How To Have The Perfect Day In Malta

Instax photos at Il-Kantra, Ta’ Ċenċ, Gozo.

The Situation

I’m Maltese. But I live in Luxembourg. A landlocked country. And I get homesick quite often. So today I thought I would put together a little guide for how to have a perfect day in Malta, which I’m hoping to recreate myself very soon.

The Essentials

Remember to practice your selfie game. This is one I made earlier outside Mdina/Rabat.

First, you need to realise that this endeavour is serious business. You need to ensure that you have all your bases covered. These are your sun, sea, culture and food.

You will also need:

  1. Suncream
  2. Sunglasses
  3. A camera/good smartphone
  4. Swimwear and a towel
  5. A companion or two (or three) (optional)

A beach bag, sunglasses, swimming goggles, a little backpack, towels, and a good book. Bliss.

If you’re embarking on this adventure in winter, check out this post about the essentials for your winter holidays in Malta (but add swimwear and a towel to that list as well – yes, I swim all year round, and encourage you to do too). ;)

Breakfast

Kinnie and pastizzi = <3.

Wake up at a leisurely time. If you’re up for a greasy, heavy, gloriously Maltese breakfast, head over to a pastizzeria for a couple of pastizzi (“wieħed u wieħed” for me, please).

That.salted.caramel.brownie. UGHHHHHHHHH, TOO GOOD.

Otherwise, if you want a very Instagrammable morning meal, go to the place-of-the-moment and have breakfast at Emma’s Kitchen (the hype is REAL, people). Please have a salted caramel brownie for me, because my mouth is watering for it as I type this.

The Morning

Take a stroll through Mdina or Valletta. You’ve got to get that intense culture in. These two cities are so full to the brim with history that you’re close to being overwhelmed after a couple of hours. Mdina highlight: Bastion Square. Valletta highlight: St John’s Co-Cathedral.

Imġiebaħ Bay, Selmun.

After that, it’s the perfect time for a sneaky swim. My favourite spots are Wied iż-Żurrieq (rocky) or Imġiebaħ Bay (sandy). The latter is more difficult to get to, but oh so worth it.

Swimming at Għar Lapsi.

Lunch

You have two options for lunch: you can either abandon the mainland for the afternoon, or else stay “on” Malta.

A ftira from Maxokk and a dip at San Blas, Gozo. Perfection.

If you decide to hop over to Gozo, you’re in for a treat. Malta’s sister island is a haven of hills, beaches, and some weird-but-wonderful people. A Maxokk ftira is the epitome of Gozitan food (especially one with ġbejniet), but also consider Il-Kantra (Ta’ Ċenċ) or cheap but cheerful Odyssey (Marsalforn). 

If you stay on the main island, then (guess what?) you’re also in for a treat. My idea of a heavenly lunch option in Malta is Rising Sun in Marsaxlokk. Have the pasta octopus and a bottle of white wine and thank me later.

The Afternoon

The view from Il-Kantra, Ta’ Ċenċ, Gozo. Paradise.

If you’re in Gozo, at some point, you need to go for a swim. I’d suggest Għar Qawqla in Marsalforn, Ta’ Ċenċ, or Ramla l-Ħamra. San Blas is also stunning. If the sea is rough, head to Mġarr ix-Xini.

Mġarr ix-Xini on a very windy day.

As an afternoon activity, I’d also suggest a stroll around the Citadella and/or a wine tasting. Tal-Massar Winery offer beautiful wine-tasting sessions which I’d highly recommend. So much wine, so little time.

Tal-Massar Winery. (That’s a wine called Garb that’s being poured. It’s heavenly.)

There’s so much to do in Gozo, so even spending the evening and the night there would be a great option.

Ramla l-Ħamra is great for a swim or just a place to consume an ice-cream and a book.

If you’ve stayed on the main island, unless you want to continue with the cultural/historical theme, the afternoon is great for a drive through the Maltese countryside – finding hidden gems and getting away from the crowds.

