Saturday, April 19th, 2014

Malta: A Beautiful, Crazy, Formidable, Vibrant Island

110

Amazing Valletta

I was so nervous about visiting Malta.

This is where Mario grew up. This is the place that means more to him than anywhere else on Earth. The stakes had reached the stratosphere.

And while some of my friends had been to Malta and loved it, others had been and told me privately that they found it, well…a bit dull.

What if I felt that way, too?! What if I could never get on board with my darling’s home country?

As usual, I was worrying far too much about nothing. Malta is the least dull place on the planet.

Malta sneaked into my heart, and I fell quickly, deeply, insanely in love with it.

Valletta Skyline

Yet most North Americans have no idea what Malta even is.

Whenever I mention Malta to a North American who isn’t involved in the travel industry, nine times out of ten, I get the response, “Where is that?” (Even worse, Mario once got that from an immigration officer at Logan Airport!)

So, before we begin, here’s a primer for those less familiar with Malta:

Where is Malta?

Just south of Sicily in the Mediterranean.

Are they their own country?

Yes. They used to be under British rule, but they have been independent since 1964. They also drive on the left.

What language do they speak?

Everyone speaks English; locals also speak Maltese, which sounds like a cross between Arabic and Italian.

What is the currency?

The euro. Malta is the smallest country in the European Union.

How do you get there?

You can take the 90-minute ferry from Catania, Sicily, but it’s faster and cheaper to fly. Air Malta and several budget airlines fly to Malta from all over Europe. You’ll find the most flights from the UK and Italy.

The highlights?

Valletta Architecture

Architecture

Oh my God. If you love architecture, Malta will make you lose your mind. Parts of Malta look like they could be in the Middle East or North Africa. Parts look like Europe or even South America. Parts of Malta are crumbling; parts are beautifully restored.

The architecture here is an absolute feast for the eyes. And just LOOK at those BALCONIES! I haven’t seen balconies like those anywhere else in the world.

Azure Window, Gozo

Incredible Natural Beauty

Malta is one of the most beautiful places on the planet. The Azure Window in Gozo, pictured above, is probably the most famous spot — but the Maltese Archipelago is filled with everything from rolling fields to white cliffs to desert landscapes and endless vineyards. There’s beauty in every direction.

Retro Valletta

Retro Charm

Parts of Valletta, and other cities on the island, looked like they haven’t changed since the 1950s. One of those places is Strait Street in Valletta, which used to be the hottest destination in town for drinking, carousing, and picking up Maltese women.

Ting Tong Bar is a great place to experience the Malta of yesteryear — sip a retro cocktail and laugh at the pictures on the walls of drunken soldiers from World War II.

Carrozin in Mdina

Ancient Cities

When driving across the island, Mdina appears — a gleaming city perched on a hill. An ancient fortified white city, a silent city, a settlement even older than Valletta.

Malta is a photography gold mine — but Mdina especially is. This city is incredibly beautiful and it’s the most pristine place on the island.

Gozo Cave

Adventure

I didn’t think there would be a lot of adventure activities here — but there are plenty! Hiking, ATV riding, snorkeling.

Most famous, however, is diving. Malta, and Gozo in particular, is home to some of the very best diving in Europe. One of Mario’s good friends is an accomplished diver and he has found some crazy artifacts in shipwrecks from World War II.

St. John's Co-Cathedral

Insane Churches

Maltese churches, known for their incredibly ornate decor, make St. Peter’s Basilica look a bit drab and bare. Malta is home to 365 churches — each of them so decorated that there isn’t a inch of bare space to spare! Even tiny villages are dwarfed by giant, sprawling churches covered in gold.

Most famous is St. John’s Co-Cathedral in Valletta. This is where the Pope serves Mass when he comes to Malta. Gold on top of gold, endless sculptures, Caravaggio’s most famous painting, and everything is on top of ornately carved marble headstones for the knights.

Kate, Mario, views of the Three Cities

Views

Malta is such a small island that you can even see water from the center of the island! We saw so many incredible views, but my favorite was the view from the Upper Barakka Gardens in Valletta, overlooking the Grand Harbor and the Three Cities.

I liked it so much that I think it would be a lovely place to get married…

Tarxien Temples

History

Maltese history is INSANE. Really. From the grotesque psychological warfare of Jean de Valette to the exile of Caravaggio to the fact that there are temples in Malta older than the Pyramids, Maltese history is incredible, tantalizing, and will never leave you bored.

Parts of Malta look straight out of ancient times — which is why Game of Thrones, Gladiator, and Troy were all filmed here.

Hobz biz Zeijt

Delicious Food

Malta is very Mediterranean — so expect lots of fish, olives, garlic, capers and tomatoes. Some of the dishes are Italian-influenced; others are uniquely their own. Thankfully, the English influence on the cuisine is scant at best.

