I've come to the conclusion that I really love airports. That may sound really strange to the average person because airports mean hours and hours of security and waiting around and sitting too long and praying you don't get stuck next to a small child who has yet to learn how to shut up on a flight. For me, airports are pretty great. If I'm at the airport, I'm either going somewhere awesome, or returning home to somewhere pretty freakin' awesome as well, rather that be my home in Spain, my home in California, or my home at WVU. How lucky am I that I get to have 3 homes?
So we're headed home from Malta today and good Lord has it been a trip. "Exhausted" doesn't even begin to describe where I'm at right now. Granted, our incoming flight was way worse because we had to be up at 4am to make our flight AND we were leaving our moms which was super crappy, so I guess I'll count my blessings this time around.
We arrived in Malta around 10am and got a shuttle to Hostel Malti. 10/10 would recommend. This place is awesome! Chris and Aaron (staff) knew everything from the best places to eat to the most beautiful beaches to the roots of Maltese - which if you're as nerdy as me you'll be interested to hear that Maltese is the only Arabic language written in the Latin alphabet AND it has 29 letters not 26! Nerdy is an understatement, huh..
Anyway, we moved into our 14 person room at the hostel and settled in. Our first day started slow, we went and got some fantastic food - all of this trip involved Italian food considering Malta's proximity to Italy so we really just basically ate our way through Malta in all honesty - and toured the coast with Robert, a Dutchman visiting Malta to go diving. The next day we visited Mdina and the Dglini Cliffs and some ancient ruins with an American named Mike. We got some life changing cake at Fontanella - chocolate hazelnut caramel for me - and headed home for the day.
On our third day we casually introduced ourself to the Aussies, a group of 5 that seemed worth getting to know - it was a damn good decision. Liam, Kate, Hannah, Matt and Harry are on their gap year between high school and college - gap years are super common for pretty much every culture that isn't ours - and we kind of fell into stride with them quicker than I've ever seen any two groups of people from totally different walks of life do that. Like, it was kind of scary. Funnily enough, Kate and Hannah worked at the same school and had met Harry the month before, and then Kate knew Matt from her childhood and he invited Liam. Then throw Er and I into the mix. Talk about serendipity. We talked to them a bit Sunday night and when Hannah invited us to join them in Gozo (another Maltese island) the next day, we gladly accepted. You know when you meet someone and then by about a day in, you're acting like you've known each other forever? It was like that, but with seven freakin' people. We took a hop on hop off tour of Gozo and saw the Blue Grotto and a few other breathtaking sights. That night we decided to go out. There was some running through Malta to get to the liquor store in time followed by some serious Australian drinking chants and then lots of pitchers, and I think that's all I'm going to divulge about that night. Also Kate got her photo taking abilities revoked. Oh, and potatoes. And cubicles.
We woke up the next morning and only Mama Bear (Hannah) was ready to get up and go but she is adorable and you can't say no to her enthusiasm so the hangover caravan headed into Three Cities and Valetta. No one was really at full brain power that day but we held it together and had a damn good day. Harry left that evening because the school he works at started earlier than those of the other four, so we had a slow night in and ordered pizzas - we had three but couldn't finish them.. Harry would have finished the pizzas.
The Aussies left the following morning and instead of being normal friends who meet at hostels that kind of give casual hugs and say have a nice life, we left when they did to walk to the bus stop with them. In a surprising turn of events, the bus came early, so Liam, Matt, Er and I were quite a sight to see as we ran down the streets of Malta hair flying huge suitcases dragging as we yelled profanities and ran straight into the open arms of Kate and Hannah for some serious goodbye hugs. Suffice it to say the group message is still going strong and we kind of loved them. The goodbye was short and sweet which is how I prefer it because if I actually think about what I'm doing when I leave people - or get left in this case - it would go poorly. Er and I sent them off and walked along the coastline. We stopped for coffee and thought about how lucky we were to have met such awesome people. We even invited the crew to come visit us in Spain or Germany or America whenever they got the chance. The rest of the day was slow, we went into Valetta and tried to shop and eat our way through the loss of our friends (totally sounds like they died but they super didn't we're just pathetic).
