Malta is a Southern European country consisting of an archipelago (series of islands) situated in the centre of the Mediterranean, 50 miles south of Sicily, 175 miles east of North Africa. Malta is also one of the world's smallest states and is also one of the most densely populated countries worldwide.
The day after we landed, we were in Victoria, Gozo for the "Feast" a colorful religious and decorative festival of horse racing (through the streets), marching band, church mass, and then drinking, celebrating and massive fireworks.
Malta is ancient, but impeccably preserved. There is so much charm, character and texture in the design of the doors, windows, and streets. It's a feast for the eyes.
Throughout history, Malta's location has given it great strategic importance, and a succession of powers including the Phoenicians, Greeks, Romans, Arabs, Normans, Spaniards, Knights of St John, French and the British ruled the islands. The country has been defending its conquerors for centuries. Malta gained independence from the United Kingdom in 1964 and became a republic in 1974, however the churches and cathedrals have maintained their original influences from each of their respective rulers for hundreds of years.
The food in Malta is incredibly good - insanely good, in fact, it goes toe-to-toe with the best Italian food. The food is fresh - so fresh, in fact, that your fish is sometimes only 2 hours from hook to table. I was smitten by the charm of the bars and restaurants. Our favorite lunchtime snack was the pastizzi - a sublime flaky filo dough crust with herbed/seasoned mashed peas in the center. Mmmmmnnnhh. The bakeries are run by 4th and 5th generation families and the stoves are nearly as old! And the coffee? Don't get me started - creamy and delicious!!! Our night time treat with the Maltese beer, Cisk. So crisp and refreshing! My father in law, Avram picked fresh prickly pears right off the cactus.
Malta is internationally renowned as a tourist destination, with unlimited swimming and snorkeling options in caves and blue grottos around the island. We did our share of swimming in the crystal-clear, aqua-blue, pristine Mediterranean Sea.
While the country has a raw chiseled terrain, it more than makes up for it in the hand-painted colors of the fishing boats and garden flowers.
We were so fortunate to have our friends from NYC to help us plan the trip - and it was double bonus that we were in Malta together during a part of the trip. I have to give a shout out to Ed and Rita and Rita's parents Joe and Maria. Joe gets the super mvp of the trip by magically appearing during important moments to escort us to key locations during our trip - thank you Joe!
The trip wouldn't be possible without the generosity, support and love from Gal's parents Rita and Avram. Avram gets MHP of the vacation - most hilarious. He was truly in a class by himself and probably enjoyed the trip more than all of us. Thank you, thank you, thank you!
Finally, I'd like to close the trip with my personal "visual" favorite... Popeye village. Popeye Village, also known as Sweethaven Village, is a group of rustic and ramshackle wooden buildings located at Anchor Bay in the north-west corner of the Mediterranean island of Malta, two miles from the village of Mellieħa.
It was built as a film set for the production of the 1980 film starring Robin Willians and now is a waterpark. I just love starring at those animated, colorful and completely wackey-looking fishing huts. Hope you enjoyed the post - I hope I have inspired you to get to Malta one day!