I first ventured to Malta with friends in 2007 to discover where my parents and extended family had been born. I loved it that much that i went back again in 2014 with my family.
Malta was one of the first countries to pop my metaphorical travelling cherry, and it was also one of the catalysts of what was to become an insatiable appetite for travelling.
It was also in 2007, that apart from being patriotic to my home country of Australia, I had felt a strong tie and connection to another country. It’s also probably due to the fact that it’s an island, and I am, of course, half mermaid.
I always used to be embarrassed to be a “wog” throughout primary and high school. I didn’t have the blonde or light hair, and I don’t think I could get any further away from blue eyes if I tried! (Bit of a generalisation there, I know — but have you seen my group of high school friends??)
I also used to get teased or feel embarrassed when I’d take “wog” food to school like olives and sun-dried tomatoes with bread smothered in tomato paste, or “salsa” as we call it. Garlic probably didn’t help my plight either.
*Excuse me while I wipe my keyboard clean from saliva. Drool….*
I mean, what’s so different about that?! It’s close to a Vegemite sandwich, no?
As I grew up, I found myself more and more interested in my background and heritage. Yes, my nationality is Australian, but my blood is Maltese with some French thrown in there. (Mum is half French half Maltese, dad is full Maltese).
If it’s traced far back enough, everyone has some sort of a mixed bloodline running through them.
I was then compelled to get out there and go and visit the land of prickly pears — a fruit found on cactus that’s skin is covered in spikes. In Maltese it is called ‘bajtar tax-xewk’ pronounced: by-tar-ta-shewk – or in literal translation; eggs with spikes.
They’re a simple people.
Malta is the only country in the Mediterranean to have the George Cross of bravery handed to them by King George.
King George turned his attention to Malta due to the bravery and heroism that was displayed during copious amounts of bombing and attacks it came under in WWII.
Tiny Malta still managed to defend itself despite all of the carnage, and was finally it’s own independent country in 1964 after freeing themselves from British rule.
The George Cross is proudly displayed on their flag for all to see.
Hooray for Malta! #patrioticmomentnumber1
Malti – the official language of Malta
The official language of Malta is Maltese or “Malti”. It is one of the few Semitic languages that is still written using Latin characters.
The language is made up of Sicilian-Italian (spoken fluently by 95% of the Island due to the close import and export relationship with Italy), French, Arabic, Spanish and English.
English is also classified as one of the national languages, so being an English speaking tourist will cause you no dramas at all.
Maltese is also one of the oldest languages still being used today. How’s that for history!
Landing In Malta
From the air, Malta looks like a stone wonderland. You’ll see an array of off white and beige square houses and buildings all over the island.
Upon landing in Malta you are greeted by the beaming Mediterranean sun, and friendly and eager staff welcoming you and ready to show you to the airport entry, albeit a somewhat tiny one.
Malta is a tiny island archipelago made up of the islands of Malta, Gozo and Comino, situated in the middle of the Mediterranean sea. Looking at it on a map, you may need to squint to see it.
There are plenty of taxis waiting for you at the airport to take you to your destination. You can book ahead or just wing it and take your pick!
How To Spend Your Time In Malta
Apart from sun-baking, eating and drinking, there’s a few activities you can partake in.
There’s jet-skis at the ready in St Julian’s Bay if you’d like some water sport action. That’s about as much adventure as you’ll find in Malta. They’re a very relaxed bunch.
You can also literally drive from one end of Malta to the other in approximately an hour – give or take 10mins.
It’s practically impossible to get lost. Unless you’re female, then it may definitely be possible. Let’s not deny this, my fellow geo challenged ladies.
It is also one of the safest countries i have ever been to. But, as always, have your wits about you as there may just be the odd lurker looking to get a piece of your cash pie.
There are guided tours, or there are grab-any-taxi-driver-and-ask-him-to-take-you-around-the-island-for-30-Aussie-dollars-tours. Most are happy to take you and your crew around the island for a few hours showing you the best places to eat, drink and sight see.
Our driver took us to one of the oldest churches in Europe – the Miracle Church of Mosta – where a German missile had hit in WWII, yet didn’t explode. It still remains a mystery as to why it didn’t explode, but there was obviously some higher power looking out for them that day!
