Where and why — two questions we’ve constantly been asked about Malta.
Malta is a small European republic south of Sicily. The archipelago sits smack in the middle of the Mediterranean Sea, which made it a strategic hot spot in history (I’ll go into that in a later post).
Why are we here? Malta is a popular destination for expats and is often referred to as one of the best places in the world to retire. The lures: English speaking, low cost-of-living (comparatively), national healthcare, low crime rate, 299 average days of sunshine.
We wondered what it would be like to LIVE here. And that is just what we’ve been doing. Every day is a lesson in Maltese culture. We learn about the Maltese people through our everyday interactions – with the bus drivers, with the shop clerks and waiters, with the barber, with the people sitting next to us in the cafes. We learn about the food by seeing what’s available in the local grocery stores and at specialty stands, as well as when we dine at local restaurants. We learn about religion by visiting churches and attending Sunday Mass. We’ve even learned to navigate a small corner of the healthcare system when Frank goes for his monthly blood tests at the hospital.
Our apartment is a classroom. We learn about the European practice of limiting electricity consumption via the on-off switches on the outlets, the outdoor clothes line (no dryer), and the individual room-heating units. We are acutely aware of water conservation as we manipulate the flat’s sensitive rooftop water pump. Frank is all over the garbage and recycling routines. We purposely rented an apartment close to the national swimming complex so he could swim. That hasn’t worked out so well because the pool is outdoors. January and February temperatures average around 60, with even cooler mornings. Can you say pneumonia? So we do a lot of walking and a lot of exploring various sights and neighborhoods.
Some friends asked if we thought we’d get bored spending an entire month here. Good question when you consider Malta’s size. The country is just 17 miles long and 9 miles wide with a population of 432,000. But no, we haven’t gotten bored. The country has a rich history with much to see and do. We look forward to sharing more of marvelous Malta!