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Malta, the Mediterranean marvel

The first thing that struck me about this beautiful historic treasure trove is the richly golden stone that is apparent everywhere you set foot; you almost need a pair of shades to enjoy it, even on a dull day. The island was reminiscent of a period movie set, leaving you confused over how much is authentic from restored.

It's an "easy" holiday destination for us Brits; they drive on the left hand side of the road, English is widely spoken, Sterling is accepted as a common form of currency, and it's small enough (smaller than Greater London) to explore inn a week. But that's about where the similarities end. The people are friendly, the weather pleasant even in November and they enjoy a first class transport system.

The island has been passed from pillar to post throughout history but all this has done is strengthen the resolve of the local people and instilled a strong sense of pride. The streets of Malta and Gozo are straight out of the history books, its long and battered past shows in some of its crumbling buildings which is a real treat from a photographers point of view. There are numerous walled towns and villages; the capital of mainland Malta, Valletta, is surrounded by much of it's original wall.

The ruggedness doesn't end there, much of Malta's coastline is made up of rocky bays, caves, cliffs, harbours and the occasional sandy beach. I didn't see any during my visit but I have it on good authority that they do exist. But regardless there's no doubt that this Mediterranean marvel has a lot crammed into 122 square miles and I loved every inch of what I saw.

Alas I missed out on witnessing Gozo's Azure Window, mother nature claimed it back during heavy storms in March of this year, but spectacular cliff faces like Blue Grotto (above) still stand proud till this day.

Valletta is the walled capital of Malta situated in the south-eastern region of the main island. Inhabited by just under 6000 people she is Europe's second southernmost capital. Most of the city's buildings bears a sand-like colouring typical of the island and its extensive use of local Globigerina Limestone.

The rocky coastline of Malta is mostly made up of steep or vertical cliffs. You can imagine how this would have been advantageous against enemy attack during wartime. In fact see if you can identify the watchtower perched on the rock face above.

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