Malta!

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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!

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The most interesting man in . . .

. . . the world? Well, maybe a man with the most interests in the world(!). Frank and I met Charlie on our Maltese Rural Tour. It was such an interesting day!

Who didn’t/doesn’t want to live in Malta?

First, a short history lesson to give you the big picture: Throughout its history, Malta has been occupied by a who’s who of world superpowers. The timeline starts around 5200 BC with the first wave of prehistoric settlers. Successive waves of conquerers — the Phoenicians, Carthaginians, Romans, Normans, Arabs, Aragons — all took possession of the small islands due to their strategic location.

The Knights of St. John arrived in Malta in 1530 and they played a key role during the Middle Ages, particularly with the Great Siege of 1565 (interesting battle, read about it here: https://www.visitmalta.com/en/great-siege-1565) and through 1798 when the French took control. The British beat back the French a year later and Malta became a British Crown Colony in 1814. Malta strongly supported the UK through both World Wars and remained in the Commonwealth until its independence in 1964. A decade later Malta declared itself a Republic and, in 2004, became a member of the European Union.

Evidence of each occupation is visible in this living museum of a country. From the ancient to the modern, Malta is a beautiful and fascinating place. We’ve spent a month here and have come to understand why it is “under siege” by its current invader — tourists and expats looking for a great place to live.

❤️ Malta