Firstly, I’d like to wish all my readers a brilliant year ahead. If you’re a dreamer like me – beware, dreams can come true. This is the case in our decision to spend Christmas in Malta. Some of you may recall that a year before, I hardly knew where Malta was situated. Read this post to find out more about how we chose Malta: https://chevvy8.com/2016/12/19/tell-me-about-malta/
Malta’s key resource is limestone so it is no wonder that this 350 kilometre square island is filled with limestone structures. These pictures overlook the Grand Harbour. Malta has a population of about 450 000 people which is quite dense for an island this size – a third of the city I live in. Despite this density, the Island is growing particularly in the town of Silema where people from all over Europe and other countries have been buying up property. Cranes and construction sites are everywhere. Locals say that the economy has burgeoned over the past 10 years due to this investment but it has had a knock on effect on the cost of living particularly as salaries have not risen commensurately and housing prices are particularly expensive for new families.
Though I’m told that the public transport system is good in terms of buses, we found Taxify the most convenient way for us to get around as a family. Besides, we thought most of our drivers very delightful in how readily they told us about their country and how they reflected the pot pourri of cultures and a wonderful sense of humour and welcome. Though the Maltese are a nation with a language of their own, there is a strong Italian influence on language, and culture and our drivers also included representation from Romania, Hungary, New Zealand and Arab descent.
With its many harbours, Malta was clearly built to fortify itself against marauders and has been plundered and beseiged over time.
Though we spent Winter here, I was pleasantly surprised by the temperate climate. Our first few days were a bit cloudy with maximum temperatures of 11 degrees celsius. We also enjoyed some beautifully bright days peaking at 16 degrees celsius. Valletta, pictured above, is the capital city of Malta and I loved it. I also loved that we were surrounded by the beautiful Meditteranean Sea whichever direction we took with waves flushing up against the rocks and pavements.
The beautiful spots of colour from the windows and doors give Malta its own special character and gave me endless delight.
Given the density of the city, only cars belonging to residents enter the city. Buses and taxis have a special drop-off zone at the entrance of the city. Streets are very narrow, so you do have to mind the traffic on many of the streets.
One of the souvenirs I bought was a coffee mug depicting these beautiful doors with their vibrant colours, each depicting a character of their own and providing an excellent adornment to the limestone buildings. You’ll be seeing more of these intriguing doors in later posts.
This pretty little Roman Catholic church (Saint Catherine of Italy Church) was built by the Italian knights of St John’s in 1576 and was refurbished in 2000-2001. We were told by locals that Malta is 98% Roman Catholic in terms of its religion. As we walked through the city, it was interesting to observe various orchestrations of nativity scenes and window Christmas decorations.
In the days leading up to Christmas, streets were filled with people of all ages and Michael Buble’s Christmas songs were a favourite in many stores. Of course the street Christmas decorations added to the merriment of Christmas and a Christmas train ride through the main streets of the city and its borders was great fun.
The Auberge de Castille, originally built to house the knights of St John in the 1570s, was completely rebuilt in 1740 and now houses the prime minister. It overlooks the grand harbour depicted in pictures above and its austerity is softened by how it lights up at night.
We stayed at a holiday resort to the North of Matla and what a pleasure it was to wake up to beautiful views of the ocean with its gentle waves and changing shades of light.
I hope you have enjoyed this escapade with me and look out for further instalments on Christmas in Malta and our New Year stay in Venice. I leave you with this quote from Walt Disney – “If you can dream it, you can do it” ❤️❤️❤️