The chapel at Binġemma – amazing views behind it, too.

Find a wayside chapel in the countryside, and take lots of photos of your favourite views.

Fomm ir-Riħ. These parts are great for hikes and picnics.

The Evening

Grab that sunset, whether it’s in Gozo (pictured) or at Dingli Cliffs (the classic).

Later, head to some event that’s on that evening – a play at the theatre, a music gig, some exhibition opening or a festa/festival (the Għanafest used to be my absolute favourite festival of the year, but I haven’t been in way too long).

Dinner

Cacio e pepe at Zero Sei, Valletta. Drool.

Wrap up that glorious day with a delicious dinner. A top-notch suggestion would be Zero Sei in Valletta, on Old Theatre Street. IT’S SO GOOD. Have the cacio e pepe pasta and a tiramisù. And lots of wine.

Nighttime

Much merriment at The Pub.

Finally, head over to The Pub in Valletta for a well-deserved drink in the best and most friendly atmosphere in Malta. I’d recommend a nice, crisp Hendrick’s gin and tonic.

And that’s it. How to have the perfect day in my beloved Malta. Is there anything you think I left out?

Things I Love Thursday

Lunch on Monday of last week, at Rising Sun in Marsaxlokk. Best Pasta Octopus you’ll ever have.

  • Snow
  • Buying a TV!
  • Cooking
  • My boyfriend’s beautiful cooking
  • Using Christmas presents
  • Meeting another dog adopted from Malta
  • A bedroom picnic
  • Animal Farm
  • Writing out some resolutions and feeling good about them
  • Watching Arrival (weird.)
  • Being competent (at least some of the time)
  • Eating raclette
  • A lovely dinner in a lovely house with a lovely dog
  • LUSH
  • The documentary Food Coop
  • A great evening with Sunny
  • Printed-out photos
  • Cold-pressed juice

The Books I Read in 2016

Here’s a round-up of my 2016 in books.

Little Books

Halfway through 2016, I started freaking out, because I had only read a handful of books, and was very far from reaching my goal of reading 27 books. Therefore, I started collecting and reading a bunch of little books, like the following.

  1. Only Dull People are Brilliant at Breakfast by Oscar Wilde
  2. The Great Winglebury Duel by Charles Dickens
  3. The Night is Darkening Round Me by Emily Brontë
  4. The Beautifull Cassandra by Jane Austen
  5. In Defence of English Cooking by George Orwell
  6. The Country of the Blind by H.G. Wells
  7. The Sea Raiders by H.G. Wells
  8. To Be Read at Dusk by Charles Dickens
  9. The Kiss by Anton Chekhov
  10. Femme Fatale by Guy de Maupassant
  11. Murder by John Steinbeck
  12. The Yellow Wallpaper by Charlotte Perkins Gilman
  13. The Dressmaker’s Child by William Trevor
  14. On Love and Death by Patrick Süskind
  15. Hannibal by Livy

My favourites were Femme Fatale by Guy de MaupassantMurder by John SteinbeckThe Yellow Wallpaper by Charlotte Perkins GilmanThe Dressmaker’s Child by William TrevorOn Love and Death by Patrick Süskind and The Kiss by Anton Chekhov, and a disappointment was The Sea Raiders by H.G. Wells.

Books in Maltese

  1. Gramma by Leanne Ellul

I’m glad I read at least one book in Maltese this year, and thankfully it was an outstanding one. Heavy, with great rhythm, and what a protagonist’s voice.

Books in French

  1. Le Petit Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
  2. Autour de la Lune by Jules Verne

Miraculously, I read three (including the graphic novel below) books in French this year (and bits of others). Le Petit Prince was beautiful to read in the original language, and I always love a bit of Jules Verne, especially when it’s simplified.

