After our sunrise sail into the gorgeous port of Valletta, we hopped off the ship and boarded a bus set for a few different sights around the island. First being the most colorful of them all...the sleepy fishing village of Marsaxlokk! I'm still not quite sure how to pronounce the name of this place (I'm the worst at remembering these details), but what I am sure of is its instant charm. As if the turquoise sea wasn't already colorful enough, the amount of boldly-painted fishing boats scattered about the harbor made this seascape just about as fun as they come.
Marsaxlokk means "Southeasterly Port" (which is much easier to say) and has been in almost constant operation for thousands of years. Primarily used as a fishing hub, this well-loved village just a short drive from Malta's Mdina is home to hundreds of fishing boats (known as luzzus to the Maltese) and some seriously scrumptious Mediterranean-caught seafood. The morning of our visit, we wandered around the harbor, gawking at the colorful vessels and enjoying the fragrant smells of fish dishes wafting from dozens of waterfront restaurants lining around its parameter. In case you were curious as to why the blue, yellow and red color-scheme is found on almost all the luzzus...well, that's a tradition handed down from fisherman to fisherman over many, many years. In addition, if you look closely at the luzzus, you can see other features that set them apart from less colorful boats in the harbor. The high, pointed tips found at each boat-end are just one characteristic. Another? Well, the Maltese can be very superstitious, so many luzzu carry the traditional eye symbol faceted to the outside of the boat to ward away the evil's of the sea. Who could blame them, what with having to battle choppy waters and thwarting sea creatures day in and day out.
We were lucky enough to witness a few luzzus getting fresh coats of paint from their owners as we wandered the seaside promenade. Each fisherman seemed to take great pride in his vessel, even if it was hard to decipher one luzzu from another. I also began to fall in love with the village itself. There was no shortage of al fresco dining and rustic doors in this Maltesian wonder. Our good fortune continued as we were introduced to local Maltese artisans selling their wares at a large outdoor market. I picked up a few lace souvenirs as well as some colorful jewelry from a man making his own pieces right along the water. Tourism was very much alive and well in Marsaxlokk!
Snacking on some fresh shrimp balls we found from a local fisherman's seafood shop, we continued our exploration deeper into the village. Just behind the market stood a beautiful stone cathedral and beyond that, quiet color splashed alleyways (my favorite!). Rustic seaside charm oozed its way from the sun-soaked streets straight into my heart. Yet another one of those too-cute-too-be-true places that make you truly appreciate the opportunity of travel.
If Malta makes it to your bucket list (and it should), add a stop in tradition-filled Marsaxlokk to your itinerary. You must see the luzzus for yourself!
Stay tuned for more seascapes around Malta!