the empire that far by using the Vistula River as the border between them and the barbarians (even though some of the Germanic tribes were also considered barbarians).

Brda river Bydgoszcz Poland polish water way freshwater

It’s winter but not that bad of a winter with massive snow piles and snow in general everywhere. The Brda River flows through the city of Bydgoszcz and eventually into the Vistula River, Poland’s longest river. Over time, the Polish managed to control the Brda river’s flow by a series of dams and later locks so as to prevent floods and damage. I saw a few fishermen fishing this river but I’ve never seen them catch anything nor have I seen any fish in the river despite looking in it carefully.

Brda River restaurants statue buildings Polish

There are nice walkways by the Brda River with plenty of restaurants nearby which makes this a nice city to come by. The little bog on a string is actually a statue of an acrobat. I’m not sure how they got it up there without flipping it but they made it work!

And many years later, it was very possible that even the Mongols might have traveled this far up north and west into Poland as they’ve made several invasions into Poland. It was only by the announcement of Ogedei Khan’s death which spared Polish lands from being completely overrun and sent into the depths of absolute ravage and destruction. Every time a Mongol leader died, all the leadership were to return back to Mongolia to elect the new Khan. It was only through the death of an invading nation’s leader that prevented complete annexation and invasion or at least forced servitude to the Mongol Khan.

I have to admit that there isn’t much about this city that makes it super great because all these wars and battles have ravaged throughout the area’s history, but there is one good thing about this area – great restaurants. Some of the best restaurants around the old market square or by the Brda River or both.

Historic old-town market square

Obviously, Stary Rynek or market square has seen better days. It looked like they were doing a lot of repairs right in front of Bydgoszcz’s city hall building.

Tip: The two best restaurants that come to mind are near Bydgoszcz’s central square: Memo and King Fu. Memo is a great restaurant that serves high-class quality food that ranges from old-fashioned Polish food to fusion. King Fu is an Asian/Sushi restaurant that despite being inland, the place serves great food especially the sushi.

complaining about parking in old town square police officer ticketed fine multa parked vehicle popo

I thought this was funny as I walking around, I saw that the police officer put a parking ticket on this car (along with several others) because cars were not supposed to be parked there. As the police officer placed the last ticket, this lady came up irate to the officer about getting a ticket. Apparently, she got mad that she got a ticket and that she was only gone for a few minutes or whatever. It’s completely obvious to me that there is a taxi stand sign there so she definitely deserved the ticket. I didn’t stand around to see the end of it but it was quite funny.

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Back in Barcelona, Spain for the FC Barcelona vs Valencia CF football match

In the past 2 months or so after watching all those other football teams in Europe such as Dortmund, Stuttgart, Augsburg, Tottenham, and Chelsea, I missed watching my favorite football team, FC Barcelona, play. I have to say that it was great to be back in Camp Nou, home of FC Barcelona. Good weather too compared to mainland Europe where snow is falling in certain high elevation areas. Now the weather ain’t going to be as good as the Canaries but it’s still better than the majority of Europe where the snow’s fallen quite a bit. But I guess I’m saying that because the sun sure tastes better on the skin after enduring sub-freezing temperatures for awhile. A little gift to keep focus on accomplishing some of the more difficult goals even if in cold weather.

camp nou most famous stadiums stadia estadio arenas in europe world

Fans were piling into Camp Nou as the game was about to get started.

But more importantly, I missed particularly seeing Barca’s style of play in action since other teams do not do which is tiki-taka, control the ball, the spacing, momentum, and then attack from all sides, going left to right, up, down. It’s a beautiful thing to watch as it all builds up into a combined team attack as one harmonious motion. I was especially happy to go to the first game rght after the recent Copa del Rey (King’s Cup) game against Sevilla where the team was down 0-2 on aggregate going into the second leg but came back from behind and won it 6-1 (6-3 aggregated) to move onto the Copa del Rey semi-finals! It reminded me of Barca’s comeback from 0-4 aggregate to win it 6-5 by scoring 6 goals at Camp Nou on the second leg to beat Paris Saint-Germain a few years back to proceed onwards in Champions League.

Going into this game, it also marked my first FC Barcelona game for the year of 2019 so I was excited to be back out to Camp Nou again to watch the top team in the world. The one thing that I love about Barca is that it’s just so hard to find tactical deficiencies with the team since their method of attack is all over the place so it’s hard to just shut down one aspect when the team will just go multiple different routes to score. And lastly, Barca has the ultimate secret weapon in having the best player in the world in Lionel Messi who can go 1 on 1 or 1 on 8 players and take it the distance to score. And you never know who else might come up to play the hero as this team has a lot of talent that can make plays individually while still playing within the Barca system/playing style. That’s what makes this Barca team so dangerous because when the team finds a hole, the players will exploit it. Of course, the team has the disadvantage of being public enemy number one so everyone is looking to gun down the King of La Liga.

warm up training before prior match game

Entire FC Barcelona team warming up against Valencia. What was unusual was that the team came out later than usual.

messi practice shots leo lionel best player in the world europe argentine flea pulga

Messi had two awesome warmup practice kicks where both were goals against Ter Stegen. This was important because it would help him later in the game. This is why it’s great to show up early to the stadium to see stuff like this.