Graphic Novels

  1. Les Jours Sucrés by Anne Montel and Loïc Clément
  2. The Secret Adversary by Agatha Christie (adapted)

So I’m foraying into the world of graphic novels now. I read the Christie in one glorious sitting, but took my time with the beautiful Les Jours SucrésThe latter was incredible – the detail, the illustration… Such a heartwarming read. Please let me know if you’d recommend any graphic novels to me – I already have several on my to-want list.

Poetry

2016 felt like a big year for poetry for me. I completely lost myself in these two poetry collections, and would recommend them very highly, particularly to 20-somethings.

  1. Graffiti (and other poems) by Savannah Brown
  2. Milk and Honey by Rupi Kaur

Non-Fiction

  1. Between You and Me by Mary Norris

I loved this book. It was a birthday present from my boyfriend, and it was perfect for me – all about proofreading.

Novels

Novels are my favourite kind of book, usually. This year was a so-so one for novels. The new McEwan was fascinating, but nowhere near a favourite. In a Dark, Dark Wood was a pleasant surprise, but Where’d You Go, Bernadette? was a little disappointing. Satin Island was incredible, but the ending did leave me a little disappointed and bewildered – I really expected some massive, strange twist to the tale. I finally read Lord of the Flies and it was creepy AF. And while I found Middlesex to be a little problematic, I still enjoyed it very, very much.

  1. Nutshell by Ian McEwan
  2. Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides
  3. Lord of the Flies by William Golding
  4. Satin Island by Tom McCarthy
  5. In a Dark, Dark Wood by Ruth Ware
  6. Where’d You Go, Bernadette? by Maria Semple
  7. Everything Everything by Nicola Yoon
  8. Half of a Yellow Sun by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Disappointments

  1. Where’d You Go, Bernadette? by Maria Semple
  2. Lord of the Flies by William Golding
  3. The Sea Raiders by H.G. Wells

(And, to a lesser extent, Satin Island.)

Favourites

  1. Half of a Yellow Sun by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
  2. Milk and Honey by Rupi Kaur
  3. The Country of the Blind by H.G. Wells
  4. Femme Fatale by Guy de Maupassant
  5. The Dressmaker’s Child by William Trevor

No stand-out favourite book this year, but I guess Adichie came out on top, as per.

In Summary

I read a total of 31 books in 2016. After a bit of a slump during the first half of the year, I suddenly found myself gobbling books up. It was great. I also went on a little of an over-buying-books binge. It’s not pretty. Or rather, it’s very pretty. I want more. Always.

Check me out on Goodreads (please add me as a friend!) and let me know your biggest recommendation for me from the books you read in 2016.

Things I Love Thursday

Close to Wied iż-Żurrieq

This is a bit of a bittersweet TILT. After a tough couple of months, 2016 had turned out to be a pretty spectacular year. Until last Thursday, when my dear work mentor and colleague, Ruben, died in a very tragic and sudden accident. We’re all still in shock, and returning to work has been quite hard. However, Ruben was nothing if not jovial, so a TILT is definitely fitting.

  • The last days of work before the holidays
  • Malta Malta Malta
  • Chapel-hunting with my bestie across Malta
  • A hike to Fomm ir-Riħ
  • Swimming THREE TIMES while in Malta (glorious, invigorating)
  • The support of family and friends and colleagues
  • Driving safely to and from Brussels
  • Restaurants in Malta: Zero Sei, Rising Sun, Capistrano <3
  • Getting a helix piercing
  • My wonderful boyfriend
  • My baby nephew who is more perfect than ever
  • Christmas and New Year’s Day
  • The annual re-watch of Love Actually (this time with pastizzeria pizza and pastizzi)
  • Rob Harbour live in Malta
  • Nudging my friend to get a bra fitting (which she did, yay!)
  • Letting go
  • A wonderful housewarming & birthday party
  • Pregnancy news from some friends! Squeeeee!
  • Slow evenings doing easy housework/admin at home (usually while Dave cooks and with a podcast episode on)
  • A lovely NYE
  • My besties, Anna and Annie, who are everything
  • Finding out that my cat (who is almost 12) scores a 9/10 in health
  • A wave ring
  • Ruben, and the two months he spent mentoring me, and the lovely person he was

