Thursday, November 22, 2012

An Introduction to Malta

We spent the second week of November in Malta.

turquoise door in Malta

Look. I'll admit it. I had to get the atlas out:

The Maltese Islands - right below Sicily (Italy) in the Mediterranean Sea. 

But I'm so glad we went there and here are a few reasons why:

1. The history of Malta is AMAZING. From Stone Age temples to invading Turks to medieval knights to Napoleon to WWII bombings... the Maltese have seen it all and bought the t-shirt.

2. The Maltese Islands are small but they pack a punch - there is easily enough to fill two weeks of intense touristy behaviour.

3. Malta is cheaper than mainland Europe.

4. Maltese is the national language, but everyone also speaks English. Everyone (almost) is also friendly.

5. It's warmer than mainland Europe.

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We caught a cheap Ryan Air flight into Valletta (the capital), arriving at midnight. Accommodation is less expensive than what we'd pay in France so we decided to  spend our usual amount to get a fancier apartment (being our last holiday in Europe and all). By fancy, I mean we woke up to this view the next morning:

View over the harbour from Vittoriosa, Malta
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We were pretty happy. To say the least.

Some thoughts:

I loved these boxed in balconies that were all over the place, whether new:

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Or old:

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The Maltese have been through a lot and are fiercely proud of their heritage. I loved how the Maltese Cross was incorporated into design everywhere you looked:

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The local beer is very drinkable (especially on a warm day):

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The doorknobs are adorable:

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History is everywhere. 500 year old sandstone walls:

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Other reminders of the incredible things that came to pass right where we were staying:

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The language, Maltese, although not cyrillic, was greatly shaped by Turkish occupation:

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And unlike French, you can't kind of guess your way. It's nothing like English. (Rarely a problem except for street names, which for the majority seemed to be only in Maltese.)

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Malta is a very Catholic state. St Paul the Apostle was shipwrecked on the island in 60 AD and it all started from there.

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I'd say 2 out of every 3 houses had statuettes such as these next to the front door:

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The roads are a little crazy - lots of potholes and a maximum speed limit of 70 km/hr (45 mph) which isn't always obeyed. Our cosseted children's eyes nearly popped out of their heads when they saw this:

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Seat belts optional? 

Malta has a slightly less finished feel about it - not rough, just rustic. That is a huge part of its charm:

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We had a wonderful time there.

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I won't lie. I did think about it:

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But of course we didn't. Our loss, huh?

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21 comments:

  1. Oooh, that does look rather idyllic! How do you make a Maltese cross? Poke him in the eye ;o) Sorry, couldn't resist...

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  2. Ha HA.... I certainly went on a wild Google goose chase with that Maltesers cryptic game. Malta. Funny Kirsty, funny!
    Looks like an amazing secret island., so , thanks for the tour!

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  3. So interesting! Never thought of visiting but after your blog post, Malta is totally on my list of places to go to.

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  4. Looks wondrous!
    And congrats on the top 25 I did vote for you last week, looks like it counted! Always enjoy your blog. You must be having lots of mixed feelings as you prepare to come back...hope you'll continue to blog albeit not about France!?

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  5. I am dying to go to Malta and have been ever since following Loree's blog "Snapshots of an Island." her stories and history of the island are punctuated by beautiful photos. I am not surprised to hear that you fell in love with Malta. It has been a major figure in many wars and conflicts, and yet has thrived in spite of the strife. I have Malta on my short list, and lucky you have already been.

    Bises,
    Genie

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  6. Oh, what a view out of your window! Priceless! And Malta definitely looks like a place to put on the 'must visit' list! Congrats on making the Top 25!! What prize comes with the honour?

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  7. Looks like you had a wonderful time and you've convinced me to put it on my 'one day' list. Made me smile to see that it looks like there are 'baby on board' stickers on the back of the car with the kid hanging out of the window! A different pace of life indeed.

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  8. I will definitly put it on my 'to visit' list.
    Your pictures as usual are amazing, I wonder if you would look interesting and beautiful an ugly and unwelcoming place!

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  9. Very nice pictures with lovely details, you are a good photographer Kirsty.

    Greetings, Joop

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  10. Oh, so lovely! I love all the little details you included, it really helps convey the atmosphere of your trip! It really looks like the perfect November getaway! And the view of the harbour ... stunning! :-)

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  11. I agree with the above comment. The charm of your posts is not only in the great photos but in the details and how you describe them. My husband has been telling me what a love town Valletta is but we never made it there together, so far.

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  12. Oh great, another vacation destination to add to my list! Cheaper than mainland Europe, you say? Another fabulous collection of photos, thank you for sharing!!

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  13. Wow, I've heard good stories about it, but this is the fist time I saw pictures of Malta. Love the details and their sign consistency. And your view...amazing! You saved the best for last? :)
    You must be seriously busy with packing and organizing now. What are your thoughts regarding the move back?

    Thinking of you a lot,
    xo
    Maaike

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  14. So pretty! Malta is definitely on my bucket list now!

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  15. Beautiful! (Also, glad to see you made it in the Top 25! Congrats!)

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  16. Gosh you get about! Such a beautiful place and your photographs totally evoke it's age and its spirit :)

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  17. Ah, another country to add to the looong wishlist of places to visit. Wonderful photos, thanks for sharing your adventure.

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  18. I can't wait to go to Malta! We were supposed to go last year for the Gatz/ Gregory birthday extravaganza but it never panned out. When I finally make it there, I'm going to shell out a bit more for a view like that too :)

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  19. Great pictures - thanks for sharing!

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  20. Your blog, your photos are amazing, it's like we're traveling as well. After this post I have to visit Malta.

    cheers

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    Replies
    1. You won't be disappointed Regina, I promise!

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