Hello, friends! I'm popping up to make my biannual appearance on this blog, which, truthfully, is not something I am particularly proud of. You know those people on Instagram who only post when they're on holiday because it makes their life seem glamorous, but in reality the other 85% of the time they're at work or spending evenings watching videos of dogs? Yeah, that's me. Laviederhi? More like la vie de rhi abroad. Anyway, I spend too much time lamenting when actually, I have to face the fact that I'm a busy person and it's not all doom and gloom - at least I am posting. I recently went on a two-week trip to the Mediterranean, and spent half of this time alone on the tiny island of Malta. It was my first solo trip in about four years and the longest I've ever done by myself. It was a fantastic experience and one that I hope to have again in the future, although on another equally beautiful and exciting island. There's lots to get through, so I've got my cup of tea ready - and you should grab one, too. First, a bit of background information: WHY MALTA? I knew I wanted to travel somewhere in Europe. As it was my first solo trip in a long while, I didn't want to feel too far from home, just in case something awful happened to me and I needed immediate rescue (didn't happen, fortunately.) I knew I wanted culture, good weather and sick beaches, so I finally settled on an island that seems to be increasingly popular with female solo travellers (thanks, Tik Tok, for the revelation!) Malta is so small that you can probably drive around it in a day, so you won't be overwhelmed with a thousand sights to see. It's also a former English colony, so practically every body speaks English and you don't stick out like a sore thumb. HOW LONG DID I GO FOR? I went to Malta for seven days and stayed in a variety of different places. I started off near the capital, Valletta, then moved to the neighbouring island of Gozo for a night. I finished my time in Mellieħa, which is in the northern vicinity of Malta, where I did scuba diving and spent the last couple of days relaxing (spending so much time with yourself is exhausting.) WAS IT SCARY? Not at all! I was a little apprehensive about spending so long away from the people I loved, but actually it was a welcomed break and now I'm considering becoming a hermit (just kidding. I'd probably drive myself insane.) I reckon the older you get, the easier it is to rely on yourself and your previous experiences. I think everybody should try it, but it might not be for everybody. I love being busy and don't really get bored of my own company, so it worked out perfectly. There were times when I craved conversation with a trusted friend, but in this age of technology, your pals are only a WhatsApp call away, you know what I mean? So what did I get up to? Let's find out... DAY 0 (evening) Arrived at the airport, took two buses and got to my accommodation with no issues. Malta's public transport network is very well-connected and easy to navigate, so I wouldn't turn your nose up at the prospect! Yes, it's definitely easier to drive everywhere, but if you're looking for a cheap alternative then the buses are where it's at. I bought one of a few different travelcards available to purchase at the airport, which was super handy as all I had to do once getting on the bus was tap and go. I stayed in a really cute airbnb hosted by the lovely Loïc, situated just outside the Three Cities. I essentially had a whole double room to myself, with a sort of living area and bathroom, and balcony. There was a shared kitchen and rooftop upstairs, although I didn't end up meeting any of the other guests who were staying there. Loïc and his girlfriend were super hospitable and gave me recommendations for the area, and most importantly, their cat is adorable. On the first evening I went out for a stroll to explore my new surroundings and treated myself to a fancy fish dinner and glass of wine at Enchanté, a lovely restaurant with harbourside views. Had an awful night's sleep because it was boiling and there was no air conditioning.
