Last year I started a tradition to travel at Christmas time. It has been one of the best decisions I have ever made!! Christmas is a special time and traveling during it has made the travel and Christmas feel even more special.

After returning from Austria last year at Christmas, I googled ‘great places to visit at Christmas.’ Malta came up on this list. To be honest, I had never heard of Malta. As I began to look it to it, it definitely went on my short list of places I would go for Christmas.

Over the next few months, I continued to look into places to spend the Christmas vacation. I imagine I would be happy visiting most anywhere, but Malta kept coming to my mind. So in May, I booked my trip. I am so glad I listened to my instincts because Malta indeed was a ‘great place to spend Christmas.’

I left for my trip on December 23 and planned to arrive early afternoon on Christmas Eve. If you follow me on Instagram, you know I did not arrive in Malta as originally planned. I missed my connection to Malta in Paris. Not because we were late coming in from Boston, we actually got there early! But because the airport is so massive and I would have to go through 3 security lines causing me to totally miss my flight. In fact, after over 2 hours and not wasting anytime-I only made it to the 3rd security line, 20 minutes before my flight. Also, the 3rd security line was well over an hour long.

I have never missed a flight or a connection. I was stunned with the fact that I did all I could to make my flight and knowing what felt like ‘miles away’ from actually making it. I didn’t even know who to talk to about the situation. I couldn’t find an Air Malta counter. It turns out there isn’t one. The flight was actually through Air France.

Well, I finally found an Air France counter and was able to get booked on another flight later that night—at the other airport in Paris!! I could have flown earlier in the day from where I was. But I would have had to fly to Rome, pick up my luggage, and make my flight in 55 minutes!! I couldn’t handle that stress at the time, so I opted for the later flight.

Next job: where in the world was my luggage? Well, they couldn’t tell me that for 5 hours!! Which felt totally crazy! I kept having to back to the Air France lost baggage area to see if there was an update on my luggage. On my last visit to the lost luggage area, I met a group of people who also missed their flight to Malta. It felt so nice to talk people who shared my story. We all commiserated together and discussed how wrong the situation felt.

I don’t know if I would say missing my flight was meant to be, but I will say I so grateful to have met this group. I feel like a made new friends for life and I had the opportunity to do a destination photo session in Malta. While planning this trip, one thing that I hoped could happen was doing a photo session while there. I wasn’t sure how this would happen, but it kept coming to my mind. When I met this group, it felt like we were instant friends and asking them to do a shoot felt so natural!!

After finally finding my luggage, it was time to get the other airport. By this time, I did not care what it cost to get to the other airport stress free!! I found a taxi area, asked for a ride, but I did not realize I was asking the ‘fancy taxi’ people for a ride. Once I got into the very nice Mercedes, I realized what I was paying for. I normally would never pay for this type of ride, but I did not care. I needed something special at time and boy did I get it. After sharing my story with the driver and my desire to see at least the Eiffel Tower while in Paris and knowing that was not going to happen on my 6-hour layover on the way home (I knew I would not have time after experiencing what I just did), he said let’s go now!! We had time and he made it happen. So, he drove me right up to the Eiffel Tower, actually two spots so I could get my pictures. It was so quick and so expensive, but it SO worth it. I will never forget that experience. I absolutely loved it!!

I got the airport and flew to Malta with no issues. I flew in about 9:30 and went straight to my hotel. Although it was dark, I could immediately see why Malta was a great place to spend Christmas. There Christmas lights everywhere!!
I stay in the Park Lane hotel in St. Paul’s Bay. I absolutely loved where I stayed. It was a small hotel, so the service was very personable. One of my favorite memories of the trip was coming down stairs on Christmas morning and it felt almost like a race between the employees to wish me a Merry Christmas.

I spent Christmas Day in the capital city Valetta. Valetta is considered a World Heritage Site and I can see why. It is the smallest capital in the European Union, but it has SO much character. This was the beginning of my non-stop picture taking. Every street had charm. I couldn’t handle the charm!! And the view of the harbor from the city was breathtaking. With it being Christmas, the streets were quiet, and it made capturing the beauty of Valetta easier. It was a calm and perfect day.

The next day, I had an all-day tour to Gozo-a sister Island of Malta. I was picked up right next to my hotel and took a short ferry ride over to the Island. My tour was in a convertible Jeep. It was me, 3 young girls from China studying in Italy, and our fearless driver, Lewis. We were in a caravan with other jeeps. Throughout the day the we were taken to highlights of the island. We saw so much, and it almost felt rushed. But we saw some pretty amazing things from churches, beautiful architecture, beaches, views, and I got a bit of shopping in. I was upfront with Lewis the entire day. He definitely knows how to treat you to increase his tip. I was told throughout the day I was a VIP, he was doing special things for us throughout the day, and there would be a surprise at the end of the trip. There was a surprise but was really just part of trip that got to be included due to the weather. We took a boat back to the Malta rather than the ferry so we could see the Blue Lagoon. The water was so blue and beautiful. I also witnessed a gorgeous sunset on the Mediterranean sea. I tried to soak in the moment as I knew it was something special.

