Mornings in Marsaxlokk

Luther’s Malta and the Mediterranean Program, currently in its 26th year, offers students the opportunity to spend a semester exploring Malta's rich history and traveling to other countries in the Mediterranean region. Coursework includes Paideia II: Ethical Issues in the Mediterranean, a Service Learning class, where program participants teach English to recent immigrants to Malta, Maltese History and Culture and additional classes taken at the University of Malta.

To learn more about the program, visit the Malta Semester website.

Today I took the bus to Marsaxlokk for the Sunday fish market. Since March 1 hit, Malta has been swarmed with tourists. Although there’s been an influx of foreigners, I was completely unprepared for the swarm that followed me to Marsaxlokk.

When I got off the bus in Valletta I joined a massive line of tourists waiting for the TD10 to the fish market. It was so packed that an official for Malta Public Transit decided that this bus would take a direct route to Marsaxlokk — but for double the price. This didn’t phase me since I’m only 20 (for 13 more days) and 16-20 year olds ride the bus for free. I managed to get one of the last standing spots headed to Marsaxlokk. After the twenty minute trip (which is normally 50), the bus doors opened as the driver announced “end of the line” and the pungent fish odor filled the air. Before wandering through the tourist filled market, I stopped at Costa Coffee to grab a muffin and sit in the sun outside. The contrast from being in Marsaxlokk on a Sunday and on a day without the market was astounding!

As I continue to feel more like a local, I also have become better at spotting other tourists. At times the “tourist” label makes me feel a bit less alone since I’m no longer the only “crazy” American wearing a tank top in 65 degree weather. It’s also very comforting to hear English, even if it is with a thick British accent.

The sheer amount of tourists in the quaint fishing village was overwhelming. I soon discovered that anything you could ever want is sold at the Marsaxlokk Sunday market. From whole coconuts poked open with a straw for drinking to knockoff designer handbags or underwear for the entire family — vendors sell it all. By far the most popular item was the catch of the day. I’m not exactly a seafood person, but I loved looking at all options of fish fresh from the Mediterranean. At one point while walking through the market I narrowly escaped a collision with a fisherman carrying two buckets full of bloody, scaly, fish guts. Sorry for the visual!

When I finally gave up navigating the crowd, I walked back to the bus stop — only to find another pile-up of tourists. The first bus came and went without any room to pick up passengers at the stop. Being a Malta resident now for an entire month and knowing how the bus system works, I had the brilliant idea to walk to another stop. Within ten minutes I got on a Vallett- bound bus — a very cramped, smelly, and hot bus. I laughed out loud a little as the driver drove right past the stop I had just come from. We went straight to Valletta without any stops!

Back in Valletta I stopped for sushi at my favorite place, Zest in Is-Suq Tal-Belt, which is basically a food court. I’d say it’s really more of a high end food court since waiters bus tables and even ask for your drink order.

I love living in Malta for days like today. I can go to a weekly village fish market in the morning then spend my afternoon in the capital. Everyday life here feels like an adventure even if I spend most of my day wandering aimlessly. With the help of Malta Public Transit and a student bus card I have access to the entire country at my fingertips. I can just look at the map and go!

Boats docked along the market
Items for sale hung along a vendor's tent
A close up of a Luzzu, a traditional Maltese fishing boat
Fresh fish being sold at a restaurant nearby