7 days in to the Malta experience and it stormed – really stormed – during the night and the morning sky did not fire up the energy or excitement for a day on Malta’s second largest island. However, a slight change to a later starting time saw brighter skies and I pulled on the faithful Merrick hiking boots and navigated the walk to Balluta bus stop. The rain had brought a freshness to the normally heat-exhausted streets and the view from the bus stop was such a relaxed way to start the day’s adventure.
Travelling by bus from one end of Malta to the other was a great way to spot curiosities and see the more rural sights. I would heartily endorse Malta’s public transport system. Well used by locals and tourists, friendly helpful drivers, air-conditioned, wifi on board, major transit spots and well signed…..and the cost very affordable. I estimated that over the week my travel has cost about €49 in total………which includes return shuttle to and from the airport to the apartment; the 7 day unlimited bus pass of dozens of trips and loooong distances; ferry to and from Valletta; one €10 taxi trip when I was exhausted; and the ferry to and from Gozo. It would have cost a fortune if I had taken tours or taxis instead. Kudos to Malta for its accessible public transport.
The most attractive area on the way to the Gozo ferry was San Paulo. Lots of signs and business names to keep a smile on the dial along the trip.
Mgarr was the ferry terminal site and the ferry crossing had been quick with just enough time to grab a breakfast green smoothie drink and twisties and almonds to keep me going as snacks on Gozo. Malta makes a heap of Twisties – the original baked snack but without that annoying coloured dust. Bonus!
Off to Victoria, the capital, and there was plenty of excited chatter from the bus crowd. The usual franchises were there to greet us, but Victoria has the Citadel which dominates the town. What a magnificent achievement of fortification construction and heritage preservation. A bit of a climb to get there but this gave time to take in the Theatre. A bit of nostalgia there as they were advertising Il Travotore. This was the first opera my dear Dad took me to, and I loved it. Can’t hear the Anvil Chorus without welling up!
The square and the tribute plaques in the pavement were a sign that this city is proud and presentation conscious.
Citadella was full of such interesting sights, sounds and smells. The Heritage Pass was well and truly in use here. The Museum of Archaeology, The Old Prison, the Cathedral, The Natural History Museum, The Phoenician Shipwreck Exhibition, The crafts – particularly the distinctive Maltese lace, and my absolute favourite – The Silos!
I have never seen such an interesting structure from the inside. A little bit scary and a tad claustrophic and low- ceilinged along the dimly lit walkway……But WOW! Initially for grain, but then converted to water reservoirs, these 3 joining silos are magnificent. The interesting WW2 bunkers and gunpowder rooms just did not have the same oomph after being inside the silos.
The Cathedral has a very impressive exterior, and is of course a selfie stick haven. It is sometimes hard to avoid the photo bombers – but patience is a virtue they say.
The sunfish, the agate eye, the natural fauna and the Malta flag which went to the moon and back in 1969 – all fascinating!
After hours of looking and learning, I gathered the vertigo and we did the panoramic walks along the top of the citadel. What glorious views! Fascinating too, the attempts to preserve the chamomile.
Back to the bus interchange and off in a northerly direction o the UNESCO sites of Gigantja and the Temples and the old Windmill. A good walking stretch. Although this site’s temples have yielded some of the best examples of figurines and artefacts, the best feature for me was the Museum. The actual finds are on display and are tremendous. The physical site was a little different from others this week, and more decayed, but extremely significant in the historical timeline.
And knob of the day award goes to this couple who decided to sit and do a yoga meditation on the boardwalk near 2 of the major temple features – just as a busload of tourists arrived!
The old Windmill, built in 1725, was a great look at the use of old technology, and the growth of the fascination for bread for the Maltese. Lovely to be able to see the baby hammock above the parents’s bed. I like the idea that you could rock the baby without getting out of bed, or avoiding the fear of crushing them if in the same bed.
So back to the bus interchange and off to the beach and snorkelling, swimming etc. The sparkling brochures neglected to include the description of tepid water, dubious snorkel cleansing strategies and lack of security for leaving your gear while in the water. Not the romantic picture I had in my head. Ah, the thought of a cold shower and a “make it yourself Noodle Box” dinner won the day.
So back on the bus to the ferry, then the next bus and a walk round the Sliema harbour area, swinging the Noodle box and then the peace and serenity of the end of day, and that cool shower! And who wouldn’t enjoy a bit of Netflix and noodles to top it off…..😃