Thursday, I had another tour. Just a half day tour. I went to the Blue Grotto and Marsaxlokk. The blue grotto is a bunch of sea caverns that you explore from boats. It was absolutely gorgeous and amazing to be in the water. I know my pictures don’t do justice to the beauty of the colors and caves we went into.

And Marsaxlokk looks like a picture and not a real place. It is an active fishing village. The colors of the boats were real and so vibrant. I couldn’t stop taking pictures of the boats.

After the tour, I made my way to Mdina and Rabat. Mdina is a fortified city in the Northern Region of Malta, which served as the island’s capital from antiquity to the medieval period. Mdina so so so beautiful. It definitely felt I was stepping back into another place and time. Rabat also had beautiful streets/alley ways. I also visited a WW2 shelter.

Friday morning, I took a boat tour the grand harbor. I showed up on the wrong side of the ferry and I had to take a later tour, but it all worked out. It was a bit cold on the water, but it was so worth it. The view from the water gave amazing views and perspectives the walls that fortify the city.

I was able to finally get in a little shopping before it was time for the photo session with Nick and Caitlin in the afternoon. If you want to read more about the photo session…see here. The photo session was a lovely way to spend a Friday afternoon in Valetta!!

Saturday came too soon, as it was last day in Malta. I was feeling sad, as I was definitely not ready to leave. I wanted to see the War Museum and get more shopping in. I honestly barely got any in before.

I started the morning off by going to the museum. I wanted to make sure, I got that in. I really love learning about WW2 and knew Malta played a big part in this history. I was fascinated by the history, what I learned, and I am always grateful for those who served and lost their lives.

My last afternoon was spent in Valetta and Silmea shopping. I felt I got all the gifts I wanted to pick up and things that I wanted to help me remember my time in Malta. I also spent some more time walking the streets of both towns trying to soak in as much of the amazing views and archerite as I could!!

As it hit dusk, it was time for me to head back to my hotel and pack. I had an early morning flight on Sunday. I was leaving for the airport at 3:45 am. Yuck.

My travel back home started out with flight drama again!! When I arrived at the Malta airport, I was told my flight was cancelled as I did not make my original flight. It would have been so nice for someone to tell me that when they booked by flight to Malta after I missed my original flight!!

I was not excited that my travels started with stress again, but I thankfully made it on the flight. The annoying thing was I had to pick up my luggage in Paris, to check into my flight from Paris to Boston. When I landed in Paris, the first thing I did was to make sure I was my flight back to Boston. I was. But it took 3 hours to take care of everything in the Paris airport. I had never been so grateful for a long layover. I did my best to soak in my last moments on vacation and my time in Paris. While I was in Paris. I thought it be fun to buy macaroons. That felt like a Paris type thing to do-even if I was in the airport. But for 4 small cookies it cost over $10 Euros. That was so not worth it me. So, I went to a small grocery store in the airport and bought packaged cookies for $ 2 Euros. I feel Europe does store bought cookies so much better than we do in the States!!

I made it home safe and sound! I so loved my trip to Malta and would encourage anyone to visit there!!!

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My images of the Christmas lights need work…but they really were beautiful and everywhere!

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On the ferry on the way to the Island of Gozo.

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On Gozo…waiting for my Jeep tour.
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First stop on tour. View of some of the island and the Blue Lagoon.Malta, Travels_0505.jpg

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Second stop. One the beaches on the island.
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View of the island from the restaurant we ate at for lunch.
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We were about to do a 15 minute boat ride to our the caves.
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Spent my day with these lovely girls!
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Taking pictures while on a small, fast moving boat is hard!!  But the colors were amazing!!
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Do you see a face in the middle picture of above?
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A beautiful Church…If I remember correctly…the Pope visited here.
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Salt bogs.
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Views of sunset and the blue lagoon while on the boat ride back to Malta.
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On another boat tour…seeing the Blue Grotto.
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Marsaxlokk-an active fishing village. Those colors!!
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Views as I was arriving to visit Mdina & Rabat.
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Streets in Rabat.
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The Catacombs.
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Walking into Mdina.
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Streets of Mdina. People still live here.
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Night views of the streets of Rabat.
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About to take a tour of Valetta and other cities from the water.
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My hotel.
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War Muesum.
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A flaky pastry with warm Nutella-I could have eaten these all day long!
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On the streets of Sliema.
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View of Valetta from Sliema.
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