Malta - the island where my soul flies home!

by Julie Martin
(Cheshire, UK)

The Temples with Akisha Mnajna

The Temples with Akisha Mnajna

The Temples with Akisha Mnajna Horse drawn carriage ride at Mdina Enjoying the water at the harbour near Blue Grotto Sea lions doing their tricks

I love Malta.

My first visit was in 1991 when I stayed in Bugibba. I visited Valletta and was awestruck with its majestic fortress walls and the harbours.

I was in my mid-twenties and the island seemed to be bursting with beautiful, friendly people. Most nights I frequented Joe's Bar (hope he is still alive and kicking!) after exploring around the island, delighting in the Blue Grotto and rummaging around the market at Marsaxlokk.

Four years ago I returned with my children and stayed in Mellieha.

Having children opens up one's eyes to other wonders that the island has to offer - the swim with dolphins at the Marine Park at Bahar ic-Caghaq was a dream come true, especially for my daughter. The dolphin’s name was "Sol", and I am still amazed that the breath coming from his blowhole smelt so fishy!

We had a ride in a horse drawn carriage around Mdina which is very relaxing. We also visited the Blue Grotto and also had a wander around the Mnajdra Temples and Hagar Qim which are very impressive.

Here we were adopted by a lovely little brown dog, that we named Akisha Mnajna (pronounced A-kysha Men-ajna) - we thought it had a Maltese ring to it.

She was the sweetest little thing, she followed us around all the time we were there, from the causeway leading down and all the way back up.

The children found this delightful and it left me wondering if there was any way I could have brought her home with me, and when I realised it would be impossible, I then hatched a plot to return to Malta when I retire and open up an animal sanctuary.

When we got home we were all trying to see if we had any photographs of her and she can just be seen on one of them. I am an animal lover and have many pets of my own and I find it so special that even the animals of Malta make us feel so welcome and at home.

It never ceases to amaze me how many different cultures have tried to take Malta for their own and these influences can be observed with the architecture both ancient and also the more modern.

Sicilians, Carthaginians, Phoenicians, Romans, Arabs, Normans, Germans, French, Spanish, Turkish, British – all of these have made a mark on the island of Malta.

So many peoples have taken a piece of Malta for themselves that it really is no wonder that Malta can offer so many different aspects to so many! And they give so willingly! Thank goodness that they have their independence and their own identity these days.

Their traditional food is exquisite.

My next visit to Malta is in 2 weeks and one day and I really cannot wait. I booked the holiday last September and it really has been my rock to cling to in stormy weather as I have had a pretty tough time financially, having to secure a mortgage and pay for repairs to my car.

So when the times have been tough I have thought to myself “just think next July you will be back on the island that you love!”

I have booked tickets for the Hypogeum and we will return to the temples to see if Akisha Mnajna may still be around or any of her puppies – I think she may be one of the Pharoah hound types as I have never seen any dog like her in this country.

What am I looking forward to the most when I return?

Almond drink, Hypogeum, a ride in Captain Morgan’s glass bottomed boat, swordfish from Blue Water Café in Mellieha, seeing the fish swimming in the crystal clear waters ... the smell of the cooking from the restaurants along the sea front blended with the salt in the air that the wind sweeps in from the sea ... the paths upon which I tread knowing that thousands of years ago someone else’s feet have travelled the same way ... a sense that my soul belongs here whilst my body has to stay in England dealing with the practicalities of modern life.

I love Malta.

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