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Published: December 16th 2018
Wed: Valletta & Three Cities
I woke up starving!! Maria said Busy Bee is a cafe nearby that all Maltese go to. Excited! Unfortunately, it wasn’t what I expected. They have cakes but no pastry, just pastizzi and sandwiches. I got 3 pastizzi because they were uber cheap and I thought they’d be puny. Wrrrong! They were good size pies loaded with filling. 2 of them put me over the top!
Today will be a Valletta day. Right off the bat, we were at St John’s co-cathedral. A handful of people were at the door, waiting for 9:30 am opening. Let’s knock this one out. 10-euro entrance fee comes with the audio guide. Inside is lavishly decorated with zero empty spot anywhere including the floor! So much to see, especially with the help of audio guide! Shortly after, though, the bus load got dumped here. Phew, we beat them by a hair. There is also an annex or oratory with Caravaggio’s work. This was very good too.
Valletta is super charming walled city. Amazing to see that many cars there, parked along the narrow cobblestone road and driving through the narrow gaps! When we were at the east
end of the city, I realized that we had to be at Upper Barrakka by noon for the saluting battery and noon was fast approaching! The midday sun was beating down and the path got confusing. Grrr, can we make it? We got there literally a few minutes before noon and, of course, there was no way to get a good view of the canon firing. Oh well, I saw it between people’s heads. There were two big cruise ships parked at the waterfront. That’s probably where the bus loads are from.
Pastizzi was still weighing me down. I thought maybe go to Three Cities first but that’ll make us skip lunch and that’s never a good idea. Nenu the Artisan Baker is tucked away, away from the bustling restaurants closer to the city gate. We shared a ftira with sausage. This was very much like a thick huge pizza. Welcome to Malta where portions are big. The couple next to us ordered this and another meat dish with a lot of leftovers.
On the way to the ferry to Three Cities, we came across a sign that said 2-euro to Three Cities or 8-euro for 30min cruise
on the traditional boat. Cute! Then the boat guy said 8-euro or go take the ferry. Oh ok, fine. When another couple asked for the same, the guy called us back. I guess they’ve gotta make a living, I get it. That was a nice ride, actually. Birgu was so cute! Drop the map and just get lost in the alleys. A grandma was chatting with another grandma across the street from her balcony. It’s that narrow. After going through the maze, we took a bus to Esplora in Kalkara. We didn’t know what it was but turned out to be like a science museum for kids. When we got there, there was not a single soul. It just closed at 3:30 pm. I saw an open bathroom so I grabbed it! When V was going, I realized a staff was locking us in from outside, no! I banged the door like there was no tomorrow. He didn’t expect anyone here at this hour. A Close call.
We took a bus all the way back to Valletta. After giving some time, we were ready for dinner. Too bad all my bucket lists were carb centric. Pastaus looked interesting where
you pick pasta and sauce of your choice. Pasta looked fresh! It’s not Maltese really and owned by the Italians but hey. I picked the simplest garlic oil and chili. The guy recommended simple spaghetti for it. I was pretty cheesed our so it was nice. Thu: Mdina & the west coast
8:30 am Mdina. First stop: Crystal Palace for pastizzi. They had no pastizzi on display but you ask and you get super delicious pastizzi! Pastizzi are super cheap everywhere. Going rate is 50 cents and it’s super filling. Looks like people get a few but that puts me over the top. The old guy at the counter told me he has 4 kinds: cheese, peas, chicken, and anchovy. He said “one of each?”. Hmm, ok! I don’t know what I was thinking. Between V and I, we had to take one to go. They were the flakiest crispiest pastizzi!
Mdina was pretty quiet yet. We had Mdina gate to ourselves. Shortly after we walked into St Paul Cathedral, the mass started. We had no idea what was being said or what was going on but we stayed for a good part of it. Mdina is
not very big. We wandered around and reached our final stop at Fontanella tea garden. Shortly after 10 am opening, many of the view seats were taken. We were able to snag one of the few remaining edge seats. It was breezy but nice to have a drink and cake overlooking the nearby fields.
Continuing west to Dingli Cliffs. Bus 201 took us to the coast. There were 3 stops along the cliff. I was gonna go for the middle one but the bus driver implicitly told us to go at the first stop, which was conveniently located in front of a cafe. The bus was hanging out there for some time, right. There was no view there…I knew it! As we moved toward the other stops, the view finally opened up. It was a gorgeous day!
