Malta! What do you know about Malta? I didn’t really know a lot about it until I lived there for 90 days. Now I can safely recommend it to anyone who likes living on an island where they can easily explore everything by bus and where the people speak English.
The people of Malta do speak English. They also speak Maltese, which sounds a bit like Italian and bit like Arabic. No matter the language spoken, we found the Maltese to be friendly people.
Malta felt like one of the safest places in the world. They have a very low crime rate. We felt comfortable on the streets at any hour. It is perhaps one of the staunchest Catholic countries in the world. There are 313 churches, cathedrals and chapels on the island. All of the bells are still rung by hand, too. They say that at all times there is someone on their knees praying in Malta. Maybe that is part of what makes this island feel so blessed.
Often described as the crossroads of the world, the little island of Malta is only about 122 square miles. It is located about 50 miles off the coast of Sicily. Malta is very much a rock quarry at sea. So much so that the vast majority of the houses and buildings on the island have been built from the golden rock of the island, giving the towns a very special appearance. It is a heavily populated island, but easy to get around in with public buses only costing about the equivalent of 75 cents regardless of where you want to go.
There is plenty to do and see on this magical island, making it internationally renowned as a tourist resort. There are no less than nine UNESCO World Heritage Sites named. The capital city of Valletta is a very pleasant place to hang out with plenty of shopping and theaters and restaurants.
Of course, I do not consider myself a tourist, so my days were filled with a lot of homely activities. Once again, we lived like the locals by doing our own cooking and shopping for food at the local markets or street vendors. Fresh bread was delivered by truck throughout the village every morning. Vegetable and fruit trucks were always close at hand as well.
We rented a 400-year-old house in the town of Attard. It was a really interesting house. I loved it. Built of the golden stone, this house was as solid as they come. I adored the marble staircase and the stone archways throughout. The little interior courtyard was also quite lovely. This house was huge and seemed even more so because the ceilings were easily 15 ft. high. The monthly rent was so reasonable because we bartered for a three-month period leaving us to pay about $400 a month. If you ever have extended time to spend in Malta, renting is very doable.
While we were in Malta we got to celebrate Christmas and New Years. We also got to be present for the consecration of a new Archbishop, an event which had not been done for 30 years. What a spectacular experience. The entire island participated!
Malta is part of a cluster of islands. Only two others are inhabited. The isles of Gozo and Comino are both worth seeing. All three islands have great seaside appeal where you can dine in open air restaurants, visit the famous Blue Grotto or just lie in the sun enjoying the climate.
I realize that I am drawn to the countries that share the Mediterranean. Spain, Malta and Italy have tantalized me with their gorgeous connection with the sea. Soon, I am sure, Portugal will do the same, leaving me with yet another place that I will feel drawn to return to over and over again.
Malta is special. Tiny but impressive. Consider it!