A race round Malta with Maltese food And Maltese 'coffee'

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June 6th 2017
Published: June 7th 2017
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Today ended up being like the Cannonball Run of sightseeing. It hadn't started like that but, as usual, things with us rarely go to plan. What we had expected was some rain and so we decided to walk some of the Victoria Lines figuring it would at least be cooler today even if we did have to wear our raincoats.

Which we both forgot. Not much use back at the apartment. Duh

The Victoria Lines are walls that were built some time ago with forts along the way and it 'may' be possible to walk the whole 12 kilometres or so. We weren't going to find out but we drove to one of the forts instead planning to walk at least a bit of the way. Bingemma Fort looked like somewhere Nazis would hang out planning overthrowing anyone who opposed racism. Loads of PRIVATE PROPERTY signs, mangy dogs and big gates and fences weren't exactly welcoming and the bits of the wall we could see looked pretty inaccessible. And some big clouds and thunderclaps were approaching to we moved on.

Ta Qaali craft village was next which is set out in Nissan huts mainly. It sounds like a tourist mecca but isn't. It looks run down, lots of the outlets are empty and signposting is minimal. Once you get inside though they have some amazing wares for sale, well the two we went into did anyway.

The first was Valletta glass where you could watch and photograph a team of glass blowers making the amazing pieces that were for sale in the shop. Just look at the glass horse in the picture! There was no hard sell either which was nice. Claire bought some gifts and something for herself.

We went through the rain into a jewellery hut where a guy was making filigree silver jewellery. It was intricate yet he was more interested in my camera and yabbered away about photography whilst also managing to sell Claire a necklace. He did give us tips on good places to photograph on the island which was nice. I gave him tips on where to buy a full frame camera from. Nikon of course. We walked round a garden he had recommended but decided to give the rest of the craft village a miss as we'd already parted with enough money in the first two huts.

The whistlestop tour continued at.....

Rabat and Medina are actually just either side of an archway so we parked somewhere we could access both. Medina has some wonderfully atmospheric alleyways which were actually a bit slippery thanks to the torrential rain that ended up in us investing in a couple of (as it turned out) flimsy umbrellas. It is also catacomb city....but then Rabat has some too. Apparently they were built where the ground was soft enough and that's why they are where they are.

St Paul's Cathedral (greedy git has at least TWO cathedrals) was €5 to get in which is a bit steep given most are free and it isn't like the church isn't incredibly rich anyway. He didn't get any of our money at this point but we did pay to go and see a grotto he used to hang around in. This was €5 too and real value for money.

The entrance fee included Paul's grotto, some catacombs, WWII shelters and a bit of a museum. Claire said the paintings in there weren't her bag so she threw red hair dye all over them and then they were more her bag. She likes her bag and compares it to a lot of things. She didn't really throw the hair dye but now she's read this I bet she wishes she could have done. Museums would get more visitors if visitors were allowed to improve the exhibits.....or maybe not.....

The WWII shelters were fantastic with lots of rooms carved out underground which reminded us somewhat (without the ice) of the ice hotel we stayed in in Finland earlier this year. We also got to see an agape table....woo hoo!! It wasn't all that but it was through the catacombs so an interesting journey to get to it.

Anyway, with €5 well spent it was time to shelter from the rain and have lunch whilst uploading yesterday's blog. This was done in a blues bar that had a menu with the Sex Pistols, Rammstein and The Clash on it. Excellent. The coffee was excellent and the Maltese food we had was decent too and not badly priced.

Back out into the rain we went though the archway into Rabat and found the museum and catacombs of St Agatha. It was a few minutes until the tour began so we were told we could go into the museum and would be called down. Floor one of the museum made me laugh out loud as it was small samples of bits of rock all labelled up and saying where they came from. The next floor had mainly broken pottery which, coming from Stoke-on-Trent is about as rare as rain in England.

We were greatful when a loudspeaker called us down to go on the tour. Our guide wasn't exactly charismatic but he was very informative and his English was very good. He also managed to do the whole tour without looking any of us in the eye even when Claire asked him a question at the end. Quite a feat. For €5 again it was worth the money and the catacombs even had original skeletal remains in them. The signs everywhere said no photos but the Italians on the tour decided that this didn't include them.

We could have gone back into the museum after but decided that getting soaking wet was a better option. By now we were catacombed out and so decided to give St Paul's catacombs a miss. Time to get a jog on, we are on holiday after all!

To Mosta we shall go. And to the Mosta Dome which is highly impressive and well worth a visit. Claire was okay with the paintings here so they remain in their original state. The dome inside was big, high and inticately decorated and worthy of a few pictures. I did fall out with some people here although they don't know it. After being ignorant to me I reciprocated by intentionally standing in their shots and in their way in return for their rudeness for ignoring other people. They may not have noticed but I felt better.

Can't hang around though, we have places to see!

We had a restaurant planned for the evening and so wanted to stay in the vicinity ready for when it was supposed to open at 18:30. Dingli cliffs were nearby so we headed there to fill the time. We walked along the top but were quite a way from the sea even when we walked along some more. Good views but we were looking for something more photogenic.

Some guy had a stall outside a church and was advertising Maltese coffee. Well I just had to try it, especially when it costs only €1. He had some strawberries for sale saying they were from his own garden. He gave us one to try and Claire wolfed it down before I even got a sniff. Looks like the 'sharing' part of our marriage is over. She said she thought I was getting one as well and did let me have some of the punnet we then had to buy. Maybe the honeymoon period isn't over?

The 'coffee' was made with cloves and tasted nothing like coffee in the slightest. If I was a coffee bean I'd be suing right now. An absolute insult to the entire coffee industry. Even Happy Shopper coffee has more about it than this. I didn't drink it all needless to say. It was time to move on.

Our 578th stop of the day was Buskett Gardens, Malta's only real woodland. We found it quite dull and didn't stay long. We couln't get to photograph Verdala Palace as it was closed by this time so decided to head to our recommended restaurant. It was already open even though we were early and, as we were wanting to eat then catch the sunset, this could only be good right?

Wrong. On entering we were asked if we had a reservation and when we said no were told that they opened at 7 and he would find us a table if we got there at 18:45.

We moved on. The next recommended restaurant was supposed to open at 7 but was closer to where we hope to see the sunset. Claire was driving and nearly got crushed by a bus making a bizarre and possibly illegal manouvre just yards away from the restaurant and parking was difficult so we burnt some calories walking back.

When we collected our car here we were warned to park correctly in the white boxes but this doesn't seem to apply to the Maltese. They stop on roundabouts, at angles across zebra crossings....anywhere and everywhere even if it holds people up....some of it can be quite alarming as they do it without warning. I suppose it's just like their driving.

We were now in Mgarr where there is another impressive domed church but it was too late to go in by this time. The restaurant was Il Barri and this was the best meal and service I have had so far. Before my starter came two plates were put on the table which turned out to be complimenatry. One had crackers, cheese, bruschetta and bean paste on it while the other was snails in a tasty sauce. For free! The starter was good too.

My main course was a wonderful and hearty rabbit stew and they also threw in a basket of bread and some salad too while Claire had a vegetarian pizza that was so big she couldn't finish it. I was offered more bread but actually turned it down I was getting so full! When the bill came there was a whole plate of monkey nuts as well as some mints. The service was quick too and gave us time to rush to catch the sunset.

Just up from Golden Bay is Ghajn Tuffieha where we just managed to set up and take some pictures before the sun plopped into the sea. We did a recce for a beach for tomorrow as Claire says we might have some r&r....she hasn't specified how many seconds this will be for though....

It's been quite a hectic day......I think I need a holiday.....

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