A Travellerspoint blog

Malta.

We spent a summer working here in 1995.

sunny

Fishing nets, Malta. - Malta

Fishing nets, Malta. - Malta

A bit of Geography.

The Maltese archipelago lies in the centre of the Mediterranean Sea. The islands are 93 km south of Sicily, their closest neighbour, and 288 km north of Africa. The archipelago is made up of three islands: Malta, Gozo and Comino. Jointly these have a population of over 400,000. These three islands occupy an area of 316 square kilometres. Malta, the island we were based on, is the largest and the most touristy of the three. Gozo is the second largest island. It is greener and more rural than Malta. Many people here earn their living from farming or fishing. It is a beautiful island and well worth visiting. Comino is the smallest of the three islands. It is a good place to come swimming. It has one hotel, but is otherwise largely
uninhabited. Malta has hot summers, warm springs and autumns and mild winters.

Sliema, Malta - Malta

Sliema, Malta - Malta

A bit of History.

The Maltese Islands have had a long and colourful history. They have been occupied by many different cultures. Some of the earliest were the Phoenicians, the Carthaginians, the Romans and the Byzantines. In 60 AD Saint Paul was shipwrecked here. He is believed to have introduced Christianity to the islands. Later in 870 AD the Maltese Islands were conquered by Arab invaders. The Arab legacy can still be seen in some Maltese place names such as Rabat or Mdina and in the Maltese language ­- Malti. For a long period of its history Malta was under the control of nearby Sicily. Then in 1530 The Holy Roman Emperor Charles V bequeathed Malta to the Order of the Knights of St. John of Jerusalem. These knights had been based in Jerusalem but were driven out during the crusades. The knights ruled over Malta from 1530 to 1798. During their rule, many palaces, forts, cathedrals and churches were built. Another legacy of the knights is Malta's famous eight pointed cross. In 1798, Napoleon Bonaparte seized Malta from the Knights. Two years later the British seized control from Napoleon. British rule lasted until 1964 when Malta became independent. There are many legacies of British rule: English language, driving on the left, red post boxes, beer sold in pints and half pints.

During World War I Malta was used as a supply station and place of recovery for injured soldiers earning it the nickname, the nurse of the Mediterranean. In World War II the bravery of the people of Malta resulted in them receiving the George Cross for Valour from King George V. In 1974 Malta became a Republic. It became a member of the European Union in 2004.

Sunbathing on the rocks, Sliema. - Malta

Sunbathing on the rocks, Sliema. - Malta

Our experience of the Maltese Islands.

We spent six weeks here. I know it is short, but we worked in a summer school; found our own accommodation; cooked our own food most of the time and that to me is living in a place rather than just visiting, despite the brevity of the time. Our experience of Malta was mixed. We liked it as a place, but the job was a bit of a disaster. We had been misled about the salary. It was a lot less than expected. We were also misled about the price of accommodation. It was a lot more than expected. After working here for six weeks, when we counted up everything ­ flight, accommodation, living expenses against salary ­ we were down 500 pounds between us. We decided to just think of it as a six week holiday where we had done a bit of work along with the sightseeing. During our stay we managed to see most of the places we wanted to see on Malta, plus we visited nearby Gozo and Comino. I thought Gozo was quite stunning. I loved the fact that it had lots of greenery, whereas Malta was drier and more brown: brown rocks, brown buildings. Malta's colour came from blue skies, blue seas and beautiful painted wooden boats. One of the things I liked about working here was that although there is a Maltese language, the Maltese teachers at our school often spoke to each other in English enabling us to understand all the gossip and goings on in the staff room and that was quite good fun! Our favourite places while we stayed here were Valletta, Mdina and Gozo. These places are rich in history. There were also great places to swim either from a beach or off the rocks.

St Julian's And Saint George's.

