Monday 10th February 2020

After breakfast and checking out we caught a bus to the walled town of Mdina. The town is small and we walked around it in no time. The streets are narrow with tall walls and all built in the local limestone.

The main church
View from the wall

We walked back to the main transport area and caught a bus which we thought was going to take us to the nearby town of Rabat. As it headed off in the other direction we realised our mistake and so jumped off and caught a bus back! We walked from here to St Paul’s catacombs where we spent around an hour going into some of the catacombs which had been built as burial chambers.

By now it was time to head back to the hotel, via two buses. We just had time for afternoon tea before heading to get a taxi to the hotel for our evening flight back to Gatwick.

We were glad that we hadn’t planned the return trip on the Sunday when storm Ciara was blowing. It was a little bit bumpy on landing, butt nothing compared to what it was like the day before.

Sunday 9th February 2020

Another relaxing start with breakfast before catching a couple of buses to take us to Marsaxlokk, a pretty town on the coast where there is a Sunday market.

Unfortunately, half of the island seemed to have the same idea and it was pretty busy. It must be absolutely packed in the summer! We wandered around the market area, taking in the sights and seeing the pretty painted boats bobbing in the harbour.

The church

After a quick drink we caught another bus to take us to Paola, where we planned to see some catacombs. However, on arriving there, wet realised that our we hadn’t done or planning very well as you need to book weeks in advance!

It was now mid afternoon and so we decided to catch a bus back to the hotel for afternoon tea.

We had a short walk around the harbour near our hotel before a shower and back to the lounge for drinks and cards!

Saturday 8th February 2020 – Malta

We had a leisurely start before catching a bus to Valetta. The bus network in Malta is very good although the traffic and coastline means that short journeys can take quite a while. The bus dropped us off right outside the city gate.

New city gate

After walking through the city gate the first thing that you get to is the new parliament. Directly behind this is an open air theatre built directly on the site of the old one that was destroyed by the Luftwaffe in the war.

Parliament building
Open air theatre

We walked on down the main Street which was decked out with banners because of the St Paul’s festival due to take place on the Monday.

There are reminders of Britain’s role of there island everywhere…

A short way down the street and we came to the co cathedral.

Outside of the co cathedral

Inside the cathedral is intricately decorated with the floor made up of stones, each one carved for one of the Knights.

Caravaggio painting

Having looked around the cathedral we walked a little further and then stopped for a well earned beer, sitting on a square in the sun.

After our drink we walked into the main square and then through the streets to the upper gardens, overlooking the the cities.

From the upper gardens we descended and entered the Lascari war rooms. These were a top secret bunker that was used first to coordinate the defence of Malta against the Luftwaffe and then to plan and monitor the campaign to take Sicily in 1943.

We had a really interesting tour of the rooms.

On leaving the war rooms we descended again to sea level, passing the Victoria gate.

At the bottom of the hill we caught a lock boat across to the three cities. There were some great views on the boat.

On the other side we stopped for another pit stop and had a beer overlooking the marina.

We spent the next hour or so wandering around Birgu and then got a taxi back to our hotel where we took advantage of canapes and drinks in the lounge.

A bit later, after a shower, we walked to the bar area for a couple of drinks out on the town. The area around the hotel was quite commercialised so we didn’t stay out long and had a night cap back at the hotel bar.

Friday 7th February 2020 – London to Malta

We had an early morning flight to Malta and after a short delay due to fog and there threat of French air traffic control strikes, we left Gatwick.

The route was a bit more circuitous than it should have been to avoid the strikes but we arrived on Malta just 15 minutes late.

We had a taxi to the hotel intercontinental, in St Julian’s and checked in at the lounge and had a drink before heading to the room.

View from the room

After a shower to freshen up, we headed out to explore. We walked through the streets of at Julian’s towards the ferry across the harbour to Valetta.

Valetta

However, the swell in the harbour had caused the ferry to be cancelled and so we took a taxi to the other side, to see the Malta experience, a 45 minute show giving the history of Malta. It was interesting to see how frequently over the years the island had been invaded and just how strategiclly placed it is in the central Mediterranean. It also included a short talk about the history of the hospital, which treated mainly rich men.

By now it was gone 5pm so we had a short walk through Valetta and some of the pedestrianised streets before getting a hair raising taxi back to the hotel.

Having had an early start we decided just to stay in and make use of the hotel facilities so went upstairs to the lounge for canapes and drinks before am early-ish night ready to explore on Saturday.

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