This time, the group was bigger, the expectations high, and this break essential. Some say Malta is dull, lacking identity and taste. Well, Malta sneaked into my heart, and I fell quickly, deeply, insanely in love with it. After all, it’s about what you want to see in the world, that defines what you will experience. As the Maltese say,
Gawdi ghax mid-dinja m’ghandna xejn. – Have fun because we have nothing from this world.
I’m gonna try and take you on ride with us, on this small, yet so dense 3-day trip. Press that “play” button below, sit back and experience Malta from our point of view.
For this trip, we joined from Greece and Belgium. We (Ioanna, Petros, Panos) arrived on the 28th of February from Belgium, while the rest (Sotiris, Andreas, Dimitris, Giorgos) arrived on the 1st of March from Greece. The first day was of course dedicated to Valetta and it just so happened to be the carnival weekend. Coming from Patras in Greece (famous for its carnival all around the Balkans), we did not expect to see something similar to ours. Little did we know, that the whole city of Valetta was shaking in the vibes of the music, the carnival whistles were blowing non stop and all of the people were dressed up as anything you can’t even begin to imagine.
We enjoyed the crazy, formidable getaway offered to us as if we were locals, took some photos, and headed towards our path to explore the city. We would wander aimlessly around every tiny street, and keep our heads up for those famous Maltese balconies. A thing that you rarely see in any other country, at least in such abundance. Painted in different colors, they would jump out of every little sandstone built house, marking their existence through the dusty walls of a city conquered over and over again for hundreds of years. We took a small time off and enjoyed some local dishes, especially seafood, as well as some local white wine. Malta exports only 3% of its local wine production, so try to taste it while you are there!
Golden stone buildings, ornate churches, narrow streets, colorful balconies and sparkling seas – Malta’s capital might be tiny but it’s full of charm and possibly one of the most beautiful capitals of Europe. For one of Valletta’s best views, we headed to the Barrakka Gardens. There are two of them – the Upper and Lower gardens – but both lie along the east side of the peninsula and both come with a panoramic view out over the harbor. The Upper Barrakka Gardens were built in 1661 as an exercise ground for the Knights of the langue of Italy. If you head to the Upper Barrakka Gardens at 12pm or 4pm, you can catch the cannon firing from the Saluting Battery, just underneath the gardens. Originally the cannons were fired to welcome ships into the harbor, but now it is a local show.
Our Sunday started with an early morning trip to Marsaxlokk. A fishing village which is the largest fishing harbor of Malta. It has been so since antiquity and today the greater part of fish sold on the islands are caught by fishermen coming from this village. Traditional luzzu’s and larger fishing vessels line the sheltered harbor in a colorful display that has been the subject of countless photo shoots.
We took a walk along the Marsaxlokk harbour, observing the local fishermen busy mending their fishing nets in the street and fleets of colorful traditional Maltese boats (luzzus) still in use to this day. We were lucky enough to bump on Sunday’s fish market and managed to walk by all of the counters of the locals, selling all kinds of fish. The sea air suddenly brought on our appetite and it was finally time to taste the traditional and Malta’s national snack, the pastizzi. Flaky pastry which encloses different fillings, the most common being peas, and ricotta cheese. This little miracle gave us the energy boost we needed in order to proceed with our really long day.
Mdina is the former capital city of Malta, before Valletta existed, in Medieval times. It actually looks like Mdina has been stuck in a time warp ever since. It’s a tiny place that is completely closed in with high city walls, which is how it earned its nickname of ‘the silent city.’ It’s hard to imagine this is an actual place where people live and not a film set. Oh wait, it is a film set, as Game Of Thrones has used more than 5 locations in Mdina to shoot scenes.
Mdina is a truly fascinating, enchanting city with limestone buildings, colourful doors, a strong religious community and lots of hidden stories lurking in the winding streets.
We spent almost a whole day roaming around Mdina, getting lost a couple of times, and taking numerous, countless pictures. From Game of Thrones old sets, to colorful windows, to horse carriages we loved each and every aspect of the silent city. The last conquerors of Malta, the English, have left their mark all over the country, but even in Mdina one can find the red phone booths and mail boxes.
Before leaving we took a look at the views over Malta from the top of Mdina’s city walls. It’s one of the best views in the country and, since Malta is so small, you can see straight out to Valletta and beyond. We could talk about Mdina all day long, or just post what our lenses recorded and let you have a bite of the city’s vibes. Truly, a city worth getting lost in.
We could not let our Sunday’s sunset go to waste, and there was only one place that would make it even more majestic. Dingli cliffs are located off the village of Dingli, on Malta’s Western coast. They stage the highest point of the Maltese Islands at around 253 metres above sea-level.
The cliffs propose a majestic sight, the views are breathtaking, overlooking the small terraced fields below, the open sea, and Filfla, the small uninhabited island just across. The cliffs can be seen as natural forts, since no attacker can approach the island from the West given their impressive height.
The cliffs were pretty hard to find since our GPS was having a stroke. We ended up on some rural roads on private properties, it suddenly started raining and we were afraid that the roads would turn to mud we would get stuck there. Taking our chances, we proceeded, finally found the place, and the result was truly rewarding.
We enjoyed the last hour of daylight there, relaxing and walking around the cliffs, talking and reflecting the day. There’s something about the sunsets that makes us feel that sweet melancholic joy of perfect day ending. There is a sunrise and a sunset every single day, they’re absolutely free and yet we miss so many of them. This time we made it count.
On those cliffs, that Sunday evening. With our cameras. Trying to capture something that no piece of technology can. And that’s because there’s so much more than meets the eye in those close group escapes. Someone, whom I can’t even recall, said at that moment, “why are we even trying to capture this thing”. I am a firm believer of the saying that the best journeys you will ever have, will be those that cannot fit in a digital frame, but your only frame of mind. You interpret the world in your own unique way, through your own soul’s eyes. And I knew, that at the exact moment, on the exact same spot, looking at the same flaming sun being swallowed by the ocean, seven different people were dreaming seven different dreams, wishing seven different wishes. And that, I take as seven plans for our next adventure.
Thank you for another departure into unknown lands.