Stuck in Paradise

by Stef Goff
(Dunstable, UK)

The beautiful Spinola Bay on the main island

The beautiful Spinola Bay on the main island

The beautiful Spinola Bay on the main island The Azure Window on Gozo The Inland Sea on Gozo The Blue Lagoon on Comino

It was April 2010 when I received a text from a friend stuck in St Louis, USA and feeling homesick because of an ash cloud that had disrupted international air travel.

I replied with a picture of the Blue Lagoon which I was sitting next to, commenting that I was going to have to add an extra week to my trip too. I’m pretty sure he’s still jealous now.

Located on the island of Comino, the Blue Lagoon is an absolute must see. I took the first ferry across to the island in the morning and it was great to get there and enjoy its majesty before the crowds arrived. In the quiet of the morning the 8 of us who ventured over on the first ferry stood speechless admiring the beauty of this stunning natural bay.

I stayed in Paceville just over the hill from the beautiful Spinola Bay. It was a lively area with plenty of nightlife. The friendly relaxed ways of the locals are quick to rub off on visitors and all too easily I found myself involved in parties with people I had met that day or afternoon or while standing at the bar ordering a drink.

On the food front there was plenty of choice at very reasonable prices. From snack foods to restaurants and even down to a delicious and inexpensive ham that was recommended to me in the supermarket when buying some things for lunch. I found the food to be great. I also have to confess as an ex-pat Aussie I was pretty excited when I spied some Tim-Tam biscuits and other Aussie junk food in the local convenience store.

My bonus days on the island allowed me the chance to explore extensively. Exploring on foot is easy with plenty of footpaths hugging the crystal blue coastline. As the sun comes in of a morning and afternoon the varying shades of blue in the many coastal bays are truly a sight to behold.

If walking isn’t your thing it’s no problem because the bus network is fantastic. All the buses are older style buses painted brightly. They blend nicely with the upbeat and laid back lifestyle on Malta. They’re not overly fast but then Malta’s not a place for clock watching anyway. Plus they’re cheap as chips. For no more than a few Euros you can go from one end of the island to the other.

By far my favourite method of exploration was the moped I hired. On it I was able to take my map and seek out every beach on Malta and Gozo. There were a lot of nice beaches and if you have the opportunity I recommend making the effort to take in as many as possible. If I were pushed to choose one I’d say I was most taken with a beach to the left of a cliff top car park at Manikata.

The weather was amazing. Warm and with sunshine abounding for the most part of every day but unfortunately the water was still a bit chilly for me, which is why I would love to go back to Malta again when the water temperature has had a chance to catch up to the air temperature.

I’d say the places that should not be missed for me, start with what I would call the big blue 3 – the aforementioned Blue Lagoon on Comino, the Blue Grotto on Malta and the Azure Window and inland sea on Gozo.

A trip into the Blue Grotto is a breathtaking experience and has to be experienced first hand to get a true sense of the place. The Azure Window and inland sea at the far end of Gozo are two spectacularly beautiful natural landscape features on a coastline littered with interesting scenery.

All in all a trip to Malta is like a favour you do for yourself.

Good food, friendly people, beautiful beaches and brilliant weather. I wouldn’t mind if another volcano shut down air traffic while I’m there on my next trip.

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