Last year while on a call with my best friend Jen (living in Toronto, yes I know a lot of Canadian women called Jen) she discussed how she wanted to take an extended trip to New Zealand but work wasn’t letting her know in time if she could have the allotted time off that she requested. So while waiting for them to get a move on and she decided to come visit me. Yes I was the back up trip, and no I wasn’t offended. I was happy to have someone from home to travel with and explore a new place.
Guelph University Campus (where I studied my undergrad in Canada)
In the span of a few weeks she bought a flight to London and we had planned a trip to Malta. The destination came about easily. I checked for the cheapest flights on sky scanner, they happened to be to either Norway or Malta. I already had a trip to Iceland booked in a few weeks after and decided that I didn’t want to do two cold destinations back to back. My tolerance for cold has diministed immensly. Then we both saw this BuzzFeed article of Malta and that was it, we were going there no matter what.
Jen came to London, which was either her 4th or 5th time in the city. It was her 3rd time visiting me since I’ve lived here. First was 2010 and we went to Berlin, second was 2012 and we went to Prague. So we are old hands at traveling together.
We went for a long weekend from 6-9 March and while I felt like I saw a lot Malta is not as tiny as we were first lead to believe. In reality we barely scratched the surface and I will return the minute I have a passport but when it’s summer and at least for a week. March isn’t a bad time to visit as Malta has about 300 days of sunshine a year.
We went during an unseasonably rainy time and even then we got mostly sun. We stayed in Valletta which has been named the city of culture for 2018. It isn’t hard to see why as the city, and Malta is so stunningly beautiful that you feel as though you are walking through an outdoor museum. The coloring of the stone is gorgeously golden and reminded me of the stone in Bath.
Besides being a city of culture Valletta is a great city to be based in for travels around the island but keep in mind that if you are going to Gozo for a day trip (as you should) it is at least an hour by bus and 45 minutes by car/taxi to the port for the ferry. I will blog about Gozo separately because it deserves nothing less.
We stayed at Merisi Suites which we found on booking.com. They were also on Air B&B but priced higher so I suggest checking a few sites before deciding. It was the perfect option as we were able to self cater but it was very much a hotel with a front desk. We were on the second highest floor and while some reviews complained of space and noise our flat didn’t suffer from either of those problems. We were also very well located in the city.
I don’t have any specific recommendations for places to eat but we didn’t have one bad meal the whole trip. Everything was tasty and fresh. The cuisine is similar to Italian but still unique. Our first night we found a cute little restaurant 10 minutes from where we were staying. The one recommendation I can make is to have a pastizz which is a traditional savory pastry. Pastizzi usually have a filling either of ricotta or mushy peas, and are called pastizzi tal-irkotta.
AROUND TOWN AND BEYOND
There is a lot to see in Valletta but as we were only there for a long weekend and one day was spent on Gozo. We didn’t see it all but we still managed to see quite a bit. We didn’t do many paid attractions except for one museum and one of the churches. Here is what we saw in Valeletta and beyond:
One of the 365 churches on Malta & Gozo
Inside St John’s Co-Cathedral
In St. Julians
Okay and one from Gozo…the azure window
Now you can see why Gozo needs its own post.
A long weekend to Malta is ridiculously affordable. We felt we did our trip on a bit of a budget but we splurged on some things and conserved on others. The main attraction that we wanted to see was the Azure Window on Gozo. After that everything else was a bonus. I also was able to spend some time catching up with an old neighbour from Canada. Born in Canada but his family is Maltese he moved to Malta about 5-6 years ago. When his mom heard I was going to Malta she put us in touch. I rang him up shortly after arriving and he and his girlfriend hosted Jen and I for an evening. It was perfect as we got to know more about the country through their eyes and they served food from Malta and Gozo.
There is so much to know about Malta that this post barely scratches the surface but I hope it is enough to pique your interest and place it a little bit higher on your ‘must see’ list. I know it is high on my ‘must return’ list.