Pictured above is hobz biz-zeijt — the Maltese variation of bruschetta, topped with tomatoes, capers, olives, onions, and tuna.

Marsalforn Beach

Beaches

A lot of people come to Malta and complain that there aren’t any real beaches. While the popular Sliema waterfront is rocky, there are actually sandy beaches on the north of the island, and they are wonderful places to spend a day.

Mellieha is a nice, albeit crowded, beach spot on Malta — but the best beaches of all are in Gozo, the little island to the north. You’ll find pretty coves like the one above in the area around Marsalforn.

St. George Festa in Qormi

Festas

Malta is the most Catholic country I’ve ever visited. And when it’s time to celebrate their saints, do they EVER pull out all the stops!

The Maltese dress in their finest outfits and head into the town square as men haul a giant wooden saint through the streets and kids squeal through flying confetti. Fireworks boom until midnight and then pick up again at 8:00 AM.

It was an unbelievable, quintessentially Maltese experience and I can’t wait to share more of my festa experience in Qormi with you.

Marsaxlokk

Traditional Life

Malta is a place where you can still catch glimpses of life as it was lived decades ago, if not centuries. One nice place to do that is Marsaxlokk, a fishing village in the south. Fishermen still take out their brightly colored boats each day.

Shadows in Mdina

Value!

As far as your money goes, Malta is one of the best buys in Western Europe. I’d put prices on par with Portugal: meals for under €10 ($13), guesthouses for €60 ($79) per night. Plus cheap local wine and lots of pastizzi (ricotta-filled pastries) and pizza (pit-sa, not peet-za, square pieces of pizza) for less than a euro each!

While you won’t find Thailand prices here — or even Eastern Europe prices — it’s hard to think of a destination as beautiful, interesting, and culture-filled as Malta with a similar price point.

Driving in Gozo

Not quite perfect. But almost.

Well, nowhere is perfect. I should point out that the driving here is HORRENDOUS. Do not consider driving here unless you are an expert at driving stick on the left. Riding a bike or even a motorbike is a suicidal idea.

Finding a good hotel can be a challenge, too. There aren’t many quality hotels, and Mario is convinced that some of them make up their own star ratings. Read a lot of reviews before you book, and consider renting an apartment instead.

That said, those are small caveats, because Malta has a way of casting a spell on you. I know I felt it. Every time I passed a town home for sale, I dreamed of buying one and fixing it up and painting the balcony a cool color and turning it into a guesthouse…

Malta is a special place, and one that deserves more attention from North Americans. Come here and feel the magic for yourself.

Comments

110 Responses to “Malta: A Beautiful, Crazy, Formidable, Vibrant Island”
  1. Wow – I had NO idea about anything on Malta (aside from hearing about the diving on Gozo). What an absolutely incredible place. The architecture is brilliant. I loved everything you described here…time to work on a trip!
    Rika | Cubicle Throwdown´s last blog post ..10 things to do in Vancouver, BC if you’re kind of broke but really awesome.

  2. Anne says:

    Malta looks incredible!!! And also, as an Arabic student, I can attest to the fact that Maltese does look like Arabic just from that one word you put up! “Hobz biz-zeijt” is a lot like “Khubz bi-zeitoun” which means bread with olives in Arabic. I now really really want to hear Maltese being spoken!!
    Anne´s last blog post ..Are We in Morocco or Switzerland?

    • Marica says:

      I am Maltese and can assure you Maltese language sounds a lot like arabic. In fact the language has most influence from arabic and italian language mixed with english and a pinch of french here and there.

      I think being such a small island and having our own language makes it something special!!

      • Mario Psaila says:

        Well, actually the Maltese language is directly derived from the Phoenician language, and since Malta is the only place in the world were this astounding language is still spoken, the Maltese language is therefore the oldest language in the world and is of particular interest to linguists from all over the world. In fact some universities in places like Japan and Israel actually study Maltese to better understand other ancient languages like Arabic and Hebrew.

        • Jon says:

          The Maltese mother tongue goes back thousands of years. The reason for the unquie language is because during the world war Malta was invaded by the Morricans was sexually assulted the woman. Since then the mother tongue changed. That is the reason for a Arabic twist to the accent.

