Exploring the 3 islands of Malta

The teeny tiny spot in the Mediterranean sea – this is how Malta looks if you try to find it the world atlas. But then in December the 3 of us decided to zoom in to see what treasures this country, settled over the three islands, is hiding inside.

Malta’s surprises:

  1.  The traffic is on the wrong side of the road – it is the legacy of the British rule and influence over the island. The special relation is very much visible in the everyday life: crowds of the British tourists; shops like M&S and Costa cafes to cater for their taste and prices which are more similar to the UK than other Mediterranean countries.
  2. Language –  the sound of Maltese took me by surprise. People behind me in the plane were speaking something that was completely unfamiliar to my ear, so I made a conclusion it was Hungarian… Only later, I realized it is the original Maltese language, which vocabulary is 52% Italian/Sicilian, 32% Siculo-Arabic, and 6% English, with some of the remainder being French. But don’t worry, your won’t have to break your tongue – English is co-official language of the country.
  3. Churches, churches everywhere… Malta tops the list of the religious believes and is easy to see why: everywhere you look you see church(es) in the horizon. Only in Gozo alone you can find 46 churches and it’s a big number for a 67 km² island.
  4. And it is not the only list, where Malta is leading. Malta is also European country with the best LGBT rights. A big lesson to be learnt here for many other secular, yet very conservative, governments, including my native Lithuania!

and now let’s hit the left side of road and start the trip:

Valletta

The capital of Malta and the World Heritage Site. Tiny, feels more like a district than a city. Valletta begins with a panoramic view on the hill at the Upper Barrakka gardens and ends with Fort Saint Elmo all the way down the hill. The famous Saint John’s Co-Cathedral is right in the middle – don’t miss it!

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Gozo

Only half an hour on a ferry and you are in Gozo – the second biggest island of Malta. img_6638img_6637img_6636img_6635

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Azure Window

This rock is one of the biggest attractions in Gozo. Impressive from up close!

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Cittadella

Already from the ferry you can see the crosses of the citadel. A walk through the tiny streets of this walled city is a must. The panoramic views from the top are just spectacular.

Mdina

The old Malta’s capital and another World Heritage site. We were only able to reach Mdina in the evening, and it was breathtaking. Tiny streets, little light, almost no people. Could not get more mystic…But then out of the sudden the light inside this city went out… The only light that was left was from the full moon…

Blue Grotto

Another spectacular nature creation in the main island – the Blue Grotto. Look at it from up the hill and then go down to take a small boat ride through the caves.

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Marsaxlokk

Probably the most popular Sunday’s village in Malta with well advertised traditional fish market. On this day you have locals coming in from around the island and double as many tourists trying to glimpse at this “famous tradition of selling fish”.

The market is just like any other market, anywhere else around the world. But it is a beautiful place for a seafood lunch in the terrace.

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It was a 3 day visit to Malta, and even though we tried to see as much as possible, we had to leave a bunch of things for the next time. Malta is a beautiful mix of nature, architecture, history, and holiday fun for those who visit in the summer. I am definitely coming back again… maybe next December…

and last but not least… a few restaurants, we tried it and we loved it:

La Pira in Valletta for local Maltese food and wine.

Filippo in Marsaxlokk – Italian seafood place in the middle of the most famous market in Malta.

(h)And(g)rea meets Europe

So Andrea came to visit us… Don’t worry we treated her well! She is already back in the beautiful and sunny Chuauauaua. But while she was here we tried to show her as much as possible in Europe. So besides Brussels we also made 3 weekend trips: to Jaime’s beloved Netherlands, a wonder city of Venice and took a bus ride to Paris!

Andrea also brought Hangrea. Hangrea was particularly interested in finding something as close as it could get to tacos. So this is how it all went…

Amsterdam

Canals, bicycles, little streets, Ana Frank museum, corner bars… January is cold and windy in this port city but even so it is beautiful and a unique place to visit!

Venice

Ohhh Venice what a pleasure to see you in deep winter! With less people on the streets, shorter queues and fog you only look more mystical! We did not mind the rain and high tide at all. There is something magical about you and, in my opinion, it is more visible in winter!

Not to mention that Hangrea was very happy here! All the pizzas, pastas, lasagnias….

A few tips:

  • A free Venice walking tour is definitely worth your time
  • hi!tide Venice is a very useful app if you want keep your shoes dry in here!

And last but not least. Find 10 difference now and 10 years ago…

Paris

Everybody knows that Nr 1 to do thing in Paris is the Eiffel Tower pic! Success!

But apart from the Eiffel Tower we did all classic Paris’ spots: Tuileries Garden, Champs-Élysées, Arc de Triomphe, Champ de Mars, Jardin du Luxembourg, Panthéon etc etc. And Paris played its magic on Andrea!

We miss you Andrea! Come back soon!

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