Trip date: December 2021
After a year of not being able to meet up for our annual New Years Eve trip because of Covid, Forest, Thibault, and I were landing at our chosen destination of Malta! Malta was one of the only countries that we found to be requiring proof of vaccination which made us all breathe a bit easier. They also were still wearing masks, inside and outside, so it felt safe. The country is rich in history, prehistoric relics, amazing scenery, delicious cuisine, and is on the Euro. This little island country really has it all!
My friends and I flew from Lyon where we had spent Christmas with Thibault's lovely family. His mom even packed us sandwiches made with leftovers and his dad drove us to the airport. Very sweet! After 2 hours on Malta Air we were landing in the capital city of Valletta and my 51st county!
We picked up our rental car at the airport and were really surprised when they told us there was a €2k deposit! Driving is on the left in Malta and the roads are quite narrow and twisty, we also had a manual shift, so it was really nice that Forest offered to be the driver. As we drove through Valletta we passed a horse and buggy on the road; the experience had already begun!
Gozo is an island just north of the "mainland" of Malta and would be our first destination. It was a 40+ minute drive to the ferry dock, then about a 30 minute crossing. It was dark so we couldn't really see much but as soon as we drove onto Gozo we could see how charming the tiny towns were and all lit up with Christmas decorations!Al Sale in Xaghra. Here we had our first taste of the Maltese sheep's milk cheese Ġbejna and I had a lovely pasta. As Malta sits in the Mediterranean between Tunisia and Sicily the food has wonderful flavors borrowed from both regions. My ragu had sweet earthy spices of cinnamon, clove, and cumin and the pasta was expertly made. We were full and happy and excited to see our rental in the neighboring village.