In Malta! In the evening. In the dark. Transported by a Catamaran from Pozzallo in the deep south of Sicily to the Maltese capital of Valletta.
I have to admit folks I'm really excited to be here as this is my first time and if I think about it, I can count on one hand for certain the number of people I know who have actually visited here! How bizarre. Or is it?
Have you been to Malta before? How was your experience?
The single memory I have as a kid relating to Malta was my Dad once saying summit like: "We don't need go there, even the tap water's dirty" - Which in fairness, I think it genuinely is. Even my Mother has recently admitted it 'never appealing' and to be fair to her, I understand this. In fact, I can even relate to this because if I think back before my solo travels began, Malta was never a place that I would have considered coming to for a holiday.
Well, now that I think about it, I believe the most apparent reason is actually quite a simple one. As I touched on earlier, If I go back five or ten years and I don't think I had conversed with a single person who had been to Malta. Subsequently, there wasn't any positive information or good experiences reported back to me or my family enticing us to go. I'm confident this will be true for a lot of other people too back home.
*Would it be accurate to say Malta really is the forgotten (or even ignored) island of the Mediterranean? (I'll re-visit this later).
Either way it's going to be a pleasure reporting back to you all during my time here. Speaking of which, I have given myself two full weeks for this experience. As ever, I know not what's in store for me, where I'm headed on this island or even what there is to see here - on a budget.
What I do know though is that like Sicily, it's an ancient piece of land. We're talking 5000 years Before Christ! Additionally it's the 34th largest island in the Med.
Can you remember the single island left for me to explore in order to complete my once ambitious five island challenge?
There are two official languages here; Maltese and English. (Malta was under British Rule from 1800 to 1964 - nearly two hundred years). As for the Maltese language, well, it's up there with the strangest sounding I've heard this year. A little bit of research later helps me understand why. It's because it takes words from Arabic, Italian and English. Resultantly the words are mega-strange and then consider they use the same Roman/Latin script as we do and they write the right way! As in left to right.
So coming back to...would it be accurate to say Malta really is the forgotten (or even ignored) island of the Mediterranean?
Actually, I'm not so sure it is...
Following some education in Sicily and after a little light reading, I've been caught completely by surprise as Malta is very well known for, and separate from anything historic, it's lively and vibrant night-life and casinos!
Well well, who'd have thought it!? Not me clearly. Hardly a 'forgotten island'. Did any readers know of this reputation? If not, welcome to my newly enlightened club - if you'll excuse the pun. As it's nearly November so thankfully the 'clubbing' scene is largely done and dusted. Hey, I'm nearly mid 30s you know, gimme a break. Seriously though, I live from dormitory to dormitory remember so perhaps that'll help you appreciate in this regard the quieter season suits me just fine.
Do you remember in the first line of this post I mentioned I'd arrived into the town in the dark? I had a 20 minute walk directly through the waterfront of Malta's capital city to get to my hostel but I'm glad this happened as I was forced to see 'and feel' the city by night. By the time I got to my hostel, and having felt such a positive vibe from my walk, I immediately dumped my bags and went straight back out to try a little night photography.
I gotta say though folks, I can't remember the last time I saw a waterfront create such a magical ambience - and it's nearly November! I can imagine this would be absolutely thriving in the summer months.
The buildings below are deceptive because only a handful of them have brickwork deeper than 1 metre in depth! The second image showing what's behind the door. To think that if this door remained closed, I would have assumed these were regular commercial properties and would have been none the wiser of the empty void behind them that goes on to showcase the fortified walls.
This small square image is an image I found online that is able to show how nice this entire stretch looks when it's empty.
And below, one of the largest cruise-liners I think I've ever seen. Good to see Malta attraction tourist attention even from the likes of Norway. Then again, not so surprising when you consider Valletta's Grand Harbour is one of the top ten cruise ports in the Western Mediterranean.
So with that Maltese introduction complete, I remain hopeful that the rest of my time here will be equally as enjoyable. Let's wait and see how it all pans out...