          • Joseph says:

            The notion that Maltese derives from the Phoenician language is just an old myth. Please stop spreading such myths. The maltese language actually comes mainly from Siculo-arabic – ie, the kind of arabic spoken in Sicily. Then there are many romance influences hence the many Italian loan words which form part of the language (this due to the fact that since the advent of the Knights of Saint John as rulers of the islands, the official language was Italian and remained so even throughout most of British rule)

          • Mario Psaila says:

            Joseph – You speak like a scholar and with a teacher’s arrogance, but I see that you have omitted your surname in your name. If what you say is correct how do you explain the 500 or so unique Phonetic words in the Maltese language, words which do not exist in either Sicilian or Arabic. You are right n the Italian loanwords plus also Arabic loan words, and even English loan words, but those are not the root on the language. There are many other arguments which cannot be delved into here but which I would love to discuss over a drink if that is OK with you. Nothing like a good discussion to pass the time especially when one is discussing a subject I studied and discussed for well over 30 years.

        • Tanja Cilia says:

          …and it is similar to Aramaic.
          Tanja Cilia´s last blog post ..Sites unseen

  3. Shaun says:

    I have a friend from Malta as well. It’s grown to be a very interesting place because of it’s location. They have some serious history when it comes to WW2 and hard values when it comes to religion. Yet they have a reputation for some pretty crazy nightlife.

  4. Gorgeous shots!!!!! I’m sold!
    Andi of My Beautiful Adventures´s last blog post ..Meadows of Dan, Virginia: Day 2 (Part 2)

  5. We had a house sit arranged for Malta that fell through. We were so disappointed! We will get there though, it’s on the bucket list.
    Nicole @ Green Global Travel´s last blog post ..TAHITI: Photos of Moorea 4×4 Safari Tour

    • Margit says:

      We live in an old house of character in Qormi and are looking for a house-roof garden-cat sitter at the end of Oct for a week to 10 days.

      • Jeany says:

        Hi
        I’m Maltese and frequently go back home, quite often looking for somewhere to stay as my little brother took over my room when I left the island 12 years ago!
        October is a time I usually visit, so perhaps I can help with house sitting and you can help give me a roof?
        Shall we stay in touch?
        My email is jeanyspiteri@gmail.com
        best wishes
        J Spiteri

      • Josianne says:

        Feel free to get in touch with me. I live in Malta and can help, if you haven’t made arrangements already. Good Day!

  6. Zoe says:

    Looks amazing :) I think I’m going to have to consider a trip there!
    Zoe´s last blog post ..Lentil As Anything, Melbourne

  7. Helen says:

    Hey Kate,

    Your photos are just lovely! :)

    Helen
    Helen´s last blog post ..Photo of the Week: Southern African Cheetah

  8. Angela says:

    Great post. You really did make me want to visit, and I hope it fits into my travel plans. I honestly had to look up where it is, but that is why I follow travel bloggers, to learn of places where I want to visit in the future.
    Angela´s last blog post ..Never Lose Sleep Again: Tips for Stress-Free Air Travel

  9. Jessica Wray says:

    I would have never considered Malta as a future destination until reading this. It looks absolutely amazing! I’ll be in Europe in a month, so thanks for bringing it to my attention! I’ll have to check out flights :)
    Jessica Wray´s last blog post ..More 20-Something Turmoil: The Problem and Solution Lies in Travel

  10. Laura says:

    Oh my god – that first photo! Malta looks so gorgeous. I would definitely fall into the group of people who’d lose their minds over the architecture!
    Laura´s last blog post ..Things That Are Awesome, Vol. 82

  11. Naomi says:

    Isn’t Malta magic?! The thing that struck me most about that country was just how UNIQUE so many aspects of it were – the architecture, sandstone and red church cupolas; the archaeology, the food, the boats, the language, the balconies, the festas…even those orange buses! I’d never seen anything like it before.

    So glad that you’re spreading the love. Malta is highly, highly underrated. And yes, I second a wedding there…. ;)
    Naomi´s last blog post ..Guess what? YOU can come with me to BALI!

  12. Jessica says:

    You caught me- I had no clue where Malta was until now! Looks like a fascinating and interesting country- one that I may find myself going to after reading this post! :)
    Jessica´s last blog post ..48 Hours in Curacao

  13. As a fellow traveler from Malta, (that has been reading this blog since before you ever mentioned Malta :) ), it still feels so unreal to me that you have found such a deep connection with the island I love so much (and hate sometimes). To all of the followers of this blog if you ever visit Malta please contact me. I would love to be your guide :)

  14. I love the first photo and how it captures the essence of the island in just one street. Beautiful!
    A Montrealer Abroad (@amontrealer)´s last blog post ..Win a Trip to Thailand From First Choice!

  15. Clare says:

    I’m thinking I’d like Malta, and I’d never really considered it before. Perhaps Valletta would be a good long weekend destination. I think the architecture would be right up my street, it ooks really impressive. I’ve also pointed my sister in the direction of this post since she’s off to Malta next week!
    Clare´s last blog post ..Get to Know Liverpool in 48 Hours

    • Liz says:

      Clare, if you are seriously considering staying in Valletta, beyond the just outside Valletta 5 star hotels (around 10 min walk to city centre), there is also the option of Boutique residence.. Check Travel accommodation websites. Good luck.