The following day we slept in and went out for breakfast. We got some more groceries because we were running low and Er is a beast that must be constantly fed or she'll eat you. We then went for couples massages - pause for envy and/or judgement - and came out of them feeling like entirely new people. It was like a freakin' magic trick, if I wasn't so poor I would do that more often. We decided afterwards to go to Mdina again (our only real motivation was more cake) but without Mama Bear to direct us we had a bit of trouble finding the right bus (the Malta public transportation system is crude but cheap and effective and it also happens to be able to outsmart two college juniors). We finally made it, after a very long bus ride with HungryHungryErin, and got some food in our stomachs. I know it sounds like we starve and die but I swear we eat consistently, like either I have a tape worm orrrr I'm gradually becoming obese. When in Malta, I guess? That's a thing, right? We listened to some obnoxiously old "My Heart Will Go On" type music accompanied by the bells from Hell which were ringing incessantly throughout our meal - I get the distinct impression that God was testing us and the fact that we didn't go temporarily insane and murder someone in a fit of rage means we passed.
Our last day involved quite a lot of getting lost. I'm tellin' you, having Hannah navigate for us made my navigation abilities fall out my butt. We headed into Mosta to see the Mosta Dome, a church that was bombed during WW2 with 400 people inside and the bomb did not detonate - the Maltese say that it didn't go off because Heaven was full that day - how precious is that? We then stopped for coffee and headed for Golden Bay and the two beaches connected to it. They were worth the visit. In and of itself my gelato would have been enough - God I sound fat - but the water was transparent and the sand brought me back home. It was fantastic. We sat on the beach and I had some delicious cider and listened to the waves hit the shore. We went back up the Steps of Satan (it was a lot of freakin' steps and I haven't been to the gym in almost 3 weeks now due to all this travel - yes life is hard) and grabbed some late lunch as our last meal out in Malta. This is kind of where it all went downhill for us. Er and I saw the 225 bus and ran to catch it because that's what we took to get to Golden Bay, but we didn't really pay attention to which direction it was going. After about half an hour of being unsure, we changed buses and somehow chose the wrong bus yet again because there was a serious communication error with the bus driver (I think he hated us) which led us to a third bus in which we apparently "missed our stop" which totally didn't happen so the bus driver was basically like get off so you don't keep going the wrong way, but this lovely man forgot to mention that we were in THE MIDDLE OF NOWHERE. Luckily Al Gore invented the Internet and some other guy invented GoogleMaps so Er and I figured out that we were a whopping half hour walk from our hostel. Let me just say that we were as in the middle of nowhere as you can get for a 16 mile island, I swear. We walked through some seriously sketchy areas but that wasn't really the issue, it was more of the whole lack of sidewalks and rapidly oncoming traffic which couldn't really see us in our all black outfits. Buuuuuut we made it! Yahoooo! We packed our bags and passed out so that we could try and make it on time for our 7am shuttle this morning to the airport. I, as per the norm, woke up about 10 minutes before it was time to head out to Er fully dressed and showered about to go make breakfast. Some things never change.
Malta was such an amazing and surprising and unforgettable experience, truly. The clear skies and beautiful water helped Er and I figure out the next step for us after college - we're thinking a gap year somewhere totally awesome - and all in all I wouldn't trade my time here for anything. I am, however, so much more than excited to be back in Spain. It really feels like home for me now and I'm so, so grateful for that. Unfortunately I made the mistake of counting how many weeks until our time here is over and kind of lost my marbles a little bit - 9.5 weeks for me. That's so not enough time. Then I get a two week break and Germany here I come! I am so, so lucky to have seen and done what I have thus far in my life, looking back on it it sometimes feels surreal that I could be so lucky, but here I am. Grateful for every moment.
PS. Walking down to the hostel lounge this morning I actually fell down the stairs because I lack basic motor function so my plane ride has been a relatively unfortunate string of different seating positions because I actually bruised my butt. This is how my life works. That is all.
PPS. 12 hours of travel later, I am only 2 more hours from home. Yay me?
PPS. Still sick. I may die. Wish me luck. I hate Matt.
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I wrote this blog while living in Spain my second year of college - figured it wouldn't hurt to share.