Category

Malta

My Island Years Are at an End

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I moved to the Mediterranean because I wanted to write an island book inspired by Lawrence Durrell. But it had to be a place no one else had written about — at least, not in that way. I found Malta after a brief web search. I knew nothing about the place apart from indirect Dashiell Hammett references and vague notions of Knights battling Turks. That vagueness appealed to me. And so we gave up...

An Island Christmas with Traces of Rome

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The highlight of my Christmas Eve was a last minute drive over to Valletta to see the new Star Wars film. Valletta was in full xmas-mode and it seemed like half the island was out for a stroll. Only 15 people in the entire cinema made it feel like a private screening, and Rogue One did not disappoint. But that’s not the story I wanted to share with you today. As has become my custom when in Malta...

Is This The World’s Stupidest Hobby?

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Have you ever dreamed of living in the middle of an artillery firing range? Then Malta in summer is for you. Whereas the military might lob a few shells over for a couple hours a week, here you can be treated to a nonstop bombardment, varying in intensity between dull monotony to cataclysmic barrage, with a brief break between about 1am and 8am. I can still recall my first experience with the...

Is There One “Perfect Place” For Everyone?

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I’ve dedicated the past decade and a half of my life to traveling the world’s marginal places. I started off exploring forgotten regions, like Central America’s Mosquito Coast or the Mongolian Gobi. But I’ve also conducted a very long inquiry into expat life. I have a checklist in my head. It’s sort of a list of my ideal criteria: what would be the perfect place for someone like me? The place...

Apartment Hunting in Malta — A Cautionary Tale

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It’s incredible how disruptive the apartment hunting process is here in Malta. The entire game is dominated by agents, who earn a commission equal to one month’s rent each time they successfully match owner with tenant. Unlike in Canada, a lease doesn’t just continue month to month once the initial term has expired. A year is a year, and the contract is deemed to be over unless you sign on...

Exploring Malta’s Victoria Lines

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The Victoria Lines is a 12km long series of fortifications that cuts across the island of Malta from coast to coast, along a steep escarpment called The Great Fault. […the Great Fault was actually no one’s fault… just geology…] They were built by the British between 1870 and 1899, to defend the main part of the island from a landing and invasion in the north. The Grand Harbour became the Royal...

Searching for the Past — How I Spent Christmas

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Christmas is just another day for me. I’m not religious, and if forced to choose I would pick the old Greek and Roman pagan gods over any current creed or belief system. We don’t have any family in Malta either. And so, rather than sit around at home working, we decided to take advantage of the silence of the countryside to do a little exploring. It was a nice sunny December day, and the guns of...

I Spent Halloween in Jail

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I decided to do something different this year. Rather than knock on doors to get candy, or run around town throwing eggs and evading capture, I thought I’d spend the night in jail. But not just any jail would do. It had to have a reputation for dark deeds, and at least a few hauntings. What better place than the Inquisitor’s Palace in Birgu? In a string of innovative tours — which recently...

How to Find Your Place in the Sun

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You’ll recall that in my last blog I was scouting out the Costa de la Luz in Spain as a potential candidate for my “life after Malta” base. And I promised to reveal more about how I choose my next location. I’ve heard so many horror stories about folks who sold their homes and cashed in all their chips to move to their dream “place in the sun,” only to realize they absolutely hated it and wanted...

The Mystery of Tarxien Temple

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I had an opportunity to go behind the scenes last week at one of Malta’s most important megalithic sites: Tarxien Temple. It was an after hours members-only visit to examine the most recent archaeological excavations, and to learn a few things that aren’t on the normal tourist itinerary. The megalithic temples of Malta were built during three distinct phases between around 5,000 BC and 2,500 BC...

Ryan Murdock

Author of Vagabond Dreams: Road Wisdom from Central America. Host of Personal Landscapes podcast. Editor-at-Large (Europe) for Canada's Outpost magazine. Columnist at The Shift. Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society.

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