Rome and Florence were too cold for me in October. It wasn't terribly cold, but I just needed to lay on a beach and get tan while I was on this side of the world. I have a friend from Malta and on a last minute whim, we hopped a flight to the little island south of Sicily, where I knew it would be warm…
I told our ride from the Malta airport the wrong arrival time so when we landed we had a few hours to kill. I'm not sure how many people you know who have walked away from an airport, but I don't know any. At any rate, we decided to do just that. We left our bags with security, picked a direction and just walked. After about 10 minutes we found ourselves in a totally deserted part of town. Homes and apartments everywhere, all some version of beige color, mixed with the various erection of a worn, white statue of Jesus or the Madonna or a saint. It was a total ghost town. We wandered down the middle of multiple streets at 12 o clock in the afternoon and NO ONE was around. Like a twilight zone episode. Eventually we found a small.. space. Thats the best word I can find to describe it, since it wasn't a "proper" restaurant or bar of any kind. Anyway, we found this space with a flickering tv and 6 people inside. We sat down, ordered a beer and a bag of Salt & Vinegar chips and talked with the bartender who informed us that it was so desolate because it was lunchtime and everyone was inside eating and sleeping. Sounded like exactly what we wanted to be doing after a few long days of excursions in Rome.
Finally it was time to catch our ride so we walked back to the airport and met our new friends who gave us a drive-by tour of the island before we reached our hotel. Its the most unique mixture of desert and sea that I've seen in person. All the buildings remain unpainted and retain their beige limestone color because paint deteriorates the limestone, exposing it strengthens the stone through the elements. So, all the architecture is built with the idea of complimenting nature instead of competing with it. The October weather was warm with a reliable sea breeze and the views from every direction were instant peace.
Malta is a small island with the most lovely, inviting people, proud of their rich heritage and excited to share their country with visitors. While on holiday there I swam in the warm mediterranean sea (which boasts the softest sand I've stepped on… like baby powder), ate incredible fresh food, was hosted by beautiful, friendly locals, and explored Hagar Quim the oldest known man-made structure in the world dating back to the Neo-lithic period.
There were countless more activities we could have engaged had we more time, like the St. Julius bustling nightlife with some of the best DJs in the world who choose the Maltese club scene to throw down their beats (as does MTV, yearly, throw a FREE concert featuring people like Lady Gaga and Katy Perry), or visiting movie sets from Gladiator (the colosseum as it would have originally looked!) and Popeye village, or spots from World War Z and Munich. There is a huge marine community here, as well (visit the aquarium -- for grown ups and kids alike, or go diving, snorkeling, kayaking or fishing), or for history buffs there is a Cathedral where in WWII a bomb came right through the ceiling during an air raid while mass was in session and, miraculously, didn't explode… and is still there today. Actually, particularly if you are Catholic or Christian, there is a rich heritage for your faith here. You can nourish your brain and soul, AND soak in the Sea air & island life at the same time. The history here goes way back… like 5,000+ years back. There's even a statue on St. Paul's island dedicated to St. Paul who was shipwrecked here as is recorded in the Bible in Acts. This place is OLD, ya'll. You want to see places where civilization began? Don't go to the Atlantis resort in the Bahamas. Go where people say Atlantis REALLY was… Go to Malta.
A few of my favorite spots…
Cafe Del Mar attached to the Malta National Aquarium (order the Pina Colada mussels-- actually, order a Pina Colada too! Made with all FRESH ingredients)
Maritim Hotel Penthouse Suite (worth it to go in on with friends… has its own pool overlooking a cathedral and the Sea)
Mdina "the silent city"
The beach by the Sea Break resort for laying out on soft sand and dipping in the Mediterranean Sea. I didn't stay at this hotel but it looked beautiful and great for kids, too.
Bon Voyage! Xx BJL
|My friend Natasha's restaurant, where her brother, Tonio, cooks!|
|At the Malta National Aquarium|