I just woke up from what feels like a coma. I’m down on my sleeping med by 50% and I sleep often for 10 – 11 hours at the time. I suppose my body really needs it and I sense it’s restoring itself to its former self. I keep the window open at night as our room is situated just next to the beach front where, in the night, it is dead calm except for the waves crashing in. Coming to think about it I should perhaps get a wave app for when at home.
As some of you blog readers know…I love Malta. I did from the very first time I arrived here some 15 years ago. It was not exactly chance. I had discovered an obscure book called Holy Blood, Holy Grail. I read it cover to cover and was since set on my own personal quest to discover these warrior monks – the Templars. I suggested to my then husband P, to go to Israel and then travel through Syria and Lebanon. The area was infinitely more stable then than now, but P didn’t think it was a great idea. I suggested then south of France, but P having already lived there for some time and knew the area very well, needed something…well different. I once again resorted to Yahoo who was then the search engine of choice. Malta came up, which featured both sun, sea and knights….although in the form of the Knights Hospitallers. It only took a few days into the journey and I was sold.
Malta back then, as now, is to use my favourite description not pretty…but infinitely beautiful. It’s not white chalk houses as you see in Greece or having that rustic feel a la Provence. Instead it’s an odd mix of Romanesque buildings (Mdina) to Baroque architecture in its glory in Valletta. In between you will find a lot of colonial influences, often dilapidated…but that is what makes Malta so special and unique. For those of you who have never been here, but are planning to, here are some must see’s:
1. Mdina – the silent city. It used to be the former capital of Malta, and never fails to impress as it’s a city made up of city palaces for the aristocracy. Here you will find a lot of museums in various forms, narrow alleys, a must see cathedral, and of course Mdina glass.
2. Valletta – an entirely different city, bustling in the morning, then falling quiet around 1 pm only to wake up once again in the late afternoon. Take a horse and carriage ride around the grand harbour, sit in the shade at one of the bustling cafes in the afternoon, or take a tour at the Sacra Infermeria. Also don’t miss St. John’s co-cathedrals and see the impressive Caravaggio of the beheading of St. John the Baptist.
3. the Dingli cliffs – if you are looking for undisturbed nature – perhaps a place to reflect, contemplate and meditate – this is an amazing place to be at. Only sea as far as the horizon gets and on the other side there is….Africa. An impressive feeling.
4. Gozo – Malta’s sister island. If you have 10 days or two weeks at hand, then it’s well worth a visit. It’s much more quiet, rural and peaceful and in itself a great destination if these are qualities you seek.
5. The blue lagoon and a boat trip. If you have 500 to splash out on, I would recommend hiring a skipper for the day who takes you out on a sailing boat around the island. For a cheaper option, try the boat trip excursions that are organised daily.
So where do you eat and stay? I’ve done everything from budget to 5 star. My top hotel will always remain the Westin Dragonara as it has all the facilities including kids club, a whole range of pools and its own sandy beach (rare in Malta). Also the Bedouin Club open on Fridays is worth a visit.
Otherwise the Palace in Sliema, or the Excelcior in Valletta are all excellent hotels. For restaurants, most are concentrated in St Julian and there is plenty of choice. Barracuda is a must…not a star restaurant but fine dining nevertheless. Try Gululu for authentic Maltese cuisine or walk to the Portomaso marina for a multitude of excellent restaurants. Enjoy!
a typical street view in Mdina