Things I Love Thursday

  • Driving to France on a whim and enjoying the best chocolate fondant ever
  • Wrapping gifts
  • Writing Christmas cards
  • Christmas chocolate
  • The Crown
  • The Young Pope
  • Westworld
  • Getting better after being sick at the weekend
  • Going to an escape room for the first time
  • Mulled wine
  • My boyfriend making me dinner
  • A random fancy lunch on a weekday
  • A mega sushi lunch outing with colleagues
  • Cat gifs
  • Starling murmurations
  • Milk and Honey
  • A deconstructed lasagna with chestnuts and lobster
  • Sweet avocado mousse for dessert (weird but heavenly)
  • Watching a friend graduate via a livestream online
  • A new desktop wallpaper for my monitors at work
  • The Being Boss podcast

SoC: Long Hair

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At the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam.

Stream of consciousness!

Long hair is something I’ve often had in my life. It’s seen as “beautiful” by society. To be feminine and pretty in the eyes of men (and respected by women), it’s rammed into our psyche that women need long smooth flowing hair.

I love having long hair. It seems best to me when it descends below my breasts and grows towards my belly button. I also hate having long hair. It immediately becomes a rat’s nest at the back of my neck after a couple of days and actually washing it is quite a chore. Having shorter hair is easy to maintain, it’s easy to make it look bouncy, easy to wash quickly and not much brushing is necessary. With long hair, I keep needing to (painfully) brush it out before showering or while showering, otherwise I get actual clumps of giant knots which look and feel awful. Aussie 3-minute miracle conditioner is a God-send, but there’s only so much it can do, you know.

Earlier this year I decided to cut my hair to shoulder length (after it had reached my belly button). It was great. My boyfriend loved it. Others loved it. I loved it. But I missed my long hair sometimes. Was this due to the right reasons? Was it just because I didn’t feel as feminine as I used to? Am I a good feminist? WAAAAAAAH.

I’m conflicted about this trivial issue. Right now I’m leaning towards letting my hair grow out again. Have the long flowing hair I’m usually used to. However, that creates a feeling of “dread” because that means (1) hair that gets dirtier and knottier faster, (2) more hair clogging the drain, (3) more hair everywhere in our apartment/everywhere, (4) hair that rarely looks voluminous because it gets weighed down.

I like that my hair is curly/wavy, and when it’s long, this really shows beautifully (most of the time), but do I need a mane of hair? If I have enough to keep my head warm and cover my ears (which stick out), isn’t that enough?

Sigh.

Things I Love Thursday

  • Another office bake sale
  • Those cupcakes by the wonderful Donna
  • Proofreading
  • A quick trip to London to see my bestie graduate Master of Laws
  • Dishoom
  • Paperchase
  • A quick trip to Wesel, Germany, to visit a friend and her super lovely family
  • Dogs that let me pet them
  • Walking another dog (called Clooney) at an animal shelter in Luxembourg who was SO CUTE
  • New books
  • Wine
  • Visiting Cologne
  • Visiting the Cochem Christmas market
  • Buying a tonne of weird liqueurs (pannacotta forever)
  • The British Library
  • New earrings
  • Christmas celebrations and parties and drinks
  • Possibly feeling the most content I’ve ever been in my whole life
  • Buying and giving special gifts
  • Podcasts on Soundcloud

LUSH Christmas 2016 range – It’s in the Air!

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One of the best things about Christmastime is back. LUSH always come out with their best stuff towards Christmas, so when I was invited to their LUSH Blog Party at LUSH Luxembourg, I was so chuffed that I could go. As always, they greeted us with delicious nibbles and drinks, and showed us all the beautiful new products. I mean, just look at that igloo made of colourful soap!

