The Time of Our Lives
by David Mamo
As the son of Maltese immigrants to Australia in the 1950's I had always been told what a wonderfully diverse and interesting place Malta was, with thousands of years of history, ancient ruins, beautiful beaches and a wonderful climate.
The friendly people guaranteed to make all tourists, especially the ones returning home to the country of birth of their parents, very welcome.
And so I travelled with my wife, a fifth generation Australian and two sons, for not only an adventure but a journey back to my roots and a chance to show my boys where our family had come from.
I am happy to say it was all true!
From the Grand Harbour to the Prehistoric temples, to the Norman architecture and Grand Masters' Palace, the country oozes history.
If that is not enough, then the wealth of museums and the ancient cities of Valletta, Mdina and Victoria will surely impress.
Perhaps beautiful churches and Catholic history are more your style?
The elaborate architecture and frescos and cathedrals are sure to impress as will the catacombs and almost daily religious festas in the summer.
Did I mention the weather? It can be summed up in one word ... GREAT!
Warm and sunny days are the norm with little or no rain and only light clothing needed when we were there in the summer and autumn.
The water temperature was also a treat. The warm sea water always took the sting out of a dip in the beautifully clean sea.
I also had a lot of fun visiting the government offices and many of the local parish churches where I was able to seek the help of locals and parish priests in tracing back my ancestral roots. I got back as far as the 16th century on both my mother and father's side and hope to learn even more details on my next visit.
The sample of local transport was also interesting. Riding on an assortment of buses with all the Catholic icons on display made one feel safe with Jesus, Mary and Joseph as well as a variety of saints looking over you.
Other modes of transport included boat and ferry rides as well as inexpensive car hire and you could always have a ride on the Karozzin (or horse drawn carriage) for something completely different.
If none of that is of interest, then don’t fear. We loved our daily walks along the Sliema waterfront, especially at night where the city lights, safe atmosphere and the buzz of other tourists from all over the world added to the whole experience.
I know what you are thinking. Sounds interesting but where is the fun?
Well for me, it’s the island life with the spectacular Mediterranean Sea within easy access of literally everywhere. This means swimming in the crystal blue waters of places like the Blue Grotto, Ghar Lapsi, the Sliema sea front, St Georges Bay and the sandy beaches of Armier, Paradise Bay, Golden Sands, Mellieha Bay and Ghajn Tuffieha … this makes me want to go back again and again!
The afternoon that we spent in the fishing village of Marsaxlokk soaking up the atmosphere and sampling all the seafood delights on offer was another highlight.
Don't fear however if you are not too adventurous with your food as the cosmopolitan nature of the island means that food from the four corners of the world is on offer and you can even pick up some McDonalds, KFC or Hungry Jacks.
I preferred to stick with the Lampuki, pastizzi, timpana and "fenek" or rabbit in red wine sauce as my culinary experience.
Arguably though, we saved the best for last.
Our day trip by boat to the island of Comino for a day of swimming, sun bathing and pretending to be rich, swimming among million dollar yachts was heaven!
So if you are looking for history, culture, great weather, the beauty of the sea and a people that make you feel at home, then Malta is the place to go!
Now I know what my parents were talking about when they said that everything you would ever want in a holiday destination was available in Malta and all within a tiny, easy to get around island that allowed you to do it all.
This story was one of 5 finalist stories in our first I LOVE MALTA CONTEST.