A Maltese Experience

12 Jun

Nestled between Sicily and the North African coast, Malta’s numerous historical rulers have contributed to its diverse cultural heritage.  Off the beaten track it is not, but it does offer rest and relaxation, history galore and sparkling, turquoise waters. 

Ryanair is like the McDonald of airlines.  Travelling with them manages to suck all the old school glamour and excitement out of flying.  On the plus side, the absurdly low prices encourage me to travel to places I would otherwise not, most recently Malta. 

Greeks, Romans, Arabs, French and the British have ruled Malta so naturally the island offers many historic sites.  Perhaps more surprisingly, it is home to the oldest free-standing buildings in the world and is where Bush and Gorbachev agreed to end the Cold War.

 Malta has a truly delicious range of food offerings from fresh fish in the fishing village of Marsaxlokk, to the local Italian which served excellent ravioli of scallops, to the fresh bread from our local shop.  Where the cultural heritage is most noticeable though is in the language – a hypnotic mix of Arabic and Italian.

Turquoise waters…

Made up of three islands – Malta, Camino and Gozo – there are regular cruises on offer and even in early May the temperatures were around the mid 20s.  One of the highlights of our trip was a cruise to Camino and the Blue Lagoon where the waters are crystal clear and tropical blue.  The boat itself is part of the adventure.  With your eyes closed, the water lapping around you and lying on the sunny front deck, you could imagine you’re on your own private yacht.  Well almost. 

 Our accommodation was a three-bedroomed flat on the south east coast of Malta, in a sleepy town called Birzebbuga.   It was by no means the liveliest town, but that was part of the beauty of our holiday.  For 12 Euros we bought a seven day bus pass which made getting around easy and was an excellent alternative to hiring a car.  For those seeking more activity, head to the north coast where all the cruises leave from – ideal if you fancy island hopping.  Here you’ll also find the capital city of Valleta which has over 500 historic sites.

Valleta

My only disappointment was how English the island is.  Part of the joy of travelling is immersing yourself in a completely new culture.  From the abundance of quintessentially British items like Marmite and jam tea cakes, to the fact that every local we met spoke English, it was impossible to escape all things English while in Malta. 

The islands are ideal for history buffs, kids would love it for the beaches and couples of all ages would find it a great place to unwind.  That is exactly what Malta is.  It’s a laid-back place to switch off but not a party place. 

That though, is exactly what I wanted and I came back relaxed, refreshed and tanned.  Now I just need to check Ryanair’s website for my next destination…

Flights £85 per person including tax with Ryanair.

Accommodation £175 per week (usual rate £350) on www.ownersdirect.co.uk 

Ferreti restaurant, Birzebbuga  http://ferretti.com.mt/menu-sections (2 starters, 2 mains and half bottle of wine cost 50 Euros).

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