  16. Keith Vella says:

    Hi all from the Maltese Islands,
    for all those who would like to know about our islands just click on those links.
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Malta
    http://wirtizzejtun.com/
    http://www.heritagemalta.org/home.html

    Just a glimpse of our be loved history, the name, Malta, comes from the Phoenician word Maleth meaning ” haven” in reference to Malta’s safest harbors specially in the winter season. The current term Malta was introduced during the Kingdom of Sicily period.

    Malta own one of the unique history around the world :)
    Regards
    https://www.facebook.com/keithvella83

  17. Fiona Vella says:

    Dear Kate,

    I’m glad that you found our country so interesting!

    Thank you for sharing this detailed information and these fantastic photos of our Maltese islands with others.

    I sincerely hope that you will visit us again soon.

    Fiona Vella

  18. Amanda says:

    Okay, I am SOLD on Malta! It looks really interesting – love the architecture!

    Hmm. Perhaps a contender for the couple of free weeks I have in Europe later this year!

  19. Joyce Mizzi Soluri says:

    I visited Malta 3 times and if my family wasn’t in the states I would have stayed. I loved Malta the friendliest most helpful people. The country is just beautiful and if I had my way I’d move my whole family there. I rented an apartment while there and it was just great.

  20. I had never really considered. Malta but after reading this I probably would. Seems like it had a bit of everything and it looks stunning. Really nice photography!
    Londoner Kate´s last blog post ..Why Travel?

  21. Rachel says:

    Wow a great post on a country I knew nothing about! Looks amazing!

  22. kathy says:

    So, so true. Thank you for the beautiful photography which brought back wonderful memories of the months I spent there back in 2007. I was able to squeeze in a week on my way home to Australia in 2008 after a year in Europe. I hope to go back in the not too distant future.

  23. FRANCIS CREMONA says:

    VERY INTERESTING.

  24. Cecilia says:

    I am also from Malta, but live abroad and travel quite a bit…just wanted to say do not be so surprised N. Americans don’t know where Malta is…I have been asked that at European airports, including being asked for my Italian passport in Berlin Tegel airport since Malta is not an independent country…and also for my visa when travelling through Europe :)

  25. Simon Alden says:

    HI Kate, nice article! Your readers may wish to know that rock-climbing is also a fast developing sport in the Maltese islands. They can contact our club at http://www.maltaclimbingclub.com where they can also see lots of cool pics of climbing here :)

  26. C.S.Lawrence says:

    Hi Kate…love your article and thanks for the promo of this stunning country. As you noted, far too many people dont know about the remarkable history of this place..temples that predate the pyramids by thousands of years, imposing dramatic fortifications from the era of the Knights of St.John that are second to none . In the world. The fascinating mix of cultures throughout its history which has given Malta’s heritage its remarkably varied mix, manifested in its architecture (the unique galleria balconies aka “gossip boxes” which suggest Arabic roots, its cuisine, its folk music and of course its language which is the only Semitic language written in the Latin script giving rise to the tongue-twister spellings. One thing missing from your interesting account is a visit to the fortified Three Cities which cradles the Grand Harbour and which is the very heart of Malta. I have lived in this location since settling in Malta ten years ago and setting up my art studio in Bormla and can attest to the fact that the beauty, the magic and the history of the Three Cities never ceases to amaze.

    • C.S.Lawrence says:

      unmissable events in the Three Cities: Senglea Maritime Festival 12-15 September 2013 (lots of fun stuff happening along the promenade and throughout the city) and the Birgu By Candlelight 11-12th October where the entire city lights are shut off and the whole place lit up with candles..stunning. Also the huge 8th December festa in Bormla (Cospicua).

    • I would love to get to the Three Cities sometime, C.S. Mario actually hasn’t spent much time there himself, but I’m sure we will on a future visit. There’s so much left to discover!

  27. It looks beautiful, and your post makes it sound so incredible. Glad it was everything you expected and more!
    PurpleTravelKate´s last blog post ..In Pictures: We Love The Canaries

  28. Steve Borg says:

    If you are visiting Malta on the 2nd of August, an open air event of Maltese folk music is being organized in front of the parish church of Għaxaq. Their is no entrance fee and food and drinks stalls shall be at hand and operating in the immediate vicinity.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dMOIL4Ud9vw An example of Maltese folk music, based on improvised verse.