Day 1 I went in all guns blazing and headed straight to Europe's smallest capital city, Valletta. Getting from Cospicua to Valletta is super easy as you can hop on a little ferry, which takes you there in about ten minutes (you can also use your travelcard for this, but it's dirt cheap.) This is what I did after a quick bite at Date Art Café, a lovely little place with cushioned outdoor seating. Valletta is, as mentioned, miniscule, so you can walk around it, get lost but also find your way back again very easily. The streets are narrow and super Instagrammable, with traditional Maltese balconies and peng views over the sea. I wandered round a bit and ended up at Fort Saint Elmo, a star fort famous for its role in the Great Siege of Malta in 1565 and which now houses the National War Museum. I hadn't necessarily planned on going to a museum (I mean, I hadn't necessarily planned my day, period) but I'm so glad I ended up stopping for a little while. It was really nice to get some context on the place I was exploring, and Malta's history is fascinating. I was lost in the past for about an hour and a half before emerging into the scorching midday heat, desperate for hydration. Maltese locals will tell you not to drink the tap water, however I believe this is a ploy to get you to spend money on bottled water, so I rebelled, although I'll admit it doesn't taste as nice. I didn't get sick though, so all was well. There are loads of cafés and restaurants in Valletta as well as bars and clubs, so this is definitely the place to head if you are looking for a variety of things to do. I had a fat baguette for lunch and wandered around some more, even though there was a sprinkling of rain which halted me in my tracks for a little while. Valletta is somewhat hilly so be prepared for a bit of calf work. There's a handy lift which connects the port to Upper Barrakka Gardens, overlooking the majestic harbour. I came back to my airbnb for a rest as I couldn't even describe how little sleep I'd had the night before, then headed out to Birgu, which is also, confusingly, named Vittoriosa. It's an old fortified city, although tiny, and there just so happened to be a parade going on when I showed up. Malta is super religious and I think about 95% of its population is Catholic, so there are numerous saints days during the year. This particular celebration was geared towards Saint Lawrence. There was live music, drinking and lots of fireworks. LOTS OF FIREWORKS. I wandered around for a bit and then bought myself a pastizz, a traditional savoury pastry which is normally filled with either ricotta or curried peas. This was the first and only time I actually felt quite lonely as I was eyeing up all the couples and families loving life on this beautiful evening. I was like, I AM LOVED. I CHOSE THIS. And then I got a peach juice and listened to some live singing and went home to sleep.
Day 2 It poured with rain during the morning. I was not expecting this. I said to myself, 'there is a heatwave going on in London right now, and I am on holiday. And it's raining.' Anyway, I didn’t let this get to me, and instead headed out to catch a bus to Mdina, also known as ‘the Silent City’ and one of Malta’s most famous attractions. After a few transportation issues I finally arrived, just as the sun was coming out, and spent a while walking around the old city with no particular destination in mind. Mdina is very old – it was founded around the 8th century BC – and served as the capital of Malta during the Middle Ages before the Order of the Knights of Saint John rocked up and made some significant changes to the island, including moving the administration hub to Birgu, where I was staying. The ‘city’ itself is tiny and is still home to a few residents. It boasts lovely, windy streets and a few beautiful churches. There are quite good views over Malta’s countryside, too. It wasn’t long before I had pretty much seen everything and so I headed outside the city walls to get a bite to eat just before it started raining again. I had a very traditional Maltese platter for lunch, which you can see here…
When I got back to Birgu, I freshened up and then spontaneously decided to go to a small fishing village on the coast for dinner. Because why not? Marsaxlokk is very quaint and very quiet during the day, so (as I arrived a little early for dinner) I sat and read my book and watched people walk along the marina. It was utter bliss. Had some very tasty fish and did a bit of people watching and I have to say, this may have been one of the nicest evenings during my time in Malta.
Day 3 It wouldn't be a trip to Malta without seeing the famous Blue Lagoon. It's super easy to access because there are SO many boats ferrying tourists every single day. I caught my boat from Sliema, which is a hop across the water from Valletta, and it was around 20 euros. This included a stop off at both the Crystal Lagoon and Blue Lagoon, where I chilled for about 3 hours. The boat ride provided a welcomed breeze and lovely views of Malta’s north-east coast, and the Blue Lagoon was absolutely incredible – I’ve never seen water so clear. Sunbathing, swimming, reading – you name it, I did it. The highlight of snorkelling was catching sight of a baby stingray and fish swimming side-by-side. It certainly did not remind me of the fact that I was without a partner in crime…
Honestly, a whole day sunning yourself and swimming really does take it out of you. Everybody on my boat on the way home was sleeping, and I was just as conked. However, there was no time to waste once I got back to my airbnb – I was due to meet my colleague for drinks (yes, she happened to be in the country at the exact same time as me!) She was actually there with her football squad, so I took a Bolt to St. Julian’s to meet the gang. First of all, Bolt is insanely popular in Malta, and is very efficient. It’s also fairly inexpensive, although I had been paying pittance for buses, so I was wary of relying on it too much. Secondly, St. Julian’s is, I believe, the party capital of Malta. Aside from meeting Steph, I had no intention of going there, mostly because I wasn’t prepared to go clubbing on my ones (I may be brave but I’m not that brave.) Anyway, if you’re looking for a cheap, cheerful and booze-fuelled getaway, St. Julian’s would be a shout.
