For the past few days, Facebook has made a point to remind me of what I was doing On This Day last year. Seeing as I didn’t have a blog back then I’m going to pretend this is a sign, a sign saying: put down those lesson plans and take a trip down memory lane. As if I need to be asked twice…
Our week-long trip to Malta was a wedding gift from Hubby’s cousins (we love you!), it was ah-may-zing!
Malta is a tiny Mediterranean island with a population of approximately 400,000; the state religion is Catholicism. Our flight from Luton took three hours and local time in Malta was two hours ahead. Just a couple of days before our departure, the Paris attacks took place. Naturally, we were anxious about the journey and stay, I already harbour irrational fears about flying and this just made it worse! But it turned out to be perfect – there really was nothing to worry about.
Malta, rated as the third best country in the world to live, is one of the friendliest places I’ve ever visited. We made friends with so many locals and expats out there and it was super easy to get along with everyone. Suffice to say they had a huge influence on our eventual decision to move abroad, especially since we returned to the UK to be greeted with the usual suspicious looks. Home sweet home, eh?
The hotel we stayed in – Solana Hotel and Spa – was located in Mellieħa which is the northern (and quieter) region of the island. As it was November, the tourist season was ending so it was not too busy and the temperature hovered around 20°C. We weren’t about to complain considering three storms were wreaking havoc in England.
Our days would begin with a delicious hearty breakfast and end with a swim in the indoor pool and jacuzzi (which we had all to ourselves!)
Malta has set the bar high for all of our future trips to the beach. Qatar is surrounded by beaches too, and let’s not forget good old Blackpool but still, we hear ourselves asking: “It’s got nothing on Malta, eh?”
The water at Mellieħa Bay is insanely mesmerising, just look at it! Hubby wasn’t even a swimmer before this but I couldn’t get him out of the water!
We went jet-skiing and paddle-boating for three days in a row, and would’ve continued to do so but the weather forecasts predicted a storm so it wasn’t safe on the beach. It turned out to be a false alarm in the end and there was no rain at all during our visit.
I managed to take some action shots of Hubby on the jet ski (he’s part of the Fast and Furious crew don’t y’know), and then listened to him complain about how he wanted one ‘like this’ and ‘like that.’ Mate, have you ever tried taking a photo whilst balancing on a jet-ski? It’s hard work!
A huge list of movies were filmed in Malta, including Troy (which we just had to watch while we were there), and Popeye The Musical. The set of the latter is open for tourists to visit:
One of my favourite things about Malta was street art. Like this on the steps leading up to the World War II air-raid shelters.
Walking inside the cool air raid shelters – they are dug out in limestone – was a much needed relief from the heat outside. The corridors were tiny (about 2×2 metres) and along one side of the wall were empty rooms where families of Malta would hide out during air raids.
Here’s some behind-the-scenes-info for you: as usual, Hubby took to his camera to make a video for his ‘boys’, he was poking his head into the dim rooms and documenting it all in his David Attenborough voice. What I heard next was a little girl screaming. Except it was him. Turned out these two beauties gave him a wee fright:
We got talking to the man working at the shelters, and he told us about the history of Malta and how the island had been invaded many times by different countries, including the Islamic Empire. We talked about everything, from world politics to economics and religion. It was so refreshing to connect and learn something from our differences. He laughed as he told us how in Malta they also call God ‘Allah‘ because there is no other befitting name to encompass all His attributes. Subhan’Allah.
Right next to the air raid shelters is Our Lady’s Sanctuary. The architecture was mind-blowing but my favourite thing about it was the courtyard. I felt like I’d time travelled back in time to some part of Palestine, Greece or another ancient, biblical land. It’s no wonder filmmakers love Malta.
On our last day, we visited Saint Agatha’s Tower which is also known as the Red Fort. It was a huge trek uphill but the view from the top was so worth it! The tower was built in the 1640’s and is the last tower to be built in Malta. There is a tonne of ancient ruins in Malta which appeal to history-loving nerds like myself.
The only downside to our stay in Malta was the food (breakfast excluded). As we were in the quieter north (and because we are fussy eaters, and because we don’t really like fish), it was hard to find halal food.
One evening we travelled south to St Julian’s bay as we were told there was halal food there, but the one Indian restaurant there just didn’t appeal to us. Halal food in Malta means takeaways and Turkish kebab places; we doubted how halal the meat was considering the workers themselves didn’t know. The ideal thing to do when visiting Malta would be to rent self-catering accommodation and cook for yourself (be a true Asian and pack some dhaal).
Our time in Malta was invigorating: the greenery, the water, the winding roads, and picturesque homes seemed all the more vivid once we returned to a miserable, bleak London. But, the one thing that made it the best time of my life was the company. You know as daughters we always hear that annoying-as-hell line ‘You can go when you’re married,’ and as children, the only ‘holiday’ we go on is to Pakistan. I used to resent it a lot, but I’m thankful that I was made to wait and my first real holiday was with my husband. In its backwardness and restrictions, my culture gifted me a fantastic experience – in sha Allah the first of many more.
If I’d been allowed to go on holiday with anyone else, be it friends or family, I don’t think I would have had such a memorable time.