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Porch & Parish

Travel Thursday: Malta, a Mediterranean Gem

Destination: Malta
Travelers: Chimmie Gbugu and friends, Uzoma Echeruo and Pamela Chukwuleta
Dates of Travel: September 2023 

Exceeding Expectations

For Chimmie Gbugu and her friends, Uzoma Echeruo and Pamela Chukwuleta, the allure of Malta had long beckoned. "Malta has been on my travel bucket list for quite some time; however, I never made it there until last year," says Chimmie. 

The trio found themselves immersed in a country teeming with history, culture, and an irresistible charm. Valletta, the capital city, proved to be a bustling hub of activity, where music filled the air, and the streets were alive with energy. 

From Chimmie's Perspective

"It's capital, Valletta seems to have countless ongoing events for all ages. Music can be heard on the streets all day and night with both tourists and locals mingling. We enjoyed the food, the train tour, war museum, the firing of the Canon, and the beautifully decorated streets in Valletta. I particularly loved the ferry rides from Valletta to other cities on the main Maltese island like Sliema and the 3 Cities. The ferry rides were frequent and seamless. We visited the fishing village in Marsaloxx and it was amazing. I loved the vibrant colors, fresh seafood market, and the infamous Sunday market. We also took a boat ride from the market, on a less busy day, to St. Peter's pool which is a tourist landmark. Another highlight was Popeye Village. We went up north to visit the Popeye movie film set. I had a fabulous time learning all about the movie and enjoying a festival like experience at the village. We visited Gozo Island and went to some major landmarks... The most exciting being the oldest free-standing structure: Ħaġar Qim. A very interesting location was the Mdina. It's used to be the capital of Malta and is a fenced town with less than 200 habitats... According to our horse and carriage tour guide, major medieval movies such as Thor and Game of Thrones have been shot in the Mdina, as well as other parts of Malta. We checked out some eerie catacombs in Rabat which is right outside the Mdina gates."

Malta is known as a religious country, but Chimmie says they were not prepared for the number of churches we saw. "A tour guide mentioned there are 350+ churches in the country, which literally means you can go to a different church every day in the year. My favorite church was the St. John's Co-Cathedral. It is so intricate and majestic. It also has 2 clocks, one with the real time and the second the fake time to confuse the devil. Another church that was interesting was St. Paul's church which had an actual skull around its altar. Rumor has it just might be apostle Paul's skull... By rumor, I mean my friend Nkiru."

Sliema, with its bustling waterfront and eclectic dining scene, offered a perfect blend of modernity and tradition. Sampling local delicacies from street vendors and dining at Ta'Kris, a beloved Maltese restaurant, became cherished memories of their trip.

Words of Wisdom

Reflecting on their journey, Chimmie and her friends offered some valuable advice for future travelers. They recommended against renting a car, citing the challenges of right-wheeled driving and limited parking. Instead, they found Uber and Lyft to be convenient alternatives, providing hassle-free transportation across the island. Don't bother renting a car as it's right-wheeled driving and parking is a nightmare. "Though there are busses, we only used Uber/Lyft and the ferries per advice from our hotel concierge. This saved a lot of time. It costs a tad more, but time is money," says Chimmie. 

For those prone to seasickness, motion sickness medicine will come in handy, especially on the longer ferry rides to Gozo and Comino. "It takes approximately 3 hours to get there, and a small part of the trip could be bumpy."

If you do use one of the ferry tours, consider getting an Uber when you arrive at Gozo as the hop-on-hop-off tour buses are not as fast and reliable. "We ended up getting an Uber driver to wait for us towards the end to ensure we got to the dock on time before our ferry left Gozo for the main island."

"Plan to walk around a LOT. So, comfortable shoes are a must. There are also scooters for rent at almost every corner."

Malta: A Destination for All

Whether seeking romance, adventure, or a family getaway, Malta offers something for everyone. "Malta is ideal for almost any type and group of travelers. Though it was a girl's trip for us, I did spot romantic travelers and families in the crowd." From its vibrant nightlife to its ancient landmarks and religious sites, Malta captivated the hearts of Chimmie, Uzoma, and Pamela, leaving them with memories to last a lifetime.