In the last ten years, the island of Malta has been subtly soaring. It’s constantly progressing and developing, with its economy on the up and up. According to the Central Bank of Malta, figures prove that from April to June of last year alone, (2014) total tourist spending reached €413.7 million. Don’t worry I’m not going to start bombarding you with graphs or flow charts, but it does give you an understanding of just how prosperous this hidden haven is. And I don’t just mean economically. Since 2004, when Malta entered the Eurozone, it has attracted people from all walks of life, and particularly encouraged Europeans to visit with it being one of Europe’s hot spots, which I now know why!
There has been a succession of powers that ruled the island in the past – Phoenicians, Romans, Moors, Normans, Sicilians, French and the British and so has amazing cultural significance which is pouring from each cobbled street and captivating building. It has influences from both Europe and the Middle East alike due to its convenient oceanic positioning. It’s hypnotic landscapes scattered in every direction captivates your imagination. I was constantly in awe with my surroundings, as if I myself was hypnotised by its beauty. From its coastal views and the majestic horizon complimenting the island, to the internal, alluring characteristics of the country like Valletta the capital. It is the smallest capital in Europe and it just oozes style. Gozo and Comino are neighbouring Maltese islands and are also secret gems perching pretty next to the mainland that hold a sense of wonder and magic, well worth a trip and being so conveniently accessible, just a 5 minute ferry from Valetta itself, it would be a crime to miss out on them!
As well as it’s beautiful landscapes and authentic style, one thing that left me pleasantly surprised was the variety of vibes in Malta. Whether you want to neck one euro tequilas in St. Julian’s until the sun rises, or an evening sipping Pinot Grigio and eating frutti di mare overlooking the bay…you are guaranteed to find what you are looking for, and have a pretty memorable night. Unless you take a liking to the bargain priced shots.. Then you won’t remember diddly from the night! You find yourself on a higher level of energy and happiness, connecting with the people surrounding you and enjoying the Island for what it’s worth. Malta is renowned for its up and coming party scene, but it has so much more. For such a small yet densely populated place, whatever atmosphere or scene you are looking for you will find it and not only that, but you will be oblivious to the alternative vibes dancing around the island. This is why you have a vast range of tourists from twenty to seventy years old, all having a blast.
Many of these tourists are British, probably because of its historical connection with the United Kingdom, it being part of the Commonwealth up to 1974 when it was declared the Republic of Malta, inevitably there is quite the British influence evident. I must admit that I was amidst many people from the UK on my travels through Malta, who don’t take anything away from the island but I do fear that in high season the shear amount of British might lead you to believe you are at the beach sunning yourself in Cornwall rather than the tropical Mediterranean. With two fifths of its tourists being either English or Italian, you can easily see both Italian and English characteristics layering the country, sprinkled with a bit of magical Maltese style. The Maltese people are so warm and welcoming, whether it’s due to the influx of tourists or just good manners, they open up their beautiful island to you to explore and help make it an amazing experience for you. Plus English is the second official language in Malta, so it’s easy and for you to communicate and connect with the locals. There is a large number of students studying on the island which helps contribute to the active atmosphere there.
Now we are all aware of the blazing heat that bursts from the sky as you lay on the white, crisp sandy beaches of the Mediterranean, and because of it’s location, just south of Sicily, east of Tunisia and north of Libya, Malta has ideal weather conditions for those looking for a tropical break. Although it can get pretty damn hot. That being said, it makes for happy tourists sunning themselves a lot earlier in the season, and later into the year. After working on your tan for the day you must sit by one of the beautiful bays scattered around the island and try some of the amazing seafood available. The Maltese cater to all taste buds from traditional Maltese dishes to Wagamamas, so the only thing you will be stuck with is choice. However take advantage of the specialities of the island and you won’t regret it.
These are things that stayed with me after I left Malta. The little qualities that stuck. In the short time I spent in Malta, I learned a lot. I laughed a lot. I made new connections, new memories. I think back with happiness in every aspect of my time there. I now have a better picture and knowledge of the country…I love how travelling leads you to constant learning. For me what’s more important and the reason why I love to travel this beautiful planet we live on, is that you learn more about yourself, you meet new people and gain bigger perspective. You ride the same wave as a fellow surfer for a few days, only to go separate paths leading your own individual journey. It’s the knowledge and memories I get from these people and encounters that leaves me longing for more. To never stop exploring. And Malta? Well what can I say .. She’s a beaut.