“This doesn’t seem real”, I thought, absolutely shitting myself on the morning of my flight, and trying to wrap my head around the fact that I was about to embark on a flight ON MY OWN. I can’t stress enough how much of a big deal that fact was. This was derived from a combination of:
a) anxiety that I’d do the wrong thing when I got to the airport. You want my boarding pass or my passport? I have to take my shoes off during security? WHERE IS THE CLEAR PLASTIC BAG FOR MY LIQUIDS GOD DAMNIT?!
b) fear that I’d feel sick on the flight and vom all over my unsuspecting neighbour
c) an undercurrent of terror that I might die in a terrorist attack (ever the catastrophist…)
Now, I wont go into details of my airport and flight experience because that would be a new low in blog topics, but I will say that the entire process went smoothly…nay…brilliantly! No nausea at all, and I experienced an unexpected sense of real calm. We touched down, I turned my phone on to let my worrisome mother know I was ok, and then the real fun began.
Malta, is basically england, but hotter. I had not realised this, but when the first thing I saw upon entering Malta airport arrivals is a Costa I realised that I probably wouldnt have an issue with culture shock here. In my mind, this was a good thing for my first foray into solo travelling. I hopped in one of the airport white cabs which was a mild error, as white cabbies in Malta drive like they’re racing to their death. Or my death. If I hadnt felt sick on the plane, I sure as buggery did by the time I arrived at my hotel.
Ahhh, my hotel. The glorious Preluna Spa hotel in Sliema. An absoutely glorious place, full of charm, with brilliant service and, importantly, super high security – the holy grail for a paranoid android such as myself. I felt immediately at ease, dumped my stuff in my room and the first thing I did was take a selfie on the balcony.
It is at this juncture that I need to defend the rise of the selfie stick. The absolute saviour of all solo travellers – without it, I wouldn’t have featured in the majority of my landscape shots because I do not have an inspector gadget arm. Thank you, selfie stick of joy. I digress…
….once I’d selfied myself out, I headed out to the infamous Sliema promenade upon which my hotel was situated. I wandered up and down, and then settle down at a cafe/bar with a nice glass of wine, a chicken salad, and just soaked up the view. I made friends with an elderly couple from Yorkshire who kindly took a photo of me, and gave me lots of advice. One of the best things they told me was to buy a weekly bus ticket for 6euros, which would get me anywhere on the island all week. This proved to be a brilliant tip – I got one of these tickets and absoutely rinsed it!
Next stop was the Preluna beach club, which was part of the hotel but actually across the road from it. Most of the beaches in Malta are limestone, and didnt look that comfortable to sunbathe on…having the beach club there meant we had access to sun loungers which made the whole thing more comfortable (as well as a sea water pool, bar & grill,etc) I loved this place because it had a really nice vibe and I felt comfortable leaving my things unattended at the side of the pool whilst I went swimming. Generally speaking, I prefer swimming in the sea – I LOVE the sea and snorkelling is one of my favourite things – but the part of the Med we were near was actually quite choppy at times, and I’m not the strongest swimmer. I went in once and then panicked so stuck to the pool from thereon in.
By this time, it was getting on for dinner time so I got myself dolled up and strolled up to the 13th floor of my hotel for the rooftop terrace. I got there for opening time (I’m always first in line for booze o’ clock) and was the only one up there so I had a good half hour just sitting alone, taking it all in, quietly, with no sound but the waves crashing and the clinking of glasses as the bartender set up for the evening. I had nothing but my book (The Great Gatsby) and my Pina Colada for company, and I’ve never felt so content.
I decided to head back to the promenade area for dinner, because there we so many cute little dining places dotted along, I wanted to try at least 2 or 3 during my stay. I opted for the one directly opposite my hotel and had a chicken burger (I know I know, hardly adventurous but the Maltese dont really have ‘local dishes’) and a Corona. There’s nothing quite like watching the sunset over the sea…especially when your venue of choice is busting out some classic 80’s power ballads. What more could I ask for?!
By the time dinner had wrapped it was gone 10pm so I decided to head back to my room and send a few texts to people from my balcony, watching the activity below. My balcony faced right out onto the promenade so it gave a good view of the hubub of Malta at night – it was pretty buzzy, and by that point, the local vendors had turned up with stalls along the promenade, all lit with fairy lights looking beautiful (even though the majority were selling the usual tat)
So that was it…my first day in Malta was over, and I was in love. With the island, the Maltese people, and with a real sense of pride at what I had accomplished. Bring on Day 2!