I forget, sometimes, how close to the desert we really are. And not just any desert, but the scorching, infinite sands of the Sahara. So when summer lingers on and on, like it has been doing this year, it should not really come as a surprise to me. But, inevitably, it does; (because the expanse of sea between here and the African continent makes me forget where we’re really located).
Image via Sharkmans World
You see, I am a boots and sweater kind of girl and this year, I have had to leave my beloved boots and fluffy sweaters in the closet. I suppose that, as has happened in the past, prayers will soon be offered in churches for the heavens to pour some rain on us. In the meantime, I am looking on the sunny (literally) side of this and enjoying some leisurely strolls.
This past weekend Valletta beckoned. I wandered into some areas that I had never been in before. Yes, in a city that is about 1.5 miles long by maybe half a mile wide, I still have much to explore. I will concede one thing though – the light of the sun is special at this time of year. There is a golden glow about it that brings out the honey colour in all the old buildings. And whereas once I used to shy away from anything that was rusty or crumbling, I have now learnt that these things too have a story to tell.
In Valletta, there is no escaping the patina of age (except for our new parliament building - but that a story from some other time). It is just there and begs to be noticed and loved for what it is. In Valletta you sometimes come across the totally unexpected in the most unlikely places. And that is what every city needs – a dose of quirky around a forgotten corner – like these figures created from recycled materials. I cam across these unusual, colourful and fun exhibits in Strait Street (Valletta’s former Red Light District) and they really brightened up this decaying sector of the city.
But even in such charming surroundings, bellies still start to rumble. We ate at a restaurant with the unlikely name of Badass Café. I would say that they make the best burgers in Malta. They even got my American husband’s seal of approval. So if they are up to US standards, they are definitely delicious; and let me not start about the fries. We all gave them a big thumbs up. Enough about food though …
We have recently been trying to teach the Mischief Maker a little bit about the long history of these islands. I was in panic mode at first. Where to start when the story goes back at least 6000 years? So we decided not to start anywhere in particular (how typical of me) and just teach him about the place we happen to be in. And what better place to start than Valletta? So we strolled across St George’s Square to the Grand Master’s Palace. A short explanation about this building and off he went, our Mischief Maker, – flitting about like a pesky mosquito.
This building may have been built and embellished by the Grand Masters of the Order of St John but subsequent rulers left their own mark. And that is what I like best about history, that it is made up of many layers, one on top of the other, and you can only get to the heart of the story by peeling back each layer and discovering what lies beneath.
Location: Valletta, November 2012