Barca’s opponent, Valencia Club de Fútbol or Valencia CF, is considered to be one of the more better teams in La Liga as the Valencia team has won several trophies on their own right despite being squeezed out between the two El Clásico monsters of Real Madrid and FC Barcelona. Surprisingly though, Valencia is not doing so well this season as they are near the middle pack of the league (and at times, worst than average) which is kind of odd. Then again, Real Madrid was also struggling earlier this season showing that a lot of curveballs have thrown in this season with one exception – Barcelona has hit all those curveballs and weird spinners out of the ballpark with no issues as the Barca stands perch up high on top of the standings defending the La Liga crown, once again. Despite some hiccups here and there, Barca is still the king of La Liga while going for Copa del Rey and Champions League in an attempt to win the treble (and maybe even 6 major trophies for this year of 2019? It happened before in 2009! Let’s see it again in 2019!).

penalty messi valencia camp nou blaugrana

Like in the above picture, Messi is now taking a penalty shot for real. Those practice kicks paid off as he scores the first goal for Barcelona to begin the comeback 1-2 and would later have a left curler in the second half to make it 2-2.

empieza start of football game club valencia barcelona barca

And after the usual handshakes, both FC Barcelona and Valencia CF were ready for the start of the football game.

In this game, Valencia showed itself to be more than just the average, middle-of-the-pack-standings team that it appeared to be. Of course, it didn’t help Barca that the referees clearly missed some calls such as the foul on Messi in the penalty box or the out of bounds balls that should have gone to Barca… not to mention some BS moves on Valencia’s part trying to delay the game after going up 0-2 in the first half.

With talented forward Ousmane Dembele out injured, Philippe Coutinho was up forward on the attack as it appeared that he regained his confidence from the Copa del Rey game after scoring 2 goals. He, with Luis Suarez and Leo Messi, who all as a front 3 were causing all kinds of problems but could not produce despite all the pressure on the Valencia defense. Luckily, for Barca, it has the world’s best player, Messi, who will put you on a highlight reel if you’re not too careful and yet, when you get too focused on Messi… the other guys get great, open opportunities to score. And in this case, Messi played his magic scoring two comeback goals to get the 2-2 tie to prevent Valencia from the win.

after game match football spain catalonia

The refs definitely missed some calls but more importantly, the team started too slowly in the beginning which makes me wonder if they should have warmed up earlier and longer prior to the start of the game.

I was worried that the game would have slipped away but Barca showed great resiliency in getting those two goals back. Valencia is also in the semi-finals of Copa del Rey so it’s possible that the two teams will cross paths in the Copa del Rey final game. So that’s why it was important to have this comeback experience against Valencia now because it can put a lot of confidence going into future games. For example, when Barca beat Sevilla earlier last year in the 2018 Copa del Rey trophy game, the team also won the 2018 Supercopa de Espana trophy game, and last year’s regular season La Liga game (a FCB game which I went to several months ago) – it all culminated in the comeback victory and overall in eliminating Sevilla from Copa del Rey.

For tickets to FC Barcelona at Camp Nou, go to the team’s website. They’ve made it a lot easier compared to what it was a couple years back when it was quite unwieldy and cumbersome. It’s a lot more fan-friendly this time around.

Tip: Even during the winters, Spain can be cold especially during the night. So it’s highly suggested to bring a jacket/coat during these times because otherwise, it’ll be freezing during those windy conditions. I was cold sitting in a Camp Nou seat for about 3 hours and luckily, that wind was not blasting at me.

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Fishing in the Baltic Sea from Rostock, Germany

Well, I finally found a guide to take me out fishing in Germany as if anyone has done his research, fishing in itself is a difficult activity to do in that country. There are so many rules and regulations that it’s a real difficult pain-staking thing to do. For example, unlike in other countries, Germany requires people to take a course in hunting and fishing in order to partake in those activities. For fishing, there is an additional requirement of taking a test for each body of water or area before you are allowed to fish it! And for some weird reason in Germany, in some waters, catch and release is not allowed. You must harvest that fish even the small ones as fishing in some waters is considered animal cruelty.

The other big issue is that a lot of good rivers and creeks and other bodies of water are privatized meaning only the club members or if the person is with a guide can only fish those waters. Well, I guess that’s why a lot of people just don’t fish in Germany. I have seen a lot of big fish in Germany just by looking at the creek or river very carefully and seeing some fairly large fish which some of them resembled what might have looked like a Danube Salmon that I tried to go after in Slovenia. Or maybe a big brown trout like the ones in England. But with all these rules, it’s a bit tricky. Luckily, German ocean fishing with a guide doesn’t require a specialized license. Just need the guide to buy a license for ya.

rostock stadtmitte mitte downtown by unterwarnow river fluss freshwater saltwater brackish water

It doesn’t look much to the regular person but yes, you can go fishing from this place!

