At last, I finally arrived in Malta. I’ve been wanting to visit this country for over a decade. It has always been a strategic spot on the map and as a student of history, I’d always found its history fascinating. There is so much to see here; centuries of history, some books of the New Testament were written here, it was a home base to the knights during the Crusades, and it has been conquered and re-conquered so many times in the past 3 millenia…
When I first arrived, I took a cab from the airport to my hotel – not cheap, about 35 Euro one way. The cab driver had his uncle with him and they were “hanging out” for the day. I listened to them as they spoke Maltese and it reminded me of a mix of Italian, Arabic & Lebanese. I asked him about the language and he said that it did have some Italian, Lebanese, and Arabic mixed in and it was sort of a hodge-podge mix of Latin & Arabic. I had never thought about the language before I arrived; perhaps I had just assumed that they spoke English…
The first thing that I noticed about Malta were the tiny streets and alleyways that wove through the city. Valletta, the capital, had a very Mediterranean feel to it and reminded me, in some ways, of Greece and Italian sea-side cities. Checkered through the alleyways and streets were restaurants and restaurants – I was in virtual bliss. After being marooned in a 3rd world country for the better part of 2 or 3 years, I was looking forward to trying some “different” cuisine.
I found a wonderful cafe restaurant with outdoor seating and began looking over the menu. The woman at the next table at straight black hair and piercing blue eyes. I heard her talking on the telephone and could not make out the language. It sounded like a mix of Italian and Russian. I asked her where she was from and she said that she was from Serbia.
I had trouble deciding what to order because everything looked so good. I finally settled on a pizza & beer and an artichoke salad. I can’t begin to describe how wonderful the food was; each bite was an explosion of flavor. I remembered back to my visits to Italy and Greece and remembered fondly why I love the Mediterranean so much.
It was already late in the day after I’d settled into my hotel and had lunch so I decided to so some walking along the ocean and work my way down to Valletta harbor.
One of the main landmarks is a large casino that sits right out on the waterfront at the end of a peninsula. As it was wintertime, there weren’t too many beach visitors. I enjoyed a serene walk along the ocean trying to find a spot to take a photo without trash in it – yes, the beach was covered in trash – an unfortunate testament to the Maltese people and their beaches…
At the mouth of the harbor I found an ancient cannon and paused to take a photo.
The marina was full of yachts and sailing boats and it looked as though many rich Europeans made their second home on this charming island. Along the harbor there were apartments, condominiums, and hotels. I can only imagine how crowded this place must be at the height of the tourist season in summertime.
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