Day 4 It was finally time to leave my first accommodation. I then began a…how shall I put it? An expedition to the island of Gozo. Gozo is one of three islands that make up the country of Malta, and is a popular destination for tourists wanting to escape the crowds. It’s got a much more local and rustic feel to it than the main island, as well as some lovely beaches and impressive viewpoints. I’m not gonna lie, the trek there took up half of my day, and by the time I checked into Laremi B&B, I was exhausted! I didn’t, however, have much time on the island of Gozo (I was only staying for one night) so needed to make the most of it. I headed out to Ramla Beach on the north-east coast, a lovely beach with reddish, golden sand. After that, I took the bus to Marsalforn, a vibrant coastal town, and walked north, as recommended by the lady at my B&B. This was the perfect place to watch a beautiful sunset. I got myself a shrimp-crab burger at a busy beach shack, checked out the salt flats, and then had an early night. I really needed it.
Day 5 Day 5 was a jam-packed day. I was up and out pretty early. My first stop was Victoria, Gozo's capital. There is a citadel from which you can get some truly awe-inspiring views of the island, and it just so happened that there was yet another festival taking place in the streets (this one was in honour of the Virgin Mary, I believe? Honestly, I don’t know how the locals deal with it – fireworks and cannons being fired legitimately every day.) I had a cheeky ice cream and then caught the bus to Dwejra. This was a little bit rogue as I had neither swimming stuff nor reliable transportation to get home again, but whatever. You’ve gotta see this place if you go to Gozo. The views of the sea are incredible and you can take a little boat for a fiver to check out the impressive cliff formations (most of the fifteen minutes was spent listening to the skipper barking ‘here, coral. Here. Take a picture. Red coral. Very famous.’) I walked around in the blistering heat and realised it was a bad idea, then had a salad whilst anxiously waiting for the bus to turn up at any given moment (believe me when I say they come once an hour, if you’re lucky.) It was a bit of a trek back to Nadur, which is where I was staying, and then I had to get ready and make my way back to the port, to get the ferry, to get back to Malta, to find my hotel and collapse in an exhausted, sweaty heap. Luckily, this final accommodation had a swimming pool, banging air conditioning and blissful vibes, which is just what I needed. Pizza was on the agenda, and a good night’s sleep.
The highlight of day six was trying something I'd always wanted to try - scuba diving! If you're ever in the Mellieħa area of Malta and fancy learning something new, I'd highly recommend Go Dive Malta. The team were so, so friendly and made me feel really comfortable throughout the whole experience. Shoutout to Isa and Marco, who were my amazing teachers! Scuba diving was (and it sounds a bit cliche to say) unlike anything I'd experienced before. I was nervous beforehand, I'm not gonna lie, but because I knew I was entering potentially dangerous waters (see what I did there?) I really listened to what Marco told me about thinking everything through calmly and logically. Panicking in an environment that is so different from your own never helps (I know it's easier said than done.) I did two dives and went to a depth of eight metres, so for my first diving experience, it was pretty successful! The rest of the day was spent eating a ton of seafood spaghetti and chilling by the pool. After all that exercise, I sure as hell deserved it.
Day 7 I didn’t know whether to relax or explore during my last day in Malta, but eventually opted for the latter, telling myself that I’d probably never come here again so needed to make the most of it. I’d done a lot of obviously touristy things and was ready to go off the beaten track. It was super hot but I left early to walk all the way to a little beach called Imġiebaħ. It actually pains me to write about it because I almost don’t want people to know how much of a hidden gem it is! When I got there, there were only two other people and their dog on the beach, so I set up camp and had the most amazing morning lazing about on the sand and floating in the crystal blue waters. Eventually it got super duper hot, and there isn’t any shade on the beach, so I made the long and tiring walk back to the hotel. Spent the rest of the day chilling and preparing to fly out the next morning.
All in all, going to Malta alone was an incredible experience and inspired me to do further solo travelling. If anyone reading this is wondering about whether or not to take the plunge, I’d say do it – you never know until you try.