Travel

Malta – a little heaven

When I was making the mini pastizzi last week, the image of the Maltese blue sky just kept showing in my head. when you look at that sky, I think anyone can forget about all the unhappiness in one’s life. Malta is a tiny little island with just over 300 km2 . However, it is indeed charming and fascinating.

On our way from the airport to the hotel, the first thing I noticed was these honey color limestone houses everywhere. Geologically speaking, the whole island is a big chunk of limestone. I guess it was no surprise that they have been using limestone as building materials for centuries. Most of the houses have colorful windows and color-matched doors. Quickly, I developed a new obsession for these beautifully made doors. I couldn’t stop taking photos of them. They are so exquisite. I can’t help to wonder what kind of stories are happening each day behind the beautiful doors on this little island.

The second thing is cacti, Prickly pear to be specific. It was introduced from America/Mexico originally. Malta’s dry and long summer suits this type of plant perfectly. The local says the Maltese farmers used to use the fruits to feed the domestic animals when the weather is really dry. They are used as a territory boundary as well, a cheap and economical version of fence. The fruit is sweet and melon like.  You can buy them from the local grocery shops. Of course, the spikes are removed. The Maltese also use it to make liquor, although I didn’t get a chance to try it… Maybe next time, and there is definitely next time.

 

We only had four days there. Time is gold. Just after we checked in the service apartment we booked, we decided to take a walk at the Valletta waterfront. Although we were a bit tired, it was well worthed. We went to see the Fort Saint Elmo, which is the National War Museum. Unfortunately, we were too late to enter the museum. Kept walking, we saw the Siege Bell memorial. It was built to honor over 7000 people who died during WWII in Malta. Then, there is the Upper Barrakka Gardens which was created in 16th century to entertain the knights originally. It is on the highest point of Valletta city walls with a great view of the Grand Harbour.  The view is magnificent.

We booked a fishing trip in Valletta for the second day. Since both of us love fishing, it just cannot be missed. We slept in to get enough rest. Then, we had our breakfast in a local coffee shop at the waterfront. After the breakfast, we walked to the Sa Maison Ferry Terminal and waited for the boat owner. It was September. The weather was beautiful and sunny. It is the season for Dolphin fish in Malta, also called Lampuki or Mahi mahi fish. The fish has beautiful silver color with some golden and green color as well. We caught quite a few and cooked in our rented apartment. It was ddddddddelicious.

We went on a bus trip to Mdina, the silent city of Malta, on the next day. Mdina is an ancient walled city, and its history can be traced back over 4000 years. It was the capital for Malta during Medieval period, and it is still the home for some noble families in Malta. Why is it called the “Silent City”? No car is permitted to enter the town except for the residents. Also, a lot of residents have moved to Valletta. The whole place is so quiet despite there are so many visitors walking around in the narrow streets everyday.

Last day in Malta, The Three Cities was on the top of our list. The Three Cities refer to three fortified cities, Cospicua, Senglea and Birgu (Vittoriosa). We actually only went to Cospicua because of the limited time we had. We wanted to see as much as we can in such a short time, typical desperate tourist’s behavior, hmmmm. Anyway, I loved it. It’s probably my favorite town so far. It’s a small and quiet town with ancient limestone houses and narrow streets. We just wanted to wander around aimlessly and explore. We walked and walked. Quite often, I ran my fingers on the old honey colored wall just to feel the rough surface…On the way, a pretty fluffy cat and its owner greeted us. We kept walking. There was a van from a local bakery delivering fresh baked bread. All of a sudden, all the residents emerged from nowhere. It seems everyone knows everyone. An old lady from the second floor just dropped a basket tied with a rope  to get the bread and pull the basket back afterwards.

We stopped at Marsaxlokk around lunch time. Those famous colorful fishing boats with eyes painted were everywhere to be seen in the river or on the riverbank. I think the name is Luzzus. They said the eyes are to protect the fishermen at the sea. The little village is very popular because of its Sunday fish market and their tasty seafood restaurants.

The last stop was the temple of Hagar Qim, the best preserved limestone temple in Malta with a layout like cloverleaf. It was dated back to 3600BC. I gotta say I love Maltese people. When we were leaving, we bumped into the gentleman who sold us tickets at the ticket booth. He was checking the garden. When he saw us, he picked a little bit of mint and put in my hand. He said ” When you go back home, don’t forget you have friends in Malta.” 🙂

Such a lovely place. Maybe, just maybe, one day, we might choose to live in one of the old limestone houses. Every morning, I will be sipping my coffee at my bright color balcony and talk to my lovely Maltese neighbor at the building opposite. How does that sound? (We are allowed to dream, right?);)

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