We Travel

A Short Escape to Malta

posted by on 01/07/2013

I think it was mid-April whilst shooting a brand’s lookbook with the rest of the team when the email from the agency arrived in my inbox, much to my disbelief it contained an invite to Malta in May. Yo, I wasn’t expecting that but I’ll take it, any escape from the city life is a good one. Malta though? I wasn’t expecting much, heck I didn’t really know anything about the Mediterranean island off the coast of Italy. It’s not a place that my friends have spoken about previously about visiting so I had no idea about what to expect aside from the quick Google image search.

It was a blogger trip, the biggest and probably the best one I’ve been on. Over 35 press/blogger individuals from France, Germany, Spain, Italy and the UK were hand picked by Malta Tourism Board to experience the very best their country had to offer. It’s taken me a good few weeks to edit the 1000+ photographs and now I’ve got to write about the trip. Here goes nothing…

*advance warning – this post will take a couple minutes to load up as it’s going to be image heavy. I ended up photographing over a 1000 images and cutting them all down has taken almost 3 weeks.

My trip started after the rest of the UK who all arrived together the night before. I had to wait overnight to travel as I wasn’t able to board their plane due to work, 4am flight with two hours sleep was painful to say the least. Landing in Malta and stepping out of the plane to the sunlight glow on my skin, I instantly felt rejuvenated and energised. Superman style. And like that London’s dreary overcast was long forgotten for the next 4 days.

MDINA

Where so I even begin? I guess I’ll do it like a diary. I rarely travel alone to countries that don’t speak English as a first language so I was tiny bit anxious coming out of arrivals, what if the arranged transport wasn’t there?! He was, of course. Panic over.

We left the airport and headed straight towards the castle town of Mdina to meet up with the rest of team UK. Shaped like a medieval fortress, the walled town is the old capital of Malta. Initial impressions of the country went like this in my head: ‘Where are all the people?! and is everything made of limestone?’ It was 10am on a Friday, surely there should be people walking the streets? Nope, none. Most work in the new capital, Valletta.

The rest of team UK consisted of Alicja McCarthy of WeHeart, Prince Cassius, Andrea Magrath of PeanutButtered/TruffleTravel and James Stapleton of Cereal Magazine.

Back to Mdina, it’s known as the ‘Silent City’ to the locals. There’s not much going on in the streets with the population of just over 300. We headed through the quiet streets and peaceful alleyways to our lunch spot before checking out the local Carmelite Priory and stopping to check out the Palazzo Falson.

The former home of Capt Olof Frederick Gollcher OBE was built in 1850, is a window to Maltese domestic culture of yesteryear. From the collection of costumes, wedding gowns, uniforms, books and ornaments that he collected in his lifetime. It’s the dream bachelor pad, you can tell he was quite the playboy back in the day with all the fancy dress photographs from back in the day. Think the Playboy Mansion minus the scantily clad women – well we don’t know that for sure.

Gawd, I’ve got so many photographs to share. This feature will turn out to be very image lead, sit back and enjoy. Then book your ticket to Malta at the end.

location Mdina, Malta

DINGLI CLIFFS

Now for my favourite part of the whole trip, all 35 of us were lucky enough to get a chance to go on a segway tour courtesy of Malta Segway Tours. If you know me well, then you know I have zero balance – I haven’t cycled since I was two and I think because of that my balancing skills have been somewhat lacking in comparison to an average human being. So naturally I was slightly nervous getting onto one of these things but luckily for me, through the guidance of Reno and Blue – it was easy. The machine takes care of your balance so you have nothing to worry about. Lean forward to accelerate and lean back to brake. The leaning back part takes 10 minutes to get used to, trusting the segway. Have faith.

