One Week in Malta

Curious about my week staying at a Maltese tiny house practically on Valetta’s doorstep? Well, come see! But do exercise some caution, the floor is wet.

The Norwegian part of our Airbnb host couple, Marit, greeted us at the house on Sunday evening. My friend Matthias from Munich and I arrived around 8:45 pm – too late to go shopping, but to our great shock also too late for most restaurants! We found a single Tapas Bar in a central food court that was still serving food. The city was so quiet, it felt almost dead to me. Nevertheless, it looked cute in the dark.

This way, we had time to check out the tiny house!

The upstairs and the downstairs:

The downstairs from the upstairs:

Probably the smallest winding staircase of the world:

Leading to the surprisingly non-tiny bath “temple”:

Instant love.

Monday, the first real holiday, had to be a lazy/sleeping in/reading morning, followed by a Valetta photo walk. The smallest national capital in the EU by area successfully surprised me. Look at this insanely pretty place!

Not a bad outlook, eh? This bench confused me, though:

That day we also sampled some of Malta’s goodies: wine, craft beer, and carob liquor (“Johannisbrotbaum” in German). The red wine was a miss, the white somewhat better, and the craft beer was good – but turned out to be Italian. However, the carob liquor was something! 

Tuesday brought us to the “occasion” for this little trip: Turns out, Matthias was actually working the whole time! He was doing “research” and “scouting the location”. For real: His function as an EU Coordinator at a vocational college for dentist’s assistants involves finding dentists *somewhere* in the EU, who will take on German interns. So we headed over to Marsaxlokk to go to the dentist.

See how hard he’s working?

We also checked out the colorful little fishing boats the place is famous for.

And we hiked to a beautiful bay just north of St Paul’s Pool. You know, research and scouting.

I let the alpine rescue service take the lead.

Tuesday was also the day we tried pastizzi! Now that’s a Maltese specialty I can get behind. These little pastries are made from filo dough filled with ricotta or mushed peas. They are quite greasy, so don’t put them in your bag. And be careful: When they’re fresh they are like lava.

When I checked the weather from Germany, Wednesday seemed like the worst day of the week and for once, the weather report was right.
We fled from the rain first into the stock exchange…

…then into the Grandmaster’s Palace. We had to cross a little lake to get in, because there was an ankle-deep puddle on the sidewalk.

We also visited the very impressive armory.

These plates aren’t made for fighting, they’re just waaaay too beautiful. Parading maybe.

Also check out these pink ribbons the knightly style icons wore:

When I got back to the apartment, I still had water in my shoes.

In the evening we went out in nearby Sliema with a friendly couchsurfer called Nate, who had replied to my public trip. He took us to two cute little pubs.

And then we went to a place that fully satisfied all the Maltese food needs, I never knew I had: Ta’kris.

We all shared a fantastic Maltese platter. I had the ravioli, Matthias the traditional rabbit in red wine sauce and Nate chose the braised beef. We also had a beautiful red wine from Fenici to go with it all. By the time we were offered dessert, we were all too full to accept.

Thursday was rainy again.  Oh well. It’s just water. Just keep swimming.

Also: Behold this teeny-tiny gas station! If that sort of thing doesn’t warrant a little chuckle, I don’t know what does.

The kitties didn’t mind the weather, either. D’awww 🙂

But we were still hoping to take a boat over to Vittoriosa… and actually got lucky!

We could even have lunch outside at Cafe Brazil. I had fresh pasta and my lovely travel companion chose a local ftira sandwich. Dessert was warm date cake slices called imquaret with ice cream. You see why I like Malta.

Also, it’s pretty. I need pretty. Vittoriosa is hella pretty in the twilight!

We also checked out the military history at the Malta at War Museum with its air raid shelters.

There was also this (Russian) research submarine in the harbor.

Here is my so far favorite Maltese church (and they have maaaany). I just love the way this church lights up at night.

When we got back to Valetta, we found that a modern art museum was still open! And it was past 5! And it was free! And open! And political!

On Friday we finally decided to go to the smaller island of Gozo. It’s a prime diving spot, but we weren’t going to go underwater. Instead, we faced some more rain on the way to the Victoria citadel! Much nicer.

As Matthias pointed out, in this weather we wouldn’t have seen anything in the ocean anyway.

There is a funny church in the citadel. This is the roof from the inside:

This is the roof from the outside:

No dome. They ran out of money building it, so they decided to paint an optical illusion on the ceiling. Also, great rooftop garden!

Uhm, what is this then, Mars? Actually, this is underground, too. The citadel has the most interesting grain storage I have ever seen. I never thought I would write a sentence like that, but here it is.

Saturday was probably my favorite day. The sun was back and we went to Mdina and Rabat, which served as a filming location for Game of Thrones. Apparently Littlefinger’s brothel was fictionally located somewhere around here.

At this lovely cafe in Mesquita Square, we had one of the nicest meals of the entire week! I ordered a vegetarian Maltese platter and the waiter made fun of me the whole time (they’re really not big on meatless meals here, I can tell you). The Bigilla bean paste was absolutely delicious, though.

Big lunch, tiny table. For our entertainment, a GOT tour came through just as we sat down to eat! The guide wore the appropriate merch and was pointing out exactly where Jaime Lannister stood and what happened where with a folder of film stills for demonstration. Maltese platter: 9 €. Octopus Salad 11 €. A horde of fanatic tourists: Priceless.

Haven’t had enough of the underground experience yet? Well there is more! While you have to book the most famous Maltese catacombs, the Hypogeum of Ħal-Saflieni, way in advance, we didn’t do that. We enjoyed St. Paul’s catacombs instead.

We had our last Maltese dinner in front of the national library and were rewarded with yet another great and mysterious spectacle in this smallest and quaintest capital of Europe.

A motorcade arrived with a middle-aged blonde woman. She got out of the car, was photographed by paparazz and vanished into a building for 20 minutes. We spent that time fervently googling the flag on the car, but couldn’t find it. It was a strange constellation of dark blue, stars and something in the middle, that just didn’t really match any country I knew. So after she came back out and rode off, we gave up. The solution came to me the next morning, as I looked for media coverage of Malta’s politicians. And I recognized President Marie-Louise Coleiro Preca! It had been the presidential standard on the car, so I couldn’t have recognized it.

Sunday’s breakfast was followed by saying goodbye. I accompanied Matthias to the bus station, because he had to take an earlier flight to Munich.

I had a few more hours, so I went for a run (in the now glaring sun), packed and tidied up the apartment, before I enjoyed one last glass of Maltese Chardonnay (in the still glaring sun) and hopped on the bus myself.

Really, sunshine? Really?!!? (Behind me is one of those huge ass cruise ships that are a menace to every port they visit)

Here’s a little “Humans of Malta” interlude for you:
“At 19 I emigrated to Australia for five years, because there were just no jobs in Malta. But I decided to come back. For a while I regretted it. I left a job in a good economy and I thought, what have I done? But then I met my wife. We had three children together, the oldest one is 42 now. They all live on Gozo. I started a business making blinds, but now I am retired. I loves planes, so I took the ferry from today, to spend this Sunday at the airport.” (Valetta, Malta).

I met Charlie on the bus and he told me about himself. When the bus reached the terminal, I shook his hand and said goodbye.

After I checked in, I sat down right next to the open piano where a string of surprisingly young and very talented musicians wowed the room with their music. I may have shed a few tears here, because music has a way to unravel me. And then I boarded the plane to Frankfurt. Where it was only 12 degrees, but no rain. Not bad for a German November night…

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