As I have said, we only spent two days of our holiday actually on Malta. One day we went there to see if we could find a hotel for the final evening, as we had an 8.00 a.m. flight home, which would mean getting up at 3.00 a.m. to leave Gozo in time to get there. Our friend drove us through the island from the ferry, along the coast road to Valletta. It was immediately noticeable that the roads were busier, there was much more traffic and we had left the relative peace of Gozo behind.
We drove round Valletta with little idea about where we might find a hotel, and parked along the harbour wall by the Gun Post as we came upon a recently vacated parking spot. Parking was pretty difficult since we got there just before midday.
One of the first things we saw was one of the many horse-drawn carriages that take tourists for a tour. I was quite dismayed to see ‘taxi’ ranks of these with the horses pretty well left out in the sun, no shade for them! The drivers were touting for business.
We made for the interior of Valletta, up one of the many narrow and incredibly steep roads.
Its difficult to really see the buildings properly, even the churches and civic buildings as the roads are so narrow you can’t get a good view. Most of Valletta dates back a long way and a lot of the buildings look quite old and in a state of gentle decay. We got there at a time when most of the shop were closed, and the road ways were quite deserted.
Every now and again you could spot some out of place reference to London amongst the Maltese businesses. Quite bizarre. Amongst the shops were residences, all crammed in.
It seems an odd way to live, no garden, a teeny weeny balcony and your washing overhanging the road. But that’s Malta.
We had lunch at Cafe Cordino in the main square. After that we went to find a hotel.
You’d think that hotels would be easy to spot. Not at all. We eventually spotted the Phoenicia and went to enquire. It was too expensive for our needs. The nice lady gave us a map showing some of the others we could try. Trouble was, having a map and actually trying to work out where you were and how to get to where you wanted to go were a completely different challenge. We decided to look for the Grand Harbour Hotel, and we’d almost given up hope of finding it when we parked by the harbour and I looked up and saw its name emblazoned on the top of it. We’d found it. We left the car and climbed up the steep paths and stairs to get to it and booked in. I’d read that the Grand Harbour had amazing views over the harbour, so we were relieved. Its quite old-fashioned, but had air conditioning. We were ready to come back in a couple of days. We spent the remainder of the day on St Paul’s beach, not far from the Ferry terminal and it was a relief to get out of town.
On our last day we packed up at the flat, made our way to Valletta by about midday as before. I had really wanted to spend the afternoon at the Mdina. However, it took ages again to find the hotel, we spent a lot of energy and emotion driving up and down trying to remember the route to it. Nothing so helpful as a “Hotel” sign anywhere. Our friend who was driving had had enough and I could understand his feelings. We didn’t want to risk taking the car ourselves and (1) getting lost (2) losing the parking space we’d managed to find. So regrettably I never got to see Mdina. However, after a shower we stomped around Valletta for the afternoon.
Couldn’t get over how narrow some of these buildings and businesses were. How on earth did they get furniture and equipment up and down such narrow entrances? Quite a puzzle.
There were so many cars everywhere, all parked in the streets.
Came upon this car, quite a novel number plate. The cars in Malta generally seem new-ish and quite well cared for. A contrast to Gozo, where its not unusual to see old Vauxhall Vivas, or Datsuns (since when did Datsun become Nissan?) that probably hadn’t seen a service or a car wash in 10 years.
After an evening meal overlooking the harbour we got to see the place at night.
In the morning we got up early, made our way to the airport without too much trouble.
Walked across the tarmac from the bus to the airplane. A smooth journey home.
Our last look at Malta. I was quite pleased with the Samsung EX1 compact camera that I’d taken with me as well as my DSLR. It performed well, and many of the pictures including the ones above were taken with it.
It was pouring with rain when we got back to Gatwick. Typical. Welcome home, England!