Malta was for the last three years on my list for a short spring trip. Last year I went to shetland and orkney, but this year it was now or never. Stefan a very good friend from our years in university in Munich is living there and we decided quickly that I could come before Easter.

I heard very different opinions about these little islands in the mediterranean, but most people warned me, not to expect to much.

First of all, many thanks to Susanne, Stefan and their maltese friends for their hospitality. I had lots of fun and I hope they had as well.

 

All my contacts told me, that I should be prepared for nice old towns, good atmosphere, but barren and bleak landscape with not to much highlights. When I went, it was late spring and the islands where still full of flowers and lots of green, yes it was a lovely place. After Iceland during winter (February/March) (Pictures Iceland in winter) it was a real change. Malta in terms of landscape is not spectacular, but in spring it is a very good place to spend a week and some spots are even great for landscape photography. Spectacular however are the old towns of Valetta, The Three Cities, Rabat and Victoria.

The old towns

 

Malta is a great place to wander around in the old towns dating back many hundred years. Some parts are listed as UNESCO world heritage sites and there is a good reason why these places are listed. It is a unique place and it was real fun to discover the towns, before they where overran by cruise ship passengers in the high season!

 

The churches and museums are often outstanding and would have deserved much more time, the balmy weather however was just to nice to stay more time in churches or museums and I am more a landscape than a architecture/church photographer. By the way, forget wildlife photography in Malta. For this genre this place is definitly the wrong place.

The villages and the countryside

 

In spring or early summer, the maltese countryside is green, full of flowers and the people are already busy harvesting grain from their small fields. It is true, that the landscape cannot compete with Patagonia, the Great Canyon or the Rub AlKhali for greatness, but it has a certain atmosphere, which I enjoyed quite a bit. For photography however it is quite difficult to find spots which can transmit this atmosphere, as usual one week is not enough not only to discover the best places but also having the right weather at the right time of the day for such places. Villages are numerous and very often very similar. In summer, when the fields are brown, it might be a bit boring. Due to tourism most coastal towns have lost their rural touch, but some place in Gozo and even in Malta still have a great atmosphere, not only bars, beaches and restaurants!

The harbor and dockyards

 

It was high on my list, not to see only the touristic parts of the maltese cities and villages but also bits of the maritime history especially the dockyards and commercial harbours. My agencies are full of pictures of Valetta or Rabat/Mdina, but there are nearly no pictures of the still working dockyards and commercial harbours. On the first afternoon, we strolled through Valetta and I discovered the oil drilling/production platforms in the dockyards around the Three Cities. The plan was born to find good spots to photograph the rigs in these ancient surroundings. Moreover once upon a time I met Stefan for the first time on a geologic excursion to South Tyrol back at university. Drilling rigs are very close to Geology! Therefore we two wanted to see theses places, which are definitly off the beaten track. After a few days, the weather was perfect and we where lucky to find really good spots for pictures!

The neolithic or other prehistoric sites

 

Yes, I must admit this was a bit dissapointing for me as a photographer and traveller. The unique preshistoric and neolithic sites are definitly outstanding, but the way they are developed are not to my taste. Often they are covered by huge tent like constructions or simple construction scafolding to protect them from the elements or they are full of boardwalks or the entrance fees are outrages and photography is prohibited. Shame on you Malta Heritage to charge EUR 20-30 for a 1 hour visit to the Hypogeum! I skipped most of them although I I am interested in neolithic sites (see my Orkney coverage). If you look for neolithic sites full of atmosphere, visit Orkney or Shetland and suck in Jarlshof, Skara Brae and the Standing Stones of Brodgar and Stenness (Pictures from Shetland and Orkney Islands)! The weather will be worse, but the experience will be rewarding!

Some more words

Yes, Malta is worth while to visit, but go in spring! Do not expect awesome landscapes, but fascinating cities full of life (sometimes completely crowded with cruise ship passengers), a great cultural heritage and summer like temperatures when we in central europe still have late winter.

 

It was great to see these places

 

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