Malta, We're In You: Our Travel Recap Part One
Last month we joined my parents, sister, aunt, uncle, cousin and the honorary queen in Malta for what easily became one of the best trips I’ve ever taken. My last trip to Europe was a school trip in Grade 10 where we visited Italy and I was so excited to head back and check out a different destination.
I’ll start by saying that I learned one VERY important lesson from this trip - take notes! I’ve been trying to reconstruct our timeline and remember every restaurant we ate at and every sight we saw but it was such a busy week that some of it feels like a blur (could have also been the 1.70 euro whiskeys, hard to say)! One thing’s for sure, I’ll definitely be taking a notebook with me when we hit the UK next year.
So I’ll do my best to catch every detail. Let’s get into it!
Day One - Arrival in St. Paul’s Bay
We left Toronto Thursday evening around 6:30pm and arrived in Paris the following morning. We headed to Malta after a quick layover and landed in the early afternoon. Honestly, the exact time escapes me because we were dealing with a 6 hour time difference and we had been up for the better part of 24 hours.
Upon landing, we found the shuttle company and started the trip to our apartment. We found out very quickly that for some reason, the numbers on the flats didn’t necessarily match the map or our booking information. Our driver drove up and down Triq Parti G.Calleja and we couldn’t find our building. Luckily I saw my aunt and uncle and cousin having lunch on a restaurant terrace as we drove around in circles so Dad and I decided to try to find the restaurant while our shuttle driver tried to contact the apartment management company. We stumbled across the restaurant (and our family) and we all headed back to the street and FINALLY found our flat. We headed up and unpacked.
Once we were settled in, we walked down to the harbour front and explored the area around our apartment. We found tons of restaurants and little shops (and a McDonald’s and a Pizza Hut) and decided to stop for some dinner. We stopped at a spot called Watercolours, an inconspicuous restaurant along the main road through Bugibba. They had some traditional Maltese dishes (rabbit is pretty common there) and pizza and pastas. The food and the drinks were really reasonably priced. I tried Paparelle Ragu and it was pretty tasty, but honestly we were pretty hungry from our long day of travelling so anything would have been mouthwatering.
When we finished dinner, we headed back towards our apartment and stumbled upon Marco Tanti Gelateria and grabbed a scoop of gelato. This became our nightly ritual - there were so many different flavours and it was SO SO good! Truthfully, I don’t want to live in a world where eating gelato every day is frowned upon.
We got back to our apartment and tried to stay up as long as we could to combat the jetlag and then head to bed.
Day Two - Beach Day at Melliha
Still wiped from our flights, I was glad to have a leisurely day at the beach in Melliha. We had some breakfast in the apartment and gathered our beach supplies. We took the public bus to the beach and picked our spots under the cutest beach umbrellas. We swam in the Mediterranean which was beautiful and crystal clear and grabbed a bite to eat at the beach restaurant. I had fish and chips - what can I say, the sea inspired me. The fish was perfectly cooked and the batter was crispy so it was a win.
And then, like a scene out of the worst horror movie known to man, my mom, sister, aunt and cousin and I decided we were going to go for a ride on a 5 seater tube out in the sea. THE SEA. The guy selling the tickets literally laughed at us when we approached the kiosk. I should have turned around right then and there. We all piled onto the tube and being the olympic-grade swimmer that I am (jokes), I sat on the outside. The driver pulled us along as he headed out into more open waters while my uncle manned the GoPro safely inside the boat. Before we knew it, we were off and I was hanging on with all of my might. I was FLYING into the air while simultaneously trying not to die. We survived, it was terrifying and I am scarred for life. And yes, there is a video.
We wrapped up at the beach and waited for the bus back to Bugibba. There were tons of people waiting at the bus stop and 2 of the buses on our route went by the stop without opening their doors. We decided that it was worth the extra money to try to get a taxi rather than wait around for the rest of the evening so we headed to a hotel across the street and they were able to call us a van. The driver was a bit abrupt at first but she warmed up to our raucously wild group and shared some interesting information about tourism and the Maltese economy while she drove us back.
We ended the night with dinner at a restaurant down along the bay in Bugibba called Bognor. The food was good but it was almost a 2 hour wait before it finally came out. Luckily, my sangria soaked sister was there to entertain us - I guess that’s what happens when pitchers are 6 euro and you have one all to yourself (if you’re reading this girl… PEAAAAAAACE). It definitely wasn’t my favourite meal but we had lots of laughs around the table which really set the tone for the rest of the trip - we should have guessed that it would be a wild time when 7 MacKinnons (and a Hale and a Borg) travel together.
After wrapping up dinner sometime around 10:30pm (OMG was I exhausted - I’m like a hundred), we hit the gelateria (again) and then headed back to the apartment to catch some ZZZs.
Day Three - St. Paul’s Feast in Valletta
Contrary to what one might think, the St. Paul’s Feast had nothing to do with food and everything to do with the shipwreck of Saint Paul on the shores of Malta. Tradition states that St. Paul established the first Christian community on the island, so during the Feast various religious ceremonies and celebratory festivities are held in the streets of Valletta. The statue of St. Paul is carried through the streets where banners and decorations are hung. Interestingly enough, my cousin’s grandfather was once a participant in the parade and assisted with the carrying of the statue so it was really neat to be able to see it happen right before our eyes.
Once the parade had passed, we continued on our hunt for St. John’s Cathedral, which we passed by several times as we walked around in circles, only to find out that it wasn’t open to the public as the Feast day in a national holiday.
Hot and hungry, we stopped at a restaurant in the square for some lunch before heading back to Bugibba. Some of the group went for a swim in what was fondly referred to as our watering hole (it was a kind of rocky, beachy spot down on the shore) and some of us (i.e. me) took a cat nap - the jet lag was real.
For dinner, we headed to Gillieru which was a restaurant with an amazing patio that looked out onto the harbour where we found the most stunning sunset views. I had a beef fillet with some roasted potatoes and veggies. It was cooked to a perfect medium rare and was flavourful and tender. Apparently the Maltese know their way around a cow.
One thing we had started to notice during our dinner on day three was how leisurely meals are in Malta. People usually don’t arrive at restaurants until 8 or 9 and they seem to hang around to socialize far more than we do in Canada. Servers were in no rush to bring your bill or clear your table, which really took some getting used to.
To be continued…
Stay tuned for the next installment of our Malta recap - who knew you could pack so much into 9 days.