Some of you already know, but at least the ones who closely follow my Instagram updates, I spent the last seven months in Malta. Certainly, I was not there for work only, but also to travel the island, getting to know people, culture and the island’s hidden places. One thing being said ahead, mixing southern Italian street life with Arab charm and an English sense for a good beer – that place is a true party ground.
Let’s start with its centre and capital: Valletta. I was impressed from the first day; not at least because of arriving right for the opening ceremony for the European Capital of Culture 2018 . I started my endeavour in Valetta’s narrow alleys, which guide you through the undulating island shore, decorated with bright and colourful lights and pompous statues mixing those very different cultural ingredients to its glance. However, my first impression of decorating the island’s capital for the ceremony exclusively quickly adapted to the truth of Malta: almost every other day another opportunity for a city make-over and preparing for party. If you are into such kind of kitsch make sure not to miss out on the ‘Karnival Ta’Malta’ – an fun event with an overdose knick-knack – designs as bizarre and excessive hard to phrase – but to be fair, those costume designers are very talented and creative and they put great effort in their work and performances. Experience it yourself…
I hardly started my stay and I already stumbled over those two events. However, I don’t want you to set a wrong scene – there is guaranteed a lot more than party and shallowness. Searching for an escape from the busy streets and noise, a very special place is the Upper Barrakka Garden. Perhaps my favourite place when searching for silence – at least in the early morning hours. A beautiful garden with a variety of flowers, plants and a small fountain in its centre extracting the best of English, Italian and Arabic architecture and style. Those arcades appear like windows to the sea. The closer you get an amazing view opens to the three cities on the other side. Don’t miss that.
From Upper Barrakka Garden you can catch a glimpse at the Saluting Battery, just below the Garden. Every day around 12 pm the Saluting Battery comes back to life – means, a single cannon shot fired. A great spectacle… but silence is gone then.
Perhaps its enough of chilling. Getting hungry? For food make sure you visit Is-Suq tal-Belt – a fancy indoor food market with food stalls offering dishes from all over the world. I was a big fan of the calamari you can get there. A bit pricy, but fish is in Malta generally a bit expensive. Quite surprising actually. On the ground floor of the market there is a delicatessen food market, in case you’re looking for something really special.
If you’re not into indoor markets then stop by at San Paolo Naufrago a lovely street cafe to have a drink and chill for a while. For really good food in a more elegant atmosphere, and just a few steps from San Paolo Naufrago Bar, is the IN.Fame restaurant.
Satisfied from the fine food you may still have the Upper Barrakka Garden’s view in mind – and what’s behind: the Three Cities. Exploration is a must! Just take the Valetta 3 Cities Ferry, which takes you in less than 10 minutes to the other side. The Three Cities are named Cospicua (Bormla), Senglea (L-Isla) and Vittoriosa (Il-Birgu). Since I’ve been in Malta for seven months of course I visited all of them, but when limited in time, make sure you visit Vittoriosa at least. It’s the centre one where the ferry stops. The harbour, as you will see when you arrive by the ferry, is stuffed with fancy sailing boats and restaurants. Coming closer, those restaurants are not too fancy from the menu, but they are not that rushed by tourists at least. However, my real favourite comes when crossing the bridge – Senglea. It’s charming authentic with a beautiful architecture and narrow alley city formation. Walking upwards can be tiresome but worth it: from the Gardjola watch tower and garden you have a stunning view back to Valletta over the sea. Bring a bottle of wine and some appetizers and stay for longer… and you will start to get hungry for the other side again once the sun gets lower.
Sun sets and you are looking for a night out in Valletta!? Clearly there are plenty of places where to go. Perhaps, the city is not the real party hot spot of Malta, but if you prefer good food and a nice drink in an authentic, fine and elegant surrounding, you will love it. I certainly did.
Cheers with sunbeams.