IC London...I See France

02 May 2007

Malta in Beaches and Fireworks

What do you get when you point at a map and land on Malta? A vacation on a whim and an amazing weekend, that's what.

Alyssa, Tim, and I headed to Malta on Friday morning/afternoon on two separate flights from two separate airports because AirMalta has a bit of an issue with their online ticket sales. Still, being that it was my first proper flight since landing in here in January, I was excited about it. And, of course, Malta. We got to watch a not-so-great movie, Rebound, while eating delicious chicken and cake and crackers and rolls and tea. I've decided I love real airlines. Ryanair and their pay-for-everything menu just doesn't cut it. Sometimes I like free pretzels and a drink.

Anyways, Tim and I landed in Malta around 4pm where we were greeted with a terribly happy Alyssa, got some Maltese Lira from the ATM, and hopped into a taxi for our hostel. Our hostel, in fact, was a guest house. A guest house run by the sweetest woman, Sundra, who hugged us all upon arrival, showed us the highlights of Malta, and cooked breakfast for us every morning. Just another one of the pros of Malta. We wandered to the promenade to see the Mediterranean and got snacks for Tim and Alyssa at a little shop and me at McDonalds. (Having finished my McDonalds tour of Europe, my verdict is that Malta has the best food, by the way.) We spent the remainder of the night being lazy and resting up for the next few days.

On Saturday, after a lovely breakfast, we hopped aboard a bus with a very nice driver (whose niceness ended up causing a lot of stress for the remainder of the weekend over our tickets) and headed to Ta'Qali, Malta's craft village. We walked through "hut" after "hut" to look at all of the homemade crafts Malta has to offer, most notably laces, hand-blown glass, and silver. Next stop was Mdina, which used to be the old capital of Malta and is called the "Silent City." It's inside of walls and, because of the narrow streets, there weren't many cars - just horse-drawn buggies. It reminded me of Capri minus the steep hills and Venice minus all the canals. And it was gorgeous. Tim went into a sort of freak-out coma because he's Tim and Mdina is that cool; Alyssa and I made due. Over the walls, you can see an amazing views of Malta (the main reason we came, on recommendation from Sundra) and at a particular restaurant, Fontanella's Tearooms, you can dine overlooking Malta. Again on Sundra's suggestion ("all the locals even go there, on Sunday afternoons"), we popped in to eat and had some of the most amazing cake ever. The restaurant's renowned for their yumminess, enough said.

After Mmmmdina, we found the beach. Golden Bay, to be precise. The bus ride was long, but getting out, it was worth it. The beach wasn't crowded (yay for not going in season!) and the water was so clear you could see right down to the little fishies at the bottom. The few little fishies there were. We spent a grand total of 4 hours lying on the beach and swimming in the not-so-warm Mediterranean. Relaxing and wonderful. After showering off the beach, we headed out into Paceville, the only spot on Malta with any nightlife, so says Sundra. We walked all the way there, thinking it was closer than it actually was, but it still wasn't too bad of a walk. When we finally arrived it was very obvious - there were teenagers everywhere, blocking the entrance to every club, bar, and restaurant and spilling into the streets. Malta, by the way, has a drinking age of 16, which I'd say is going a bit too far and also is very annoying when you're trying to enjoy a night out. We found some dinner at a restaurant with a balcony and watched all the craziness on the street below as we ate. Afterwards, we walked along the street looking for a suitable club and finally settled on one with far too many 16-year-olds in it; we stayed for a shot and a few songs before leaving.

Sunday morning we woke up to more breakfast and the best weather of our whole stay. We went to the Blue Grotto on the Southwest part of Malta (we traveled along almost the entirety of the island during the weekend). From above, it's absolutely gorgeous. Malta is the truly most beautiful place I've visited this semester. We bought tickets for the boats, and with about 5 other people, we explored the Blue Grotto and the other smaller caves. The water was just SO blue. We'd heard something about touching it turning you blue, so I put my hand in, but nothing happened. I was a bit disappointed, but it's probably better to be without blue hands anyway. Blue Grotto = amazing.

A taxi driver talked us into taking his taxi to the fishing village we planned on seeing because he said the bus wouldn't get us there for over an hour. Once in Marsaxlokk, the fish smell was overwhelming. We wandered through the market until it became very flea-market-y and turned around for lunch. Alyssa and I wanted hotdogs, but the place was out. Boo. After lunch, we looked at the map and began the walk to the nearest beach, Pretty Bay (actually the second-nearest beach, but it had a nicer name). Years later, so it seemed, we arrived on the poorly named beach. Somehow it was very industrial and our nicest view was of a shipyard or noisy boys throwing wet sand at each other, but not caring too much, we plopped down on our towels to relax. The water was colder than yesterday, I would swear, so only Tim dared go in while Alyssa and I soaked up the sun. Malta, it seems, is the only place where I'm able to tan without burning much at all and without using sunscreen (because I'm forgetful). I'm not too tan since my skin's pretty resistant to it, but the fact that Malta could achieve something makes me love it even more.

The wind picked up, and we left the beach in preparation for Malta's Food & Fireworks Festival in Valetta. The buses were super crowded as we headed over, but when we got out our job of finding the place was easier because we could simply follow the masses. Malta fails on the knowing when to shut down roads for festivals, but it gets points of having good American food at really cheap prices. Within an hour of getting there, I happily bought and ate 1 sugared donut, a piece of pizza, a hotdog, Pepsi from a glass bottle, popcorn, and 1 chocolate-covered donut with bitsy nuts sprinkled on top. Then we took a break from all the eating for the first set of fireworks, since we found out that this is a competition and competitors 3 and 4 would be participating that night. We sat on the edge of the Grand Harbour, our feet dangling over the water, and watched them go off across the water. They were beautiful. Seeing fireworks twice in as many weekends, I've come to realize I love them. We should have displays of them every night. The next set wouldn't be on until nearly 11, so we grabbed some Chinese food and Sangria and headed back to the Comfort Inn Guesthouse for the last time. Though we fully intended to watch them from the rooftop, we got caught up in packing and our own exhaustion and were falling asleep just as they began to go off.

With a 4:30am wake-up call and a taxi driver picking us up at 5, we left Malta entirely too early in the morning. Tim and Alyssa left on a seven o'clock-ish flight, so I sat in the airport for a total of 5 hours before boarding my 10:00 plane. But I made friends with a very nice couple who made me eat a banana and a granola bar, talked to me for 45 minutes and wished me luck on finals. They were adorable. Getting home from the airport was ever the hassle and being back really made me realize I would no longer be gallavanting all over Europe on the weekends and home was getting oh-so-close. A bit sad really, but Malta made a good last destination and now I can just soak up all the London-ness before Tuesday. Easier said than done.

Pictures of all the pretty and sunny, here.


  • Megan - I've told you this on IM, but I have to say again.. Your writings about your experiencs have been wonderful. You've got a way of making me feel like I'm in the places you are describing. Thank you for that!
    I'm so glad you had such a GREAT experience in Europe.
    Enjoy it right up to the last moment (I know you will :-) ).
    See you soon!!

    By Anonymous Betty, at 8:51 AM  

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