Having rented an apartment for 8 nights based on the advertising of great views, a laundry and rooftop pool, I was a tad disappointed with the 350 metre walk from the main apartment tower where the pool is, to the lesser sister tower with the following view, and no washing machine. Oh well, that’s ok. It is air-conditioned and spacious; the seafront is only 400 metres down hill and the hand washing each day dries in a jiffy on the little balcony.
So after stocking the fridge yesterday – selfcatering for coeliacs is always an easy and relaxed option – I discovered the BBC news channel, saw The Donald making another gaff and decided I will spend the next week tv free. So much touristing to prepare for had made me tired, so it was an early night.
And so to Valetta…or that was the plan this morning. I had a great breakfast and pulled on shorts for the first time this trip, and set off for the ferry across from Sliema….only 12 minutes down the road they said at reception. Those who know me well, know that my sense of direction is non-existent, so it will come to many as no surprise that it took me 1 hour and 15 minutes to get to the ferry. Yes – totally wrong direction! However, being on foot meant I got to see some fairly quirky bits and pieces.
Ha – how disappointing, just what I came to Malta to do!
Finally got to the ferry terminal, slathered in sunscreen and sweat, and my most unattractive but versatile touring hat, and watched the harbour sights. The ferry took 5 minutes to get to Valetta after all that! Sigh!
The steep hill from the terminal to the central square in Valetta was a tough challenge for tourists, so once I got to the Square of the Republic, I joined the first queue I came across to get out of the sun.
It happened to be St John’s co- Cathedral – and the audio guide included in the entry fee is a must if you visit. Fascinating history of the Knights of St John; genuinely interesting audio of the opulence and use of the cathedral and the flow of the many, many tourists was fairly easy to manage. This is definitely worth a Google! But I will share a few highlights to whet your appetite: The now familiar Maltese Cross with the 8 points representing the areas from which the Grand Masters came; the mosaic marble floor tomb coverings; the silver, gold and marble of the altars, the sculptures and the tendency to glorification not of the religious but the narcissistic.
It was fascinating to see the restorer working on the tomb covers.
Refreshed after the cool interior and the glow of the Carrivaggio paintings (so beautiful), I consulted my Heritage Pass…..prepaid and downloaded online back home.
Next was the Grand Master’s Palace State Rooms and the Palace Armoury. Both worth the effort. I was blown away by the quality and preservation of the most amazing tapestries I have ever seen – and that’s saying something as I seek them out wherever I can! Quite rightly they were not allowed to be photographed….more Googling ahead! They are stupendous! maltain360.com/pano.aspx?ref=110005951
War and weaponry leave me cold, but the collection of The Armoury and the history are impressive.
Weariness or lack of sustenance, or both, steered me in the direction of the electric bus and I enjoyed the side streets and the familiarity of the Italian influences on the architecture.
Fort St Elmo is an impressive example of the historic position Malta had in the sea region and in maintaining power for whomever was in control. The residential streets with their distinctive balconies and weathered sandstone were a treat. Time and tales to tell aplenty of the St John’s 600 bed hospital, the war memorial bell, the restoration of the old university and the 25 churches in Valetta.
Knowing I had another Valetta day later in the week’s itinerary to see the National Museum of Archaeology and the Upper Barraka Gardens, I made my way back to the ferry, the 5 minute trip back to Sleima, marshalled the cotton wool in my brain and worked out the 12 minute route back to a cold shower and an air-conditioned afternoon. I also discovered a section of interesting looking cafes and restaurants…..no stopping me now!
Though I think my skin specialist is not going to be too pleased I fear…….🤔