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Published: July 30th 2008
Pretty as a picture
Oh that's right, it is a picture. Vittoriosa, one of the three cities opposite Valletta, probably the nicest bit.
Gosh, I went on a holiday, fancy that, a bit unusual don't you think? OK, maybe not, and although this year's carbon footprint maybe be getting to the levels of that of a small country (Malta perhaps?) but it's good for the soul, especially since it was raining in London AGAIN!
You know the drill: early morning, cheap orange airline and a few hours later and I'm basking in the warm glow of the Maltese sun.
Well, standing at Valetta airport arrivals awaiting a flight from Manchester to meet fellow Essex girl Linda, once the people who resembled Wayne Rooney's family came through the door, I knew it had landed!
We hopped in a taxi and headed off to out hotel in Sliema, a bay around the corner from the capital Valletta. Malta isn't the biggest of islands so it didn't take us long to reach our destination.
A quick check in and the plan was to have lunch in the sun then take a boat trip around the harbours of Valletta then back to the beach for a nice dip in the blue waters of the Med.
We walked over to Sliema and chose our boat for
Gotta get the back seat!
Buses in Malta are plentiful, cheap and there are lots of really cool old ones, took me back to the days of the school bus run, although the type pictured was before my time!
the harbour cruise, well, booked up the first one we came across. After lunch, we headed off for our cruise at 3pm, it wasn’t looking great. A bunch of German school kids were waiting to get on the boat, but in the spirit of international relations, we thought we’d grin and bear it.
So we waited for the boat to turn up, and we waited, and we waited and we waited…
It seems Malta was suffering its second siege that very afternoon, some ropey old French oil tanker had broken down in one of the harbour trapping all the ships in another part of the harbour. By this time it’s getting well past four o’clock, but at least the German kids had gone home.
Finally our vessel arrived, nearly two hours late. But we’d waited so long we thought we might as well carry on, things were looking up. The cruise took around the inlets of the city past Fort Manoel, Fort Saint Elmo, Fort Saint Michael, Fort Saint Angelo and Fort Ricasoli. I fort it was a bit excessive myself.
It was all going well at this point, even though we were 2 hours late, the
Don't eat the bunnies
I may have eaten many exotic animals on my travels, but in memory of both Benji and Elvis, I couldn't bring myself to eat bunny.
cruise was very enjoyable. We passed one of Roman Abramovich’s many yachts and enjoyed the views of Valletta.
It’s a very pretty city, high up on its fortifications built by the Knights of St John. Described by Disreali as "a city of palaces built by gentlemen for gentlemen," which sums it up nicely. Those Knights must have been very busy, there are a lot of forts out there.
And just as we passed the fancy Bighi hospital complex in the Renla creek and turned homeward bound, disaster struck and the engines slowly ground to a halt leaving us cast adrift on the wild, shark infested waters of the of Valletta harbour. Thoughts of the Poseidon adventure flashed though my mind as we weighed anchor and the crew tried in vain to start the boat. Another hour later and we were still on the boat, the British guide had passed out the cheap red wine and started ranting on like a Daily Mail journalist about all the was wrong with the world, luckily at this point help was finally in sight as the Oki-koko speedboat driven by ‘Mr Crazy’ zoomed over the horizon to rescue us. When we
Swimming in Slima
It is a little rocky but come on in, the water is lovely!
finally made it back to base, only 3 hours later, the crew were kind enough to offer us a free cruise the next day, we politely declined…
I didn’t manage to get my swim that day, by the time we got back to the hotel it was time for dinner, I decided not to try the local speciality, rabbit. It breaks my ‘if you had/want it as a pet, don’t eat it’, Benji and Elvis you must be proud of me.
The next day we headed off in to Valletta, this time over ground. Malta has a very good network of bus routes which are very cheap. The buses are rather cool though, all orange and yellow and lots of them are really old fashioned. They reminded me of the old school bus back in Wales, but this time I’m cool enough to get the back seat.
Valletta is fortified and contains a lot of churches, lots of churches. It also contains a lot of tour groups from cruise ships, a lot of tour groups. Once you manage to avoid tour group number 5 it’s a very pretty city. Luckily the cruise ship passengers are usually of
hufen ia, glace, eiscreme, gelati whatever language you speak, you have to eat them damn quick in that heat!
the older generation or rather portly and seem to avoid the steeper, prettier parts of the city.
After hearing the noon-day gun at 11am (some people forgot to change their watch!) we took a bus to the World War 2 Air raid shelter museum over in Vittoriosa. During the war and siege the locals hollowed out the rock underneath a fort (quelle surprise) to form a network of shelters. The harbour in Vittoriosa was one of the prettiest parts of the city, all decked out with bright flags, how did they know I was coming?
On the final day we hopped on another old bus and headed inland to Mdina, a beautiful, fortified (see what I mean) old village perched on top of a hill in the centre of the island. The small village is home to only about 400 residents, one of the houses was so pretty, I wouldn’t mind becoming resident 401 (oh, hold on, I am not a number).
Next door to Mdina is the town of Rabat, no real fortifications to speak of here, so I was a little disappointed but it did have the Catacombs of St Paul though which more than
It's fortified you know, but not like cheap wine.
made up for it. A few too many spiders but really good fun to wander around in, could have been quite spooky if the bones were still in there.
Overall a nice place, lovely and hot and the when I finally got my swim it was lovely. I was a bit delayed on the way home, but if you ever get stuck at Malta airport, at one end of the terminal is a very quiet outdoor seating area, so it wasn’t such a bad place to be stuck.
Wasn't I good, I didn't mention Maltesers once! Mmm, the lighter way to enjoy chocolate. Doh!
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