Malta! The photos in my family photo album from the last time I was there looked so appealing! Crystal blue waters, Latin architecture, delicious Meditterranean food and mild climate conjured in my mind, making it an easy decision as to where to go next. Since I hadn’t been there since the age of six months, which is a very, very long time, this pretty much counted as a new destination for me. All I needed to do now was book it!
Stansted is the easiest airport for me to reach, via the Stansted Express which departs from key stations within London, such as Liverpool Street and takes just under an hour to get to the airport. Unfortunately, after looking at all the options, flight times were not ideal-either super early in the morning, or late afternoon, meaning I would arrive there in the evening and miss a day there. I chose the latter and opted to depart Malta in the evening on the way back, to get a full three days in.
Three and a half hours later, I was in Luqa-Malta International Airport. It was about eight O’clock in the evening and one thing that surprised me initially was that all the signs in the airport, the taxi driver and the street signs on the way from the airport to my hotel in St Julians Bay-were in perfect English! Maltese, English and Italian are the three official languages in Malta, reflecting Malta’s mixed origins and empires throughout its history. The other thing that struck me was how helpful and friendly everyone was! From the taxi driver, to the hotel staff who recommended a place to eat, to the staff at the restaurant where I ate that night.
Malta is a small European Island, just 80 kilometres south of Sicily, 284 kilometres East of Tunisia and 333 kilometres north of Libya. It has had a mixed succession of empires, ranging from the Romans, Moors, Spanish, Sicilians, French and English. Given its history and geography, I expected this to be reflective of the food and culture, but the food was predominantly Sicilian, with some French influence and local fresh seafood such as Lampuki.
I had dinner at U Bistrot, a restaurant next door from the hotel and across from St Julians Bay, where I could enjoy the view while eating. The restaurant offered typical Sicilian food, such as risottos, anti pasto platters, salads and traditional desserts. I was famished and it was a bit chilly that evening, being mid December so a hearty risotto hit the spot. Hot, tasty and delicious. I was tempted by the desserts (rationalizing that the calories covered both lunch and dinner as I had skipped lunch). I ordered Canele, a delicate pastry, served warm with a delicious caramel sauce. So contented! I decided to end the evening with a short stroll around St Julians Bay. The bayside was lined with restaurants, cafes and hotels and the beautiful Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church.
I stayed at the Hotel Argento in St Julians Bay. The hotel is classy and modern, the staff were very friendly and helpful and the room was comfortable and flawless.
Can’t wait to explore this beautiful place more tomorrow! Stay tuned!