I am back. As usual, it was tons of fun. There is so much to see in this world and even when its not what you expect, its still good. And Malta was not what I expected. Because its an island and touted as a summer beach destination, I had an idea in my head. After reading the guide book, I tweaked my idea a bit. But when I showed up on the city streets, I was still surprised. Surprised, not disappointed.
Malta has a long history going back some 7,000 years according to the 'experts'. The pagan temple ruins we saw were dated some 3,500 years ago. There is a strong Arabic influence heard in the language and street names. There is also a plethora of evidence showing the some 16,000 tons of bombs that hit the island during WWII. And finally, there is a strong English influence as it was most recently under British rule up until around the 1960's. It is now an independent country and seems to live pretty harmoniously with its colorful history.
Is it another Amalfi Coast or Mexican Riviera? Absolutely not. Yes, I stayed in a 5 star hotel (for cheap) and there were several to pick from, but I got the impression that Malta is rather poor and really banking on being part of the EU and Schengen now to grow into itself.
The people are incredibly nice (which we all know is much appreciated by me after being in Venice). There is relatively no crime in the city and I think a simple handshake is better than any piece of paper for the Maltese. They are, for me, rather a small people. I passed so many men and women who were barely 5 feet tall if that. I felt like a giant!
Our hotel was great and we even got a free upgrade to a junior suite! There was a fantastic American breakfast every morning and I got my fill of 'orange' cheese (i.e. cheddar) after not having any for so long. We hung out in the spa alot with a great pool, jacuzzi and atmosphere. I have included a few pics from the hotel and view from our patio.
The airline (RyanAir) was what most of us in AZ would know to be like a SouthWest Airlines. Absolutely no frills. In fact, they dont even have a seatback pocket to put their monthly magazine in. When they announced they were going to pass out the magazine, the attendant pulled down about 5 copies. Obviously, they were all gone before crossing 2 rows...I was very amused by this cost saving measure. But they got us there on time with no issues and in the end, that is what is really important.
In the next few days, I will share some of the highlights and pictures (I actually took about 350!). In the meantime, I am back to doing some laundry and starting to prepare for my Dublin adventure in about 3 weeks! Gotta love what this world has to offer!