In all the years I’ve been with my husband Matt, we’ve never really found the right opportunity for me to meet him while he’s been away working with the Royal Navy. Often he’d be at sea or have little time off to make it worthwhile. Other times it would have been too expensive, or perhaps a place that we just didn’t really fancy spending any time in.
Back in November though, that right opportunity did turn up…and it was called Malta.
I didn’t know too much about this small Mediterranean island before my trip – I couldn’t have even pointed it out on a map without the help of my dear friend Google, but it turned out to be the perfect place for a long weekend – full of culture and history, great food, warm weather, convenient public transport, and only a 3hr plane journey from London – ideal!
Malta is a very small country – smaller than the Isle of Wight – so no matter where you stay it’s not that difficult to explore other parts of the island. The public buses were really easy to navigate, and cheap too. A one-way ticket, which takes you to any destination within a 2hr period, only costs EUR 1.50. When I first arrived I got a taxi transfer from the airport to our accommodation for EUR 25 but when I learned how easy and cheap the bus is, you can guess how I made my way back.
We decided to stay in the capital city of Valletta, which was a convenient location for when Matt had to return at times to the ship, and also away from some of the busier areas such as St Julian’s and Sliema. I loved the vibe in Valletta – streets lined with beautiful limestone buildings and Baroque architecture, people chatting away with their friends over coffee, the noise of scooters, church bells ringing, and familiar design icons such as the red telephone box – a reminder of Britain’s rule here, which ended in 1964. It’s easy to see why Valletta is a World Heritage site and has been awarded the European Capital of Culture 2018.
We rented a great 1-bed Airbnb apartment on Merchant Street with its very own shared rooftop terrace. We wanted a home away from home with lots of space and the option to cook. When I arrived in Valletta though, I soon realised I wouldn’t be doing any cooking that weekend – there were too many good-looking restaurants to try and local fare to get my mouth watering.
As we only had a short time together in Malta we didn’t do too much sight-seeing and only ventured around Valletta and the old capital of Medina, referred to as the ‘Silent City’ (and a location for some Game of Thrones filming). But Valletta alone offered enough to occupy us – we’d get up at our own leisure, go for brunch and then take a stroll around the grand harbour and gardens, stopping now and then for me to snap some photos of all the details that made me fall in love with this beautiful fortress city. Our afternoons were spent relaxing on our rooftop terrace before heading out for dinner and drinks in the evening.
I’ve seen that there’s a lot more to explore in Malta such as ancient temples and the islands of Gozo and Comino, so it’s definitely somewhere I could see myself returning to.
When the time came, I was sad not only to leave my man in Malta, but also Malta itself. Malta gave me the opportunity to create wonderful memories with my husband, in a year where he was away so much we often felt like passing ships in the night, and for that, it will always have a special place in my heart.
Where we ate
Another reason for loving Malta is the food – their eclectic Mediterranean flavours were right up my street. I’m getting hungry now just thinking about all the places we tried:
Piadina Caffé, Valletta – here you can grab a tasty Piadina (home-made toasted Italian flatbread with filling) while you sit outside and watch the world go by. Really good value for money.
Legligin, St Lucia’s Street, Valletta – I was sold on this place as soon as I found out it did a tasting menu. Grab a table (booking advisable as it gets busy) and just wait for the local Maltese food to keep coming…and coming.
Papannis, Valletta – Very nice Italian, and friendly staff. Good to have the option of a table inside our out.
Fontanella Tea Garden, Medina – we stopped here for coffee and cake…and it appeared everyone else did too.
The Medina Restaurant, Medina – we had an early table for dinner so had the place to ourselves for a good half hour. The open dining courtyard provided a nice ambience and the food was lovely too.