22:00 Sun.
4 Oct, 2020

An end of an era.

12:00 am
12:00 am

Year 2018 was full of trips, even so, there weren’t any that could count as “traditional Slovenian” “lets go to the seaside” holidays. Canary islands could have counted under this, but we since it was quite cool back then we only swam once. So by the end of October, Veronika and I started to look for options where could we go, to have a little piece of a summer break in November. We were not disappointed with what we found, Malta, another country to get checked off the list, since it was post tourist season it was very cheap to get the plane ticket and also to rent an apartment there. So no more than a week after the booking, we boarded the plane and were off, to what later turned out to be our last holiday together.

Despite being the first week of November, we were greeted with Christmas tree and all decorations that go with it at the Maltese airport upon arrival. Festival  atmosphere soon faded as we tried to find the bus to the small town where our apartment was.  Despite being ensured that Malta is so small, its like bigger city, that you can go with public transport everywhere you want on the island, it later turned out to be quite a big cause of pain and distress. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a public transport so poorly operated as here. While the bus network actually covered the whole island, the timetables were more of a suggestion rather than actual timetable. More than once, we waited well over an hour for a bus (line) that took in total 30 minutes. How they managed to do this still confuses me. To top it off, for some reason Google Maps do/did not work on the island. What is weird is that they worked when I checked them from Slovenia, but while being on Malta, they suddenly stopped working. Some weird region locks for reasons beyond me.  Anyway, after boarding the wrong bus and getting in the city of Valletta instead the small town nearby the airport and spending 3 hours for a 10km ride (that’s how much it’s from the airport to our apartment), we finally made it to a small town of Il-Brolli.

Our apartment was in the Pretty Bay (bottom right).

As we reached our accommodation the bad mood was soon forgotten. The apartment building was operated privately, as we arrived the key was waiting us in a special locker box with a pin number (similar to bike lock) and when we were done with our holiday we returned the key there, meaning we haven’t even seen the owner. The building was located just at the edge of the beach, with a nice view over the Pretty Bay. We were staying at top floor, and had a small terrace with an amazing view. The place was really amazing and must be quite pricey during the peak tourists season, but as we were there in November, it was almost next to nothing.

The next day came a time when we had to test our hypothesis that it’s possible to swim in November at Malta. The weather over the week was pretty good in general. We had quite a few strong Storms, but they came and went very quickly leaving clear skies afterwards. The temperatures during the day were just right, not too hot, just warm enough for shorts and t-shirt, while during the evening / night it cooled enough for a long sleeves. Anyway the weather looked (almost) perfect for a swim, depending on which direction you were looking, so there was no excuse to take the plunge. The water was surprisingly warm for the time of the year, it must have had 20-22C, so enough for swimming.

The island is tiny, if you would have a car, everything would be 15min away, as we were stuck with buses, we usually made one trip to the old city – Valletta, which is capital of the island, if I remember correctly. The city or rather conglomerate of cities is rather large, so there was plenty to explore. Despite being out of the main tourist season, the place was still crowded with tourists. We tended to avoid main touristy (paid) attractions and rather explored the city on foot. There are quite a few enormous old buildings and palaces all over the city. I was very impressed with the city walls as well, at some places they must have been more than 10 floors tall.  The old city streets were narrow and steep, it must be a nightmare driving a car there, while the shoreline was full of enormous yachts.

The island is actually full of antique ruins, attractions and vistas. However, we didn’t feel like visiting much of them. One of the “problems” of the holidays we took in the last years was that we were always running around, trying to see as much as possible, the result was that we came back home even more tired instead of rested. This holidays our primary goal was to relax and rest, so we spent most of our days reading a book, lying on a beach and taking short walks in through the nearby towns and Valletta. One day we made an exception and went to the neighbouring island Gozo, which is (was) famous for “Azuer window” that collapsed couple of years ago. The island is about 40 km from our location, so needless to say, it took us over 6 hours to get there, no kidding, we actually had to get up early, so we caught the first bus at 7AM, well we arrived at the blue lagune no sooner than 1 PM.  Blue Lagoon is located on an even smaller island between the Malta and Goza and is famous, as you can imagine, by its turquoise blue water.  We spent a couple of hours there, swimming and drinking some tropical drinks from an actual pineapple. After no more than couple of hours we decided to catch a cab, to actually make it to the window before the dark. We just made it and despite the azure window collapsing a couple of years ago we were still impressed by great vistas, nice sunset and gorgeous cliffs. We took a couple of photos there and then slowly, returned, we arrived sometime between 10 or 11pm. So in total, we spent about 12h travelling and did roughly 120 km. I’m not kidding, I can do 120 km in less than 5h on a bike.

I’m not sure, why in every country I visit they have some pastry, that is supposed to be their traditional thing, yet I’ve eating exactly the same thing in 3 different countries. Anyway the Malta was not different, although we didn’t eat out much, since we had an amazing BBQ at our apartment and made most of our food there. As one would guess, seafood is popular at Malta, and we often went to a local fish market in a nearby town to pick up fresh fish for lunch / dinner that day.

What else is there to say about Malta? Well it’s a really nice place to visit, they have a lot of historical sights to visit, if you’re into that, some really nice beaches and tourist attractions. While the public transport is a mess, it is worth noting that they drive on the wrong side of the road, so it might not be the best idea to rent a car either. While visiting the island we had lots of fun exploring the old city of Valletta. For some reason the city was full of funny statues, not sure if it was just a temporary exhibition or something or if it’s always like that and despite being November, you could already see them ramping up for December and Christmas.

All in all we had a great time visiting Malta, from what we experienced I would actually recommend going either in late spring or early autumn in order to catch much lower prices. Most of the  activities are still possible even off the main season.

An end of an era, 10 years have gone so fast, yet in the end I wouldn’t change a thing.