The missile shell (a replica) is still there to this day, representing a somewhat pride that they survived the potential disaster.
Malta is abundant in churches. There are 359 collectively on the islands of Malta and Gozo; 313 in Malta, and 46 in Gozo.
Whilst inside the church, ladies must be respectful and modest in their clothing choices and cover their legs and shoulders. (As you can imagine we definitely needed the complimentary cloth upon entry of the church. Short shorts and singlets just didn’t cut it).
For anyone that likes clubbing, there are plenty of places to choose from, and more popping up frequently.
I personally ventured out alone (was totally safe) halfway across the island to go to Cafe Del Mar, which had only recently opened in 2013. It was a more mature crowd which was refreshing to see. Malta often gets packed with younger crowds during the Summer break.
Hot Tip: If you’re over 27 and not really a fan of drunken, vomiting, messy youngsters, steer clear of St Julian’s Bay strip at night during Summer!
Let’s get to my favourite part – THE FOOD. You are absolutely spoilt for choice in every corner. From pizza slices bigger than my head (that’s when you know they’re huge – i have a very large head), to pasta, to sweets, you name it, Malta has you covered.
I visited Malta prior to my vegan days, and looking back, there are still plenty of choices for vegans. You can literally veganise anything by removing any animal product, and bang, its vegan. Anyway, I shall leave that for another day.
The restaurants line the ocean and the bays, or you can sit in your room and order room service or take away at 2am. *Raises hand*
The Island Of Gozo
A trip to Malta isn’t complete until you visit the smaller island of Gozo.
The Island of Gozo is an hour and a half ferry ride across the Mediterranean Sea. There are ferries that travel between the islands every 45mins and are available all year round. They are simply less frequent during the Winter months.
A standard adult fare will set you back €4.65 and €1.15 for children 3-12.
Gozo is home to the famous Popeye village where the movie was filmed.
As previously mentioned, Gozo is also spoilt for choice when it comes to churches. The main one that stood out was the Sanctuary of Ta’ Pinu Church.
Whether you’re religious or not, you still have an appreciation for the history and beautiful detailing of the church.
From the gold plating, to the paintings, to the painstakingly detailed portraits on the ceilings, everything is to be admired and is a feast for the eyes.
The Azure Window, which has unfortunately fallen down, was a sight to behold. It’s quite a popular tourist destination, and for all of you Game Of Thrones fans out there, the wedding of Daenery and Khal Drogo along with the movie “Troy” starring Brad Pitt were filmed on Gozo.
Cruise to the Blue Lagoon in Comino Island
To get to the Blue Lagoon, you can catch a ferry or traditional Maltese boat (as we did) from Marfa or Ċirkewwa. There are various ferry companies that do the trip daily, it’s just a matter of the time of year and frequency of the cruises as to which one you pick.
The trip takes approximately 25mins there and 35mins back, so not too much time taken out of your day travelling back and forth. However, it’s not really a bad thing being on the boat, unless seasickness is a problem.
Comino is virtually uninhabited, apart from one hotel, and is car free, therefore, the island is very clean and free from pollution. The whole island is a tiny 3.5 square kilometers.
It’s known as a haven for snorkelers and those wanting to escape the hustle and bustle of the busier island of Malta.
Upon arriving at the Blue Lagoon, be sure to have your hand ready to pick your jaw up off of the ground. It is THAT stunningly beautiful.
The bottom of the ocean can literally be seen from the boat or in the water. Either way, you will be awestruck by it’s beauty. It’s something like out of a movie – because, well, it kinda is.
The boat leaves from Comino island at around 4pm, so you’re free to swim and splash about for the day until the boats head back to the main Maltese island. You’ll probably be having so much fun that it will seem like you’ve only been there for 10mins!
Malta has become a lot more popular of late, (it’s easy to see why) therefore, there are a lot more tourists venturing out to the island of Comino, so be sure to do your best to go at an off peak time if possible.
The people, the islands and the way of life are easy to fall in love with. Be warned, though, if you are into or used to a fast paced, crazy place – then steer clear of Malta. This place is for the ones whom like to spend most of their time relaxing with the odd adventure thrown in there. #islandlife