  29. matthew says:

    I’m maltese,
    I just going to correct some 2 mistakes that you had…
    We had the independence on the 21st September 1964..
    And we drive on the right like Britain and Australia. ..
    Totally agree with you. .
    Should visit malta guys its amazing :)

    • Angie Andrews says:

      Hi Matthew
      Whilst agreeing with you that Malta has loads to offer the visitor, I would be looking up my nearest Highway Code if I were you. Here in the UK, we definitely drive on the left and as far as I know, that is still the practice in Malta. However, on a lighter note, we’ve probably all heard the joke about those who drive ‘in the shade’ and one does have to be careful! Safe driving everyone!
      Angie

    • Will Borg says:

      Actually, we drive on the LEFT, like Britain and Australia :) But as the saying goes, In Malta everybody drives in the shade …..so I guess we’re both right :)

    • Joseph says:

      Continue posting contradicting and confusing information and that way we will get loooootttttssss of American visitors!

  30. karl says:

    Thanks for the great article Kate, I’m Maltese and i love Malta almost in its entirety. i agree with you on most issues, though the quality hotels and suicidal driving not that much. Yes Malta is quite crazy in driving compared to, say, the UK. But still i ride a motorbike around Malta all day and it is quite safe, and i also have a lot of foreign friends (who visited Malta for a holiday and now ended up living here) who drive both cars and bikes and got used to driving with extra care :)

    I say this cause you can see more of Malta’s beauty if you rent a car or, more so, a bike and TRY to get lost in places where public transport won’t take you. if you have more time you can also walk and cycle, but if you’re on a short trip, driving will show you more (since our public transport system is something that really is not that good!)

    And hotels… well compared to most other European countries we have beautiful hotels at cheaper prices, with more spacious rooms and more amenities. but i understand that in a short time one can’t find this out and is limited to what one experiences.

    Malta is also seeing a movement in the Permaculture arena, with at least two organizations working on this with full power. A visitor now also has the option to live on a vast piece of agricultural land which is being transformed into a Permaculture, sustainable, land in exchange of some hours of work on the land.
    Anyone interested in this could visit:
    https://www.facebook.com/pages/Why-Not-Creativity-Vortex/559731387380713 or
    https://www.facebook.com/WhyNotNgo?fref=ts
    Part of the land at Mgarr has also been transformed into an area for community events, event which aim to bring the community closer together through nature and arts.

    Why Not? also organizes community events all over the islands of Malta, Gozo & Comino throughout the year, so travelers are welcome to check the page for upcoming events and plan accordingly if they want to meet open minded people in a happy, positive, family setting.

    • Thanks, Karl. I still mean what I wrote before: only expert drivers should attempt driving in Malta, and pedestrians need to be extra, extra cautious.

      • Margit says:

        We’ve been living in Malta for more than 6 years, are pedestrians and bicyclists (on a daily basis), driven rented cars aplenty and frequently use public transport. None of which is dangerous. As in every country one resides in or visits one needs to be cautious with the surrounding flow but to apply “only expert” and “extra, extra” for Malta is hype. No worse moving about as in other cities/countries with high traffic concentration. Far worse places for me were e.g. Bangkok, Paris, Beijing, Taiwan, Melbourne, … Malta doesn’t even make my Top 10.

  31. Shanice says:

    Great article! I am a Maltese teenager and I must admit I did not appreciate my country too much, but this article really made me remember and notice again the beauty of this tiny island. Very big well done :)

    • Thank you, Shanice. Appreciation of your roots grows with time. :-)

      • Tanja Cilia says:

        …and it went viral because some of us who passed it on did so on social sites, not only via e-mails to groups. There were also people in the media who passed it on… so that means it spread even further than it would have. It is articles like this that make us sit up and take notice of what we take for granted… it’s like when e see a film shot in Malta (Munich, World War Z, etc etc) that we recognise familiar places and say “Hey!”…
        Tanja Cilia´s last blog post ..Sites unseen

  32. roberta briffa says:

    hey kate,

    glad you love our little haven :) do check out comino too if you are still in malta

    https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10152073382408747&set=a.271576728746.185858.186470373746&type=1&theater

    enjoy xx

  33. Hi Kate,

    Thank you for promoting our beautiful island! If you are thinking of having a destination wedding take a look at our weddings magazine which can be viewed online at http://www.issuu.com/weddingday.
    We are also on Facebook.

    You can get some amazing ideas from couples who (like you) fell in love with Malta!

    Well done once again for your entertaining blog.

    Josanne

  34. Jimmy Vella says:

    Glad you’ve enjoyed our quaint little isles!

    I do think you mean “Tico Tico” in Strait Street, Valletta though and it’s “hobz biz-zejt” but hey; you’re all new to this!

    As for hotels and their star ratings. I assure you you’re both wrong!

