After we got all the "normal life stuff" sorted as discussed in the previous post, we had time to explore our new home. Malta is a very small island but it doesn't always feel like it when you are trying to from one place to another, especially with the buses - you might feel like you are travelling hundreds of kilometres as it literally takes hours!
One thing that we were surprised of (as we didn't really bother much with research before moving here) was the lack of sandy beaches. Again, coming from where we lived in Spain, where Costa del Sol meets Costa de la Luz and you have nothing but sandy beaches stretching out hundreds of kilometres to both directions - seeing the rocky patches by the sea commonly referred to as "beach" in Malta was a bit of a letdown. There are a few sandy beaches mainly in the north part of the island but as they are not that big and Malta is very densely populated, in the summer months they are really packed. However, we did a little excursion to check out the Golden Bay beach, Riviera beach and Paradise Bay (which hardly lives up to its name). Getting to these places by bus took absolutely ages but it was kind of nice to see different parts of Malta, including the "rural" bits in the middle. It was the end of May that we did our preliminary exploration and the weather was not really warm enough to do actual lying-on-the-beach-in-a-bikini-and-swim-in-the-sea, even though apparently not everyone agreed with us as the beaches were already busy with sunbathers. Our plan was to just check these places out and then go for proper beaching when the summer heats up. Well - spoiler alert - now I'm writing this in November and we never made it to any of these sandy beaches all summer long. The summer was really hot - I mean really, really hot - not sure what made it so much hotter than the summers we spent in Spain but we definitely suffered with the heat more than in Spain. The thought of travelling well more than an hour on the bus just to get to the beach, which is sure to be completely packed, just didn't seem enticing. By that time we were kind of used to the idea of sitting or lying on the rocks like a pack of sea lions, which is normal in here and there was one of these little rocky patches within a five-minute-walk from our place so that's where we ended up going most of the hot summer afternoons. I'm not saying it would make it on the "top five beaches in the world" list - it is a crowded patch of rocks by a harbour (which coincidentally also offers views of my work place) and just getting to the water required a lot of hazardous scrambling over slippery rocks - but hey, you have to appreciate what you got. Maybe next summer we will actually make it to some nicer beaches.
Jatkossa lisää juttuja Maltalta niin turistin kuin ex-patinkin ominaisuudessa!
We did visit the area around the Blue Grotto which was at least a lot less crowded and you had the views of the open sea instead of the harbour. Still rocky, yes, but beautiful. There are boat tours going into the actual grotto which we skipped - we may be tourists but not quite to that extent. We also made the journey over to Dingli cliffs for some nature photography and that felt like being in a whole different place altogether. Finding a place in Malta that is quiet, with no people or traffic and you can see some natural beauty, is a blessing. You just need a little bit of persistence and lots of patience waiting for the buses but you will be rewarded with gorgeous views.
More stuff on Malta to come, both from tourist and ex-pat point of view!