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Exploring Malta with Travel Blogger Paul Steele (a.k.a. BaldHiker)
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Ah, Malta. For those up with the play, Malta is known as much for its dramatic beaches as for its megalithic temples and imposing fortresses. But for the rest of us, this sun-drenched, activity packed archipelago is somewhat of a mystery. Back in April 2016 KAYAK Hacks asked world-renowned British blogger Paul Steele to visit Malta and share his experience.

Paul Steele is the man behind BaldHiker. Combining his passion for travelling, photography and storytelling, Paul travels from mountaintops to beaches, covering incredible places all over the globe, but also the hidden spots closer to home. We met with Paul to learn more about his travels and his time in Malta, knowing his fantastic advice will help you in preparing your next trip.

What moved you to start your own travel blog? And how did you decide on the name?

Back in the very early years of Twitter, I was doing plenty of mountain trekking and hiking around the world. Smartphones had just been released then, and whilst it’s hard to believe now, it was very novel to share pictures direct to social media. I started doing that live, as I travelled, and this became my blog. It became a way to share my daily experience with pics and thoughts, and BaldHiker was born.

You have been to so many different places. Where haven’t you been yet – but still want to go?

The world is so big, and as much as I travel I don’t think I’ll ever have seen enough of it! However, I would like to see a lot more of Asia, for sure. I’ve been many times, but there’s so much to see that the travelling opportunities there are endless.

And your favourite spot/place in the world that you have travelled to?

Favourites are so hard to define; I love many places for differing reasons. Iceland is incredible, and New Zealand is amazing for hiking. Maui was an adventure I will never forget. I have been to Azerbaijan four times as I just love the culture, food, and the history.

If you had an unlimited travel budget for 24 hours, what would be your itinerary ?

Unlimited? I wish! I love being spontaneous in travel actually, so my itinerary would be: head somewhere and enjoy; seek and learn. So unlimited travel throughout Asia perhaps? I’ve also always had a dream of getting to the South Pole. I imagine that would be an otherworldly experience.  

The beginning of every trip starts with planning. How do you choose where and when to go?

When choosing my trips, I look at what I want to achieve, and establish if I want to learn something, see something, or feel that I have really accomplished something. In any case, as you can probably gather from my blog, I never sit still and love to be on the go. It is actually amazing how full of interest and beauty the world is – in all ways, shapes and form. So to summarise, it would be anything other than an all-inclusive package holiday, or somewhere sedentary with little culture or interest. Then I can plan and enjoy.

What is your travelling must have that you would always have in your backpack? What would you recommend as a must-take for a trip to Malta?

My must have travel item? A camera – always! Even if it’s just a small one. If I don’t have a camera on me then I can guarantee I will always, always see something of interest that I want to capture in memory, write about or share.

What surprised you the most about Malta? And what do you think travellers generally would be surprised to learn about the country?

I think the biggest misconception about Malta is that it is just a warm little island in the Mediterranean – which is far from the reality. It’s an incredibly beautiful place, which is absolutely packed with history and culture far beyond what you’d expect, or what you’d find at more popular travel destinations. There are spots there that you can explore and they’ll literally take your breath away.

What was the biggest challenge from the given contest agenda?

I must say there were no great challenges at all! Everything ran smoothly and I was able to accomplish all that I wished. One thing to flag about Malta though is, that if you’re planning to hire a car, whilst the cars themselves are cheap to hire, the deposits are more than the norm, so I would advise anyone planning to head there to ensure that this was factored into their budget, as you will obviously not get this back until the end of your trip.

If you had to choose just one picture from your trip that describes the spirit of Malta best, which one would it be and why? (show us the picture)

One of my favourite places in Malta that shows the vibrancy, culture and beauty, is the fishing village of Marsaxlokk. With its turquoise waters and the colourful little fishing boats, there really is no better place than this to enjoy a fresh fish lunch.

Was there one thing you really wanted to do in Malta but didn’t manage to? If yes, what was it? Would you return to Malta just to have this experience?

I really wanted to see inside the Co-Cathedral of the Knights of St John, Valletta again. I went there a while ago and found I was rushed so didn’t explore it fully, so I really wanted the chance to get back in and see more as it is a remarkable building – I highly recommend it. Alas, it is not open every day and I missed it.

What travel tip and advice would you give to users who want to visit Malta?

I would say get out and try to get to every corner of the island. Each place in Malta is different to the next – from the history of the urban Valletta in the East, to the high open limestone cliffs of the West coast, which are a joy to explore. The towns and villages throughout are all full of their own quirks, and around the coast there are hidden and quiet bays that are quite remarkable to see. Get to Mdina too… it’s an absolute must!

How did using KAYAK Trips improve your travelling experience?

I found using KAYAK Trips made the whole thing run absolutely smoothly! It definitely provided a stress-free travel experience, being able to book and have everything in one place, on one app. It taught me that travel can be so much more enhanced when you have added ease and peace of mind.

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