Discovering Malta, with no smartphone or guidebook


We stumble down the sulphur-yellow dust monitor, no signal of Claire’s secret seaside. Up to now quarter-hour we’ve been honoured with simply the odd lonesome goat for firm and the swallows, dancing above our heads. I take a slurp of my water. It’s previous noon however already the April solar feels sturdy on our pores and skin. We attain a lifeless finish. Power of nature implores me to have a look at my telephone for solutions. In line with Google Maps, the monitor or seaside doesn’t exist. We’re in no-mans lands. I search for once more, into the gap, my eyes swimming in probably the most good shade of deep blue Mediterranean Sea. Sabrina jogs my memory that Claire, our new Gozitan acquaintance had talked about a flip off to the best. We retrace our steps up the dusty yellow monitor.


Foraging for wild fennel in Gozo


I discover the clumps of untamed feral fennel casually rising amidst the poppy flowers. We discover our flip off, an overgrown path coated with a thicket of wildflowers of all the colors of the rainbow. I pause to take photographs of them so that somebody can determine them to me later. Apart from the glad dance of swallows there may be additionally the candy meditative hum of bees, frolicking within the meadow of wildflowers. I shut my eyes. Generally, journey presents you with these moments of virtually close to perfection.I quickly hear a wild yelp of happiness from Sabrina. I open my eyes and see she has ventured forth, through a craggy slope by way of the impenetrable haze of wildflowers.


Path to the key seaside


She has discovered the trail to the legendary secret seaside. It has the right view of the dreamy turquoise blue waters of Comino within the distance. We should have sat there in good silence for nearly half an hour earlier than a pair got here. There was a glance of shock after which a giant smile. 

‘So about this seaside too.’

We nodded our heads reassuringly and raised our arms, half apologetically to reassure them…the key stays with us. We retrace our steps up the monitor. The goat had disappeared. After we attain the highest of the monitor and look down once more, there was no seen landmark within the horizon of our secret seaside, simply the swallows dancing within the sky.


Locals sharing their tips for Malta in our scrapbook

Locals sharing their ideas for Malta in our scrapbook


Perhaps there aren’t any secrets and techniques in journey anymore.

It was higher earlier than. We had to make use of our creativeness and never depend on Instagram to visualise a spot. Perhaps its an outdated age factor, however there may be this horrible tendency of individuals in my age group to romanticise the previous. Travelling was extra enjoyable, genuine. There have been much less crowds in the preferred journey hotspots. You didn’t must stand up at 5 am to see the Trevi fountain. You may fly Ryanair round Europe for as little as €2 return. Plus, there was no problem with carrying liquids or restrictions of carry-on baggage. Hostels have been tremendous low-cost. I keep in mind travelling with my trusted Lonely Planet guidebook and the three hostels listed appeared to have room for everybody.

Then got here the age of the web. Social media. Instantly, there was an enormous quantity of knowledge on the ideas of our arms. We have been in idea, higher geared up to journey extra and higher. The opening hours of eating places could possibly be discovered with out the necessity of a telephone name. We might discover the record of the ten finest issues to do in Berlin in a flash because of the increase in blogs. There was no must pop into the vacationer data workplace or converse to journey advisors anymore. No want for human interplay. Every thing you wanted to find out about a metropolis or place was one Google search away. Now we’ve AI instruments to assist plan our journey itineraries. Nothing is left to likelihood. We have now our bottomless bucket record of locations to see earlier than we die. Instagram over nourishes our want and dream to journey. With so many locations to see and so little time, journey turns into one other process, one other record of issues to complete. We arrive house, depressing and unfulfilled. 


Assembly the pleasant locals of Mgarr

‘If I used to be to inform a vacationer what to do in Gozo, I might inform them to go swimming on considered one of our superb seashores the place locals spend lot of time in spring and summer time. I might inform them to do a cooking class. Immerse your self within the on a regular basis lifetime of the island. Go to any cafe or bar.’

Claire, Mojo.


I’m again in Malta after virtually 8 years. I keep in mind trying on the outdated photographs and really feel prefer it was a distinct period and a distinct me. One of many highlights of my journey was visiting the small, conventional fishing village of Marsaxlokk within the south japanese nook of Malta. I keep in mind on a sleepy late September afternoon having the entire waterfront to myself, a bottle of the native Cisk lager in hand. I additionally keep in mind wandering the slim streets of the Mdina, the silent metropolis, timeless and this sense of virtually strolling again in time. 10 years later and I’m excited to be again in Malta however slightly nervous. It’s like once you reconnect with outdated mates and surprise, will or not it’s as good as earlier than?

The recognition of the island within the years previous has soared because of the recognition of reveals like Recreation of Thrones. We revisit Mdina and it appears loads much less silent. The crowds have multiplied. Fortunately, I had been warned by some locals to keep away from Mdina and go to the neighbouring village of Rabat. Rabat feels as timeless and enchanting as Mdina however once we visited, there was hardly any crowds to be seen, simply the odd native. We have been grateful to Mark from the Kings Crown pub for the tip.

