Thursday, August 01, 2013

maltese falcons


Five reasons to go to Malta.

1) It's scorchio. 36 degrees in the summer. Right now.
2) It's fucking old. 700 BC is what one town, Mdina, is dated back to.
3) It has the most clear, crystaline, tourquoise Mediterranean water you've ever seen
4) You can jump off boats and rocks with reckless abandon
5) It's literally an architect's paradise
Typical Maltese-style buildings, in Valetta. With the added charm of laundry hung out to dry. The laundry always looks amazingly breezy, not shit.

My granny was born there, and I really wondered why she ever left and went back to England. I suppose she was about 7 and didn't have much of a choice. But still. Still.

I EasyJetted in, and was immediately met with a simmering 38 degree temperature. Usually I get heatstroke in such climes,  but somehow after three ice creams and two gin and tonics it didn't really bother me. It was fucking perfect, to be fair.

We had hired an apartment from a dude at Air B&B (literally the best thing, bar fun hostels, for holidays. Hotels can be so sterile, impersonal, not fun or adventurous at all. Apartments you feel part of the vibe and more of a traveller as opposed to a tourist.)
The entrance to our apartment.
 Me. On the balcony. Behaving like Eva Peron.

Dove was only due to arrive a few hours later, so the dude and his girlfriend took me out for some lunch in Valetta, the beautiful town we were staying at. Had we stayed at a hotel, this would never had happened. So they showed me around, and told me where we should go.

After fully checking out Valetta and marveling at the beautiful jutting out balconies, shutters and dilapidated stone, we headed to St Paul's Bay in the northern part of the island. It seemed nice at the time, but it wasn't as pretty as the other parts of the island we went to.
Either way, Malta is small - a 45 minute bus journey from one side to the other, using an all day bus card for only 2.60 euros, so you can't really go wrong.

It's also extremely Catholic. So Catholic is Malta, that they believe that 'Italians don't have much of a moral compass.' A Maltese man told me that. The pope is Italian. So when I say they're Catholic and devout and hectic, I'm not pulling your chain.
Divorce was illegal in Malta until three years ago.
There are more churches on the island than cars.
It's frowned upon to walk around showing too much skin.

And to think that once upon a time I was Catholic. Interesting.

The one thing with this place, as it's so sunbaked and hot, is that when you're on the coast you basically need to jump into the sea every twenty minutes to cool your body temperature down enough that it's not the same as Satan's when he's sitting in the firepit of hell.

The sea is extremely salty - there are caked areas of salt on the rocks, and you float. It's true salt makes you float, which is kind of novel, until you dry off in the sun and you're one big salt cake.

There aren't a lot of sandy beaches in Malta, so you end up jumping off the rocks. But there are always little ladders everywhere so you can jump off wherever you please.
 Our rock near the apartment.

The day afterwards we found the most beautiful part of the place, entitled 'The Blue Grotto,' on the southern tip of Malta.

'The Blue Grotto' just sounds nice.  And by fuck, it really was.
 The tiny village of Zurrieq near the grotto is just a cluster of houses - a restaurant or two, a pub and a shop. It's perfect. It's all you'd ever need on holiday.
We took a boat trip around the coast, where all the blue caves were, and the boat guide drove us inside all of them. We could jump off the boat and swim, it was just amazing, the colour of the water and how clean and crazy it was.

 Dove snorkelling. And hanging out in waters that are 12 metres deep, but don't look like it.

 It's very rocky and arid, but there's something really sparse and lovely about semi-desert.
 the local fresh fish restaurant in Zurrieq.

 Yeah.. so it's a bit shit.
We ate fresh fish for lunch and then bought a whole bunch of gear. ("All the gear, no idea.") for the shop. Snorkel, goggles and two lilos. The Med is so flat, so lilos are king. You just float and hang onto the thing, and chill out on the water.

We did this all afternoon. God it was sublime. The world was a million miles away.

We also visited Mdina, the walled city in Malta, where battles were fought, and all sorts of shit went down on the hills of Malta around 700 BC. Oh and Game of Thrones was filmed here. Which is obviously a huge thing.*

 Midina is on the top of the highest 'hill' in Malta, in the centre, to protect itself from the barrage of wars that have happened since 700 BC. There have been lots. Obvs.

 This is me. Trailing the streets and loving my hat. Got majorly attached to this white straw hat I found in the apartment. And didn't steal. But still think about.
 Horse and carts coming barreling towards you in the tiny alleyways; if you don't find a door frame to duck into, you die. Adds a nice edge to the holiday.

 Only 400 people live in Mdina, and most of them are rich. And live in houses that look like this.

It was a cool 38 degrees, so we ate a lot of ice cream. Luckily the houses are tall and light, so when you walk through the tiny alleyways it's actually quite cool. Just don't stand in the middle of the town square with the sun beating down.

On our final night, we decided to demolish a bottle of wine, Peas and Dove style, and create a story or script in our heads. Which we did. so watch this space. Or rather, watch Twitter. Not this space. We are going to be THE NEXT BIG THING. Let's not rip the ring out of it; we are going to be huge. It'll be nice if we are.

After the wine we thought we'd either:
1) Blow up our seven euro lilos, and use them as inflatable toboggans to do stair races.
On the 2000 year old steps in front of our apartment.
But then we thought, "we might perhaps break ourselves open or crush our coxixes, or bruise ourselves to absolute shit. And wake up the Catholics."

2) Find a nice place to drink more wine.
The stairs. For reference.

We stumbled into a little bistro owned by two Italians, and sat with them at the last table on the street, as they poured us delicious wine and cut us pieces of saucisson. They, in beautiful and typical Italian fashion, said that their bistro was not a restaurant, it was 'art.'

"Ziss-a is-a not-a a restaurant. Ziss-a is-a art-a. We will-a make-a sure za people-a zat come-a here are ...artists-a."

Fair enough.

We went on the search for another bottle of wine after the art-restaurant conversation seemed to start repeating itself over and over again, and luckily didn't find another bottle.

I never did see which hospital my granny was born in, and we never did find Manuel, the hairdresser Dove's mum nearly married.

But I do think I'd love to go back, it's one place on the Med that is extremely underrated.

* I don't watch it. The Brit does. I think it's a bit of a hype-shit.


Flarkit said...

Thank you, thank you, for making me desperately wanna go to Malta and float in the azure waters all day long.

BiancaP said...

You have sold it to me. I want to go there. Now.