As I lay on the cool tile floor panting, I tried to call out to Francesco for help. I was so weak from the wrath of that little Angry Vindaloo Baby that had taken up refuge in my cramped stomach that I could hardly even sit up, let alone stand I was shaking so badly. I placed my forehead against the wall and slowly caught my breath, leaning against the toilet for support. What the HELL was in that goddamned sauce, razor blades?! I thought to myself as my stomach slowly unclenched, having expelled the wretched demon food as far away from it as possible. In the next room, Francesco slept on, peacefully oblivious to the fireworks show taking place just steps from his bed.
Okay, if I can just make it back to the bed, maybe I can sleep this off, I thought to myself hopefully. Let’s give it a try. On wobbly legs, I somehow managed to stumble back into the bedroom, looking like a drunken squirrel. I sat down gingerly on the side of the bed and crawled underneath the covers, laying on my side and trying to lay perfectly still so that I could will myself back into a dreamless sleep. Eyes shut tight, I began counting. Okay, let’s just count sheep until you fall asleep. One, two, three….uh, four…..five….oh no, not again! This time I shot out of bed like a cannonball, scaring the living crap out of Francesco as I clapped my hand over my mouth and raced to the bathroom and slammed the door.
“Jesus christ!! What’s going on? Are you dying?” I could hear Francesco calling from the other room as I sat there with my head shoved so far into the toilet, it looked like it might as well have replaced my head.
“Yes, I’m dying, kill me now please,” I moaned in misery. My angry little Vindaloo baby had gone full-on postal, and was now punching and judo-kicking the crap out of my insides. I heard the door to the bathroom creak open, and then Francesco entered the room, one hand pinching his nose and the other holding a glass of water.
“Here, take this. It reeks in here. What did you eat?” Francesco said.
“The same thing as you!! How are you not dying like me right now?” I protested.
“Well, I didn’t eat the vindaloo,” he said thoughtfully. “It was too spicy for me. Maybe it was bad?” He looked at me questioningly.
“Oh, YOU THINK?” I said. “Look around, buddy. It’s like Vietnam in here. Save yourself while you still can.”
“Are you sure you’re okay?” Francesco asked me as he slowly backed out of the room, shielding himself with the door.
“Yeah, just go. From what I can tell, it’s gonna be a long night,” I said wearily.
“Alright, I’m going back to bed. Good luck in here,” he said.
“Thanks,” I said sarcastically as he shut the door behind him.
For the next 24 hours, all I did was lounge around on the couch, drinking tea and eating saltine crackers while watching SKY TV in english and catching up on all the TV shows that I normally miss out on living in Italy. By the end of my convalescence, Francesco practically had to drag me back out of the house. “But, but…I’m gonna miss the end of Doomsday Preppers!!” I protested as he tugged me towards the front door.”They’re making a CATAPULT in their front yard! Come onnnnn!!!”
Once I had gotten over my food poisoning & remembered that I was actually in Malta to do things other than watch crappy television and barf everywhere, I perked up and got out my big embarassing tourist map and starting looking up all the things I wanted to do while we were there. Francesco and I hopped back in the car and slowly over the week we began to visit all of the little towns along the coast.
In no particular order, here is a list of my top things to do while on vacation in Malta:
1. Take a day trip to Gozo Island.
While visiting the several different towns scattered throughout Malta is great, I highly recommend taking a day (or two) and hopping on the ferry over to Gozo Island. A greener, rockier version of the big island, Gozo’s history is steeped in myth–legend has it that Gozo is actually the same Calypso’s Island that Homer wrote about in The Odyssey. And of course it is absolutely beautiful, which means you will probably end up taking an obscene amount of pictures like I did. We ended up visiting the main part of town, Victoria, before heading to the coast to check out the Azure Window, a natural rock frame that was created when two caves collapsed. After taking too many pictures, we hopped back in the car and headed over to Ramla Bay, one of Gozo’s most beautiful beaches that is renowned for its red sand.
2. Have lunch or drinks somewhere in St. Julian’s Bay
While Sliema, St. Julian and Paceville are all well-known for being nightlife hotspots, I’m not really into the whole “twerking in the club next to drunk Australians” thing. Francesco and I decided to take an afternoon stroll around St. Julian’s Bay instead of indulging in the club scene–and with pretty amazing results. If you’re in the area, I’d recommend hitting Ryan’s Pub, a typical English-style bar located just up the street from the bay underneath an Argentinian steakhouse. Open for lunch and dinner, I gorged myself on a burger stuffed with gorgonzola and caramelized onions,while Francesco had the pork knuckle with mashed potatoes. Set up on a terrace overlooking the bar, it was the perfect place to grab a late lunch before exploring the port.
3. Go for an evening stroll & a nice dinner in Mellieha.
Since the trip to Malta was part anniversary celebration, part Christmas vacation, we decided to treat ourselves to a nice dinner one night. All of my research pointed to Mellieha as the place to go for great food, so armed with a few restaurant recommendations from the internet, we headed off in search of a special meal.
Mellieha turned out to be absolutely gorgeous when lit up at night–before dinner, Francesco and I had drinks overlooking the bay and then explored down by the port before cramming our faces with seafood.
4. Get your history/culture fix in with a visit to Valletta, the capital city.
It’s definitely worth battling the hilly streets in and around Valletta in order to tour the capital city–there are tons of great shops, a big outdoor market right at the city gates, and tons of historic tradition. A definite must-do is a trip to St. Paul’s Co-Cathedral–Francesco and I grabbed our audio guides for a few euro and enjoyed walking around the different chapels all dedicated to the patron saint of the 8 sections of the Knights of Malta, but the highlight of this church is definitely seeing Caravaggio’s stunning artwork The Beheading of Saint John the Baptist, which takes up an entire wall of one of the smaller side rooms.
5. Take a drive to Ta’ Qali Craft Village and pick up a few artisan souvenirs to take home with you.
Housed on the grounds of a former RAF wartime airfield, the Ta’Qali Crafts Village is a great place to pick up some souvenirs from Malta while also helping out the local tradespeople continue on with their traditional craftsmanship. From glassblowing to lacemaking, they’ve pretty much got something for even the pickiest of your friends. You can also watch the artists at work in their studios, which I thought was pretty cool!
6. See who can pronounce the names of the cities without sounding like an idiot.
Sidenote: Unless you speak Maltese, this is pretty much impossible–but it does make for some pretty entertaining conversations when trying to read a map, as Francesco and I found out when we were trying to get to the Dingleberry Cliffs (Dingli).