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Valletta, Mdina – Malta

Trip before trip. That’s what I would call the beginning of this trip. Only this pre-trip is during the trip, because the last weeks were so full of events that the week was like days sometimes. I can start, as in fairy tales, once upon a time, a few weeks ago. I started reading Crime and War (Fyodor Dostoevsky), I read its last lines the day before this flight.

The story of a young man lost in his life who commits a terrible crime, the entire 600 pages of the book struggle with their inner world to accept this event and surrender to reality. The surprising thing was that in a way this story ended with a happy ending, there was no sign of that until the epilogue. A fitting story for the gloomy autumn climate in our latitudes, and just like in the book, the ending was unexpectedly good (dramatizing, because I knew about the trip in advance).

I am on my way to Malta, not the one where it snowed this morning. Not the one in Latvia. The plane has taken off and we are on our way. The week before this trip I was on a four-day trip to a dance festival in Poland. The festival is called ElSol. Three intense days of dancing with classes and parties. You would think that after a festival like that, salsa would be in my dreams, but if you really like it, you can’t have too much of it, even in your dreams. World-renowned teachers and just a great atmosphere that will make the whole event unforgettable. People are not only on the same mood at these events, but I think it is more than that. You don’t have to talk among such people to feel like you are among your own. All you have to do is look at each other and say ‘hey’. And a smile spreads across everyone’s face. A feeling worth repeating and repeating. About dance can talk very much, how it influences, changes and enriches people’s lives.

In the last few weeks, I have been more active in realizing the idea of my poetry book, i.e. organizing photo shoots. One poem, one picture. 121 poems in total. To my own surprise, the poems are written very quickly, and most likely next year will start with a finished collection. The photos won’t go so fast, though, because each photo has its own idea and it takes time to realize it. For me, this process is like gaining experience in the world of photography, as more than 100 different photo shoots are a remarkable experience, especially for an amateur level photographer. Although there is no such clear line between professional and amateur. Any post-processing thing is not difficult to learn, even if I haven’t worked with it before. Again, if you love what you do, it doesn’t even matter what you do, it’s just a matter of time and you’ll do it very well. You can see all the published poems and finished photos on the poetry blog

As the title of this blog suggests, now is a good time to explain, as I haven’t said/written anything about the trip itself. A trip in my mind is everything we do, from the moment we get up to the moment we go to sleep. The little adventures of life that make our lives more fulfilled. And then, in the future, sitting with a cup of coffee, traveling to the experiences, and remembering every detail, every moment that made me smile and enjoy the mundane things of this world. Life without adventure is a only existence. Of course, we are all part of this system, and we are all involved in the development of the overall processes. It’s a real philosophy if you don’t apply it practically, but sometimes it allows you to organize your mind, throw out unnecessary thoughts and move on.

The flight to Malta is the day after Latvia’s red-white-red Independence Day celebrations. This kind of mood should be daily, but often people’s patriotic feelings are more visible by the proximity of certain dates, and if there’s an extra day off for that… for a while everything is left there in Latvia or reading this now, here in Latvia, but now it’s time to turn to warmer activities. Malta, which is about 10 square kilometres bigger than Riga (for the moment, as Riga’s territory is subject to change. Malta, however, does not have such a big opportunity). We are planning a short trip, in the company of five men, and one woman at the final destination, as our hostess. Meanwhile, on the flight, you can hear the flight attendants arguing with each other, mixing drinks, and making funny remarks. There is still a lot of flying to be done, time for a break of silence, as silent as it can be in the belly of an iron bird.

– First shot outside the airport

From a bird’s eye view Malta looks quite small, if you could walk on either side of the plane you could see the sea at any time. The weather in Malta is not the hottest, but considering the freezing temperatures in Latvia, it seems perfect. The average temperature was close to 20 degrees all day and night. The clouds over Malta varied by the hour, with both heavy rain and bright sunshine.

It is important to mention that we did not actually plan anything, sights or events, we just let things happen, and I have to say that it went very well. The first evening we settled in, met our mutual friend and all went out for dinner.

– Bruschetta in Malta, but in an Italian café (Nicholas’s made in Sicily were tastier)

After a decent dinner, some of the fellow travelers go for a swim, and some take a short walk around the city streets (including me). A short walk, some beautiful views, and we decide to return home, with no plans for what happens next tonight. After sitting for a few hours (maybe two) we decide to go to a local dance party (Salsa, Bachata and Kizomba). We walk several kilometres, but hardly feel it. The dance party is disappointing at first, as it seems to be where the people are, but they slowly get settled and we slip on the dance floor a bit. After the dance party, we ended up at another party, where of course we danced, and we got home around three.

