Ah Malta, you got me.
I’m going to be completely honest here, my first impression of Malta was: “dusty”. Malta is a tiny Mediterranean island, just south of Sicily, where the population is just under 500,000 people. It’s hot, rocky, barren and a little underdeveloped. Or in the words of my boyfriend: “It looks like the whole island was designed by one architect.”
But why has this little place stolen my heart? Because it has character. And because it has hidden gems with friendly locals and a welcoming community. The locals of Malta all speak perfect English (It’s one of two main languages, the other being Maltese.) which made our stay very easy. They poked a little fun at our accent in the same way that we did to them, but not once did I feel uncomfortable in the way that some foreign countries can make you feel!
We stayed in this little place called Qawra, which we managed to say differently every time we said it before we learnt its real pronunciation. (FYI: it’s pronounced like “OW rah”) There are only a handful of sandy beaches in Malta but along the coast, like where we were, they installed little ladders from the rocks into the water. The sea is SO clear and I actually quite liked that we didn’t have to deal with sand for the whole week. I’m a big fan of the sea, not so much the sand!
So we got to Qawra by lunchtime on our first day and just as we chucked our bags in our rooms and attempted to go hunting for lunch, the heavens opened. Literally, it was torrential rain and lightning bolts. We managed to run to a bar next door to our hotel so it wasn’t too bad, but what a welcome! The rest of the week made up for it though, with 30 degree heat and constant sunshine.
Our second day was spent at the pool by our hotel and discovering the bars and restaurants in the area. We even got a glimpse as a traditional Maltese wedding the evening, as our restaurant was just over the pool where the reception was held. We spent a while exploring Malta over the week, with our third day spent around Bugibba and the fourth day in the city centre, Valletta.
Valletta surprised me actually. Thanks to the literal hundreds of buses a day (seriously, England could learn a thing or two about this.) we got there and back easily enough. I would recommend avoiding driving in Malta. Mostly because the public transport is so efficient but also because the drivers in Malta seem to just abide by their own rules… With a severe lack of indication.
But back to Valletta: I didn’t realise how many high street stores there would be. I mean, they had Pull & Bear which even Winchester doesn’t have! The main streets remind me of Italy, with lots of high walls and balconies. But Valletta has its pretty side streets and hidden corners with an abundance of cute cafes! We spent a good few hours there and picked up a couple of bits from the shops too.
So the first half of our trip was pretty well spent… Read Part 2 here.