(Read about part 1 of the holiday HERE.)
I had commented to my friend how civilised Malta seemed for a holiday island. How respectable. How safe. How thoroughly elegant, despite the throngs of people everywhere you turned. On Thursday night I had a little rethink. We decided to take a promenade along the seafront as the Victorians preferred. As we are now more seasoned individuals it seemed like a classy thing to do. I was struck again by how built up it all seemed. Then again with so many people living in such a small space, what else can you expect? We dined in an Italian restaurant, run by a Croatian brother and sister, along the Maltese waterfront. Afterwards we went wandering. And ended up in the seventh circle of hell. A place called Paceville.
I have never been to the Costa Del Sol, or any resort holiday, in my life. The closest I have ever got was when I went to Mykonos in Greece almost twenty years ago. So perhaps I was just not prepared for the buzz of nightlife in an entertainment district marketed towards the twenty-something crowd. Bars, clubs and restaurants jostled and competed for customers. Very young and very drunk people thronged the streets as the music pumped at top volume. It was street after street of the same. For some reason I became a target for skimpily clad ladies proffering business cards who promised to show me a good time. Did they mean bowling? Perhaps not. I politely declined the first offer and thereafter ignored them. Amidst the bustle we found the only gay bar on the island. And not only was it the sole gay bar, it was also the only bar without any patrons inside. Feeling disappointed we went home.
Friday was a day of adventure. We arose early and headed to the shore. We were men on a mission. We were traveling overseas. To Gozo – also known as ‘The other island’. About one quarter of the size of Malta islands, Gozo is only reachable by ferry – unless you have a helicopter. It lies north of Malta. Having a population of 30,000 people it is far more rural than its big sister. This was just what we needed.
The ferry terminal is at Cirkewwa and took about thirty minutes. We arrived two minutes prior to the ferry leaving. It was yet again a glorious summer’s day. To our right as we crossed the channel, we saw Comino Island – an even smaller island with only a few hundred inhabitants. It is famous for the Blue Lagoon. Our research told us that this place gets mobbed. Not being inclined to rise at 6am we decided the Lagoon could survive without our company.
According to TripAdvisor the bike rental company where we planned to hire bikes for our day in Gozo has a habit of taking credit card details and using them for nefarious purposes. I diligently supplied a fake address and altered two numbers on the card details provided. Off we went.
After about 10 minute I stopped. What was I thinking? Cycling uphill in thirty-five-degree heat? I was almost hysterical with rage at the prospect of another hour of this. We decided that we needed lunch. Into the outdoor veranda of the Country Terrace we went. I felt slightly revivified after an Aperol Spritz and a tasty plate of pasta, overlooking the most beautiful sea image I have ever witnessed. It was breath-taking. I could have spent the day there, but my friend was anxious for a swim in the blue waters of the Mediterranean.
We cycled a further ten minutes uphill in the boiling heat. I was close to tears. Bravely, I offered to stay in the next bar we stopped in, to watch the sea, while he continued without me. The American woman sitting next to us interrupted and said ‘Well why don’t you just take the bus to Ramla Bay? It leaves from close by?’
An executive decision was taken. With our bikes locked, to the bus-stop we marched. To the horrific sight of the bus leaving without us. The next one on the schedule was in forty-five minutes. We decided to walk some of the route to while away the time. On the map we noticed another beach close by called San Blas Bay. It took an hour, but we made it. For some reason I can handle the sweltering heat on foot. On a bike however – forget it. We descended the steep hill and had a very pleasant few hours in the deep, blue sea. We were not alone but there were not that many people present either. It was lovely.
Quickly bypassing the horror of the climb back to land we returned to Malta for a late dinner.
My friend departed today. A day of solitude. What to do I decided on a bus journey to Marsaxlokk in the south-east. This is a traditional fishing village of about 3500 people. Most of whom make their living from fishing or catering. It is the image of Malta with the pretty boats bobbing in the harbour that is used in tourist brochures. It was very scenic. I had stuffed calamari at the Three Sisters fish restaurant. I ate outside – of course. It was delicious.
Onward to Birgu – an old, fortified town, a harbour over from Valletta. Another gem of a town with its old buildings, rich history and streets of stairs.
Now I sit in my apartment and contemplate packing.
This has been a most edifying holiday, and Malta is a strange and lovely beast of a country. I will be back for certain, and I’d recommend you do the same.
If you do decide to visit, then I would heartily recommend the holiday accommodation I stayed in. It is called ‘Simon’s Apartments’, and is located upstairs from Simon’s Pub.
I would be lying if I said that I booked the place for any reason other than its name.
Sometimes the spontaneous decisions are the right ones.