– Place where the seim was taken
– There are bars on both sides of the stairs, this is a popular street if you want to sit in a bar and chill
– The hotels look spectacular at night, but this is not the busiest time for tourists and the area is not so crowded
– Kitchen accessories on the wall in our accommodation

The next day is here, and it starts with a big rain. The weather forecast is not encouraging, but we are not too worried because it is warm enough and there is no hurry. Slowly everyone gets up and we plan where to go for breakfast.

– Rainfall from the balcony of our accommodation

Breakfast found, breakfast eaten. Coffee drunk. The day can begin. We mostly take Bolt taxi, and on our first trip we go to Valletta. Malta’s capital. A city with almost 500 years of history, surrounded by walls that only gave up to the pressure of modern military technology because they were originally some of the most modern and robust city fortifications of their time. We walk through the gardens of Valletta, and go to the War Museum for a historical tour of what this place has been through.

– As we approach the sea, we can see very luxurious yachts in the distance
– Former prime ministers (not only in Valletta) are visible in the city’s most important squares
– Several parallel streets lead to the pier, which looks even better in person than in the picture
– A dinosaur has “escaped” in one of the gardens (Upper Barrakka Gardens)
– Another great street view on the way to the pier
– A statue almost as famous as the prime ministers
– The lighthouse we wanted to go to, but tourists can’t go there, at least we looked from a distance
– Entrance to the War Museum, located in the fortified area (10 euros per person in the area)
– When I was in France, I visited quite a lot of places that were significant for Napoleon, but I didn’t know this fact. Napoleon’s arrival changed the direction of Malta’s development, slavery was abolished and church schools were replaced by a science-based approach.
– According to poster, Malta was place were the US President and the USSR leader met face-to-face for the first time.

– Leaving the museum area, we notice the following creative approach to improving the car’s visual damage
– Valletta Gardens (Lower Barrakka Gardens)
– I like both historical and modern art, and this piece caught my eye
– Buildings in Malta are very uniform, but there are also some that stand out with different accents, like these

Our home was in San Julian, but if we compare it to Riga, we went to Teika, and the excursion was in the centre of Riga. It’s getting towards evening and we plan to cook our own dinner, some seafood, and pasta. Who better than Nikolas, who also mostly runs the kitchen, while the others more or less laze around. Dinner was great. Pasta, wine, and a plan for the next dance party.

Next stop – the dance party. This dance party was better because the level of dancing skills was higher, and more engaging for us. In fact, we stayed until the end of the party and went home to sleep.

– Dance party had an entrance fee, in exchange for which we could get one free drink

I’d like to say this day start almost the same as the last, unhurried, calm and with a plan of where we’ll go for breakfast. It’s raining again in the morning. We catch a bit of rain and we are back where we were yesterday, to have breakfast and today to go to a new city – Mdina. The name of the town derives from an Arabic word which today translates as city. Narrow, maze-like streets.

– Such streets are typical of the central area of Mdina
– Adding colourful flowers to uniform buildings makes these views more alive
– Lazy tourists can pick up a horse carriage at the entrance and take a ride through the narrow streets
– Another narrow street
– The area is the second highest in Malta. A green moat bounds the site on one side, while on the other side is a hill with a wall
– While looking for a lunch snack, I spot this statue
– One salty pistachio eclair and coffee for lunch

After visiting Mdina, our first thoughts are to go back home, do a little shopping and roast some meat and cook the last supper, as we have to fly home the next morning, but we decide to do some extra sightseeing. For the first time we use public transport, which is not the best thing (once an hour, there are delays and other miracles, but this is more typical in the tourist season). Everything is great for us. The bus manoeuvres neatly through the narrow streets, not as narrow as in the Mdina area, but close to it. We drive to the other seaside. A rocky shore (Dingli) with a spectacular view, and just on that side is the sunset.

– The play of the sun through the clouds only makes the views more magnificent
– The place where we met the sunset. The sun sank into the sea literally within two minutes, from the moment it “touched” the sea
– A souvenir from Malta
– Before disappearing over the horizon, the sun appeared between the clouds and the sea
– We called this place the first OpenAir church.

We take a shortcut to home. We walk a bit, then call a taxi. The last plan for the evening is to roast some meat, make dinner and enjoy the warm weather. Everything goes according to plan. And the last morning is here. The airport is small, there are not many people, everything goes very smoothly. The flight home where the winter has begun.

– The sky above the clouds was so bright orange that I could look and look, but sleep took over. On the right of the picture you can see Malta, still covered by clouds.

The trip to Malta was short and relaxing. I always want a bit more, but sometimes a few days is just what I need.

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