I got back from Singapore tanned and healthy but soon the cold and rain in London was getting me down. I did a work trip to Brussels but as I stepped off the Eurostar it was even colder and rainier than London.
I was starting to show that I was pregnant now as I was entering my sixth month of pregnancy. I met with a European Commission spokesperson and some M&A lawyers and was a bit disappointed no one commented on my bump but because I was a bit overweight already I think no one noticed!
In London nobody ever stood up to give me a seat on the tube as my bump just wasn’t that visible or my ass was big enough to balance it out. I started telling people off when no one would get up and say “don’t you see my baby on board” button?
I have always had itchy feet and sitting around london in the rain was not my kind of style. I had to know if I could travel somewhere. I googled “how far into pregnancy can you travel?” to see if I was within the pregnancy travel limits.
Most airlines said they allow pregnant women to fly domestically until about 36 weeks of pregnancy which basically means you can fly until close to your due date if your ob-gyn provides proof of your due date if you need it. International rules seemed a bit more vague.
My doctor told me that air travel while pregnant is generally safe if you’re having an uncomplicated pregnancy. But if you have any pregnancy complications, it’s better not to travel at all, my GP said.
I was invited to visit my friend in Malta for my birthday in April and the cheapest flight I could find was with Ryan air. The Ryan air website said: Expectant mothers can fly up to 28 weeks of pregnancy. Once an uncomplicated pregnancy reaches its 28th week we require expectant mothers to carry a ‘fit to fly’ letter completed by their midwife or doctor, the website said.
Pregnancy Travel Limits
I was under 28 weeks pregnant so booked the ticket and woooshhhh off I was off again, believing I had to get the travel I wanted to do BEFORE the baby was born.
Work was closed over Easter so some of the time in Malta could be rest and relaxation, which I really needed as was now getting tired often.
I got on the four hour flight to Malta from Stansted and within two hours I was so uncomfortable I started pacing the aeroplane. The hard upright plastic seat was doing me no favours. The travel gods, had given me a seat in the first row and on my own so I stretched sideways and stood up and made do until it was time to land.
I never felt happier that I was at the front of the plane than when we landed. Behind me a drunk group of men on a stag do, made loud cheering noises. Normally I would have enjoyed the festivities but I was hardly in the position to do so. My back and my belly needed a good stretch. I legged it to passport control before the drunken stag do could get in-front of me.
That night I slept on my friends comfy sofa bed and the next morning settled into work from her sunny balcony while she was at her office. I had sunny days and walks in the evening with my friend to local restaurants, enjoying good sunsets and tasty food and it seemed to do me the world of good. One local restaurant we loved to go to near her house in Sliema was called La Vida. It has a great atmosphere, and amazing tapas at reasonable prices.
After some time hanging out in Sliema I had the good fortune to experience Easter in Valletta, another ancient city in Malta with very religious roots.
Like in most Catholic countries, the Holy week starts on the Friday before Good Friday. A statue of Our Lady of Sorrows is carried through Valetta and many towns and villages in a very serious parade. I enjoyed the solemn nature of the parade but also the extravagant colours of costumes and traditional style of worship.
Ninety percent of Malta is Catholic so most people in the city were either in the parade itself or watching it. There seemed to be a lot of alcohol being drunk by onlookers also. The history of the island, having been the home of the crusaders and the forefront of the war against Islam at different points in history made it even more significant in religious significance.
The following weekend of my birthday we decided to make an excursion from Malta by renting a little cottage in Gozo. Along with another friend we took her car on the short ferry ride from Malta.
Gozo is a calm little island only twenty minutes away over the water. The first night we arrived we had booked a fancy restaurant, Maldonado Bistro.
My friends had wine and cocktails while I squirmed uncomfortably big in my seat. The food was marvellous though and the sleep that night in the dead quiet was also a relief after city and the noises of Sliema.
Gozo, is more rural and authentic than Malta. There are no traffic jams, or pollution or constant fireworks, it’s just nature and calm.
We drove to the Marsalforn salt pans and I was happy to have discovered such a unique spot of 350 years old Salt pans in Gozo. To reach the salt pans, you have to drive West of Marsalforn. The salt pans are still harvested today by a number of local families, between May and September. There was no one selling salt or producing it so we could parade around the area posing in various pools.
The following day we located Ggantija, the megalithic temple complex in Xaghra, East of Victoria. This Unesco World Heritage site is little known but actually older than the Egyptian pyramids and Stonehenge!
“Ggantija” means “giant” and many are convinced that only giants could have been able to carry and put together such massive rocks. Some of them weigh more than 5 tons and are 5 meters long. Even today, no one really knows how the rocks got there, so the giants theory, isn’t so hard to believe.
The site is made of 2 temples: the South and the North one.
There is also a small museum with additional information about the site and artefacts found there. We enjoyed educating ourselves at the museum before heading out to a long lunch with fish and potatoes in an old fashioned restaurant by the sea.
The weekend was over so we had to drive back to the ferry. On the way we passed Ramla Bay, the largest and most beautiful sandy beach in Gozo. We stopped to take a look since it was easy to park next to the beach. Families choose to go there since water’s depth is gradual and it’s guarded, making it the perfect beach for kids to swim safely.
The beach also has various important amenities for a family day out, a restaurant, a shop, ice-cream vendors and public bathrooms. You can also rent sun beds and umbrellas.
Gozo is a great place to hike but I wasn’t in a condition to enjoy hiking. I decided after giving birth it would be nice to go hiking along the many paths that follow the coast, almost all around the whole island.
Coming back to Malta was a jolt back to reality. The constant noise of building and construction fills the air in the day and fire works by night.
Still with an average of three hundred days a year of sunshine it was hard to go wrong with the mood there. I had to fly back before I had exceeded my pregnancy travel limits and by now England’s weather had improved.
The way back wasn’t as bad as the way out maybe because of the fresh air, good food and exercise I was able to sit straight for four hours and make it back in time to start another week of remote working.
Read about my earlier travel adventures whilst pregnant to Singapore and to India.