Christmas, where ever you are in the world, is a time for family, friends and togetherness. When you’re travelling, the lead up to Christmas can be daunting, but it can also be the perfect opportunity to relax, reflect and actually take time out from the norm.
Last year was the first Christmas I spent without my family and it’s safe to say I was nervous. Not only was I not going to be with them, but I was also going to be in a completely different country not able run back at the last second like a small child scared of the dark. However, once I had put these initial nerves to one side, the excitement set in.
I was going to Malta to spend Christmas with my boyfriend and his parents who had booked a sweet little apartment on AirBnB, just around the corner from where his mum grew up. Now, Christmas is always going to be odd outside of your home country and, having been born in England, waking up on Christmas morning to 28°C heat and clear skies was nothing short of strange – but, I loved it.
It really was a pleasant change to the normal rush of London and we even made time to visit the island of Gozo (for only €5 might I add!) – the home of the second oldest free standing structure in the world – and take a traditional Maltese water taxi (called a dgħajsa) to The Three Cities alongside exploring Valletta’s winding streets, shops, restaurants and views by foot.
My favourite part of the trip however had to be the food. Travelling with a chef for a boyfriend can be both great and frustrating, but here we hit the jackpot. Pastizzi (small Maltese pastries usually filled with mushy peas or ricotta) were a particularly great discovery at only 30 cents each. They were perfect to pick up from the many of the small stalls dotted around if we were peckish or just on our way into Valletta in the morning.
For the evening, there were plenty of relaxed bars and many without outside seating areas and heaters for when it got a little too nippy at night! Our favourite stop for dinner was Guzé Bistro – we even went there twice! The small family owned restaurant is neatly hidden away on one of the many side streets of Valletta and serves seasonal Mediterranean dishes. I loved the truffle and artichoke starter, the fruity Maltese wine and the friendly staff who loved a chat and a joke! For us, it was definitely a positive change to our usual Christmas dinner.
Alongside the delicious food, great local wine and amazing architecture, Malta (for the tourist, anyway) is a relaxed country perfect for anyone looking for even a few days in the slow lane. Even the stunning capital, Valletta, is calm and laid back – even during the few days we were there before Christmas – and also a must visit if you love Game of Thrones!