Instawalk: The Streets of Valletta, Malta and First Impressions

i was getting mixed messages about what kind of place Malta is. on the one hand, their Eurovision entry this year made it seem kind of hipstery and folksy:

on the other hand(s), the Lonely Planet made it seem mysterious and ancient, friends have said it’s amazing (without going into much further detail), and getting a drive around the island after i landed at the airport and took the bus in the wrong direction, you could be forgiven for thinking you were somewhere in Northern Africa by the looks of things. of course, the driver of the bus opening the door open as a form of air conditioning didn’t seem to help matters any, either. this is a heavily-touristed country in the EU?

sidebar: the buses buy tickets (a 1-week ticket valid for Malta only is €6.50 i think) from the driver. while there are stops it seems like they will let you off wherever you want along the route. many people, including myself, took advantage of that on the bus from the airport (that went all over lol). be sure to verify the direction of the bus with the driver!

add to that a language that is related to Arabic but written in Latin script, a load of expats, and an airbnb that looks like a Manhattan loft and you can see why i’m simultaneously bewildered and enchanted.

but i think that reflects the history of Malta which has shaped what it is today. from its Wikipedia entry:

Malta’s location as a naval base has given it great strategic importance throughout history, and a succession of powers, including the Phoenicians, Romans, Moorish, Normans, Aragonese, Habsburg Spain, Knights of St. John, French and the British, have ruled the islands. Malta gained independence from the United Kingdom in 1964 and became a republic in 1974. Malta was admitted to the United Nations in 1964 and to the European Union in 2004; in 2008, it became part of the Eurozone.

this confluence of cultures, fed by its past, is remarkable. after spending an evening walking around Valletta, the capital, you can see vestiges of British colonialism, the strong influence of Roman Catholicism, and its military history as well. for example, i came across some people playing what i have now learned is the British Commonwealth version of bingo on an old fortification:

the narrow, steep streets of Valletta seem to have been forgotten by time (and money), but i don’t think i would have it any other way. the crumbling facades, peeling paint and faded signs add so much to its character. i can’t wait to go back and explore more tomorrow! totally my kind of place.

Outside my airbnb

On the corner outside my Airbnb — technically not Valletta, but close enough. (I’m in Floriana, right outside the city gates.)

Typical Valetta street

A typical Valletta street

For hire

I wonder what a “Morning Suit” is…

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Festive! Also, my Airbnb is in an old-style building like these, on a narrow street complete with balcony.

Ye trite moped shot

Ye trite moped shot.

Omg I could go Instagram crazy here but I won't for everyone's sake.

I wish I could go in and explore these old buildings!

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Looking across the harbor to either Senglea or Birgu (aka Vittoriosa)

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