Backpacking Europe was one of the greatest times of my life. I had just graduated from university, and was ready to really start living. I viewed my time in high school and university as a mandatory prerequisite of life, and in truth, an obstacle to overcome before I could start my real education: Seeing the world.
Without doubt, formal education is nothing compared to real life experience. Formal education is largely a rote learning process involving facts and figures, the memorisation of principles which can be applied to real life scenarios, and an ability to basically master lateral thinking. It doesn’t, however, prepare you in any way whatsoever for the real world.
This Mediterranean island is an eclectic mix of Italian, Greek, and Phoenician influence, with a wonderful coating of Islamic rule to measure. The island’s architecture is ancient, weathered, and sunburnt. Italian cuisine is the main food choice, and the servings are very generous. Crepe stalls line the streets, serving chicken, onion, mushroom, and mango chutney crepes that are to die for! Football is more present here than anywhere else I have visited: Huge sports bars line the esplanade, complete with print-out rosters of that week’s games for all major codes (English Premier League, La Liga, Serie A, Ligue 1, Bundesliga, and of course, the Maltese Premier League).
The waters of Malta are some of the best you will find in the Mediterranean. Gozo, Sliema, St. Julians, and the Blue Grotto are particularly memorable, due to their crystal clear waters and rustic surroundings. Imagine large imposing cliffs, that have been worn by the weather, showing dry desert cracks and dusty grounds, blowing over a steep cliff and breezing across blue diamond waters. Imagine that stepping back from these cliffs, you find a city with a Middle Eastern architectural influence, Italian cuisine, and a plethora of alleys leading to the types of dark, interesting, and inviting corners usually reserved for Hollywood movies.
This is that place. It exists. And it is called Malta.
I often find that travellers overlook Malta due to its difficult positioning in the Mediterranean. I find this to be a huge mistake, as there is so much on offer that isn’t talked about enough in backpacking circles. Sure, we had to take a dodgy work ship with the worst food imaginable to get there, but once we arrived, boy was it worth it!
The streets had a rustic, weathered feel that transported me back one hundred years. A lot of cities in Europe are ancient, but Malta’s cities actually feel ancient. In terms of nicknacks to buy, Valletta’s streets have very cool items to purchase that will remind me of the quaint, dated aura the island emits, which penetrates your soul with good vibes and fun times.
If you want to head out for a fun night of partying, then look no further than Paceville: I promise you, this gives Mykonos and Ibiza a genuine run for their money. In fact, imagine removing all of the drugs from Ibiza (is that even possible?), switching the scenery in Mykonos to sepia-tone, and squeezing in some dashing Italian influence, and you have Paceville! The nightclubs boom thunderously with the latest hits, while staff practically throw free drinks in your face just so you enter. It’s clear that the clubs are competing fiercely against each other, so ultimately it’s you, the customer, who ends up winning.
I’m actually surprised at how much the world raves on about party islands, such as Mykonos, Ios, and Ibiza. These places are fun, that’s for sure, although in recent years I believe Ibiza has gone downhill due to the massive drug influence. But how come Paceville isn’t mentioned in the same breath, when it deserves similar treatment? It’s a mystery to me, but alas, travel is about finding hidden wonders, and if you want a place to really rock out in, that feels special because it isn’t as commercialised as other places, then look no further: Paceville, Malta, is your next destination!