Malta will always hold a special place in my heart because it was the destination of mine and Kate's first holiday together. So when we had the chance of returning to the island and staying in the family apartment again we didn’t need much persuading, the only difference this time was that we’d be travelling as a family rather than a couple.
Arriving in Malta International Airport courtesy of Ryan Air I realised immediately it was a mistake to be wearing a blazer and jeans. The thirty degree heat called for shorts and tees only but at least I’d resisted the temptation to pack fourteen pairs of socks to cover our two week stay.
After meeting Kate’s dad, Dave, and collecting our hire car we made the short drive to the flat in Marsaskala and I was pleased to see that almost nothing had changed. The flat still looked and felt the same, the view across the bay was as I remembered it and the Maltese drivers were still as crazy as ever.
After a day of settling in and adjusting to the heat Dave offered to babysit Fergus for the evening so Kate and I took the opportunity to get dressed-up and head out for a bite to eat. When we last stayed in Malta we had the meal to end all meals at local favourite Grabiel’s so we thought it’d be nice to go back but remember to order much less this time.
Even with the benefit of past experience the sheer amount of food we were served was staggering, even I couldn’t finish it, but it was worth going just to see Kate managing to look glamorous whilst wearing a plastic bib with a lobster on it as she devoured a bowl of shellfish.
Following our night out we slipped into a relaxing daily routine of breakfast, followed by a walk around the bay and then cappuccinos at the local café whilst Fergus played in the playground. After that it was lunch time and after that we all had a nap to avoid the searing heat.
Once we’d all woken up we’d head to the beach at nearby St Thomas’s bay or maybe wander over to the sprawling mega-playground that was the newly built but terribly under-used Family Park.
Some days we’d all pile into the car and head further afield to the fishing village of Marsaxlokk with its famous bay and painted boats or an abortive attempt at visiting the water park in St Julian’s that ended with us getting completely lost, giving up and coming home and going to the much less exciting swimming pool at the local leisure centre.
On one of our last days we drove right across the island to see Popeye’s Village. Built by the Disney corporation back in the 1990’s as the set for the filming of Popeye the movie and now transformed into a tourist attraction. It doesn’t sound like much but I was impressed; situated in a beautiful, secluded bay when you first arrive and see it in all its ramshackle glory it’s quite something.
On our last day we devoured the contents of the fridge and freezer before turning everything off, shutting the curtains and locking up until the next visit. The Mediterranean lifestyle is one I could easily get used to I just hope that by the time we next visit the driving has improved but somehow I doubt it.