Posted by: lindsaygoes | October 8, 2016

Journeying through Malta 

Tuesday 27th September
Malta

It doesn’t matter how early you are used to getting up, there is something unpleasant about setting your alarm for 4:30am, but at least it was for a good cause – travelling. We had an early flight to Malta, but it meant we got in at around lunchtime so we could do some exploring.

After dumping our bags at the hotel we caught the ferry across to Valetta and set about exploring. Valetta is the capital and was constructed by the Knights of St John and heavily fortified against the Ottomans.  It was later taken over by Napoleon before the British took over and then it was heavily bombed in the Second World War. All of this gives the place a fantastic history and atmosphere and it was lovely walking along some of the narrow streets. After a bit of a wander and some lunch we visited the archaeological museum which revealed some of the even older history, with Malta being home to some of the oldest stone structures in the world, and there were some amazing sculptures and artefacts there. Next we went to the Palace Armoury which has a huge array of armour and weapons from the era of the Knights of St John. Unfortunately the staterooms part of that museum was closed for renovations, but the armoury section was interesting enough.

Then we went to St Elmo’s Fort which has some fantastic views, but also houses the War Museum and the entrance also included entrance to an exhibit on Valetta, it’s history and development. The War Museum looked at all the different conflicts which have taken place on Malta’s shores and was fascinating (even if we were reaching our quota of military museums for the trip).

Before heading back to Sliema, where we were staying, we walked a circuit around Valetta, looking at some of the views and visiting some of the gardens.

Wednesday 28th September 2016
Malta

This morning we started with a bit of a walk along the waterfront and marina, ironically to pick up our hire car, and then set off to explore the sights of the Island. It took us a bit of time to work out the sat nav and where we were going as it was set on some really weird settings. Eventually we worked it out and discovered we were heading in the wrong direction. Oops! After a course correction we headed for our first stop, the Tarxien temples , although the sat nav got a bit confused near the end so we had to stop and ask for directions. The guy who we asked was really helpful, showed us where to park and walked down the street in his bare feet to help us. Tarxien Temples dates from around 3150 BC and was fascinating to walk around.

Our next stop was Marsaxlokk, a small coastal town with brightly coloured fishing boats painted with the eye of Osiris. Next we went to the Blue Grotto, although it was raining and the boats weren’t running. Also, I slipped and fell on my bum, so I suspect we didn’t appreciate it as much as we could have!

We then visited the fantastic temples of Hagar Qim and Mnajdra which were built between 3600 and 3000 BC and are perched on a cliff top overlooking the sea. The location and age make them a very special place to visit.

We drove on to Rabat and Mdina and after finding somewhere to park walked around the walled city of Mdina, which was really enjoyable, passing through the narrow streets and seeing the historic buildings. Then we walked into Rabat and visited St Paul’s Catacombs. These are old underground burial chambers, and I found them really interesting, although they would be more challenging if you are claustrophobic or tall!

Then we drove onto Mosta, where we saw the Mosta Dome, a very impressive old church which was bombed in World War II. After that we drove back along the coast road and saw some of the watch towers along the coast. Dropping the car back was a bit more challenging than we had hoped as ‘Home’ on the sat nav was not the car hire base, but eventually we found our way. We had a bit of a shock when they thought there was some damage to one of the wing mirrors, but luckily we got that sorted out without having to pay any excess.

We started walking back and shortly it started raining, so out came the raincoats and umbrellas (luckily we had brought them). We tried waiting under a balcony for a little bit, but the rain didn’t seem to be easing so we kept going, getting more and more soaked as we went. Many of the cross streets had turned into rivers so my shoes also got very wet, but my camera was fine and that’s the main thing!

That night we had a very nice dinner at a local Maltese restaurant, which was very tasty.

Thursday 29th September 2016
Malta (Gozo)

Today was our day trip to Gozo. Our pick up was a little late and seemed to get more delayed the more people it collected. Eventually we got to the ferry terminal, just missing a ferry. We got on the next one though and were met by our jeep tour at the other end, our guide Morris was from Gozo and was fantastic, knowledgable and enthusiastic.

Our first stop was Ramla Bay and then we had some viewpoints looking towards Comino and the Blue Lagoon. Then we visited the Ggantija temple, the oldest standing stone structure in the world which was definitely worth seeing! We had lunch at a restaurant with an amazing panoramic view over the coastline.

After lunch we visited a local handicrafts store and got to try some local products, then we went to a gorgeous view point at the cliffs of Xlendi before having a boat ride to the Azure Window which is one of the best diving spots in the world. From the boat you could see how clear and blue the water was, and the rock formations in the area were fantastic.
Then we visited the Our Lady of Ta’ Pinu  Basilica which was visited by Pope John Paul II and had some fantastic mosaic artwork. We then visited the salt flats which were built by the Romans and are still used to produce salt today. It is a collection of square basins in the rocks on the sea edge, and a really remarkable sight from above.

Our final stop in Gozo was the medina of Victoria, a tiny walled city perched on a rocky outcrop which had a fantastic outlook and some interesting old ruins.

We headed back to the mainland on a speedboat passing by Comino and the Blue Lagoon. I had chosen a seat which I thought offered me a good spot to take photographs, but it turned out it was a good spot to get wet! At least my. Rain coat was handy once again.

Friday 30th September 2016
Malta

This morning was a bit more relaxed as the first thing planned was a harbour cruise which only started at 10am. It was nice and peaceful sailing around the main harbours and inlets and seeing some of the historical buildings and views from the water as well as getting a bit of an audio overview of Malta’s history.

Then we headed back into Valetta to see a few of the things we had missed the first time. We visited the main Catholic Cathedral, St John’s Co-cathedral which has a dominating, austere exterior, but amazing intricate baroque interiors. Then it was on to an old Palazzo, Casa Rocca Picolla, which had  some amazing interiors. It also had a bomb shelter from World War II which you could walk down into.

The rest of the evening was devoted to doing some washing!

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