Sunday Fish Market in Malta

Spring has been slow to arrive this year in Dublin so a trip to the Mediterranean was exactly the reminder I needed that winter is finally over. I spent eight days on assignment in Malta and Sicily, exploring Baroque villages, sampling local cuisine, and trying to be discrete with my camera. Luckily, the morning fish market in the village of Marsaxlokk was too busy for anyone to notice me snapping away.

This Maltese fishing village is located in the southeastern section of the small island. The fish market runs along the largest bay in the island, where colorful fishing boats called Luzzu were bobbing gently in the calm water. The Sunday morning we woke in Malta, the island was strangely covered with menacing grey clouds. I thought this might keep the crowds away from the market – but I was wrong. Locals (along with a few tourists) strolled from stall to stall, comparing prices on fish, vegetables, and locally-made lace.

One sign I couldn’t get over said ‘6 pots of strawberries for 3 euros’. These overflowing pots of ripe strawberries were not only beautiful but of sizable portions. Scowling at my local grocery store for the exorbitant prices they charge for fresh fruit, I bought a single pot as an afternoon snack.

One striking element of the fish market was that everyone was speaking Maltese. This island in the Mediterranean, just south of Sicily, has had many conquerors over thousands of years, the most recently being the British. This is part of the appeal of the islands, especially for Americans, that the Maltese speak perfect English. However, strolling through the fish market, listening to the Maltese haggle in their mother tongue, it felt as if I was transported to a different time and place. I no longer felt at the center of a ‘sun and fun’ destination, but as if I had been dropped somewhere back in history when fish was plentiful and prices were fair.

The sheer variety of fish made me wish I had been staying somewhere with a kitchen. While Malta has resorts and boutique hotels to choose from, beach villas are also an option. If you would like to cook local swordfish and tuna during your trip, look into self-catering accommodation. Each stall with it’s spectacular range of fish made me wish I had booked a night or two at a villa with a kitchen.

The Marsaxlokk Market is also a great place to pick up local honey, fresh pastries, breads, and souvenirs. For an affordable picnic lunch, take a stroll through the entire market before making your selections, and then take a seat on one of the nearby docks for a picnic in the sun. Alternatively, the harbor also has many fish restaurants where you can admire the colorful boats or wait for a brief rain shower to pass.

I saw some spectacular sights in Malta – paintings by Caravaggio, ancient walled cities, historic temples – but the fresh scents and animated conversation of the Sunday fish market takes the gold as my favorite memory of the trip.

More details on my trip to Malta and Sicily to come soon!

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9 Comments Add yours

  1. enchantedtraveler says:

    Great story and beautiful photos! I didn’t know much about Malta until I read your story. Thanks!!

  2. Jessica Colley says:

    Thanks for your comments! My trip to Malta was so diverse – history, visiting wineries, art – but one of my favorite moments was seeing the market.. so affordable and full of color! 🙂

  3. Hi Jessica, great post and photography, it’s really made me fancy a seafood feast! I am going to Arrieta in Lanzarote in June and apparently that is a wonderful spot for seafood-lovers too.

    As you mention having a kitchen would have been good, you may be interested to read about the culinary adventures of writers Lara Dunston and Terry Carter as they travel around the world in holiday homes listed on HomeAway Holiday-Rentals, who I work for.

    You should also check out their monthly travel writing competition. This month’s theme is ‘Food & Travel’. All you need to do is enter 500 words plus a ‘mouthwatering’. Prizes include holidays, tour vouchers and more. Check out Lara’s post here: http://grantourismotravels.com/2010/05/05/grantourismo-travel-blogging-competition-may/ for full details.

    Best,
    Sarah

  4. Jessica Colley says:

    Hi Sarah,
    Thanks for your comment! I love seafood and seeing where it all comes from is a real travel favorite for me. Sounds like a great contest – I’ll definitely be entering – it will be difficult to choose just one photograph! Thanks for the information.
    Jessica.

    1. Fab! look forward to seeing your entry & pic. I must admit there is one bit of seafood I like that’d I rather not see in its original state tho… squid! I know that’s terrible tho, I am trying to get over it (it’s the suckers and tenticles, seeing them just puts me off!)

      1. Jessica Colley says:

        Me too! Something about the squid has always freaked me out. Looks interesting in photographs though!

  5. Natalie T. says:

    Great post Jessica. My father is Maltese so I’ve been wanting to get here for some time. It seems like such a simple place.

    1. Jessica Colley says:

      Thanks for your comment Natalie! Hope you get to see this market for yourself sometime soon 🙂

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