Annoyingly annoyed. I’ve written this description about 5 times now but since I’ve kept falling asleep at my desk for the past few days means WordPress has been logging out automatically. Sigh. Anyway back to post…

We took off from their base in Malta’s foresty area towards the the west coast of Malta. It’s quite remote from the centre with not much going on besides the ocean and cultivated farm fields. We headed around down the side of the cliffs stopping by at a local chapel to take in the views of the ocean. It’s sublime, so serene and peaceful.

location Dingli, Malta

At the peak point, we were met with another little chapel, one with a gigantic cross that can’t be missed. Malta as you know is a Catholic country with over 359 churches – that’s almost one church per day of the year. Crazy. In Biblical times, disciple Paul shipwrecked ashore the island and spoke the truth to the islanders. I felt righteous up there, ready to preach to the fellow bloggers haha. That was it for an action-packed day one.

BLUE LAGOON

I can’t swim, won’t swim. No that last part is a lie, I can try but need lessons as I can’t float haha. This is the main reason that I hardly ever go into the sea/ocean when I’m on holiday but the Blue Lagoon made go in. We headed out to the Lagoon early in the morning from Malta; each and everyone one of us blown away by how clear the water was from the very start. It’s just like River Thames, ahem.

Blue Lagoon is a must with its clear blue waters and spectacular scenery. I wish I photographed more from the lagoon but forgive me, I got gassed by the water. Camera in bag and straight into the water I went. I’ve seen reviews saying the place was crowded and not worth visiting – ignore, walk past the array of sunbeds on the beach and head to the rocks. We headed out there around 11-12am so it wasn’t too bad at all. Go and enjoy one of God’s creations. spectacular scenery. My Instagram shots above should give you a better sign of what the Lagoon looks like.

location Blue Lagoon, Malta

COOKING CHALLENGE

What made the trip so much more special than the usual press trip was the team activities. We were tasked with cooking the main course, sausage stuffed chicken which wasn’t that much of a difficult task. The judges pick the best dish and a prize was given to the winning team on the last night. Spaniards took it home. *cries* Alicja and James’ special orange and rocket salad deserves a shout out though.

I’ll let y’all drool over the images. Again, one was too fast up with the photography – all that ‘swimming’ in the Blue Lagoon left me with a big appetite. So no photographs of the cooked meals. Sorry.

GOZO ADVENTURES

Divine. The island of Gozo is much more rurals and known for it’s scenic hills and clear blue waters. Not going to lie, it was a little scary looking out of the window as the coach driver took us down the hills to the Gozo Adventures meeting point at the base. They gave us the option of kayaking, abseiling and rock climbing. Naturally I opted for kayaking, in my mind – if I fell from rock climbing/abseiling, I’d land on stone and die. The water at least I’d be able to float (even though I can’t swim). Plus I thought we were kayaking in the lake pictured below.

Oh how I was wrong. See that opening on the cliff? Yes, we went through there into the open water. My God. It wasn’t as scary as I thought, lots of upper body strength needed to fight off the tide which was a lot of fun and good workout.

THE CITADELLA

We headed over to the Citadel for dinner and late night walk through the castle city which lies in the heart of Victoria, Gozo. It’s a historic castle which has been described as a small fortified town. If you’ve ever played Assasin’s Creed then this place will remind you of just that. Especially walking around the edge of the castle walls to take in the surrounding towns, villages and cliffs. Beautiful. 

location Citadella, Gozo

 MARSAXLOKK

Malta’s finest fish market. A market that you could wander through for hours and we only had a hour. Spent 45 minutes walking through it and only got around halfway. Like everything else in this country, it’s so picturesque. Right, I’m going to let the pictures do the talking for the remainder of the feature after all a picture is worth a thousand words.

THREE CITIES

And there we go. A short action packed escape to Malta and my opinion on the country has completely changed. A real gem in the middle of the Mediterranean that’s the perfect escape from city life and it’s not expensive at all. A few hundred quid for a ticket and accommodation if you find a good package, I highly recommend the hotel we stayed at – Grand Excelsior. You can find more information on the country through the links below:

Visit MaltaWebsite | Facebook | Twitter

P.S. Guess who won the most courageous blogger award? Damn right.

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  • SPECIAL THANKS TO: MALTA TOURISM BOARD, VISIT MALTA, SURGERY PR, CLAIRE BARRY, VICTORIA CAMILLERI
  • PHOTOGRAPHY: YIN
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