What is really sandy, home to a myriad of old temples and had one of the earliest civilisations known to man? No, it’s not Egypt; Malta, located in the Mediterranean, is a beauty with a troublesome past. Ruled by over 9 different powers over its history, Malta is a hybrid- a Christian country with an Arabian based language and British architecture built to withstand sieges. Finally, in 1964, Malta decided it had had enough of being bossed around and declared its independence- for an island you can drive around in an hour, it made sure it would have a story to tell.
It’s also Daenerys Targaryen’s stomping ground. The Azure Window in Gozo is used as the backdrop for Khal Drogo’s and Daenerys’s wedding, whilst the ancient fortified city of Mdina is used as the setting for King’s Landing.
With only 10 days to explore, I set about trying to cram everything in!
Malta has one big area of clubs and bars, called Paceville, (pacha-ville), where promoters stand outside and desperately try to entice you inside with flyers for free drinks. Music blares out of every entrance, and scantily clad dancers bat their eyelashes at you from doorways of smoky -ahem- strip clubs. We ended the night happily chomping drunken McDonald’s chips.
Getting back was a nightmare; Malta is just beginning to realise we are now actually in the 21st century and only recently introduced a bus system with the speed of my grandmother’s walking pace.
Using the same public transport we also went to Valletta, the capital, a huge walled-off city centre. Its uniqueness is due to its fortifications; crossing the bridge and walking through the front gate is like walking straight into a Game of Thrones set. Huge sand blocks created a walled off exterior surrounding the city, built after the Great Siege in 1565 by the Order of St. John.
We went out for dinner a few nights later to a truly unique restaurant in a traditional fishing village called Marsaxlokk. Menus were not on paper; no, none of that peasantry here, everything was picked off iPads for each customer (it was aptly named iPlace).
By some small miracle, we discovered we had arrived in time for the Isle of MTV Malta, a music week in which various events take place across the island. The biggest event we attended was the main concert, 50,000 people big, which stars such as Jason Derulo, Martin Garrix and Jess Glynne have blessed before. With FREE ENTRY, we manage to snag an up close performance from Raye, Jonas Blue, DNCE and The Chainsmokers.
Mdina was a highlight of the trip. Cobbled pavements created a maze of avenues to get lost in and high buildings absorbed the sound; the entire city felt like it was stuck in a time lapse. We found our way to the other side where the most spectacular view of Malta greeted us.
On my previous trips to Malta, I had, for some unknown reason, not booked a boat party, and upon doing so, discovered it was an absolute must. At least 50 people strong, with an open bar and swimsuit-clad shipmates, we sailed directly into the sunset to the other end of the island. The ship dropped anchor, and we jumped off the boat into the sea as the moon rose. However, upon my third time jumping off the platform, I caught an edge and hit not one but two steps on the way down before plunging head first into the ocean. As I write this, I still have three, deep sea (ironically) green bruises plastering my left leg.
To top the whole trip off, we went full tourist and visited both St. Peter’s Pool and the Blue Lagoon, a little bays with clear blue waters. Whilst both were packed with tourists, St. Peter’s Pool was enjoyable all the same. The Blue Lagoon, however, for all its beauty, was a nightmare. With no exaggeration, each tourist had a metre of rock to themselves, and getting down the water was impossible. Waiting for our ferry to depart 4 hours after dropping us off in the blistering heat, we decided to maybe never return again.
Finally, on the morning of our departure, we got a rude awakening when we realised we were late getting up for our flight, teenager
style. There was no time for emotional goodbyes as I flung my belongings haphazardly into my suitcase and nearly face planted my way down the stairs.
10 days wasn’t long enough to get to know Malta, but here’s what I learnt; it really is an island in a time bubble, an arid, ancient diamond. For a country so far behind in its development, it’s starting to become commercialised and one would be lucky to visit it whilst it’s still able to hold onto its traditions.