Confession time. It was not fully by likelihood we met Mark. Philip informed us about Stephen. Stephen spoke of Mark. We met Philip because of a card sport we invented. Let me clarify.


For this journey to Malta we had determined to do one thing totally different. As an alternative of planning the journey to loss of life through researching countless weblog posts, Pinterest boards and Instagram galleries, chewing by way of a guidebook, we determined to have a distinct form of journey. The entire journey could be a sport of likelihood, constructed with the assistance of chatting with random locals. No guidebook could possibly be used. No smartphone too, until we have been utterly misplaced. Approaching locals randomly to ask for journey ideas will be awkward generally so I needed to give you a tool, so I assumed why not create a deck of playing cards with inquiries to the most typical belongings you would need to know on vacation. The playing cards would assist cut back the awkwardness of breaking the ice. The concept could be that locals would draw a card after which give us a tip primarily based on the query on the cardboard. We might then comply with on that tip and in addition ask the native to suggest one other native we should always meet and assist us on our quest. 


Sundown on the saltpans in Xwejni

The journey

So how did it go? Our experiment began in Gozo once we met the fantastic pleasant Philip Spiteri from the favored Ta Philip restaurant. He just about launched us to the entire island. After drawing the cardboard asking him to call his favorite lunch spot, he really useful we meet the beautiful Claire who runs Mojo restaurant in Victoria, Gozo. Claire, was chargeable for introducing us to the key seaside I discussed earlier. When he drew the cardboard requested to call his favorite pub, he really useful we go to the Gleneagles pub in Mgarr Harbour, run by the affable Tony who turned out to be a goldmine for ideas and in addition a person with many tales to inform of the island. Whereas there may be sadly no such factor as a time machine, with some individuals you meet in your travels, you might have a reference to the previous, with all of the magic and disappointment that has handed earlier than, that sense of virtually being there once they describe all of the feelings, the tales of the individuals they met of their bar for the final 40 years. Tony was that form of particular person. A connection to Gozo’s previous.

Our fantastic driver and information, Alex


We ended three memorable days with a bag full of recent reminiscences and mates. We ended up in plenty of new locations and a really totally different perspective of Malta. I would wish a complete day simply to inform you about all of the magic however let me end with the tip of our journey. Image probably the most unbelievable sundown. We have been at Dingli cliffs. We had acquired the tip from numerous locals. It looks like everybody had bought the identical tip too. The automobile park was jammed and the viewing level was already a tussle between guests, scrambling to get that good image of the sundown that may immortalise the second in historical past. Led by our driver, Alex we walked additional away from the crowds, alongside the cliffs till we have been strangled by the empty silence of the massive large open sea. A retired police officer who hunted down native smugglers, Alex knew each road, each mud monitor just like the again of his hand. He wasn’t a person of many phrases however there have been occasions when displaying us the island, I might see a flicker of emotion in his eye. I noticed his eyes widen once we reached the spot. We have been one million miles from every little thing and simply the open large sea, bathed on this golden gentle as that fiery crimson ball of fireside slowly melted into the horizon. Someplace within the distance was Africa. It was then I fished out my pack of Twistees.

It was a tip from native chef Stephen La Rosa. 

‘Don’t go away the island with out consuming this!’

We sadly had no Cisk however these twistees tasted rattling good. We ate it to our hearts content material in good silence, until the darkness swallowed the solar and our shadows. I then gave Alex the most important hug and I believe we each had a tear in our eyes.


Hanging out with the fantastic Tony, proprietor of Gleneagles Bar


What makes moments like this and journey so good?

Irrespective of how a lot we good expertise and AI, some issues in life can’t be manufactured. In the long run, it comes all the way down to timing. Plus, additionally being in the best place. Serendipity. On this sense, Malta was good. 

The great thing about our journey was that it was nothing to do with luck however all about being courageous and taking an opportunity. So, my message is easy. If you happen to do go to Malta, go away the guidebook and telephone behind within the room. Go to a bar. Order the native drink. Have a random dialog with a neighborhood. Give them the permission to share their house with you. You don’t want the cardboard sport. I promise you, you may be stunned at what you would possibly uncover. 

In the long run, it’s actually easy. Journey is all concerning the individuals. It turns into a lot extra significant and thrilling once we join with locals, discover out their story and perhaps study one thing new that modifications your perspective.

Seems, there are nonetheless secrets and techniques in journey. You simply must ask the best individuals.


Disclaimer: The journey to Malta was doable because of the sort help of Go to Malta UK and companions. Nonetheless, all of the opinions expressed right here, good and unhealthy are fully my very own. Plus, an enormous thanks to all of the locals we met in Malta and Gozo who made our journey unforgettable. Extra Malta and Gozo tales and ideas developing quickly on the weblog. Within the meantime, please go to the Visit Malta website for extra concepts to plan your journey.