Are you planning a holiday in a nice place in the south of Europe, where the sun shines for 300 days a year? Malta is a great choice. Here’s what you need to know before you come here.
Malta is a former British colony. Yes – colonies are associated with Africa or India, but the British installed themselves in Malta in the early nineteenth century and until 1964 they ruled here supreme. It has for us – tourists – pros and cons, which we will write about. British rule was over. And now Malta belongs to the European Union (it joined the European family on May 1, 2004). The currency is euro.
What language do they speak here?
A good heritage of the colonial era is that English is the second official language of Malta. In practice, everyone speaks English well or very well, although they have a hard accent, almost like the Poles. Maltese – the native language of most of the island’s inhabitants, is rather a curiosity for linguists. Ask the Maltese – he will tell you that it is a language of the ancient Phoenicians. But this is not entirely true. Although Maltese is the only Semitic language written in the Latin alphabet, it is derived more from the Arabic-Italian dialect, which was spoken in the Middle Ages in Sicily. And from there, settlers sailed to Malta after the Christian Vikings in the 11th century took the island from the Arabs.
Rent a car or take a bus?
The dark (for Europeans from the continent) side of British colonization is left-hand traffic, which is still in force in Malta (just like British plugs). Driving a car with a steering wheel on the right side requires some practice. Especially that apart from one, quite convenient highway, the other roads are narrow for “one and a half cars”. In order to get along with the vehicle going from the opposite side, you have to stick to the walls of buildings or to bushes. It is not a coincidence that although potential drivers are tempted by very low prices, you have to buy expensive insurance. And looking at the torn-out mirrors of parked cars, such insurance makes sense.
The other story is parking. In the off-season, it is already crowded around more interesting monuments. In the peak season, when we borrow a car, we will spend the time mainly looking for a place to park. But the bus network is perfect. And both local bus and tourist “doubledeckers” with an open roof, which operate on the principle of “hop-on, hop-off”, i.e. we get off, visit and jump on the next bus. Such buses operate in every European capital, and in Malta, they operate on the whole island as well as on Gozo. Which gives a pretty good idea of how small this country is.
The advantages of using public transport are obvious. For 21 euros (children up to 10 – 15 euros) you get a 7-day card for public transport in Malta and the island of Gozo. You do not have to worry about a parking place, and a dense network of stops provides access to almost all attractions. ALMOST! Do you understand what is the vice? To some beautiful coves, majestic cliffs or beautiful beaches, you have to take half an hour walk from the bus stop, which can be a nuisance in the sun (especially with a child). And the classic picture in Malta – a bus standing at the bus stop, and from behind the corner a group of tourists emerges, begin to run like crazy sports competitions, racing with a driver who is desiring to close the door in front of their noses.
How to dress?
A glance at the map should provide us with an answer. Malta lies in the SOUTH of Tunis – the capital of Tunisia. So it’s basically North Africa. In the summer it is very hot here, and in winter – not very cold. In winter, that is from December to March, it’s good to have something against rain and a Windstopper will be useful because it can blow heavily. The most pleasant is the spring and autumn months. But you can actually visit Malta at any time of the year. In winter, it is about 12-20 degrees. As for us – perfect.
Where to live?
Valletta – the capital of Malta, is a tiny city (the smallest capital of the European Union). Here, hotels are quite expensive – in proportion to the density of monuments and tourist attractions. But it is enough to sail 10 minutes by ferry to the so-called Tri-City (Sanglea, Birgu, Kalkara), or to Sliema, to find plenty of hotels at a reasonable price. We chose Sliema for a few days, from where we sailed to Valletta every day. And then we moved north to Bugibba, to be closer to the island of Gozo and the National Aquarium. Generally, the tourist infrastructure is very good here, there are both luxury hotels and quite good ones with the “tourist” standard. There is no problem to find something for yourself.
What to eat?
Malta is a paradise for fish and seafood lovers. But everyone who appreciates Mediterranean cuisine will be happy here. There are many Arab and Italian influences. The simplest (and the cheapest) tourist solution is pizza, sold in street bakeries in slices (1-1,20 euro). There are a bunch of local sweets, and the Maltese speciality is a variety of pasta from grated vegetables and spices. And pure olives. If we add cheap fruit to it, we will not die of hunger.