Ok, guys. We (here in Latvia) are on a lock-down because of the Coronavirus starting from the 17th of March. But you know what? All those movies you never had time to watch, and books that keept on piling up just to read them later and all the travels you had no time to plan ahead of time are now casting a shadow on you and whispering in your ear: no more excuses. You have plenty of time now.
Yes, this is a crazy time all over the world, but it does not mean that you will never be able to travel again, does it? So just consider this a time to lay low and explore the world through the magic of the internet. And you might find your dream destination for your next vacation when this is all over.
This evening I just want to share some main things I found the most interesting about Malta.
1. Water bottles on every corner?
It was in May when we decided to travel to Malta. When we arrived, we decided to go to our Airbnb on foot instead of taking a bus. Because this is Malta, we figured. It is small and you can cross it on feet in one day. Well, first of all, it is freaking hot. Even at night. And it might not be the best idea to walk with your luggage for 6 km. But then again, it gives you a chance to explore little streets, architecture, non-touristy places – basically, all that you need to see to experience the real culture, not only what is specially prepared for tourist crowds. And the first thing you will notice (apart from how hot it is) are water bottles. On every corner. At every house. It just keeps you wondering… What is the deal with water bottles on every corner? Plus because of how hot it is, it just gave us a strong desire to take one of them and drink it. But thankfully we didn’t. Because it turns out that Maltese people have strategically placed the bottles next to the building walls because they believe that all the cats and dogs would piss on the bottles instead of the walls. Thus the walls would be saved from the damage.
2. Malta, Gozo & Comino – the main observations
The Republic of Malta consists of 3 islands – Malta (the main island), Gozo (slightly smaller) and Comino (the smallest of them). Malta is the world’s 10th smallest country in the area. Valletta is the capital of Malta and it is only 0.8km2. Imagine that? Some people have gardens bigger than that.
Malta is the main island. You can find all the cafes, hotels, beaches and other main tourist attractions there. You can find hundreds of cafes and bars next to each other since tourism is one of the main sources of income. But if you get tired of the crowds, I suggest that you take a boat to the island of Gozo.
Gozo Island is a bit smaller than the main island, but it also feels more authentic. It is less crowded, with many decently sized cliffs worth to see and also a possibility to find beautiful places for swimming without people around. There are not so many cafes or hotels, but you still can find some. And if you book a place for your stay in advance, there should not be any problem with staying mainly on this island. We even found a tiny Zoo in the middle of the highway with nice small shacks and some farm animals. This was my favorite part of the Malta trip for sure.
The Comino island is the smallest of the three. There is only one hotel so I guess you have to book way in advance. We did not have time to visit this island, but I hear that its main attraction is the Blue Lagoon. And what I can see from all the youtube videos, it is crowded almost all the time. So even though it is supposedly very beautiful, with dazzlingly blue waters and nice cliffs to jump from in the water, it is up to you to decide if you have the time and if it is worth to go there.
3. It is seriously hot
Yes, I said it before and I will say it once again just to make sure you noted it. I am a person who is always cold and I never believed that there would be a place too hot for me. And in the summertime, Malta definitely is. Never go outside without a bottle of water. And leave your stuff at the place you are staying at. I am serious. You will regret every little thing you had brought with you if you are up for exploring the area on foot. I even got a fever because of the sun. So a lot of water, plenty of escapes in the beach or in some air-conditioned cafes and you should be good to go for some more of Maltese summer.
4. Beautiful Architecture
Limestone is the main resource in Malta. And it is noticeable. Most of the houses are built in limestone. It gives you a special feeling. Almost like you have traveled back in time to ancient times. Everything is so bright, sandcastle-like and it even makes your eyes hurt a bit when it is sunny. On some streets, you can see red pieces of fabric. I understand it has something to do with politics since there were some faces on it too.
And one of the cool things about Malta is that it has 2 official languages – Maltese and English. So everyone can speak English. It certainly does make traveling easier. I love languages but Maltese just seems impossible to learn. It is said to be a Latinised variety of Arabic. So you can imagine.
Ok, Maltese traffic is something you cannot describe. You have to experience it. They drive on the left side of the road and it feels like they have no traffic laws at all. They just drive. Since Malta is very small, they have limited space for streets. The streets are very narrow and when 2 busses drive in opposite directions, it is a miracle that they do not get stuck. But our friends said that it actually has happened – a bus got stuck once.
When it comes to public transport, boats are great. They come on time and it feels like a small adventure to travel from one island to the other. Buses, that rarely come on time, drive like crazy. Fast, reckless and it feels like your last trip ever. But, oh well, it is part of the Maltese experience. You have got to love it or leave it. We did not rent a car and since Malta is small, it is possible to walk to a lot of places. Because of the traffic, I wouldn’t suggest renting a car in Malta.
Malta is an island so obviously, it is surrounded by a lot of water. But because of logistics, rocky cliffs and see the traffic it is impossible to swim in a lot of places. Most of the swimming places are crowded and dirty, but if you explore enough – especially in the island of Gozo, you can find some very nice places to enjoy a refreshing swim in the salty water alone. Be careful of the jellyfishes though – there are a lot of them and if you are scared of them it is better to stick with crowded beaches than to find a remote one.
I ain’t a videographer, but here you can see a bit more of Malta:
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