I cannot let my blog get all dusty, empty and old again. Since there is a lot going on in my life at the moment – this is just an excuse, cause there isn’t that much! Anyway I know myself enough to predict that I won’t probably finish writing up the Australian part of the RTW trip in the nearest future (I have started, which is already an achievement :), therefore I am posting this article about my Christmas in Malta from 2013. I wanted to leave it for when I’m done with RTW trip but I guess it’s better to write not in order than not write at all! RTW TBC and for now get excited about beautiful Malta.
This year after having really depressing perspective of sending Christmas in work amazing opportunity happened to me. My father has been offered spending Christmas time on Malta on the yacht of his friend and invited me over and of course I agreed. I booked tickets in the early November from Leeds Bradford Airport and they cost me about 200£ but several weeks after that price dropped a lot so it is worth consideration to buy your Christmas tickets in December and plan it kind of last minute if you are not afraid (ah, what of! I’ll surely try next year). Malta has a massive Christian heritage but also plenty of other cultural differences of Arabs and British Empire. Malta was ruled by the latter and gained independence just recently in 1960’s and that is why you can see there plenty of English influence and English is another official language next to Maltese. It is incredible like next to this amazing and totally different sandstone architecture and unique atmosphere you see English breakfast in the restaurants, English buttons on the traffic lights for pedestrians or red telephone boxes. But I am not complaining – everybody speaks English and it is just so convenient! These influences do not spoil a thing, Malta is incredible. Old beige sandstone architecture, little houses packed on the narrow streets with adorable colourful balconies and all these churches and monasteries, all that make amazing impression!
We stayed in Manoel Island Marina, very close to Valletta – capital of the Island. It was the middle of the winter, 22nd of December when we arrived and you cannot feel the atmosphere of Christmas (not that I really wanted to). 17 degrees,some days bit windy but sometimes really nice and sunny, just a couple of Christmas decorations and that is it! Everything was open on the 24th and you could have enjoyed everything like it was not a holiday. I arrived on the 22nd rather late so we did not have time to do much but accommodate ourselves. On the second day we went to Mdina – the old capital and the oldest town on the Island located in the centre of it. Every single town is very small on Malta because Island itself is very small too and Mdina is like super small – for a 15-20 min walk around. But even though it was really nice to stroll around these quiet antique streets and end up in the famous Fontanella Tea Garden for their famous (massive) chocolate cake and some traditional Maltese snack – pastizzi with ricotta (fried pastry with ricotta or mashed peas filling). We didn’t do much apart from this, tried to find Domus Romana but we couldn’t so we went for a walk around Rabat. Another small town just right next to Mdina. Despite less prestige it offered us even more adorable little streets full of flowers, plants, balconies and other gadgets (once even a singing canary!).
On the Christmas Eve and our last day of having a car we went for a ride to Gozo (we were suppose to sail but the wind was to strong and the weather still not good enough). We drove basically through the whole Island from Valletta, passing stunning views of ST. Paul’s and Mellieha Bays, to the north-west tip and Paradise Bay from where we took the ferry to Gozo. Gozo is one of the three Islands of Malta country (apart from this if of course Malta as the main one and little Comino with famous Blue Lagoon in between them). It was about half an hour ride with amazing views of the cliffs and coasts. In Gozo it took us another 15-20 min to get to Dwejra Bay where we wanted to spend our day admiring the biggest (I guess) natural attraction of the Island – Azure Window, natural geological arch in a table-like rock, which was apparently featured in some films like Clash of the Titans, The Count of Monte Cristo or even Game of Thrones! This bay really offers amazing views and after being full of Azure Window experience we went for a stroll to the opposite side of the bay for some more amazing views and photos. It was a great day indeed, on the way back I collected some prickly pear fruits but during our provisional Christmas dinner in the evening I found out they taste really bad (kind of like dragon fruit) and spent the rest of my time trying to pick terrible spikes of my hands.
Christmas Day offered really good weather so we used this opportunity to sail to the Blue Lagoon on Comino Island. Calm waves were nicely rocking our boat and after a couple of hours we could admire amazing turquoise waters of the Blue Lagoon. Colour of the water changes when you enter a little channel between Comino and Cominotto from the navy blue to a beautiful and surrealistic turquoise-greenish-light blue and you can see tiny jelly fish slowly drifting around. We decided to have a short swim even despite rather cold temperature but the sunshine warmed us up after that. Just be careful because this adorable little jelly fish are not that defenceless and my father got burned twice as I expected. After a bit of chill out there we sailed back to our marina catching a beautiful sunset over Malta. It was very pleasant day with nice weather and a bit of sailing and swimming. If you have an opportunity, make sure you will commit to see Blue Lagoon cause the view there is incredible!
The weather was not the greatest during our stay in Malta. We managed to catch only 3 sunny or rather not rainy days. Despite the weather we decided to visit Valletta in the rain. We took the ferry from Sliema to Valetta because the walk or even bus ride would be quite long as the roads need to encircle all the bays in the port. Ferry goes every 30 min and costs about 2,50 euro return. Quickly rushing from the ferry to Upper Barrakka Gardens we managed to be on time for the changing of the guard and spectacular cannon shooting. After that we went for a long stroll around Valletta in the rain looking for some decent place to sit and have a hot beverage but all of the places were full. In the end we ended up in some Sicilian Restaurant and on our way back to the ferry when it got sunny for a while we grabbed some pastizzi for a snack.
Important part of experiencing every culture is trying the national cuisine and local tidbits. On the very first evening in Malta we went to the Tre Angeli restaurant in Sliema where we tried Maltese rabbit in garlic and it was really delicious. Another time just in the pub next to the left from this restaurant we tried some Maltese pizzas and amazing octopus with olives and capers which was really nicely cooked and tasted fantastically. Another time on the same boulevard in Sliema we found a great Cheques Creperie serving delicious sweet and savoury crepes which are basically pancakes but they call and serve them differently. There was the whole range of chocolate, biscuits, nuts and fruits to choose for the filling (I was obviously interested only in these sweet ones :). Try the ones with chocolate and strawberries, that is definitely a treat you deserve while in Malta!
Last day my companions left me in the very morning as they had their flight at noon and mine was at nine in the evening so I spent this day mostly on washing the covers and towels we used in my father’s friend apartment. In the same time this was the best possible end of the stay in Malta I could have imagined – this view from the terrace on the 10th floor in Tigne Point right on the opposite side of the port from Valletta. The weather was kind to me and served me stunning panorama of Valletta and its amazing antique-looking architecture covered in a sunlight and a couple of yachts and boats leaving the port to enter the sea. Malta is a magical place and Valletta is a magical and beautiful city. This view will be the best memory that will stay with me forever – in my head and on my pictures.