Ayla Travels The World, Part 4: Old (And New) Friends In Malta

On January 28 of this year, Norwegian Ayla Vinje Fagerland left home to see the world. For our first couple of articles, we got to experience with Italy with Ayla. IMG_20160402_222118

Today, we get a new destination.  

And while last week we saw Ayla overcome traveling alone, this week things are all good in Malta.

Malta?!

Why, yes. This historic and beautiful Mediterranean island nation was Ayla’s next stop on her nine-country tour.  

Now with word, photo, and Ayla’s own video, we get to enjoy Malta as well. 

Tlaqna!

(First a little about Malta:) If you’re like most Americans, the only thing you’ve heard that’s related to this country is the Humphrey Bogart film The Maltese Falcon. And if you’re like me, even this connection didn’t click until someone else brought it up.

Malta is a tiny, two-island nation just south of Italy.

European Union, light green
European Union, light green; Malta, dark green (wikimedia.org)

Due to its location, Malta has had a rich and conflict-ridden history involving peoples from all around the Sea. Most recently, Malta was under the British Empire until its independence in 1964. English is one of two official languages of Malta, the other being…Maltese. This tongue is a blend of an Arabic base with plenty of Italian and Sicilian poured over the top–sort of like the Maltese people themselves. (“Definitely not Italians,” said Ayla when I asked her about the ethnicity of the people. “That’s like calling Canadians Americans!”)

The population is a mere 450,000. But due to Malta’s size, the nation is one of the most densely-populated in the world.

And on February 3, Ayla arrived by ferry from Sicily…

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Malta is one of my absolute favorites. People usually find this really strange that a “boring” European country like Malta is my favorite among all the exotic and different places I’ve been. But I’ve gotten to know Malta quite well in my life.

In 2014 I was chosen for an exchange program to Malta along with six others from my media and communication class. We spent one month in Malta, and some of my friends and I got to know our Maltese classmate Emmanuel. He and I have stayed in touch ever since!

This time, I got to meet up with him and all his amazing friends.

Emmanuel, center
Emmanuel (middle) and friends at a brilliant (and pricey) restaurant in Valletta with traditional Maltese food with a modern twist.

I think this was part of the reason I loved Malta. I had the freedom to take a walk alone or to call someone at all times. Here were places I discovered in and around Valletta, the capital of Malta:

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Then with friends, I enjoyed the carnival!

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In Valletta, I stayed at an AirBnB for the first time. I absolutely adored the people in the house. The homeowner was an amazing woman with a great heart and an eye for details. I also became great friends with a Canadian student named Thuy and an Irish backpacker named Clem.

Clem lived on the roof of the house I stayed in. Yes, the roof! He became a big inspiration for my further travels. I had become a little scared after Italy. I think I needed someone to push me a little and tell me I could do this. Clem did this in his own way.

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Clem in Valletta

“You know, usually I’m really protective over people I meet,” he said. “I’m the kind of person who can book a ticket to the other side of the planet to help. But you know? If you call, I don’t think I would come.”

What he meant was, I was able to take care of myself. He probably didn’t even put a lot of thought into the comment, but I think I needed someone telling me that after Italy.

Some last highlights from Malta:

A church:

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Food:

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and friends!

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It’s amazing how close you get to people in a very short time when you travel!

Next week, Ayla leaves Europe and arrives to continent #2 on her tour: Africa. She begins with Egypt. 

Until then, please enjoy Ayla’s video #4–Traveling Malta!

(In case, you can’t watch it from here, here’s the link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=98ars9lTM0I)

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Ayla is a 20-year-old Norwegian who loves to learn new things and study new cultures. She’s Christian, and in her more normal life (when not eating donkey sandwiches in China and taking trains across Italy), she does dancing and karate. For any questions for Ayla or about travels, please comment below. 

And if you’d like to share your story on The Periphery, please email me at Brandon@ThePeriphery.com. We’d love to hear all about your adventure.

What say you?