As it was our second time in Malta, Jim and I were well aware that we did not want to stay in one of the resorts around St. Julian. Yes, that’s where the night life is centered. Yes, you can get to the beach and work on your tan, but that’s not what we wanted. We wanted to stay in the quiet, picturesque town of Marsaxlokk, which pretty much shuts down after dinner. I like that.
Marsaxlokk means “Southeasterly Port,” and it has been in constant use for thousands of years; primarily as a fishing port, but also as a strategic defensive point against a variety of invaders including the Ottomans during the siege of Malta in 1565. Today, it is a lunchtime tourist spot. A short bus ride from anywhere on the island, visitors come to gawk at the pretty harbor and colorful boats as well as feast on the Med’s bounty. Fish restaurants abound along the waterfront offering everything from the local fish called “lampuki” to some regulars like squid, octopus, swordfish, and tuna.
We did this the first time we went to Malta and left feeling disappointed. It was one of my favorite stops, yet we didn’t spend near enough time there. We were intent on finding accommodation in this town away from the throngs of tourists and partiers on other parts of the island. It was the right choice.
We arrived at night in a huge rainstorm. Our windows rattled and we looked out of the balcony to the moored boats rocking on the tumultuous waves. In the morning, we walked all around the waterfront, and the only other people there were the fisherman who live on some of the larger vessels. The sunrise brought with it streaks of pink and orange, which just enhanced the traditional colors of the luzzus, what the Maltese call their boats.
These fishing boats were brought over with the Phoenicians around 1200 BC. You can tell a luzzu from other varieties, because it is pointed on the front and back of the hull, and they are traditionally painted in the primary colors of yellow, blue, and red. The one characteristic which endears them to tourists is that on both sides of the prow are painted a pair of eyes. These are called the ‘Eye of Osiris” which is of Greek or Phoenician origin.
It is said that, like many fisherman all over the world, the Maltese can be very superstitious. The eye has been there for centuries protecting them from the evils of the sea, but the fisherman don’t stop there. They also keep the exact same paint pattern that has been passed down from grandfather, to father, to son, and just to cover all their bases will also have a crucifix attached to the inside of the prow as well. One can never be too safe!
We just love this little town and we were happy to find the perfect accommodation as well. We stayed at the Portview Inn, and I would highly recommend it if you are looking for a quiet holiday away from the parties.