Calmness and Cuisine in Malta.
Today’s guest post is brought to you Kirk Shackleton. Kirk was reared in Australia’s Outback before traveling extensively across the globe and eventually settling in London. He is passionate about food, travel and any sport that isn’t cricket! And he writes a darn good story – I loved this guest post about Malta and the pictures are fantastic!
There are two things which I concern myself with whenever I am traveling: solitude and food. Granted, I care about culture too, but my primary desire when I am in a foreign country is to titillate my taste buds before setting off to discover a place no one else knows about. At least that’s what I like to imagine. Realistically, there’s no longer a patch on the planet which hasn’t been trodden upon, not least in Malta, which has a path so beaten I’m surprised it hasn’t given up and retreated back into the lovely blue sea it came from.
Malta only appears when you hold a world map an inch away from your nose and squint; it is the barely-visible speck between Sicily and Africa, engulfed by the Mediterranean Sea. Most people visit the main island, where they make day trips to the UNESCO-decorated capital city, Valletta, from the effervescent hub of tourism and nightlife in Paceville. Typically, it is a holiday which involves a lot of sun cream and alcohol, and not a lot of sleep. I was keen to evade the hordes as quickly as possible, though found myself compelled to linger for a short while since so much of the delicious Mediterranean dining in Malta can be found in the tourist hot spots.
Many tourists venture to Gozo during their holiday, the second largest island in the Malta archipelago, which has retained a far more peaceful, rural way of life than its big brother. But there is also a third island, almost completely uninhabited, of which few tourists are aware. Type ‘Comino’ into Google maps and you will see, well, very little, for it is a mere 3.5km in size. It still has all the things you would expect to find on an island – a chapel, a cemetery, a gun battery and a pig farm – but only 8 people call it home. Indeed, Comino’s ominously named ‘Isolation Hospital’ says it all.
To my delight, I discovered that there is also a solitary hotel on the island: Comino Hotel. It was somewhat basic, but I’d have been happy with less; a pillow and a patch of grass beneath the stars. What more did it need than its location? The view from my balcony was stupendous, a canvas splashed with more shades of blue than I can name; cyan, sapphire, turquoise, azure, royal, navy, cornflower, cobalt and teal. A naked ether fading from dark to light, blending with a shimmering Mediterranean Sea, interrupted only by the angular sails of yachts and the odd irregular rising of the earth’s crust.
There are many sandy beaches in Malta, but none can be quite as alluring as that which broaches the Blue Lagoon on Comino. Admittedly, whether you can call it a beach or not is debatable, unless you count the fine grains that line the lagoon’s silky underbelly. Instead, it is the lagoon itself which sets this location apart from any other in Malta. Avoid the midday crowds of day trip tourists and you will find yourself dangling your feet into the warm lulling water alone, staring across at Cominotto, a dramatic slope that rises from the lagoon like the flaking crust of a freshly baked loaf of bread. I considered how easy it would be to swim across the lagoon and claim the land my own. Perhaps I could even start a café there?
I could happily have sat for days in the warm glow of Malta’s sun, lost in thought while gobbling olives and capers, pasta salads and cheese. I had found my nirvana: solitude and food.
*all pics provided by Kirk Shackleton
*Please remember all photos on this website are copyrighted and property of BeersandBeans.com, NarikosNest.com & Bethany Salvon. Please do not use them without my permission. If you want to use one of them please contact me to ask first because I do love to share and I would be flattered. Thanks!