Malta, February 2019
I Heart Malta!
My first visit to the beautiful Maltese Islands and more…
I visited Malta last week, it was an amazing place, weather was awesome and I have so many beautiful pictures and memories to share with you.
Right, this would be just too easy and probably boring blog. Instead I have had a near arrest experience at the airport, I lived through the worst storm in Malta’s last 40 years and run into an old friend from UK I have not seen in years in Valetta (what are the odds on a 4 day trip?).
Well hopefully that grabbed your attention.
Since I love to travel solo, or so I say as I have no other option – each trip has normally comes with a twist. No, just kidding - solo travel is the best thing ever and I have been doing it for few years now, but that is material for another blog. At least with that “twist”, I have a lot of stories to tell my family and friends.
On this occasion I have to admit I was looking forward to having few days away from work, chill, do “touristy things” like sightseeing (following proper study of travel guides) and gather material for my video blog and website. I did not at any stage think that the start of my holiday was going to be encounter at the local airport, being called threat to myself and others and nearly missing my flight. Thank god I can still run but believe me I hate running, and with luggage, and pass 26 airport gates. Ok ok I was not running away from the police nor security at this stage. All that because I did not want to give away my toiletries. Some would say I made a scene. Some were probably right. Some of them were probably on a same flight as me. But hell yeah I made a scene. Who this day an age does not think airports ruling of one 1cmx 1cm bag per passenger is something of a prehistoric value!? Ok maybe bags are a little bigger. It doesn’t change the fact, that what you take through security doesn’t matter as much as the person that checks you.
Fact No. 1 – East Midlands airport encounter this time began over a few additional samples of face cream, hand cream, body lotion, shampoo & conditioner, dry shampoo, perfume and “couple” more items. Any woman would agree I hope – all necessities (possibly most of men would agree too). Oh decision time. How can I give one over another as supposedly my fancy zipper plastic bag is over their regulation size? I cannot make those tough choices at 6am! How come it was fine for last 5 years of travel? That is my dear reader, how one’s frustration level goes from 0 to 100 in 3 seconds.
Fact No. 1A – from being a nice and smiley passenger I turn into a passenger from your worst nightmare, oh yes I know how to make a scene, oh yes I will call in a manager, oh yes I will be nearly in tears and begging fellow passengers to carry my items for me (please note - supposedly this is also not allowed 😉). At this point I am checked pretty much from head to toe, swiped with all sort of test I am guessing for drugs & gun powder and advised I should calm down before they ask to arrest me. Hmmmm….should I risk it or not? Ok on this one occasion I will shut up. At least they will remember me for a while.
Fact No. 2 – Malta airport encounter upon return was pretty much a feeling of somewhat out of body experience. What do you mean I don’t have to remove my boots? So you say I don’t have to undress pretty much to my underwear? Why has no one asked me to put any of my toiletries in a plastic bag? And finally, how did my friend managed to get a bottled water and (more shock) 1L JUICE CARTON through the security? Yes 1L carton!
Fact No. 3 – I could speculate that both scenarios did not in fact relate to the countries (both belong to EU and follow similar safety regulations so I say), or that it did not matter on which airport you travel from but actually who it is that checks you and your luggage. It does not change the fact, that I as a passenger and valued member of the public do not wish to be treated like a suspect, embarrassed, undressed and pushed around like cattle going in for death at the slaughter house. Here I said what I am sure a lot people think. Have I mentioned I also like to be overly dramatic?
Somehow I managed to move away from the main topic of beauty of Malta into airport regulations and how not to behave at airport. I wish I had a video material from that – it would make you laugh. Over time I always realise how easy it is to avoid the scene, but also how boring would that be?
After reaching Malta I was relieved I thought I can have a fresh start, spoke to my family and made it sound like I was a victim in all of this – and which mum or dad would not agree with their poor child? Weather was good, views beautiful, people smiling – great I can move on. So this is the point where I can include few recommendations and tips about lovely Malta.
*Buses are cheap – veryyyyyy cheap in fact it costs you 1.5EUR for a 2 hours bus ride. They get around the whole island and every line eventually reaches Valetta.
*Roads are crowded, roads have pot holes, Maltese drive on left side of the road (yep feels like still being in UK) but more importantly they do not drive like Brits – don’t be fooled. It felt like they never heard of an indicator or what basic manners behind the wheel would be considered in countries such as UK> common practice beep and do not let others join the traffic.
*Cats. Cats everywhere. Black cats, ginger cats, white cats. Clean and dirty cats. But hey I love cats, so I was in my element visiting cat parks, cat sanctuaries and following them even though they did not possibly want my company. Maltese people love cats, they look after them, leave food for them on the streets and build shelters for them.
*Don’t count on sandy beaches. Malta is mainly rocks. There are few sandy beaches in the north area of Mellieha and also in Gozo. That doesn’t take from the beauty of the island. Positive side – you don’t get sand in your shoes!
*Photography spots - Sliema Waterfront for best shots of Valetta; Nadur,Gozo beautiful & picturesque streets and architecture; Cat Village, San Giljan for quirky cat poses; any little streets away from main crowds in Valetta for architecture.
*Falafel Street in Valetta – best Lebanese food I ever had! A must stop for lunch no question about it. Near the City Gate, hidden inside of the building.
*Street food – try pastizzi, delicious and tasty savoury pastry with different fillings, sets your budget back about 2EUR.
I wish I could have done and seen more, but my short as it was trip was interrupted with a hurricane. Yes when I kept seeing this rain forecast I was not so pleased, even though the locals kept telling me it’s Malta, it’s an island do not trust weather forecast. Ok then, I thought they might right. Forecast did not predict a hurricane. Ha! Trees falling down, loss of electricity, hail storm, fish jumping out of the sea, gusts of wind of 100 miles per hour, 5 meter high waves…if you don’t believe me click on the link below. It all started as slightly windy and cloudy day in Gozo. I still managed to utilise hop on/hop off bus to almost full capacity and see plenty of the gorgeous island. By the late afternoon rain was getting heavier, wind stronger, so even perfect selfie opportunity over the Dwejra Bay cliffs felt a bit too risky. It was time to catch the ferry back to mainland. Just in time before they stopped operating altogether.
All in all, this was still an awesome experience, I have stories to tell and I have photos/videos to look at. I will remember that weekend forever. I ended up spending a chilled day at home with my Coachsurfing host Pietro, reading, snoozing, watching movies, eating pasta (did I mention Pietro is from Italy, so he knows how to whip a good pasta in 15mins). We even ventured out for what felt like a “suicidal mission” of walking to nearby store – what a great look we rocked by the time we got back – sorry no proof. Just imagine my hair forming eagle’s nest, soaking wet clothes, freezing cold but still laughing.
Following day, sun has finally decided to shyly show up from behind the clouds and on my final day allowed me to see some more of the island. After saying goodbyes to Pietro and his beautiful apartment, I got on a bus from Mellieha to Valetta for final day of sightseeing. 1hour 20 mins on a bus of sea views, travelling through the island and seeing post hurricane damages I reached Malta’s capital. What an amazing scenery, architecture, small streets, colours and people. I truthfully enjoyed my walking without any specific destination – just go where legs take me. See some of it in pictures below and in my Gallery section of the website.
There were a few places I did not manage to see – Mdina, Vittiorosa, Victoria all missed because of weather related lost time. But you know what? It gives me a reason to go back and spend more time in Malta. If I can again find a return flight for £35 I would not think twice about booking it. And I certainly recommend you do the same, even if flight is a bit more dearer.
Grazzi lil Malta għal ħafna ħin!