We lived in St Julian's and worked in nearby St George's. St Julian's is a very touristic area situated on the coast. Our school was not too far from St George's Bay where we liked to swim off the sandy beach until my poor husband got badly stung by a jelly fish. Ouch! These can be a problem in Malta. St Julian's has lots of hotels and restaurants. It is pretty, but busy and noisy. Lots of language schools are based here, so many entertainment areas were cram packed with teenage students from Italy or France. If you are on holiday and party till late and get up late, you will have a very different experience from us. We started work early, but it was noisy at night, so getting to sleep was not easy. On our way to work we waded through the rubbish left by the late night revellers. On our way home from work that had all been cleared away. I felt some locals were a bit sick of tourists and I could not really blame them. At first we found locals a bit unfriendly, but after a while when we kept going to the same shop and same bar, they decided we lived there and became really pleasant.

St Julian's And Saint George's

St Julian's And Saint George's

St Julian's And Saint George's

St Julian's And Saint George's

St Julian's And Saint George's

St Julian's And Saint George's

Valletta.

Valletta is the capital of Malta. We went here many times during our stay as we really liked it. It is easy to get around Malta by public bus though they are busy in the summer. Valletta is named after its founder, Jean Parisot de la Valette. He was a Grand Master of the Order of St. John. Valletta is a historical place located on Mount Sceberras Peninsula which juts out into the sea. At the end of the peninsula lies St Elmo's Fort. On one side of the peninsula is Marsamxett Harbour and on the other the Grand Harbour. The City of Valletta was founded in 1566. Its forts, bastions and cathedrals were completed within an amazingly short fifteen years. I loved Valletta's tall houses with their colourful balconies. There is a cathedral here, a fort, many churches, interesting squares and some lovely statue and fountain filled gardens. In the heat of summer, it was easy to find a shady place to sit and watch the world pass by here. Valletta was one of our favourite places to visit.

Valletta

Valletta

Valletta

Valletta

Valletta

Valletta

Valletta

Valletta

Valletta

Valletta

Mdina And Rabat.

Mdina, also known as the Silent City, dates back more than 4000 years. At one time it was the capital of Malta. It is believed that the Apostle St. Paul lived here around 60 AD after being shipwrecked on the island. Mdina is a walled city. We entered it via its main gate. Mdina has a fine cathedral and narrow streets. It has several palaces and was the one time home of many Maltese noble families. It is beautifully lit up by lamps in the evenings. Mdina is right next to the town of Rabat home to the lovely Church of Saint Paul. Mdina was built far from the sea and on one of Malta's highest points for defensive reasons. Mdina has almost no cars which makes it a pleasure to walk around. If you are interested in history and beautiful buildings, you should definitely visit here.

Mdina And Rabat.

Mdina And Rabat.

Mdina And Rabat.

Mdina And Rabat.

Mdina And Rabat.

Mdina And Rabat.

Mdina And Rabat.

Mdina And Rabat.

Golden Bay.

Most places to swim on Malta involve swimming off the rocks which is great if you are not fond of sand, but there are also several beaches. Golden Bay is one of these ­- a beautiful sandy beach next to the clear blue sea.

Golden Bay

Golden Bay

Marsaxlokk.

Marsaxlokk is a village in the south east of Malta. It has always traditionally been a fishing village and has many colourful boats. It is also known for the Marsaxlokk Market which is held every Sunday. There are also tourist markets here on week days.

Marsaxlokk

Marsaxlokk

Comino.

Comino is a small island located between Malta and Gozo. It is only about 3.5 square kilometers. We went here for the day to swim and were foolish enough to bring no water with us. As the island is practically uninhabited, there was nowhere to buy any. Just as we were beginning to feel we would die of dehydration, into the beautiful clear blue bay came an ice-­cream boat. I feel it saved our lives. This is a lovely place to come for a peaceful day spent swimming or snorkeling. Bring lots of water with you, though. We also went for a walk round the island. It was quite dry and barren though it used to have lots of wild animals and be used as hunting grounds in the past.