Welp, it was still early. Impulsive decision to continue the coastal route to Blue Grotto! At the viewpoint, we had the high-up view of the window rock! So pretty! We walked down to the hub and got on an 8-euro boat ride. We usually don’t do these touristy things but this was so worth it!! On a 9-person boat, a guide
took us along the rock formations in 30min. By formation, I mean, wow! Some spots were turquoise, reflecting sun, clear enough to see the corals underwater, and going through the caves! Amazing!!
After all this, we still had time to go to Golden Bay for sunset!! There is no direct route between Blue Grotto and Golden Bay. We had to shoot back to Valletta and head out on an hour ride. When we got there, sun was just about to set. This is a sandy beach (vs rocky beach) and there were people still dipping in water. Water was not too cold. We got to see a gorgeous sunset!!
Back in Valletta, we were starving. First choice: D’office but it was closed. Second choice: Cafe Jubilee but it just wasn’t where the map indicated. Nooo. We resorted to going back to Nenu. We needed food now and they have other Maltese fares than ftira that we had yesterday. Nenu staff was pretty much the same as yesterday and this super chatty waitress remembered us 😊. I had Aljotto and V had meat stew. They were both hearty which was perfect. Fri: Gozo!
7:30 am bus to
Cirkewwa to catch 9 am ferry to Gozo. There were a lot of people getting on the ferry, including the tour groups. Their buses were waiting in Mgarr on Gozo side. Rest of us piled onto the public bus to Victoria, where all bus route met. I was so happy to see the produce trucks at Victoria bus hub!! Been so deprived T^T.
First stop: Dwejra where Azure Window once stood. Sadly, it collapsed some years ago. It was another t-shirt kinda day. Emergency coffee stop with a slice of over-priced apple pie. So gorgeous being out here at the coast! Being mindful of the bus schedule (it runs once an hour), we explored Dwejra Tower and Fungus Rock view point. Super gorgeous!!
Back to Victoria for lunch as it was already 1 pm. The citadel in Victoria was even smaller than Mdira. We want to Ta’Ricardu. I got my sorry fish soup (puny) and V got the signature ravioli. Sadly, the menu specifically said they’re made with unpasteurized goat cheese so I opted not to even touch it 😞. Tourist price, I’d say, but it was raved everywhere.
The thing about going around Gozo on public
bus is that each line runs once an hour. Worst case, you’d end up waiting an entire hour for the bus. After lunch, it was a tossup between Ta’Pinu and Marsalforn. The bus schedule picked Ta’Pinu for us. Ta’Pinu is a fairly recently-built big religious site in the middle of nowhere. A big church pops out in a vast land. Across the street, you can climb up the hill as you pass by statues depicting the story of Jesus. It was steep for this out-of-shape preggo but we made it to the top where Jesus resurrected!
It was already 3 pm by the time we were back in Victoria for another outing. This time, the tossup was between Marsalforn or back to Dwejra for sunset. We picked the sunset because Marsalforn would be pushing it just to see the ancient salt pans. The moment we reached Dwejra, the sun was only tad above the horizon, timely. Another sunset success 😊.
The journey back to Valletta was long. Bus to Victoria, then to Mgarr. Luckily, we weren’t too far from 6:45 pm ferry. Then 7:30 bus for 1hr+ ride to Valletta...uy. Late dinner at Cafe Jubilee. This place was
probably the best of all places we went to in Valletta. The menu has variety and reasonably-priced. V had pasta and I had Maltese potato bean soup. We even had our first imquaret for dessert. Sat: Marsaxlokk & Manoel Theater
The plan was to visit Popeye Village, then head to San Gilian/ Sliema for the promenade stroll. We had a little extra time before heading out and I happened to look at the bus schedule to Sunday fish market in Marsaxlokk tomorrow. That was a super lucky call because there is no bus to Marsaxlokk on Sunday morning!! Wow, that would have been a disaster!! Quickly, the plan changed to go to Marsaxlokk now!
10 am bus got into Marsaxlokk ~10:30 am. There was nothing that was a market-like. We strolled on the promenade, grabbed a few way-too-over-priced pastries from a stand, and ended up at a tourist info. I was hoping for something we missed. To my question of what to do in Marsaxlokk, the lady simply said, “we’re here, here is the promenade, and there are restaurants along it”. I.e., ain’t nothing going on here. V had a good idea to stop by the cute-looking
town of Paola we saw on the way here. The Main Street runs in front of the huge Cathedral and the piazza was decked out with bunch of flags - photogenic! We grabbed seats at a busy kiosk nearby and had very reasonably priced lunch there. I mean 2.50 euro ftira fed both of us. Topped it off with apple pie and we were good to go.