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The ever-wonderful LUSH staff presented the new Christmas range through an adorable Christmas story, which involved a Santasaurus (seen at the top of this post) going on a journey. They really got into it, including a full-on preview of the magnificent Papa Noël face jelly:

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Here are the amazing products I left LUSH with (and I’ve already used most of them!):

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Basically, LUSH products are highly recommended as Christmas presents, or treats for yourself. Remember to keep an eye out for their Boxing Day sale as well.

Things I Love Thursday: Guest Edition (Malcolm’s)

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I have a much-awaited Guest TILT for you today. The incredible Malcolm Galea (altogether now: OOOOOH!) has been one of the biggest fans of my Things I Love Thursday posts, and I’m so honoured and pleased that he’s sharing his very own TILT list today. I’ve known Malcolm for several years now, and some of my fondest memories of him include him asking me to be in a play he wrote (Revenance!), rolling my eyes at his terrible, terrible jokes, and spending time with him, his ridiculously-clever and beautiful wife, and his adorable boys. I’m especially pleased that he’s taken the “spirit” of the TILT so seriously, as you can see:

  • People that don’t sound like they look
  • Valletta at any time of day or night
  • The glorious roar of an audience’s laughter
  • The internal click when a story you’re writing suddenly falls into place
  • Nocciola ice-cream
  • American soft rock from the late 90s (Matchbox Twenty, Sister Hazel, Sugar Ray, Fountains of Wayne, Vertical Horizon, etc…)
  • Picking my boys up from school
  • Printing out a finished play and pretending that I’m writing it really, really quickly. And backwards.
  • Long Conversations
  • My wife’s laugh
  • Comic timing
  • Answering my children’s myriad questions (and secretly looking up the ones I don’t know)
  • Pandemic – the board game
  • Obi Wan Kenobi
  • Bridges
  • Buskers
  • Having lots and lots of work to do (but not at the present moment)

I love it. Thanks so much, Malcolm!

My Favourite Feelings (Sunny’s)

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Today, I’m sharing a list of favourite feelings by the lovely Sunny. She actually wrote it last spring (which explains the reference to spring below), but I’m publishing it now, since I’m back in the swing of blogging right now.

Sunny is an incredible photographer, she has the best hair, and she loves good music. Definitely one of the sweetest and most interesting people I’ve met in Luxembourg. Read some of her favourite feelings to find out how fascinating she is, and then head over to her blog to check out her beautiful photos.

  • The smell of freshly cut grass on a rainy Spring-day.
  • Hugs from my 4-year-old niece. They are the best.
  • To let go of people and things that are negative: very scary and difficult at first. But eventually you end up feeling so good.
  • Breakfasts and mornings. Morning is my favourite part of the day because I feel like I can do anything with my whole day which is still ahead of me. Yes, I am a morning-person and actually like waking up early.
  • When you get home after getting all wet in the rain and change into comfy and dry clothes.
  • Feeling and experiencing real love. So rare but so amazing.
  • Gratitude. Always feel thankful for those small things in life.
  • Adventures. Small and big. Near and far. I love feeling the adrenaline-rush.
  • When you know that someone is thinking of you. What a beautiful feeling to know that someone is taking the time and energy from their hectic, fast-paced life to think about you.
  • Crossing off things from my various to-do lists. I am a list addict and have different kinds of lists.
  • Connecting with someone.
  • Finding someone just as weird and “alternative” as you.
  • Watching a beautiful and touching movie.
  • Meditation.
  • Going to a concert and feeling the music with every part of your body.
  • When you see something in nature that is so beautiful that it is too much to take in and you end up having teary eyes.
  • Capturing the perfect moment with my camera.
  • Even if you are far from being perfect and far from having accomplished all your goals, realising that you kind of ended up OK in life.

If you’d like me to share your favourite feelings on my blog, just send me an email (claire@clairebonello.com).