Comino

Comino

Comino

Comino

Comino

Comino

Comino

Comino

Comino

Comino

Gozo ­Mgarr.

Gozo is a beautiful island and I strongly recommend a visit here. It is quieter, more peaceful and greener than Malta. You can get to Gozo by ferry from Cirkewwa on the north­west coast of Malta. That will take you to the port of Mgarr on Gozo. Mgarr is a lovely port with beautiful churches and a fine harbour. The beautiful Church of Our Lady of Lourdes and a second lovely church, the name of which I do not know, stand high up on Mgarr's hillside dominating its skyline. Mgarr's harbour is filled with colourful wooden boats. It is a very picturesque place. Gozo according to legend was home to the nymph Calypso in Homer's Odyssey. Calypso used her magical powers to keep Odysseus captive here for many years after she fell in love with him.

Gozo -Mgarr

Gozo -Mgarr

Gozo -Mgarr

Gozo -Mgarr

Gozo -Mgarr

Gozo -Mgarr

Xlendi ­ Gozo.

Xlendi is a village in south west Gozo. It is a beautiful place to swim. We sat on a rocky ledge with cliffs behind us and leapt into the clear blue seas. It was heavenly. I would rate here as one of the most beautiful places I have ever swum in my life.

Xlendi - Gozo

Xlendi - Gozo

Xlendi - Gozo

Xlendi - Gozo

Xlendi - Gozo

Xlendi - Gozo

Xlendi - Gozo

Xlendi - Gozo

Gozo ­ Victoria.

Victoria is the capital of Gozo. It is also called Rabat. In the centre of Victoria, on top of its highest hill stands the Citadel. This is visible from almost anywhere on Gozo. The Citadel was strongly fortified. It was built as a place of safety from the attacks of the Barbary corsairs and Saracens. These raiders made frequent attacks on Gozo and kidnapped the local people then sold them as slaves. Until 1637 the inhabitants of Gozo were required by law to spend their nights within the Citadel for their own safety. After that date, life grew more peaceful and people began to live below the citadel walls forming the city of Victoria. During our visit Victoria was all decorated for an approaching religious fiesta.

Gozo - Victoria

Gozo - Victoria

Gozo - Victoria

Gozo - Victoria

Gozo - Victoria

Gozo - Victoria

Gozo - Victoria

Gozo - Victoria

Gozo - Victoria

Gozo - Victoria

Mushy Pea Pastry.

It may not sound appetizing but a mushy pea pastry or a pastizz is an absolutely delicious Maltese snack. Actually there are two kinds of Pastizzi. Some are filled with ricotta cheese ­ these are very good; and some are filled with mushy peas,­ these are totally delicious. Ricotta filled pastries are known as pastizzi tal­irkotta, or cheesecakes. Pea filled pastries are known as pastizzi tal­ pizelli or peacakes. We practically lived on these delicacies when we were in Malta.

Mushy Pea Pastry.

Mushy Pea Pastry.

Stray Cats.

We discovered this little area devoted to housing stray cats while walking from St Julian's to Sliema. Everywhere I go I always end up befriending a stray cat or two as I really, really love cats. They are my favourite animals.

Stray Cats

Stray Cats

Stray Cats

Stray Cats

Beware of the sun.

We tried a bit of walking in Malta, too, but it was really too hot in summer. I would like to revisit out of the summer season maybe in spring and then exploring would be easier. In summer ensure you have plenty of high factor sun screen on and drink lots of water.

Beware Of The Sun

Beware Of The Sun

Posted by irenevt 06:57 Archived in Malta

Email this entryFacebookStumbleUpon

Table of contents

Comments

I liked Malta a lot! I have been there three times.

Ciao!

by Maurizioagos

Hi Maurizio, Malta was a good place to visit, not so great to work in though.

by irenevt

This blog requires you to be a logged in member of Travellerspoint to place comments.

Login