After the last pine needle is vacuumed up, we’re faced with cold, sunless days and no Christmas to look forward to. That’s when my husband and I start looking around for vacation spots in warm places.
A few years ago, we researched all winter long and realized that nothing in February near us in Europe will ever be warm. But the next best thing was Malta in March. So we booked tickets to fly from Prague and started making lists of things to see.
Malta, a small country within ferry distance from Sicily (the ball island that Italy the boot is kicking). It’s really three small islands – one main one (Malta), one tiny mostly uninhabited one (not even big enough for me to remember its name), and one medium one (Gozo, as in GO there!)
We landed into another world. There was a dry wind at the quaint airport and we just waltzed past the palm trees to our car rental. (Actually, we don’t waltz. But it felt like dancing compared to some other airports.) Customs was quick and we had our first experience with the Maltese people. I’m going on record saying that I have never been in a more laid-back culture. All smiles, affability, and “everything will be just fine” mentality. Maybe I haven’t spent much time in Mediterranean cultures but since Malta was my first chance seeing this, Malta gets credit for being the most amazing place ever.
They do drive on the left side of the road. (Thanks, England.) The good thing is that nearly every intersection is a roundabout (traffic circle) so you can just go around and around until you figure out where you want to go. But since nothing is labeled, that could be several hundred times. And you still won’t be right.
Asking directions is like asking a 4-year old to explain how electricity works. “You just turn the light on.” Oh, thanks. Here are the three responses we got three different times when asking directions.
“Mdina. Mdina. Just follow the signs.” (Let me remind you again, NOTHING is labeled, so this is pretty much a family joke now.)
“I don’t know.” (Seriously, in a country that’s 122 square miles total, how can you not know where the three main cities are?)
“Just go straight. Straight and straight.” (This is now another family joke. There wasn’t a straight stretch of road in the whole country, not to mention the impossibility of going straight through a traffic circle.)
So plan to be lost most of the time you’re there. We stumbled on nearly everything we did and it was awesome. After we let go of trying to follow our plan and our map.
I wax cheesy when I try to rave about things. So I’m trying to avoid that, but know that we really loved our family vacation on Malta. Plenty to do and see, totally different culture, geography, and architecture, and sunny, dry, windy weather. And they speak English. And there’s a Pizza Hut. (We have little kids. We can’t help it that sometimes we just want something familiar, easy, and kid-friendly.) Speaking of little kids, we’ve even been to the emergency room and the doctors were super friendly and competent. Just go if you ever get the chance. (To Malta, I mean. Not the emergency room.)