Exploring Malta & An Accompanying Existential Crises Upon Arriving in Luton
This will not be as rock and roll as some of my other blogs.
Great start, undersell the piece Brian. But this is an attempt at being a “traditional travel writer” where they write about food and the sun and other boring stuff like that.
As my quest to go to as many countries as possible continues, it was time to hit up country number 52. Malta. I knew very little about Malta but I always wanted to go. A sunny island in the middle of the Mediterranean? What is not to like?
In Malta, there was plenty to like.
We were staying in Valletta, Malta’s beautiful walled capital. And stayed in maybe my all time favourite Air Bnb. Some AirBnb porn below;
Link to property is here for when you are heading to Malta next.
Conveniently, English is widely spoken in Malta and even more conveniently, the food was superb. Very similar to Italian in style. Well, I say in style, it appears to be exactly the same.
We arrived relatively late so we grabbed some food, chilled on our balcony and got some sleep for some exploring the next day. We were only going to be in Malta for 3 full days so we wanted to do as much adventuring and exploring as possible.
Due to a phenomenal lack of planning or research, we still knew nothing about Malta upon arrival. What to do or where to go. Usually my girlfriend is excellent at this planning and usually I do none. So, it usually works fine. But unfortunately, this time, I was the only one who was consistent.
I usually turn my nose up at bus tours while on the road but as you may have noticed from reading other of my travel tales, I tend to turn my nose up at the correct thing to do also. However, this time, a bus tour around the city seemed perfect. And it was. We sat on the top deck, in the blazing heat, as we drove around the island. We plugged in our headphones to learn more about the history of Malta. Turns out, while a truly beautiful place to live with superb people, not a lot has happened there. We got a great sense of the city and saw the parts opposite to where we were.
Our bus went to the beautiful fishing village of Marsaxlokk. I cannot even imagine how to pronounce that. Some Marsaxlokk porn for your filthy eyes.
Post reading this "article” (I have to put article in inverted comma’s because come on….notions) you will be inspired and no doubt book a holiday to Malta and Marsaxlokk, specifically. Go also eat fish here and stare at that blue ass water.
The following day we jumped on a boat to Gozo. An island off the North of Malta. The boat was full of incredibly annoying Australian children doing some form of Contiki esque journey. It was enjoyable to watch them awkwardly flirt with each other and brag about having up to 4 drinks the previous night. When they started throwing things at each other - that was when it got annoying.
I never got that. I never found throwing something at someone else an enjoyable or entertaining activity.
We arrived to Gozo and headed directly to St. Peters Pool.
It is a very cool part of the world but clearly where the Maltese youth all hang out. Which is fine. Except I am becoming an increasingly grumpy old man so the laughter and enjoyment of youth appears to really annoy me.
There was one particular dude who was diving off the steepest parts to impress any women around. Like, literally, anyone. And he would locate who he wanted to impress, specifically run directly past them to startle them / get their attention and then fling himself off the cave into the water.
He injured himself at one point but unfortunately not enough.
We jumped back in a taxi boat and headed back towards the boat to bring us back to the Malta mainland. En route back, we stopped at the Blue Lagoon. Now, keen and devoted reader. This is somewhere that you need to go. It was absolutely incredible.
It was some blue ass water. Some of the blue-est, ass-est water-est water that you are ever likely to see. I would recommend going towards the end of the day (last boat back to the mainland is about 6pm) so you miss the big rush. It was an incredible spot. Jump into some of the clearest water that you have ever seen in 35+ degree heat.
It was heaven. Absolute heaven.
Feeling energised after the swim, we headed back to Valletta where I had some absolutely life changing pasta but paid in cash and I am a terrible wannabe travel writer so I have no way of finding out where it was.
BEHIND THE CURTAIN: I only remember where I ate by viewing my Monzo summary.
Sunday night ended with my girlfriend and I, sitting on our balcony, with some cheap but excellent Maltese wine, chatting and laughing while watching the sunset over the sea. Like, come on.
LIKE, COME ON!
Monday morning began with me taking a work call and my girlfriend exercising her healthy work life balance by going for a swim in the morning. However, the particular aspect of my job that I was doing, is one of my favourite aspects of it so doing it overlooking the beautiful Maltese sea was not the worst thing in the world.
We grabbed a lunch by the picturesque port and discussed how unexcited we were to return to London. Y’know, classic conversation that anyone has when they leave London for the guts of ten minutes.
All packed up and in the taxi. The older I get, and the more I have done in London, does make it harder to return. I will write another love and hate letter to London later in life but while London is the best city in the world and I owe it everything - is beginning to grow somewhat weary on this Irishman. At times.
Our Taxi driver to the airport was exceptionally chipper, asking us a bunch of questions. Which I usually hate.
He was explaining his life to us and it sounded wonderful. He has recently bought a house that he worked hard for - but normal hard. Not like having to move back in with your parents and put your relationship with both them and everyone else on the line to buy a piece of shit house that will cost another six figures to make presentable.
“I wake up. Go for a run along the beach and finish the run with a swim in crystal clear water. I then have breakfast with my family. And begin my work day. Life is Malta is really nice. Because that is what life is supposed to be like no? Nice”
It really resonated with me. Now, not that my life is not nice or anything. My life is great. I have amazing friends and a great job that stimulates and tests me. However, it is very high octane and high pressure. I am constantly driving myself forward and it feels like I am forever working. Not just on my day job but I work on a million projects after hours which are great - but is putting myself under extra pressure and giving myself less time to chill out. I am unsure if I even have the ability to lie on the couch and do nothing anymore. I feel like I am always tipping away at something. It does not bother me but surely it is unsustainable and I will burn out? Or maybe I am the chosen one and can do it forever.
We touched down in Luton. Which is uninspiring at the best of times. Into lashing rain - absolutely pouring down, in the middle of June. Me, classically optimistic and in my flip flops. Getting soaked. Then like a punch to the gut, paid £26.60 for a packed train where I had to stand back to London’s civilisation.
I could have had a wonderful meal for two people with that price. I think our open top bus around the whole bloody island was half the price. As I stood on the train, looking out the window at the rain bucketing down - I did not feel like my life was particularly nice at that moment.
Don’t get me wrong, I am still very happy with all of the above. But something about what that taxi driver said really resonated with me. Living in London means that you almost have ambition beaten into you and you need to continue to push on. I never understood why people lived in London who were not ambitious as, for me anyway, the city is for the ambitious. And with that comes plenty of downsides. People generally being terrible is usually what sits alongside the ambitious. I hear the same about NYC. People are more obsessed with “making it” rather than being sound and not throwing people under buses.
Anyway, that is for another blog.
But we always move on, holiday blues pass and an exciting project comes in that sucks up all your time until your next holiday. And then your next interaction with a happy taxi driver.
Circle of life.