    There are numerous extraordinary hotels here and the ratings are all official however, they differ from American ratings. All European ratings are however being reviewed to be made uniform ;)

    Jimmy
    Ghasri, Ghawdex

  35. matthew says:

    I think guys you forgot which side is left or right definitely in malta and even in I the uk drive on the right hand side… google it up guy and you’ll see :)

    • Will Borg says:

      Haha no need to ‘google it up’ – I was born in Malta and having now lived in the UK for 30 years, where I drive on a daily basis…..it’s definitely the LEFT- Xellug mhux lemin. :)

      • matthew says:

        Jien twieled malta ukol habib tieghi li qed niprova najd hu li steering qijat fuq in naha ta xellug giffieri fuq ir right.. alura hekk naqblu ????

        • Joseph says:

          Matthew you are confusing people. When the steering is on the right it does not mean that we drive on the right. It means that it is a right hand side steering car. We drive on the left. Stop insisting on your misinformation. When people talk about on which side one drives is not the position of the steering wheel but the side of the road they keep to!

    • Leo Scicluna says:

      Guys, I think you are getting this mixed up. We have right hand drive cars but we drive on the left side of the road like UK and Aussie. Other countries have left hand drive cars and drive on the right side of the road. I think this explains it very well.

  36. matthew says:

    Actually we on the left but the steering is on the right… I made this point cos she’s mentioned north America and im sure that north America drive onthe opposite side cos I thought she’s from there… anyway I think everyone got the piont….. :)

  37. Hi

    Your idea of holding your wedding there is a splendid one… you cannot have a more enchanting setting that the Saluting Battery at the Upper Barrakka. We just held our daughter’s wedding there.

    https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10201774231703388&set=oa.387190101382513&type=1&theater

    • I can’t see that picture due to your privacy settings, George, but I’m glad to hear it. Mario and I talked about an Mdina wedding, but after visiting Malta, I know really love the Saluting Battery! Those views!!!

  38. Josephine says:

    I have lives most of my life in London…however my childhood was spent in Malta. I got to appreciate the beauty of Malta when I lived away from the Island and returned to visit several ties, sinceI still have family in Malta. I agree that a lot of people still do not know where Malta is, and the Tourist Board has to promote it as it is their duty. Whenever I ask the tourist Office to send me some literature to give to my friends they do not seem to have anything which promotes its beauty, maybe they should do a little more since Malta relies a lot on Tourism…Friends who visited Malta seem to be very surprised to find out how much it has to offer. Please keep on putting nice photoes of interesting and beautiful views of Malta….hope to be there next October….

  39. We Maltese do not appreciate the jewel we are holding in our hands. We are not savvy enough to promote our great heritage. I spent several years in England and Peru. When I spoke to people about our prehistory, I realised that they hadn’t heard about our temples. Everybody knew about Stonehenge, Newgrange, Machu Picchu, the Mayan temples and the Pyramids, but nobody knew about our temple heritage. They didn’t know that these temples are far older than those well-known sites.
    Although not experts or archaeologists, many people upon visiting these islands sense that it all started here because they feel that something happened on these islands that they cannot describe. They sense the force of its magic and its many mysteries. The inbuilt mechanism of attraction of magnetic energy is very much grounded on these islands.
    We should start a campaign to promote your Heritage, especially our unique prehistoric temples. They have a great story to tell. We have such potential if we want to and such a beautiful country to promote abroad I tried to tell their story through the publishing of Islands of Dream – The Maltese Temples – Hidden Mysteries Revealed.

  40. Filipe says:

    I lived in Malta for over 1 year. I loved it and also hated some things. I will always have mixed feelings about Malta. All my friends that still live there feel a bit the same. Sometimes you get tired of it, just want to leave that rock. And sometimes you just feel pure bliss about it.

    Things to “hate” about Malta: the “maltesers” in general, rude and xenophobic; They try to rip you off especially when renting a flat or buying something expensive like a car or a tv; Uncivilized and crazy driving, be careful pedestrians, they don’t really stop in a zebracross; The lack of things to do, when you eventually get tired of the island.

    • Mario Psaila says:

      Filipe. Your comment above really shows why you are no longer living amongst us in Malta, and with that sort of attitude I cannot understand why you spent a year living here. If anybody gets tired on our rock, why what is the problem. Just leave. We have good connections both by air and by sea and anybody can leave whenever he wants.

      The Maltese (not maltesers which are chocolates) are known worldwide for their hospitality and good manners. We are not rude and xenophobic at all EXCEPT WITH THOSE THAT TRY TO TREAT US LIKE DIRT.

      Nobody rips anybody else when renting or buying something. All prices are published and are quite cheap. Service is usually top quality and much more affordable than our european counterparts.

