I've been reminiscing a lot lately about one of my favourite holidays ever - my 2012 trip to Malta with my boyfriend. Despite not being the most exotic, or the longest-haul journey I have ever been on, it was definitely up there as one of my favourites because there was quite simply so much to learn and explore.
We settled on Malta after realising that we could not afford to go to Italy with everything else we had planned and from our research we believed that Malta held many similarities, at least enough to keep us happy and not feel like we were sacrificing our summer holiday. Being a very inquisitive pair, we get bored easily and although we wanted to come back feeling refreshed and relaxed, we also wanted to have the opportunity to learn about a different culture by exploring the history and sights. Well, we certainly picked the right place because Malta boasts a rich heritage and culture that had us out almost every day walking across the rocky shores and through the bustling city of Valletta.
We stayed in Mellieha - an area more often chosen for holidays by Italian, Greek and German families as we found out, but which worked well to our advantage as we hate to go abroad and find ourselves surrounded by English people. It was beautiful, very hilly and incredibly traditional - the building pictured above was at the top of a steep hill leading down to the sea and the view at the top of this post is from the very top of the hill looking across the bay. Here we are enjoying a nice cold local beer (Cisk) at a tiny bar for locals we discovered after walking right to the top of the hill.
The fantastic bus services and ferry service (far superior to the UK in every way!) meant we were able to get out and about independently, even organising ourselves on to boat trips out to nearby islands Gozo and Comino. The size of the islands also meant it was very easy to travel right across the island several times during the day as you went between the sights.
I loved the boat trip over to the nearby islands - we travelled around the bay to see the caves surrounding the island and into Gozo harbour, then on to Comino where were able to get off the boat for a few hours.
This is me standing at the top of a rock looking over the Blue Lagoon on Comino - stunning clear waters between the two beaches that enticed us so much we decided to walk across the shallow bay and carry our bags above our head - it was deeper than I expected and being a shortie I did have to swim some of the way while my boyfriend laughed at me.
During the 10 days we spent in Malta we also took a trip to Valletta where we explored the cake shops hidden in the winding streets, explored the harbour and the cathedral, the Grandmaster's Palace, museums, the forts and library. It was an incredible day packed with history and culture, but unfortunately you were not allowed to take pictured in all of the places we visited so I only have the following:
It was a great day and I would heartily recommend that anyone visiting Valletta makes sure to pop into the Grandmaster's Palace to watch the changing of the guard, the fortifications, and St John's Co-Cathedral is nothing else - make sure to wear clothes covering your legs and arms out of respect.
Our hotel organised an evening visit to a Festa in a nearby village - a Saturday night packed with food, live music and entertainment, and fireworks. Perfect.
We had dinner at a restaurant overlooking the harbour in the village, fresh pasta and seafood - delicious, before heading round to the festa.
It was a lovely evening and one I would really recommend - the music was great and the fireworks were VERY impressive!
Then we spent a day trekking around Gozo and visiting all of the sights, we didn't make it to the temples unfortunately but managed to see a lot of other sights. One of my favourites was the Citadel which surrounded the town. Here I am standing at the top in the baking heat.
Then we moved on to the Azure Window - another favourite. Amazing to see the crashing waves powering through the window while we swam in a small tidal pool beneath - I loved visiting this spit and didn't want to leave, especially when we discovered a secret beach behind it and locals sitting by their "beach huts" next to the lagoon. This was the reason we missed the temples, but it was worth it.
This was followed by a trip back across the harbour as the sun was setting.
Malta was definitely one of my favourite countries I have ever holidayed in because there is just so much to do, but it is still a spectacular place if you just want to sit by the pool and relax - we did plenty of both, but my absolutely favourite thing we did there was EAT!
The food was incredible everywhere we went, from the local bakery where they sold spinach and cheese pastries, to The Arches restaurant which sold the finest quality (expensive but worth it) venison, lamb and wine - so good we went twice! If you ever travel there, be sure to eat and drink for it will make you very merry!
Pictures are all my own.