We swung by a produce store to pick up some fruits and headed out to San Gilian. This area is completely different from Malta we’d seen so far. The coast was lined with modern apartments and hotels, even a casino in the view. Promenade probably would have been nice for us to get some runs in but that’s about it. We walked all the way to Manoel Island where there is duck village. There are a lot of stray cats but they seemed well taken care of 😊.
We took a bus back to the apartment for a short rest before heading out to Valletta for a show at Manoel Theater. It was established in the 18th century and third oldest working theater in Europe. In Valletta, a pastry store had
a little table outside selling cannoli and imquarets. Imquaret was warm and super fresh, nothing like what I had yesterday! The dough tastes like a donut. We got to the theater ~5:45 pm. We thought we were way too early but a few parties were lined up already probably because the seats weren’t assigned. We got great seats in the 4th row smack in center! For a mere 2 euro, we were treated with an hour of cute musical about Amahl. Post theater meal at D’office! It was randomly closed the other day and we were excited to see it open, although we were disappointed with the food. Pasta was badly done and aljotto, although tasty, was a starter portion at main course price and it wasn’t like what I saw during my research 😞. Sun: Squeezing Popeye Village in
7 am bus to Popeye Village. We had a flight to catch mid-day and Maria thought we were crazy. There is supposedly a bus that runs a mile stretch between the main road and Anchor Bay along the farm land but Maria told us it’s not reliable. Thanks to that info, we didn’t even count on it and
just walked that mile. We had Anchor Bay to ourselves as the village didn’t open until 9:30 am. Veer to the left of the entrance and we had a pretty good view of the movie set. We spent about 20min in the area and it was a good time to start walking back. Sure enough, we didn’t see any public bus along the way. Looks like the route was canceled for the day. We made it back to Msida early so we stopped by Busy Bee for a grub. The cafe was hustling, we had to wait a minute to get a table. We split a panino (ftira) similar to the one from yesterday in Paola. I had to skip the salad that came with it though.
Back at the apartment, we wrapped up the packing early, said good bye to Maria, and began our journey back to Rome. Bus was packed but all went smooth. The flight back to Rome was like a party bus. Everyone was talking loudly, eating pasta, yadi yada. We landed in rainy Rome. It was crowded and messy but the journey into the center went pretty smooth. After a little breathing time at
Nenu the artisan baker, Valletta
the apartment, it is time to head out for our last supper at Flavio with 7:45 pm reservation. We opted to take the bus that drops us off in front of the restaurant, instead of metro + 10min walk, sweet. But! The connecting bus never came! We had to wait for the next bus 20min later. Needless to say, we arrived at the restaurant 20min late. But hey, we’re on Italian time. No problem.
We had one antipasto (fried artichoke), primo (homemade pasta cacio e pepe), and secondo (oxtail stew). They were all excellent!! Portions were ginormous. Really, how do they expect one person to eat this much pasta or meat? Apparently, people nearby cleared the plate, crazy! Oxtail looked deceiving but V says it’s a lot of meat and that says a lot. We (mostly V) cleared both but no room for dessert.
We spent good two hours there when the place just got going with large parties showing up. The return bus never showed up in 30min, grrr, so unreliable. Plan B: walk + metro. Mon: Babymoon concluded
With 11:45 am flight, we really didn’t have much time at all. We got up early
to walk over to a cafe at 7 am. We grabbed a pastry and a drink each. I really wanted to get some fruits for the long flight because I probably won’t eat the plane food and the connection will be tight but none of the stores around opened before 8 am, grrr.
With last minute check, there are shuttles going to the airway half the price than the Leonardo Express train. Actually, many of these shuttles are lined up at Termini, leaving every 30min, awesome! But you pay with time. The bus got stuck in traffic, especially trying to get out of the central area. All in all, it took a little over an hour. We got through a huge and slow line at check in. Inside the security checkpoint, we looked everywhere for fruits but zippo. It was either mixed fruits or fruits on display, wth. Already-tight connection got tighter with some delay. Looks like many were on the same boat. Delay on the next leg was much-welcomed. Survived another long flight across the pond to conclude our babymoon. More adventures to come with the little one 😊.
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