      When renting places in Malta, you will find that you can actually rent a villa with a swimming pool for the price of a downtrodden apartment aywhere else in Europe, so what are you complaining about?

      You say we are uncivilized and drive crazily. Are you sure you are living in the same world as us when you say we do not stop at Zebra crossings. Our driving habits are exactly like those in England, because that is were we got them from. Maybe you must have visited Italy and got confused.

      Finally, if there is nothing for you to do in our island, if our way of life does not stimulate you enough not to get bored, then please simple do not come but go somewhere else were you are stimulated better

      • Filipe says:

        Defend “your” rock all you want. “Maltesers” are rude and xenophobic to the “foreigners” (they love to use that word) many times. They are well known for their rip off attitude. I know of innumerous examples of landlords that keep deposits illegally, of store managers that sell damaged goods and refuse to give a refund, abusive taxi drivers (that’s a maltese classic), the old crazy bus drivers (also a classic), the different ticket prices in the bus (a matter for the EU to solve), etc.

        Every time there is some sort of conflict most of the Maltese people push the racist card and have that exact same attitude you have now. “If you don’t like it, leave.” It’s not like the foreigners aren’t helping with you tiny economy. So don’t say that.

        You are reckless drivers and have one of the worst car accident rates in Europe. Not like the brits, you are much more like arabs. Don’t plat the brit card, you are nothing like them.

        You are still nowhere near European standards and every time some “foreigner” criticizes you, you react like that. Learn to accept criticism!

        I would also say I love Malta, and I might even go back. Damn, I’m even looking at that rock as a nice place to start a new business. And I don’t give a **** about stupid “maltesers” like you. Fellow countrymen of mine ruled that rock once so stfu.

        PS: A landlord just asked for 200€ a month to a friend for having a pet in his house. My friend called him to ask for permission and the guy asked for 200€ PER MONTH! That’s why people say “only in Malta”.

        • Filipe says:

          That said, Malta is a lovely island, quirky and beautiful, filled with very nice people (I met mainly expats). I look at it as my second home, and the year and a half I was there was a great experience. But I don’t identify myself with the maltese culture at all. And I only criticize “our” lovely island because I got to know a bit about it, and because I always critized the places I really like and know well.

        • Mario Psaila says:

          That’s right. Show your mettle. You use the anonymousity found in Internet to insult others, not to criticise them. I have a feeling that you are not saying the truth and I am now asking you to give details of the instances you mention. I would like to talk to the person who asked for €200 a month to keep a pet so please give me details.

          Let me clarify your phrase ‘if you don’t like it leave’ by stating that from your writing you have no respect towards us and we do not want to have such people looking down on us in our own country, and describing us from their warped vision as you did in your original post.

          You say we are racists and Arabs. Who gave you the right to say what we are? I say we are not racists and, if you maybe learned a bit of Maltese history, we are also not Arabs. May I also remind you that we are the only place on earth to be decorated for bravery as a whole nation, the George Cross. Our history is too glorious to have somebody like you bragging that your fellow countrymen ruled our island, and maybe you are forgetting that we invited them here and were not invaded.

          That fact that you have again mentioned maltesers when I have already explained we are Maltese while maltesers are chocolates shows how intent you are on insulting people from afar.

          Are you serious when you say you want to start a business here? You want to make money off us ‘stupid maltesers’. Come on. We love foreigners in Malta and respect and help them all we can, and in return we only ask that they do the same to us. Sorry, but you are not giving us our due.

          In conclusion please note that I am awaiting details of that rental incident you mentioned, and any other incident you have experience of, so I will sort them out for you. No details means they are not true.

          Otherwise there will be no further communication with you and hope to see you here again one day enjoying our hospitality, generosity and friendship. Things we are known worldwide for.

          • Filipe says:

            My original post was honest and not disrespectful at all. You can’t take criticism and picked an unnecessary fight. I have the right to share my vision of things and state that you are in fact racist at times, and that is both ridiculous and ironic.

            I don’t have to share any more info with you. What I said is true. I could however tell everybody that reads this many more incredible stories where maltese people act like lunatics. Obviously not all Maltese are like that but there is some sort of cultural mark in it, I’m sure.

            To end this, and if you focus on the good things I said about Malta (there are many other things I love in Malta and didn’t write here) if I start a business in Malta I wouldn’t take any of your money (stupid maltese money that you referred). I would do business with other european companies and would only pay taxes in Malta, as I did when I paid thousands of euros in taxes while living there.

