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Monday, May 16, 2016

Malta - Day 4: Another Glimpse at Valletta


After breakfast at the Duncan Holiday Accommodation in Marsaxlokk,  we took our luggage and walked to the Xerriex Bus Station, which is at the end of the street Sant Andrija, just a very short walk from the waterfront. From there we took the next bus to Valletta, Malta´s capital, and used again our convenient 7-day-bus pass. In Valletta, we had to change busses to get to our main destination, Sliema. There we had booked a wonderful sea view apartment.




From the Sliema bus station, it was just a short walk to the Pebbles Boutique Aparthotel, where we would stay for five nights. We had chosen Sliema as our base for some trips to attractions on the main island, as it is well connected. The Sliema Bus Stop is also at the pier for the ferry to Valetta. With transport options close by, the hotel was ideally located for our needs. It also turned out to be especially nice. We could check in early and had a modern, spacious room with balcony and sea view, with Valetta just on the other side of the cove. The kitchen was also great.



We didn´t waste any time and walked to a bus station across the street, where many buses to Valletta passed, and flagged one down. You actually have to stop a bus in Malta by waving. If you just sit or stand at a bus stop, it will drive past you. Shortly after, we arrived at the main bus stop in Valletta at the Triton Fountain, the gateway to Valletta´s old town. We were excited for Valletta after visiting Floriana, south of Valletta, the day before.

Valletta is not only the capital of the tiny republic of Malta, but also a World Heritage Site. It is full of history and you see that already when you enter the city by walking from the Triton Fountain over the bridge into the main street of Valletta´s old town, passing the massive town walls. We came to the same cafe, where we had eaten the day before, and stopped there again for a quick coffee and snack. The nice waitress remembered us and we remembered to not scare away the many pigeons too abruptly because then, they might end up pooping on the guests sitting outside.

Valletta is a wonderful sightseeing destination as a whole. It is also relatively small, so you can walk the whole town and explore the attractions by foot, which was great. Our first sightseeing stop was
Malta 5-D, which we missed the previous day. It was just a few steps away from the cafe and is basically a movie theater, presenting Malta's colorful history. It was a fun way to learn. Included is a 3-D movie, special effects like moving seats, water spray, air blast etc. Definitely not the usual history lesson.



From Malta 5-D we walked to the National Museum of Archaeology to take a further look into Malta´s history. The museum was included in our beloved Malta Heritage Pass and features information on the development of Maltese' prehistoric architecture, cultural history and many interesting artifacts, like the Red Skorba figurines, the earliest local representations of the human figure, dating back to around 4000 BC. 



It was just a few steps to St. John´s Co Cathedral, which looked huge but rather plain from outside, only to impress with its lavish interior. The cathedral was completed in 1577 and has wonderful marble floors, paintings and ornaments. It was quite a surprise, as I didn´t expect that much. It was the main church of the Order of the Knights of St. John, who once ruled Malta. 



From the cathedral we walked to the St. George´s Square and entered the Palace Armoury. While their toilet was a disaster (someone mistook the bathroom floor for the toilet bowl, it was so disgusting), the exhibition was great. There are all kinds of armories and you get an impression, how the knights looked like when they ruled Malta und fought their battles. Another exhibition focuses on their weapons.


Unfortunately, it was already late and the sightseeing attractions were closing. So we just walked past Casa Rocca Piccola to Fort St. Elmo. It was closing too, so we walked a few steps into the south to the Siege Bell War Memorial, where you will be presented with a wonderful view.


Just Opposite the memorial are the Lower Barraka Gardens, which were still open. Of course, we had to visit them and got another sightings.



We decided to walk to the ferry to Sliema and first went through the Triq Il-Merkanti, past many cafes and shops. There we found a nice bakery and got delicious honey rings and apple turnovers. We also saw a lot of what looked to be a Maltese specialty - nougat in all sizes and colors.




At first, we walked on to the wrong direction and overlooked the entrance down to the ferry. So it left without us. Fortunately, it leaves every 30 minutes, so it wasn´t a problem. We enjoyed the very affordable ride (1,50 Euro) back to Sliema. There, we walked to the nearby Tower Supermarket, which was surprisingly huge and extended on several floors. 




All said, Valletta is quite impressive and we were happy, that we would come back at the end of our journey. 



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