Throwback to my 2019 holidays
This year, I’m spending the holidays at home, in peace and quiet, which I do enjoy, but I also miss travelling. In 2019, I got to spend the holidays in Malta. We arrived on Christmas Day and left on New Year’s Day 2020. It was a full week of exploring the gorgeous island of Malta, plus a day in Gozo.
From the airport, we got a bus that took us close to Valetta, then on another, that took us to our accommodation, a cozy apartment, located in Il-Gzira.
TIP TIME: Buses are very reliable in Malta and cover most (if not all) of the tourist attractions. Tickets can be bought from the drivers or you can get a travel card “tallinja” to cover several days. We got the “Explore” card, which offered unlimited travel for 7 days and cost 21 euros. You can find more information here.
The first evening was spent exploring the surroundings and taking pictures of the sunset over the gulf of Sliema. Being Christmas day, most restaurants had fixed special Christmas menus that weren’t very appealing to us, but we found a place where we had some very delicious pasta.
The following day was reserved for Valetta, the capital of Malta, a lovely and lively city, which was quite crowded, despite the time of year. Here, from the impressive gates to Fort St. Elmo, which we visited, everything gives the impression of light and joy, with a touch of history at every step. Besides wandering the stoned streets, and visiting Fort St. Elmo, we made a stop at the Lower Barakka Gardens, which were possibly my favourite place. If you have more than a day to spend in Valetta, there’s a big list of Museums you should visit, including the Museum of Archaeology.
On the third day, we went further, on the opposite shore from Valetta, and visited Fort St. Angelo, The Inquisitor’s Palace, Malta at War Museum, Hal Saflieni Hypogeum, and the Tarxien Temples, the last two being ancient sites and despite not being extraordinary to look at, the fact that the ruins lasted so long and the simple idea of stepping on something that’s been built by people who lived thousands of years before is what makes them extraordinary.
On our 4th day in Malta, we visited Mdina, the old capital and by far, one of my favourite spots. We got there by bus, of course, and explored the cobbled streets, Domus Romana, and Saint Paul’s Catacombs. Domus Romana was impressive for me as it was Roman style house, very well preserved, with mosaic floors.
The second part of the day, we went to Buggiba, another part of Malta, where we visited the Aquarium, walked along the rocky shore, and had a lovely dinner at a fish restaurant called Ocean Basket. The food was great and I definitely recommend it.
Day 5 was reserved for some other ancient ruins, at Hagar Qim, then tried to make it to the Blue Grotto, but then decided not to go on a boat and instead took a bus to Marsaxlokk, a very famous fish town, where a big market is organized every Sunday. The town itself is charming, but we only got there when the market was already almost wrapped up and the place was bustling with tourists, so much you could barely enjoy the sights. Not to mention all restaurants were full. Because I was terribly hungry, I ended up grabbing a Colombian hot dog, from a street vendor. The food was good and lasted enough until we returned to Il-Gzira.
A day reserved for Malta’s little brother, the island of Gozo. Again, we took a bus to the far end of the island, then got the ferry to Gozo. The ferry trip takes roughly 20 minutes. From the boat, we took another bus to the centre of the island, where another stone town, with small winding streets, awaited. Here, we visited the citadel, surrounded by large stone walls and holding a cathedral, an old prison, an archaeology museum, and surprisingly many small jewellery and glass shops.
Leaving the island of Gozo, the skies darkened and by the time we reached the shore of Malta it was raining so heavily, we got soaked before we reached the bus station, only a few meters away. We waited for the bus for what seemed like forever and the ride back was probably the longest of my life. However, by the time we reached familiar neighbourhoods, specifically St. Julian’s, we were dry and got off the bus early, to explore a bit more by foot. We also made a last stop at an eatery we discovered in Sliema, called Sea Salt. A tiny place on a street corner, that sells seafood and the best octopus burgers you’ll ever eat. If only they delivered to Bucharest…
The last day of the year was for recovery, so we spent it mostly inside, watching tv. We went out just before midnight for a leisure walk at the waterfront. Got a glimpse of the fireworks from Valetta, then made it back to the apartment. The next day we went to the airport and back home. Careful though, buses weren’t working on New Year’s Day, so better grab a taxi than wait for the bus for over an hour… as we did.
Anyway, all in all, Malta is a must-see. There are so many spots worth visiting, enough to keep you entertained a full week and if you’re going when it’s warmer, you can definitely add beaches to the list. In December, the high was about 16-17 degrees Celsius and mostly sunny, except for that dreadful rain on the 30th. However, the wind is pretty strong and the air crisp, so make sure you’re prepared with wind/waterproof jacket.
That’s how I spent my 2019 holidays and with this story I conclude my 2021 blog posts. Hope you enjoy my stories and keep on reading in 2022-too 🙂