Malta was high on the list of countries I want to  visit, so, when we decided to have a family holiday this year, Malta was voted favourite. I don’t know when I first became fascinated by this small rocky island in the Mediterranean but suspect it started with my father who served in the Med with the Royal Navy during the war and was fuelled by the books I read about the bravery of the Maltese in that war. It also drew my father because of its connection with the St John Ambulance.

When we decided on the holiday my daughter, Jennie, did all the donkey work and booked the appartment and flights and airport hotel and generally acted as our personal holiday rep.

It had been 25 years since I had travelled by air, (and even longer for JW) so it was a great relief to be shepherded through Customs and Passport control onto the Air Malta flight . We had a pleasant flight, which arrived on time in a very hot Malta.

After a rather erratic taxi ride we arrived at our chosen appartment to be greeted by the very friendly and helpful housekeeper, Doris, who had supplied us with all the basic foodstuff. The appartment was as luxurious as it had been described and we had  stunning views of Valletta and Manoel Island from the front balcony. It also gave us a perfect vantage point to observe the amblers and the power walkers on the promenade, watch the harbour cruises, and marvel at the antics of the motorists!

40. Manoel Island

We had chosen May because we expected the usual “pleasantly warm” weather. This year has been a year of extremes, the windiest March, the wettest April and now the hottest May. When I was younger I loved the hot weather, I didn’t burn easily andwas unaffected by the heat. Sadly increased years and weight have altered that, and my feet and ankles swelled like balloons, so JW and I had to tailor our touring to my appendages :).

On the first day we had a gentle stroll around exploring Sliema and equipped ourselves with sun hats. On Sunday morning we all went to the Sunday Market on the local bus which was quite hair raising (not helped by noticing the religious artefacts in the driver’s cab!)

There were a few stalls with the beautifully made embroidered cloths, lots of fruit and veg stalls, which offered some very strange, to us, vegetables and herbs, and many fish stalls again selling varieties unknown to us.

79. Luzzu cruise boat

We all went on a harbour cruise up and down all the creeks  around Valletta. There was a huge variety of boats, from the small gondola style boats which act as water taxis to the shiny yachts from trim little two berth craft to the mini liner, which was one of Mr Abramovic’s fleet! 

104. Roman Abramovitch's boat

 The captain of the cruise boat was very informative about the history of the various parts of the harbour and gave the impression, as did many of the other Maltese we met subsequently, that they have fond memories of the time the British were there which makes a pleasant change these days!

We took one of the “hop on , hop off” bus tours, which again had a commentary about the places of interest. We all started off on the first bus of the day and all made our first stop at the wonderful glass factory, but ,with thoughts of transporting the goods back, we restricted ourselves to the attractive glass jewellery ( generously bought by JW).

We stayed on the bus to Mdina, while the others stopped off at the craft village. The old capital of Mdina is a very imposing sight from some distance away and even more so from close up. It could have been a film set for North Africa with its yellow stone buildings and narrow alleyways opening on to the wide squares.

After Mdina we travelled along narrow steep roads through the valleys. It was interesting to see the little fields enclose by dry stone walls, many given over to crops of prickly pear, the imported cactus which is now harvested both for human consumption, in the form of prickly pear licqueur and jam, and as a valuable animal feed.

Our next stop was Mosta. I had been looking forward to seeing the famous dome which was pierced by a bomb inWW2. Mercifully the bomb failed to detonate. I was completely unprepared for the feelings that beautiful building awoke in me. I cannot explain why I felt so emotional, but I could have burst into tears, I don’t know why. It may have been the beauty, but it felt deeper than that. We just sat and drank it in for most of our hour in Mosta.

DSCF5365

DSCF5368

That was our last “hopping off” place and we stayed on the bus back to Sliema as it drove through the popular holiday resorts with their large hotels, beaches and tourist attractions.

Our next trip was to Valletta. We went on the bus and came back on the ferry, which was only 5 minutes walk away from the appartment.

Once again we visited churches. I had started the day with rather painful swollen ankles, despite using my wonderful Emu oil, and was glad to sit quietly in St Francis of Asissi admiring the paintings again. I went to inspect the side chapel and suddenly realised that my ankles had gone back to near normal and were no longer painful! I don’t know whether it was the delayed effects of the oil or whether St Francis took pity on me, but it was certainly easier to continue with our exploration!

Malta is an eclectic mixture of architecture from the Moorish influence with the domes, flat roofed houses and balconies to the Victorian Gothic steeples to the modern appartment blocks, but it all seems to sit together quite happily. There is a frenzyof building, but we were told that this is because the government has put a time limiton new building, so everyone is rushing to get it done now before the much tighter restrictions will apply.

Most evenings we ate in “en famille” but occasionally we treated ourselvesand patronised one of the pavement cafes, which abound on the seafront. I enjoyed sitting on the balcony in the evening, watching the lights come on in Valletta and seeing the locals and the vistors strolling along the promenade or listening to the openair concerts put on by the Spa Hotel a few doors away.

DSCF5389

We had a lovely holiday and all enjoyed it from we grandparents to Handsome and Cheeky and we are so lucky to have a daughter who will not allow us to stagnate in our comfortable rut! Thank you Jennie and thank you for the pictures to illustrate this post, and thank you JW for helping me to upload them!

Advertisements