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Malta is an odd one. Or at least that’s my interpretation based on what I saw of the country.
Which, in all honesty, wasn’t very much as I missed my flight and ended up only spending 3 days there as opposed to the four and a half I planned. But still, Malta is so teeny tiny that even in a day you can cover quite a lot of ground.
A lot of dusty, beige ground.
That was my first impression of the country as the flight started to descend into Malta International Airport – the whole country looked so beige and un-European that on landing I actually pulled out my phone to double check on Google Maps that we were still within the boundaries of Europe. Turns out we were – just about.
Looking at a map (with a magnifying glass so you can actually find the tiny little speck) without checking actual distances, you’d be forgiven for thinking Malta as equidistant from both Italy and Tunisia. It’s actually a lot closer (more than 300km closer) to Sicily than Tunisia but aesthetically seems way more fitting to Northern Africa or the Middle East than Europe.
It’s very British…but also not.
Despite it looking and feeling (it was 15°C in the middle of February, WHAT) nothing like mainland Europe, there were some very amusing hints at Malta’s former life as a British crown colony, as well as to the almost overbearing presence of British expats and holidaymakers. The obvious indication to the former would be the fact that in Malta they drive on the right side of the road, which is to say, they drive on the LEFT. There are also still rusty old red phone boxes dotted around the place – a true British institution you’d be hard-pressed to even find in Britain these days!
More bizarrely, shops like the now defunct in the UK BHS and ELC still have a place in Malta, as well as good old regulars like Marks and Spencer and Debenhams. However, I did not have time to pop into M&S so cannot confirm or deny whether Percy Pigs are sold there.
The Maltese language seems like an amalgamation of…everything.
The Maltese language is incredible. As a linguist, I absolutely loved it!
As we were queuing up to board our plane in Stansted, I thought to myself that there were an awful lot of Italians waiting to board, and perhaps it was Italian go on holiday to Malta season or something. Then I listened more closely and realised that I couldn’t understand a single word of what was being said! Quite embarrassing for an Italian translator, no?
It was only when I caught a glimpse of the passports of the people in front of me that I twigged – they were speaking Maltese! It made sense that it sounded Italian but wasn’t, given the close proximity to Italy.
When I then saw the language written on road signs and flyers in Malta, I thought it had more of an Arabic hint. A lot of Q’s, X’s and sounds made at the back of your throat. A quick (and very nerdy) Google search taught me that the roots of the Maltese language are mainly found in Arabaic, but over the years the people of Malta have adopted a lot of words and phrases from Sicilian, English, and languages of the other European countries who were really mean to them throughout history (more on that in another post…).
I’ve gone off on a tangent now, and I don’t think anyone really came here to nerd out over word things with me – you all came for pictures.