          • Mario you are not winning any sympathizers with your argumentative style. I am a local but I think Filipe has a point. He might have been a bit to generalistic about the “Maltesers” but he is right in saying that racism is very common. I don’t know much about landlords, maybe he was unlucky with his experience as good and bad landlords exist everywhere and that includes Malta, but in general I think you would find many land lords in Malta are reasonable. About the driving style I agree with him completely. After spending a year driving on German roads and then coming back I felt like I was driving in India and not a European country. This is something we have to work on as a nation.
            At the end of the day no place is perfect although I think the good stuff mainly outweighs the faults of the island, and that is why so many people keep coming back here.

          • Thank you for this measured comment, Andrew. I agree with you completely.

          • Benjamin Gardino says:

            Mario, rental companys commonly rip off customers in malta.e.g the fuel is supposed to be full and returned empty, but theres often a quarter less than they say. and its hard to return a car empty. also having rented probablty 70 times about 20% say you have caused damage when you havent, as for renting be careful as landlords often dont declare income for tax purposes.Also take photos or theyll keep your deposit.Moreover the pictures on here are the best parts of malta..it has been ruined by over development and greed! ..having said that its my home and i accept that, and yes im maltese

  41. Alfred Cassar says:

    I am Maltese and live in Malta. A very true picture of the island also considering the fact that it seen from a foreigner’s point of view. Well done.
    However I think it would be much better if one hires a car during his stay in Malta as the public transport is not so reliable and efficient. I agree you have to be very careful how to drive in Malta coz many drivers are not so disciplined.

    • Thank you. I agree — a car is best. But only if you’re a skilled driver. Mario is a fantastic driver, but I’m not confident enough in my own driving skills to rent a car in Malta.

  42. Hello,

    I really enjoyed reading and looking at the photos on your blog!! I come from Malta and it’s always interesting to see Malta from the perspective of a tourist! You’ve taken some really lovely photos and I’m sure people interested in visiting our Island will find it a very interesting read!

  43. Melita says:

    Loved reading this! Thank you for being open minded ! one point obviously stood out to me is that MALTESE IS OUR OFFICIAL LANGUAGE and English is our second.

  44. solent says:

    Great reading. Having traveled over to Malta from the UK, numerous times I find it great to switch off technology, unplug you mobile phone and explore. The country is steeped in history, explore, drink and dine with the local population and make an effort to converse. Leave your watch in the Hotel and forget about time. Hop on a random bus and get off where you want..and decide. The Country is loved by many nations so the myriad of choices are yours

    • Joyce Mizzi Soluri says:

      I agree with you whole heartly I love Malta and it’s people . Fantastic country and wonderfully hospital people. Most speak English so communicating is easy’ Can’t wait to go back there’

  45. Thank you all for the kind comments — especially the Maltese! I know that you came from Facebook, but I wasn’t able to get any more information than that — can you tell me which page shared this post?

    Also, for clarification, I allow neither commercial posts (i.e. people looking to advertise their companies in the comments) nor abuse of any commenters or myself. Thank you for keeping things civil.

  46. Therese says:

    I came across your blog as I was searching for ‘travel blogs’, and I was so pleasantly surprised to find a blog post about Malta on your homepage. I am half French half Maltese, and have lived in Gozo for most of my life, and I have to say you’ve captured the ‘feel’ of Malta perfectly. Malta definitely isn’t perfect, but there is something about it that keeps me coming back, no matter how much I travel. In any case, loved your post, and I am so glad you liked Malta :)
    Therese´s last blog post ..Long Awaited Lily Lolo Update

  47. Rita Lombardi says:

    I loved your description of my little country however I tend to disagree with one thing only. When you said that it could be quite challenging finding a good hotel. There are several very good hotels but it depends on how much one is ready to spend. Our four and five star hotels are as good as any on the continent with professional staff educated abroad. On the other hand if one wants to spend an economical holiday one should opt for the self catering flats.

    • Yes I agree that the description is quite good. Malta is a wonderful and very well said, a crazy island. Finding good hotels is not that tough. We went there a few months back and we could easily find the hotel. It was very good too. :) Thanks for this wonderful post. :)

  48. Tanja Cilia says:

    ‘…pastizzi (ricotta-filled pastries)…’ not quite. But this piece entitles you to the title Honorary P.R.O. of Malta. How about ‘multiple layers of piping hot, crumbly, flaky pastry stuffed with ricotta (or Gozitan cheeselets) that has a tinge of parsley and freshly-ground black peppercorns? Ħobż biz-żejt is literally “bread with-oil”.
    http://tanjacilia.wordpress.com/2013/06/02/the-maltese-hobza/
    http://tanjacilia.wordpress.com/baroque-beauty-modern-marvel/

  49. Looks wonderful. Malta also has some great language schools actually. A lot of European high school students or graduates go there to take English classes during their summer holidays.
    TammyOnTheMove´s last blog post ..Hiking boots review: Atmosphere boots by Mountain Warehouse

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