2013 February Valeta Malta

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"Business or Holidays?" my AirbnB host and cab driver asks me as he picks me from Valeta's airport. On this sunny February of 2013 I just had the worst days of my life behind me so this simple question was not the easiest one to answer. I make my sad story beyond short adding that it's a last minute decision to visit Malta and after he says he's sorry he goes in full Maltese heavy accent:

"Sometimes da last minit dicisions r da best"

After a couple of days thinking about a destination to ease my worried mind (without any proof the latter was possible) Malta won easily as a close, warm and unexplored destination. On that first day of February I just had a nice flight on a bright nice sunny day:

As you can see on my left hand I have the superb beauty of the Mediterranean sea. On my right hand I have two dark Russian ladies, one of them curious to know if this is my first time going to Malta. In broken Greek she mentions "It's warm there and that's nice" which sounded like "and that's all about it". "Want a drink?" she adds as the air hostess passes by, always in her broken Greek, making these words sound like a zipped CV of hers. Still better than AirMalta's web check in which didn't work obliging me to queue at their counter.

From the first minutes walking around Valeta I can confirm the origin of the country's name. I'm not here to brag about everything originating from ancient Hellas but even the leader of Malta in his message for the bicentennial of Hellas a couple of days ago he mentioned that "Malta" comes from the Hellenic word for honey which is "Meli" (ΜΕΛΙ). And Malta is sweet indeed. At least away from summer's high season which (I guess) can be hot and wet af and I have no reasons to deny this since my host didn't either.

This little honey in the middle of Mediterranean was attractive and vulnerable to conquerors through the years. Among them the Brits have left the heaviest mark which is of course still rather noticeable today. It's their second language and everybody speaks them, totally opposite to the neighbouring South Italy were almost nobody does. This makes life so much easier communication wise but a little challenging for a worried mind like mine visiting a country that drives left but who can complain when given a chance for a nice walk by the sea:

The details of the local houses and their coloured shutters instantly catch my eye:

Including the Hellenic embassy which ironically is among the very first buildings I see, aptly coloured in blue:

I mean, look at this super lovely oldie pristinely kept:

A lovely row of old houses all together proud under the Maltese sun:

Speaking of the sun, definitely makes a rare case of me leaving Athens behind for better weather. Be sure Malta is an ideal winter destination by the way. The above houses enjoy an everyday view of Msida's marina:

"Not too bad" as a Brit would say right? At Manoel Island marina I find a couple of sweet old houses:

I am already convinced that Valeta is among the loveliest capitals I have visited though I am still only doing my first steps around the city but how couldn't I when there's so many chances around to rest your eyes:

Not all churches can have a nice view like the one Msida's Parish church does:

Excited from the first day's walk, mainly spent by the sea, I wake early the next one to continue exploring the city. Besides, my apartment is OK and fully equipped but almost blind so there's no reason to spend time in it other than the absolutely necessary.

This statue at Msida doesn't offer many details but I like the composition I made out of it:

In a more contemporary note, I find it funny how girly girls can get with their cars:

I like that viewing angle of Tal-Pieta bay:

This panoramic of the entrance of Valeta's harbour is roughly stitched but give you an idea:

The sea is lovely and all but time to see how the city looks like inside. Let's walk those narrow backstreets:

Betcha I didn't regret it. And how could I with details like these:

We're still in Europe though hence the war monuments are plenty. The view of Siege Bell War memorial though is top:

Not that the Upper Baraka gardens lack in view anyway:

Lower Baraka gardens definitely deliver some beauty too:

I find some unique and super old trees at Argotti Botanic gardens. look at those masterpieces generously provided my mama Earth:

At night I meet with a lady from South Italy whose AirBnB was overbooked but invited me and a couple of her friends at her lovely place (where she stays with her son) for some drinks. There I meet a German pensioner who starts chatting with me and as I explain him how Malta looks like I say "feels like here you put neutral in your gearbox and just roll effortlessly". "No" he responds. "Here you put overdrive and travel to the future". He also brought a fantastic cognac and we all had a great time spending drinking and chatting on a vastly wide variety of things.

the next day comes on this sweet city which holds a nice balance between English law and order and African absence of law and order and I love it. Before I step into Manoel island I take a picture:

Among the first things you see there is this tiny "Duck Village", too much of a cross between funny and cute to pass:

Here's view to Manoel island from Sliema North of it:

And that's how it looks from Tigne pedestrian bridge, one more to suffer from the lockers trend:

The local fortress of Tigne in desert colour contrasting the blue sky:

While walking around this neighborhood I find the only burger house ever with an offer like this which, to be honest, is kinda gross:

"We serve the biggest Burger on the island and it's FREE if you can eat it all !!!"

Balluta Square and bay on a nice day under the lovely Maltese sky:

The church you see above overlooking the sea is the Knisja tal-Karmnu. Walking North up to Spinola bay, I spot the "Love monument":

The funny thing is that at first glance I was surprised cause the upside down V looks like the "Λ" of the Hellenic alphabet (our "L") and the upside down L is like our "Γ" (similar to "G"). So this looks like a "GOLE" till your goal is to think English again.

Spinola bay has nothing to regret about:

Next day is my last one in Valeta and I decide to walk all the way to San Anton gardens, part of the Presidential residence. Really nice to walk around the local vegetation enhanced with the presence of some ultra cute animals. I'd better let the pictures do the talking:

Some turtles are single

Some turtles come in pairs

The sign really speaks on behalf of the horse

This place is really nice as you see but time has come to catch my flight back home. I get my last pictures of Malta during take off thanking her for those few but soothing days:

See you on the next one!