Last year I suggested to Mum that we should buy each other holidays for Christmas. The rules? They have to be European destinations, less than £60 to fly to for both of us and we only find out the destination on Christmas day. The only things we knew beforehand were the dates of the holiday and a few simple clues so we don’t book the same place.
The reason for this idea came from my desire to visit every country of Europe before the age of 30. And I couldn’t think of anything else I wanted for Christmas, honestly. And so began the tradition of my Mum and I buying each other holidays.
On Christmas day, we presented each other with books of clues so we could guess where the other person was taking us. Already knowing the clues ‘capital city’, ‘of a country neither of us have been to’ and ‘beginning with M or after in the alphabet’ we had to double check with a mutual friend that we weren’t taking each other to the same place. Coincidentally both of our destinations were capital cities beginning with V, although when Mum’s book was full of pictures of blue skies and crystal clear waters and mine was full of snow and religious statues, we knew for sure we hadn’t booked the same place.
I found out Mum was taking me to Valletta, Malta, but I had no intention to stay in Valletta and so began the most elaborate of itineraries you could imagine. Four cities and two islands in a measly three day holiday. Yep, it’s possible.
We arrived in Malta late at night with only time to check into our hotel. Be warned, Malta is in the middle of the Mediterranean sea and although is mild in temperature in January during the day, temperatures can hit below freezing at night, so wrap up warm. Don’t make the same mistake as I did otherwise you’ll be wearing your entire suitcase to sleep in.
We woke up bright and early on Saturday morning in search of something vegan for breakfast. If you caught my article ‘A Vegan’s Guide to Eating Out in Valletta’ you’ll know I wasn’t too impressed with the choices. Luckily, we had wandering around old town Valletta covered all before 9am. We must have searched every single street for Theobroma – Malta’s only vegan bakery, only to discover it opens later in the day during the winter months.We managed to catch the midday walking tour of the Old Town. I would definitely recommend the walking tour. Not only do you find out interesting facts about Maltese culture, you get to explore some of the lesser known parts of the city, as well as the popular tourist spots, the Upper Barrakka Gardens, the City Gate, cathedrals and fountains.After the walking tour, we grabbed lunch at The Grassy Hopper then got the bus to Mdina, a small town in the centre of Malta where only foot traffic is allowed.We returned to Valletta late in the afternoon and got a ferry to Sliema. We walked along the waterfront and watched the sunset over Valletta. I’d certainly recommend exploring Sliema at least a little bit. The best view of Valletta is from Sliema.We ate tea at La Mere, an Indian restaurant with vegan options. Though not an entirely vegan restaurant, I enjoyed La Mere more than any other place we ate in Malta, so would recommend.
Another early start to catch the bus to the other side of Malta to the Cirkewwa ferry terminal where we got a small boat to the island of Comino. The boat takes you directly to the Blue Lagoon. From there, we hiked to Lantern Point passing the beautiful Crystal Lagoon and an abandoned isolation hospital. It doesn’t matter if you’re in Malta for a short time or a long time, the clear blue waters of the lagoons in Comino are unmissable.We got the boat back to Cirkewwa and hiked to the Red Tower, where you can get a view of some of the beautiful Maltese countryside. We then hiked to Popeye Village, an abandoned film set turned theme park. We didn’t have the desire to pay to enter the village itself but saw the magnificent views from the cliff edge.After a long day, we got the bus back to Valletta.
On the final day, we explored the parts of Valletta we didn’t have time to see on the first few days. The Lower Barrakka Gardens and Saint John’s Co-Cathedral. We had lunch at Soul Food, then got the plane back home in the afternoon.If we had spent longer in Malta, we could have explored some other cities and the island of Gozo, but alas, time prevented us from doing so but I’m very happy with what we managed to pack into three short yet crazy days.