Island Hopping - Valletta and Gozo, Malta
After running around Sorrento and Positano, it was time for us to leave Italy and jump on a flight from Naples to Malta. Other than knowing that it was a former British colony, neither of us had done a ton of research. We went in blind and figured it out as we went!
Malta has had a bit of an identity crisis since inhabitants first settled on this rock of an island around 5900 BC, and is now a mix of a handful of cultures: Byzantines, Arabs, British, Italian, French, Spanish. Judging by the architecture and red phone booths, this fact jumps out pretty early on.
We decided to stay in the capital, Valletta, which gave us easy wandering access down to the water and the port. Also because we really just had no information on other areas of Malta.
Malta and its islands are known as Hollywood of the Mediterranean. Over 100 films have been shot here, and dozens of big name international TV shows including ‘Game of Thrones’. It’s easy for the towns here to stand in for locations in the Middle East, North Africa, and Italy, and with a much cheaper price tag for production studios.
A very happy coincidence: the longest lunar eclipse in a century was happening over Malta and other parts of southern Europe while we were in town. Tess heard about this moon party being hosted at Fort St Elmo for free and open to the public!
I was blown away by how professional and put together the set up was. Scientists from universities in Scandinavia came with their equipment to help people better understand what was going on. There was a live projection of a close up shot of the blood moon that evening, with a countdown to when it would become a total lunar eclipse. I also got to peek into a powerful telescope and see Jupiter. You can kinda see the planet in the second pic down from here.
We spent the rest of our first night in Malta drinking wine and listening to live jazz outside. A pretty great start in a new place!
No time to waste, though. We were up early the next morning to catch a ride to our boat excursion. We booked through Sea Adventure Excursions and chose the trip to Comino with the optional stop in Gozo.
First stop: snorkeling in the Crystal Lagoon. They handed us snorkel gear and we took the water slide off the side of the boat into the water.
Back on the boat, we dropped off a crowd to swim in the Blue Lagoon. But we stayed on for a ride to Gozo where we boarded a bus to town and a perfect little swimming area.
This is Xlendi. A tiny little town on Gozo that’s a popular swimming spot. Like everyone else, we loved jumping off the diving rock. The thrill of it was worth the wedgies.
Sadly we didn’t have enough time to explore the caves around Xlendi Bay, and had to jump back on the bus to the boat. But Gozo was definitely one of my favorite parts of Malta, and I’m dying to go back and maybe stay on this quiet hideaway island.
The texture of the islands’ coastlines were so neat. Malta really is just a tiny rock in the Mediterranean.
We spent the rest of our time at our hotel lounging poolside. Do I feel guilty for deciding to read by a pool instead of exploring more of a new place? No, because I needed a recharge after a non-stop trip. Plus Malta will always be there and I’ll for sure be back.
We stayed at the Phoenicia Malta and felt like queens. Honestly the service here is top notch, and I treated myself to a room service breakfast. But just look at this infinity pool overlooking Valletta:
Just a few hours before our flight back to Rome, we wandered around sun-soaked Valletta for one last look.
Because Malta is mostly just popular with Brits, Italians, and other Europeans, we were pretty much the only Americans everywhere we went. This was actually really refreshing! But if you do need a side trip away from Italy, you should make this place the top choice.