We’ve just returned from a ten-day break in Malta, during which time I forgot about screens and social media and indulged instead in family time, reading, relaxing and other neglected pleasures. We also did a fair bit of exploring, amazed by how much there was to see in such a tiny place. You can drive across Malta in an hour and yet it’s packed with history and culture, enough to fill several separate day trips.
St Paul’s Co Cathedral in Valetta
For me there was also the delight of endless photo opportunities. Not just the beguiling fishing boats and gorgeous vistas – although these were great – but plenty of my absolute favourite subject; elegant decay (or, as it’s sometimes more expressively known, ruin porn).
Is it just me or does anyone else get carried away at the sight of peeling paint, rusty wrought iron and crumbling brickwork?
Wherever possible we always try and avoid hiring a car on holiday and use public transport instead – I think it helps you feel more connected to a place. I lost count of how many buses we took in Malta; they’re numerous and extremely easy to use, although admittedly quite slow as they stop everywhere. You can’t complain about the price though – for €1.50 you can use them all day and go as far as you like (50c for kids!). Sadly Malta no longer has its brightly painted fleet of vintage buses – these have been replaced by modern vehicles which are far less romantic but probably a lot more efficient.
We used the buses to visit many fantastic places including, of course, the capital Valetta. The photo above shows a typical Valetta street. I love h0w the streets are made up of hundreds of individual townhouses sandwiched together, each several stories high but absurdly narrow, and completely different to the one next door.
Quite often these houses have a shop or business at the bottom, each one tiny and narrow just like the building, often with a deliciously retro sign above the door. Chain stores are refreshingly non-existent in old Valetta. I could have gone round observing these quirky businesses all day.
However, we had other priorities to attend to, including stopping for a beer in the pub where Oliver Reed downed his very last pint before toppling off the bar stool and, indeed, this mortal coil.
(If you have a similar morbid curiousity it’s called The Pub and it’s in central Valetta.)