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.
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:
We were pretty happy. To say the least.
I loved these boxed in balconies that were all over the place, whether new:
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:
The local beer is very drinkable (especially on a warm day):
The doorknobs are adorable:
History is everywhere. 500 year old sandstone walls:
Other reminders of the incredible things that came to pass right where we were staying:
The language, Maltese, although not cyrillic, was greatly shaped by Turkish occupation:
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.)
Malta is a very Catholic state. St Paul the Apostle was shipwrecked on the island in 60 AD and it all started from there.
I'd say 2 out of every 3 houses had statuettes such as these next to the front door:
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:
Seat belts optional?
Malta has a slightly less finished feel about it - not rough, just rustic. That is a huge part of its charm:
We had a wonderful time there.
I won't lie. I did think about it:
But of course we didn't. Our loss, huh?