Since 2013, we've been going back to Malta every couple of years to go see Lu's family out there. The last time we were there was 2018 and when we learned we were going to have another baby in 2019, we figured 2020 would be good year to plan another trip out there but then something happened to the world and threw a spanner in the works.
Since we initially booked, we've been kicking the proverbial holiday can down the road due to COVID-related travel restrictions. Our 2020 trip abroad finally happened this year, the timing actually working in our favour because our youngest is now 3 years old. Walking, talking, running, jumping, climbing (oh god, the climbing) and, the biggest win, fully toilet-trained so we didn't need to take half of the contents of our house with us.
It resulted in a relatively stress-free trip, as far as that can go with too young boys who like to fight and wind each other up. A lot.
I somehow managed to wrangle a window seat for both flights. I always love to watch the ground shrink below us as we take off and I like to look out periodically and try to guess where we are.
Flying to Malta is great because you fly over France and Italy, passing the Alps on the way as well as flying passed Sicily. Fun fact: Malta is such a small island, you start your descent to land before you've even arrived. Pretty sure we were still passing Sicily when we had to start preparing for landing.
We stayed with Lu's cousin and her family, so the first couple of days we pretty much stayed at the house, getting acclimated to the heat and cooling off in the pool.
Day three, we paid a visit to a local beach where I got to do a bit of snorkelling with our eldest for the first time which was really fun.
Valletta, via Senglea and Birgu
We rounded off day three with a visit to Valletta via Senglea and Birgu. The last few times we've been to Malta, we've stayed in Senglea so it's one of our favourite places to be, even for only a short visit. We decided if we ever bought a place in Malta, Senglea would be where we'd want to be.
We then caught a catamaran across the Grand Harbour to Valletta where we had a bit of a look around and stopped off at a place called Eddie's for dinner, which has become a tradition of ours for some reason.
Our trip to Valletta was where I took one of my favourite photos of the holiday. The idea came from our eldest and it worked for me because I could share it without showing his face, which I generally try to avoid doing online these days.
One thing that really took me by surprise, and is something I don't think I've noticed before is just how quickly it drops dark. By 8pm, we'd finished our dinner and were making our way back to the ferry in broad daylight yet within 30 minutes or so, it was fully dark.
More beaches and views of Valletta
The next few days we visited a few more beaches (one randomly had a parrot flying around) and took the older kids to Esplora, Malta's science museum where I got a few more shots of Valletta.
The feast of Santa Marija
One of the main reasons we chose mid-August was to attend one of the biggest festa's in Malta's calendar. It's a big religious festival but also coincides with the date during World War II where a supply ship limped its way into the Grand Harbour after Malta had spent a few years under siege.
Lots of people turn out for the celebration, loads of effort is put into decorating the churches and surrounding areas and there are lots and lots of fireworks. It's a massive event which spans a few days. We spent those days in Mqabba (pronounced "Uh-buh") where another cousin lives. We got to see the festa in full swing in the evening then spent the next day by the pool catching up with family.
The last few days
As the holiday started to wind down, we kept things fairly simple. The second to last day, Lu's cousin took us out on their boat for the day. We were moored up in a cove not too far from Marsaxlokk (pronounced "Marsa-shlock") and spent the day swimming in clear, blue water. I spent the day snorkelling and burned my back like an absolulte clown.
On our last day, we went down to Marsaxlokk for a brief look around before the sun got too hot, packed our bags then relaxed at the house before heading out to Birżebbuġa (pronounced "Ber-ze-boo-ja") to take our hosts out to dinner as a thank you for putting up with us for ten days.
After dinner, we headed straight back to get some sleep as we had to be up at 4am to catch our flight home. Aside from our son leaving his backpack in the departure lounge and a short 10 minute panic hoping we wouldn't trigger a security alarm while Lu went back to find it, the trip home was uneventful. We left warm, sunny Malta behind and were given a truly English welcome home with total cloud-cover the entire drive from Stansted to Yorkshire.
I love being in Malta and I'm always sad to see it disappear behind us on the plane. Hopefully it won't be another five years until we get to go back.