13th 1200 century door tower gate rostock

As a whole for tourism, the city of Rostock doesn’t offer much. Like most other German cities, Rostock got bombed a lot during World War II from both the British and later-occupying forces of Russia. So much was destroyed. A few places like this 13th century tower still exists but the city is fairly new compared to other metros.

For fishing in this case out in Germany, it was off in the Baltic Sea that I was going to fish in. This was going to be very challenging as the winter weather can screw things up on a small dinghy out there on the open seas so it’s best to check the weather forecasts. The same applies with any type of ocean fishing – the weather can make a great effect on one’s fun out on the waters and generally, affects the amount of fish to be caught. Bad weather generally means zero fish to be caught and thus, zero amusement to be had. However, I have caught a half-limit of rock fish in California one time before the boat captain called it quits due to incoming storms. What was funny was that I had 5 Rockfish while many others either had 1 fish or none (most were in the blank category).

On this German fishing trip, I felt as if the tide of luck was changing for the better in my case because after blanking out in Slovenia and not having any opportunities in deer hunting in New York, I caught the biggest Lingcod of my life and then limiting on both Rockfish and Dungeness Crab… maybe this momentum train can continue! Maybe I can catch some fish species on my bucket list that need to be caught: cod, ling, Atlantic Halibut, Conger Eel, and perhaps even an Atlantic Salmon??? Yes, I know. Wishful thinking. But maybe the Fishing Gods will listen once more to this poor fishing amoeba’s pleas for a big fish. I was hoping that the start of 2019’s fishing season where I had a great day of landing 2 rainbows in England (the limit at that body water) was not a false sign for things to come!

Casting the line out in winter cold water weather

Me casting my line out. As you can see I’m wearing a special flotation suit on in case I fall in the water. This suit is supposed to keep me warm not only while on the boat but also in case I fall overboard.

rostock scenery from the boat

Taking in the sights and scene of the brackish waters before my guide and I started creeping northward to the Baltic Sea to try our luck fishing some saltwater species as well.

lightower rostock baltic sea mar baltico rio mix saltwater freshwater

There are two lightowers which mark the mouth of the river going out into the Baltic Sea. This green/white one had tourists crawling all over it trying to take pictures of me and my guide fishing.

Well, the Fishing Gods did listen! The only problem was that I got a few bites and one sea trout landed. Beggars cannot be choosers so at least I caught something and not a BLANK like in Slovenia.

trucha en el red netted fish in the bag no blanks no skunked

I got one! Finally! No skunks here.

small brown sea run trout trucha oceanico baltico baltic brackish water fishing la pesca in Deutschland angeln German fishin fishing tourism rostock

At about the 3rd to 4th hour in, I finally got a good hookup! After a few bites but no fish, I got one to stay on! Overall, I only got one and my guide got one as well which was bigger and that ended up being my future dinner. Well, even though this was a small one which I had to release for being too small….at least, I got a fish. And you know what they say… a fish is a fish. No skunks!

Sea trout are great for the table fare as well. Unlike freshwater brown trout, these sea-run brownies are much better flavored and tastier.

Tips for visiting Rostock, Germany:
Even though there is a small airport nearby, the best way to go to Rostock is to travel to Hamburg or Berlin, Germany first and then rent a car to commute. Hamburg is the closest major city so it’s recommended to try to go there since the drive to Rostock will be shorter. However, if coming from abroad, it might be easier to fly into Berlin and then rent a car in order to drive to Rostock since Berlin has more flight opportunities available since the city has 2 major airports.

Don’t forget the restaurants since being by the Baltic Sea, Rostock has some good seafood offerings.

seafood dinner langosta calamar almeja mariscos para la cena

This was a lobster, some scallops, some squid, a clam, fish, and other side stuff to make this seafood dinner amazing. Prior to this, I had a great tasting fish soup!

One thing to consider when fishing out in the ocean, in the sea, or at a large lake is the wind. Heavy gusts can really make it a bad day because in general, you cannot successfully cast against the wind to make a good presentation. And the worse part is the rocking back and forth in the boat with all those wind gusts and waves going up and down. Not a fun time. Even if you don’t get seasick, you might “liberate” your breakfast or lunch with full force because of the violence of the seas and winds. I would still recommend taking dramatine or some kind of anti-motion sickness medication.

But why do people go out there in such gales of force and waves? Easy. The fishing! It’s one of my life missions so the fishing adventure continues! May the Gods shine upon me and my continued adventure in life! … and my cooking skills to drum down the hunger pings.

fried sea trout deboned de bone boned out no hueso pescado pez trucha

As soon as I could, I cooked up my sea trout by butterflying it by separating the spine and bones off. That way it’s easier to eat.

Contact for fishing:

www.pronature-mv.de

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