Malta

A couple of days ago I came back from a week of sunshine in Malta and landed in a reliably wet England. We have a couple of family friends who are Maltese and one of them rents out apartments in Marsaxlokk, a little fishing village to the south of the island. If you google this place, the images speak for themselves, but even then, they don’t truly do the boats and the harbour any justice.

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We had no method to the dates we chose, but myself and two friends happened to choose the one week of the year where Marsaxlokk celebrates the feast, known locally as a ‘Village Festas’. Every night we had the joy of watching the marching- who we dubbed strolling band, walk around the village and across the front of the harbour.

I’ve never been to such a religious place and even though I’m not religious myself, the festas had such a good vibe about the village with decorations everywhere, whilst all the locals were out and about and happy to get you involved! Our friends who did the airport runs- Grace and Vic, showed us around Mdina and Bugibba and then invited us round to theirs for Sunday lunch with their family, and of course we said yes! Although, I felt too rude to be taking lots of photos. The Sunday also had the band playing midday and all the locals, mostly teens and early twenties were in front of the band throwing water at each other and pushing each other into the harbour. It was just so much fun to see everyone having such a huge street party and water fight, all in celebration of their Madonna.

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This picture is the view from the top of Mdina, and it’s a shame the photo didn’t capture how glittery all the vineyards were! There were strips of plastic amongst the vines to stop the birds picking at them, but from the top of the wall it looked insanely cool!

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We also day tripped to Valletta, an easy €2, half an hour trip from our little village. The capital was so beautiful! It was recommended that we visited Barrakka Gardens, which had a lot of greenery, statues and views over the city. Within it there was a pretty impressive memorial bust of Winston Churchill and a memorial plaque for Einstein- both of those were pretty cool. There was also a saluting battery and although we didn’t see it, the cannons were shot!

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Toward the end of our day, we got into a horse and cart and went for a tour around part of the city. Have I even gone abroad if I haven’t scouted a bobbin? Our guide, whose name escapes me, kept stopping to show us sights whilst telling us about them. Including the Siege Bell War Memorial, which was pretty massive from a distance but the guide waited for us so we could go up and have a look. Y’know those things that are clearly huge from a distance anyway but then you get up close and it’s just ridiculous? Impressive but ginormous.

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Valletta was pretty much a ginat maze, all the side streets brought you out to places you’d already been and for a capital city, it was pretty small but it had so many little nooks to explore. A lot of the doors to houses/bars/apartments etc were all decortated, and I mean, I have this pretty weird thing for doors anyway, but they were so pretty! We also stumbled upon a pretty snazzy record shop with a lot of Beatles, Sex Pistols, Nirvana and other classics right in it’s window. Shame you can’t fit records in your hand luggage, ey?

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It’s also pretty impossible to be staying in a fishing village, less than a minute from a harbour and not have a boat ride, right? One half of the couple who were showing us around, Vic, joined us on the boat and we paid extra to go out of the harbour, and Vic told us where we were and what we were seeing. Also it’s a tradition in Marsaxlokk for the boats to be so colourful and pretty. Ah, that was a good afternoon!

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We had access to the roof from our apartment and I was adament that one morning I was going to see the sunrise. The morning I chose had me so excited that I woke up at 4am, only a mere two hours earlier than the sunrise. I am one of those who can’t go back to sleep once I’m awake so those hours were filled with my ipod, which I wouldn’t consider too much of a loss.

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Finally when we went to Grace’s mum’s house for Sunday lunch, she lived right on the front and the views were unreal. There’s no edit on this, the sea was that colour. With a background of the marching (strolling) band, it was pretty surreal to realise that people actually live here and that the following day would see our return back home.

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Farewell, Marsaxlokk, you were amazing.

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