For our last day in Malta, we visited the historic City of Valletta, the smallest capital city in Europe and a celebrated world heritage site. Its acclaimed for its 16th century elegance and it certainly didn’t disappoint. From its pretty piazzas and colonnades, to its golden stone fortresses filled with some of Europe’s finest art and history, it’s easy to see why the city has been crowned the European Capital of Culture for 2018.
“The world is a book and those who do not travel read only one page.”
– St. Augustine
We packed so much into our day but hands down the highlight for me was experiencing the simplistic beauty of the Lower Barrakka Gardens, an unexpected haven in the centre of the bustling city. Surrounded by the enormous fortified arches of the grand harbor, the gardens have a truly dynamic landscape and are unlike any place I’ve been before.
I have to admit I have a thing for gardens and have done since I was a little girl. I’m not entirely sure why exactly but they always feel magical to me and I adore seeing the pure wilderness of nature curated into a single picture of perfectness.
As we silently strolled through the leafy pathways of the Barrakka’s lush oasis, a feeling of calm, (that I haven’t felt for weeks) washed over me and I just longed to spend the day basking under its age old arches watching the world go by.
“Half the fun of travel is the aesthetic of lostness”
– Ray Bradbury
We spent the rest of the day taking refuge from the searing heat in one of the many little charming Maltese cafes, serving the most delicious wine and salad – my preferred holiday diet – and exploring the quaint little shops hidden away in the narrow shady side streets before going on to visit St. John’s Cathedral and its legendary Carvaggios – which by the way did not disappoint.
One of the things I love most about visiting historic places is the power they have to ground you. There’s nothing quite like stepping into a 16th century Cathedral filled with some of the most highly acclaimed masterpieces of all time to remind you of the bigger picture in life.
We’re all guilty of getting wrapped up in ourselves, our problems big and small- the general routine of daily life requires it- but wandering through the ancient stone archways of Valletta trying to absorb and comprehend each and every new visual delight, forced me to forget everything and just get completely lost in the wonders of travel.
Before I went away I was insanely busy, rushing here, there and everywhere and didn’t have time to think straight. There was definitely a couple of things that were bothering me but I was pushing them to the back of my mind, unable to find the space, peace and time to unravel them. Its funny how becoming lost in a new place and adventure has a way of giving us a new understanding and perspective that just isn’t possible in our everyday environment.
“We travel initially to lose ourselves, we travel next to find ourselves”
– Pico Iyer
Valletta definitely gave me a bit of clarity on a few things but more importantly such beautiful memories of friendship and travel. There have been so many places that I have visited that now feel so mundane next to this captivating city and I would recommend it to anyone looking for a holiday that’s more than just lying by the pool.
Malta you have been an inspiration in more ways than one – until next time.
“The whole object of travel is not to set foot on foreign land; it is at last to set foot on one’s own country as a foreign land.”
– G. K. Chesterton