After lusting after sun and the seaside, I booked a cheap ($34) flight from Sofia, Bulgaria to the Maltese Islands. For someone in search of a relaxing and sunny holiday, this is the place to be. The three islands that comprise Malta are located just 100 miles off the coast of Sicily and 200 miles from Tunisia. Although small, Malta is a strategic naval location and has been ruled by Romans, Sicilians, Spanish and British. Imprints of these ruling powers were left on the landscape of Malta in various forms; Sicilian pasta is the most prevalent food, vehicles drive on the left side of the road, and roman ruins can be found in most towns across Malta.
My Maltese adventure began in Valletta, where imposing fortresses from 1566 stand on the coast of the peninsula. The streets are narrow and hilly, lined with cafes, bars and colorful doorways. I made my first gaff as a tourist when I dined on Sicilian pasta and realized after I was at a cash only restaurant, with no Euros to my name (Swiss Francs wouldn't cut it). It all worked out thanks to a trusting waiter who let me return hours later, but it was the hardest, and quickest, way to learn that Malta is basically a cash only island.
The next day I went inland from the coast to the city of Mdina, the ancient capital of Malta. Mdina is known as the 'Silent City' and true to the name the streets are narrow and quiet, reminding you of a different period of time. The main street through town bustles with tourists, but since only one bus every hour runs from the coast to Mdina, the crowds inside the walls were minimal. I found myself wandering sand-colored alleyways, admiring baroque and medieval architecture, and passing through small green courtyards. Before leaving the walled city, I stopped at Coogi's for a glass of wine and a view of the Maltese countryside.
My final day in Malta was spent on a Turkish boat exploring the smaller two of the islands. We spent the day sailing the coastline and exploring the many blue lagoons around the island. Our guide pointed out famous filming locations, everything from Jurassic Park to Game of Thrones, and informed us about the history of the islands.
Malta was the perfect place to catch some final summer sun and relax on the rocky shores of the perfect blue waters. I loved the mix of beach holiday and cultural excursion that could be found, just within the 122 square mile island heaven.