I have to admit that I knew little of Malta when I booked this trip. I had been looking for somewhere not too far from London with a combination of good weather and good culture for a long weekend with my mum. Malta was the golden ticket, with a flight of a little under three hours from Heathrow and 30 degrees of sunshine and blue skies.
The island of Malta is just 27 km across at its widest point (there are also the two islands of Gozo and Comino and several smaller uninhabited islands). With a population of around 400,000, it is Europe’s most densely populated country.
Malta was first settled in 4,000 BC and with its location in the Mediterranean just off Sicily its history includes many different invasions bringing many different cultures and languages. The Maltese language is a fascinating blend of Arabic and Italian – and as such very difficult for foreigners to learn, I would imagine.
On our first full day, we had decided to make the excursion to the old capital of Mdina (from the Arabic for city, medina). The pool at our hotel was very tempting but we felt we owed it to Malta to at least experience some of what the rest of the island had to offer…!
We returned to our hotel and spent the rest of the afternoon by the pool. In the evening, we headed out to the Marsovin wine festival, for which I’d seen the posters the previous night. I had magical memories from such a festival on a balmy summer’s night up at Budapest Castle, and this proved to be equally special. We got a pack of 20 tokens for 15 euro and wandered through Hastings Gardens, sampling the local wines as we went from stall to stall. There was live music as we stood looking out over the harbour, watching the fireworks sent up from a village across to the left and the bright lights of a fun fair off to the right. When we left, despite drinking as much rosé as we could manage, we still had 22 tokens left, and we graciously distributed these to deserving guests on the way out.
We finished our weekend break with another few hours by the pool on Sunday morning, and then reluctantly packed our bags and headed off to the airport.
I tend to want to go to new places, and for many years now I’ve been aiming to go to two new countries every year… but my mum and I are already planning a second trip to Malta. Next time, we’ll have a good few days to explore the rest of the islands…
We stayed in the Grand Excelsior Hotel, just outside the walls of Valletta. We booked on Booking.com and chose a Deluxe Room without a sea view, which would cost more. You anyway get that view from breakfast and from the pool!
To get to Mdina from Valletta, you can take bus 51, 52 or 53 from City Gate Square (a two-minute walk up the hill from the Grand Excelsior Hotel). You pay just €1.50 for an all-day ticket.