Tarthoven’s fabulous trip to Malta

AEGEE-Tartu and Eindhoven are back from their joint trip to Malta, happy and relaxed. Kertu, member of A-Tartu since October, wrote an overview of her first AEGEE trip and Tarthoven event!

It was a cold and snowy Wednesday evening in Estonia when seven people from AEGEE-Tartu + Diederik from Tallinn and an unexpected Valter met at Tallinn Airport to fly to Malta for a trip with our twin antenna AEGEE-Eindhoven. The flight went by quickly and after 4 hours we arrived in Malta where everyone was pleasantly surprised by the warmth of the air even at night. A transfer took us to our hostel in Sliema that also did not disappoint ‒ it used to be a 4-star hotel so everything was very fancy for hostel standards + we got and extra room + balconies with sea view.

After inspecting the wonders of our accommodation, we went to a bar to meet up with Eindhoven people, where the introducing and small talk began. A somewhat interesting observation was that AEGEE-Tartu crew consisted of mostly girls while AEGEE-Eindhoven group had a lot of guys with just one girl. After a few hours and drinks the bar closed and it was time to get a short but well-needed rest.

Thursday morning came very quickly and we had to get ready for a full day of exploring Valletta, the capital of Malta. We had a supermarket breakfast and then it was time to get on a boat to Valletta. Sliema, the town where we stayed, and Valletta are separated by a small bay and the boat ride only took a few minutes. In Valletta we walked around the city and saw some of the sights. There were narrow streets, sandstone buildings with colourful closed balconies and great sea views. The views are actually the thing I’ll remember Malta by ‒ it’s a small island with a hilly landscape so pretty much everywhere you look, there are stunning sea views. In Valletta we went to the Barrakka Gardens that offered great scenery and also heard a loud bang which apparently happens twice a day as a salute is fired from the Saluting Battery.

After this we had lunch in the city centre, I had a Maltese club sandwich that marked the beginning of my mostly bread consisting diet in Malta. Traditional Maltese cuisine for example consists of different pastries, fish, sausages, rabbit meat, sheep’s cheeses. However, the restaurants we went to were more touristy where pizza and pasta were the most affordable options. Still, I’m not complaining as bread is my favorite food group anyway and I also didn’t miss the rabbit meat. After lunch in Valletta we kind of separated into groups and eventually found our way back to Sliema. In the hostel we had a nice hang on the balcony and in the evening went out to dinner in St. Julians, a town a 15-minute bus ride away from the hostel that is known for its nightlife. After dinner, a few who were more tired went back to the hostel while the others had a wild night partying in St. Julians.

On Friday we took a bus and drove about an hour south to visit the caves called Blue Grotto, a popular tourist attraction and rightfully so. I mean the VIEWS. The whole scenery with the perfect blue water and caves and nothing else than sea on the horizon was pretty great. Then we walked a while to visit Ħaġar Qim, a megalithic temple complex that is among the most ancient religious sites on Earth, dating from 3600-3200 BC. After lunch me and some of the Tartu crew decided to climb/walk down a cliff to touch the sea. Even though it took a while and seemed a bit dangerous at times, it was all worth it in the end because well – views and it also turned out to be a great instagram photo location. After we got all our pics and realised that we had 20 minutes until the bus leaves, it wasn’t that fun anymore. We had to walk up twice as fast and in the end run to make it to the bus.

The bus took us to another town, Mdina which was the capital until the medieval times. More fun facts are that it’s surrounded by city walls and called the Silent City partly because no cars are allowed, also some of Game of Thrones was filmed there. We had dinner in Mdina and after took a bus back that makes so many stops that it takes an hour to drive 15 km. The day finished and another started with a hostel room hang and we had to say goodbye to Eindhoven people as they were leaving in the morning.

On the last day we didn’t have anything planned so some of us decided to go hiking on the north coast of Malta. Being on the coast, there were obviously ‒ you guessed it ‒ great views and walking a total of 20000 steps up several hills felt like a pretty good workout. You could also see the 2 other islands of Malta – Comino and Gozo from there. In the evening we met up with the whole Tartu crew, had a nice dinner and finished off the trip with a karaoke bar. Got a full hour of sleep before going to the airport and so the journey back home began.

The thing I realised during this trip was that for someone like me, who doesn’t speak English often, it can be quite difficult to hold a fluent discussion and on the spot come up with the right terms in English. At times I quite literally felt lost for words and youtube-famous phrases like “You like to cook a food?” weren’t that far from slipping into my conversations. So obviously that is something I need to work on and hopefully life (or AEGEE) will give me some opportunities to practice and develop my language skills.

All in all, it was an awesome trip with great weather and company. Malta was beautiful, 10/10 would recommend. Special thanks to Karin, who organised it for the Tartu group and all the Eindhoven people who put together the itinerary and always seemed to know where we were going.

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