I first visited The Maltese Islands in 1998 and was instantly captivated. Approaching from the air, these little sun-drenched dots nestled in the Mediterranean’s heart appeared arid and austere, but when I landed I found a uneque and beautiful landscape, a fascinating history and culture, and 400,000 of the most friendly, good-natured people in the world.
Maltese landscape is a feast to the eye. Pastel coloured rocks, dry stone walls enclosing little farms, large blue ship-laden harbours, cute little inlets with multicoloured fishing boats, delightful baroque architecture, magnificent church domes, all bordered by a warm blue Mediterranean. It has become my colour postcard, but now I must share it with a million other visitors who come each year, lucky like me to have discovered this little Heaven.
For the duration of Ireland’s chilly winters, I now make Malta my home. Its little sister-island Gozo has also accommodated and delighted me. Between them they provide a choice of heavenly rambles that never fails to resuscitate my soul.
Malta is not a sandy beach holiday destination. That explains why most of its annual visitors are like me, peace-loving, pleasure-seeking, mature wanderers, happy in the comfort of a perfect climate, enjoying the treasure trove of historical fascinations and a pampering from friendly and caring hosts.
But there is much more to the Maltese than hospitality and religious fervour. They are a justifiably proud race with a strong sense of identity. Now full members of the European Union and the Eurozone, their prosperity is steadily growing, fuelled by healthy trade and tourism and the honest endeavour of industrious workers.
Some famous geologists have speculated that the Maltese Islands, being just a little ‘rockscape’ peeping above the waves of the Mediterranean, may be susceptible to a future Tsunami, and could be submerged into oblivion in minutes. I can’t see that happening. If courage, piety, honesty and sincere generosity are virtues recorded as bonus points on high, Malta will prevail into the distant future in peace and prosperity, illuminating the Mediterranean as a beacon of light for the world.