December 31, 2015

Malta for the Holidays

Last year we set off to Ghent and Brugges to spend our Christmas break. This year we headed off to Valletta, Malta. We found a conveniently located little apartment “Right in the heart of Valletta.” Our Ryanair flight arrived very late, putting us in the city at around midnight. Our host arranged a taxi to pick us up and deliver us to our doorstep with the keys. Even though we were late, we had to have a quick snoop around our ‘home’ city for the next four days. We strolled through the empty cobblestoned streets and got our first view of the ancient city of Valletta. Nearly too excited to sleep, we headed to bed to get up early to explore more tomorrow.

Unfortunately, sleep wasn’t going to be on the agenda. we can only assume that due to the holidays, the beautiful church we were located right next to decided it would be fun to ring it’s bells all night long every 15 minutes, and sometimes continuing for 15 minutes. This was unbearable. When things finally seemed to quite down, the sun was peaking up which means the bin men were also coming around to collect the rubbish. This was a whole new level of loud.

Day 1 – Valletta

With 3 hours of sleep we rolled out of bed to start our day. We had sites to see and cities to explore. We began our journey through a nearly empty Valletta, exploring Fort St. Elmo and the war museum, meandering in and out of gardens and beautiful baroque churches. Before we kew it was were starved so we treated ourselves to a dinner of the local cuisine – rabbit.

Day 2 – Sightseeing tour

The noise the next night wasn’t much better but we were a little more prepared with earplugs/earphones. We must have needed the sleep as we overslept, getting us off to a late start in the day. We decided to get the sightseeing bus, with our limited time we only stopped a few places:

Marsaxlokk Fishing Village – A typical Mediterranean fishing village with colourful boats, market and fish restaurants.

Blue Grotto – A natural cave with crystal blue waters. Where we took a short boat trip round the natural caves and blue waters.

Hagar Qim & Mnajdra – two pre-historical temples which are situated in the same area with a short distance from each other.

We ended our bus tour in Sliema, Malta’s main coastal resort. where we caught the ferry back to Valletta.

Day 3 – Mdina & Rabat

Up early extra today, we caught the local bus out to Mdina. After a 30min bus journey we arrived at the gates and entered the eerily empty ancient walled city of Mdina. We toured St. Paul’s Cathedral and museum which contained a fantastic collection of Albrecht Dürer prints. When we left the museum the city was alive – the tour buses must have arrived in hoards! After a delicious lunch of pizza we toured Palazzo Falson the house of a collector. Once we had thoroughly explored the narrow winding streets of Mdina we headed outside the walls to Rabat to explore some more. We found ourselves exploring the ancient tunnels and one time bomb shelters of St. Paul’s catacombs.

That evening we made our way back to Valletta for our reservations that evening at Guze Bistro which did not disappoint. I had calamari to start with wild boar pasta for my main. Mick had escargot and an amazing steak fillet. We followed this up with a most delicious panna cotta.

Day 4 – Gozo

With our last full day ahead of us we hopped on the bus North. Stopping in several small villages along the way. Villages that would normally be bustling with beach tourists were now empty and beckoning for brisk walks along the promenades. Midday we reached the ferry and took the short 20min journey across the channel. Once on Gozo we took another Site-seeing bus tour that took us around the parameter of the island. We got off at the bus at the Azure Window just in time to watch the sun sink into the sea, making for a spectacular finish to the day (and nearly the trip). After a dinner of pasta for me and ribs for Mick we hopped back on the ferry and made the long journey back to Valletta to end our Malta Adventure.

Overall we really enjoyed our short trip to Malta and Gozo. Unfortunately we missed a few of the Major sites like St. John’s Cathedral and the Caravaggio paintings within. We also missed the Ħal Saflieni Hypogeum which was a tale in it’s own

Bring on Christmas 2016 and what adventures it may hold!

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