This past year for Christmas, I wasn’t able to make my yearly trip back to the States to visit family, so Francesco and I decided to take our first vacation together and go to Malta. Yes, I know–we have been dating for over 5 years, but this was actually the first vacation we’ve ever taken together (not including visits to family). Between our crazy work schedules and traveling and life things, it was nearly impossible for both of us to get the same amount of time off, but with some strategic begging & pleading with our respective bosses, we managed to wrangle a week away from Florence and hit the open road (or in this case, skies).
Malta is an island just south of Sicily, and categorically one of the most underrated destinations I hear people talking about when exploring the Mediterranean. But hey, you know what they say–when Ryanair offers you 2 tickets to a fantastic paradise for less than the price of a fancy dinner at a restaurant in centro…then don’t be an idiot and buy the damn tickets. Obviously.
We arrived at Malta’s Luqa International Airport to unseasonably (for Florentines) warm weather–somewhere in the mid 60’s (Fahrenheit), in the middle of December. Did I forget to mention that Malta enjoys about 3,000 hours of sunlight each year, nearly double the amount of their northern European counterparts? Needless to say, the sunloving San Diegan inside me was definitely doing her happy dance as we walked off the plane and immediately shed our heavy winter coats that we’d donned en route to the Florence airport.
After picking up our rental car (and me getting used to the fact that the Maltese, like their British forefathers, drive on the opposite side of the road!) we headed off to St. Paul’s Bay, where we’d rented an apartment for the week for dirt cheap. Once we’d checked in with our gracious host and dropped our bags off, we immediately headed down to the bay to check out the surrounding area.
Walking up the road, we decided to hit up a local pastry shop for some pastizzi, a local specialty made from pastry puff and filled with various meats and cheeses. After wolfing down a couple of those suckers at only €1 a pop (as if I wasn’t already falling in love with the place) we hopped back in the car and decided to drive along the coast for a little while, stopping when we saw this:
At this point I had already fallen in love with Malta–what’s not to like about cheap, delicious food and beautiful surroundings? However, every vacation isn’t complete without a little drama here or there, and I was about to encounter my worst nightmare in the form of a little-known demon known as the Lamb Vindaloo.
Now, one of the greatest things about visiting Malta for an American expat is the fact that Malta is a former British colony. Translation=English food. And lots of it. The entire week we were there, Francesco and I pigged out on all the stuff we can’t get back in Italy–pub food, fish and chips, indian food, Cadbury’s, cheddar cheese, etc.
On our first little exploration around town, I had excitedly pointed out a large restaurant with big black columns in front, and a decadent golden fountain in the window. “Look, babe, it’s an Indian food restaurant!! We HAVE to go!” After living in Florence for nearly 5 years, I get all kinds of excited whenever I see ethnic food because I pretty much exist on the 3P diet when I’m in Florence (Pizza, Pasta and Panini). Luckily, F was born and raised in England so he is all about the Indian food and immediately agreed with me when I stopped to make us a reservation for later that night.
Our dinner that night was decadent–we ordered samosa after samosa, exotic dishes piling up on our table like offerings to the gods. The climax of the meal came in the form of a steaming hot plate of Lamb Vindaloo, a dish so blood-red and spicy that I could barely choke it down, no matter how much I insisted to the waiter that “I love spicy food! No really, it’s great!” (Side note: my tongue was completely numb after the second bite.) After consuming enough food to feed an African village, I sleepily toddled to my bed that night, cuddling my food baby as Francesco got ready for bed.
At about midnight, I woke up after a fitful few hours in bed. Now I generally don’t sleep very well when I’m on vacation, mostly because I’m sleeping in a new place and it takes me a while to get used to the different sounds and feelings of a place, but this time was different. It felt like a stone was sitting in the pit of my stomach, a tiny little angry Vindaloo baby who was about to make my night hell on earth.
Getting up from the bed quietly so as not to wake Francesco, I walked out into the living room to get a glass of water. Sipping it slowly, I sat on the couch for a bit, hoping that if I could just fall back asleep again I’d feel better in the morning. However, Vindaloo Baby had other plans, and before I could take another sip of water from my glass, I sprinted over to the bathroom and barely made it to the toilet before Vindaloo Baby unleashed the wrath of Montezuma’s Revenge all over that bathroom, and I puked up an entire 4 course Indian dinner in spectacular red and orange splashes all over the floor.
Stay tuned for Part 2 of Malta: Revenge of the Lamb Vindaloo.