Valletta Saluting Battery – daily gun firing

A visit to Malta has been on my to do list for years & it didn’t disappoint.

We were an eclectic group who breakfasted, dined & took the two organised trips together but otherwise we set out to follow our own interests.

I was particularly keen to visit the war museum as my father took part in the Malta Convoys, I’ve always known that the people were starving but I was shocked to discover how dreadful & relentless the bombing had been.

All the buildings we visited were fascinating in their own way but the churches were truly beautiful.

Strait St, Valletta

Our trip to Malta started off with the coach to airport. We arrived in plenty of time time with a good trip up.

All went smoothly and on our arrival in Malta our transport to the hotel was there – no hanging around. I was happy with my room and the hotel was nice and bus stop outside our hotel.

The first morning we met up with our representatives Jonathan. We booked two full day trips one Rabat, Mosta, Medina, Ta’Qsli which include three course lunch. The other was to Gozo full day again Victoria, Dwejra, Xlendi Mgarr including a three course lunch. I enjoyed both trips.

The rest of the week we went by bus to Valletta two days and we covered all that we wanted to see. We also had a trip back to Mdina to see thing we wanted to see that we did not see the first time.

Food was good at the hotel also had a nice coffee shop as part of hotel that we went to.

Gozo – blue grotto

A very enjoyable trip, one would need much more than a week to explore Malta properly, let alone Valletta.

The guided tours were worthwhile but rushed giving little time to soak up the atmosphere.

Personally, l was very impressed with the scale of the city walls of Valletta, local architecture and the views from the walls.

I also visited Fort Rinella which has a Victorian gun weighing 100 Tons. Gozo was much quieter.

I would certainly visit again, but stay either in Valletta or much closer.

The buses are an experience and the drivers were always keen to race up to traffic lights.

Qawra was over-developed but had a nice promenade, merging into Bugibba which was more seedy.

Mosta Dome
Qawra Promenade

On Monday 25th March 2019, ten members of the Travel Group went to Malta for a week. It was the first time this group has gone by plane abroad. We were picked up at the church of the Resurrection and travelled up to Gatwick by mini coach. This meant we were altogether and it made more sense.

We stayed at the Palace in Qawra Bay. As a whole we thought this hotel was good value for money, rooms nice and clean and a kettle provided if you asked for one. The bus terminal was just a five-minute walk away from the hotel which was a bonus, as we could get on and get a seat and felt sorry for people who had to get on about four stops after us as they would have to stand and this allowed standing for 45 people.

On the first day there, we met with the travel representative John to plan what trips we would like to go on.

After the meeting most of us headed into Valetta. Here most of us split up and went our separate ways. Four of us made are way down to the Grand Harbour to look at the fortified castle and went into the Malta Heritage museum. We found it very interesting and felt we would need a whole day to take in everything in here. We saw the George Cross that was on display.
We then were able to find out some information about Cheryl’s father who was in WW2. We then went into The Malta experience, which told us about Malta through time. The bus journey back to the hotel was a journey from hell, (a lesson learnt not to travel going home time) the bus was so packed we felt like sardines and at times thought, we would have to get out and push the bus up the hills. The only entrance on the bus was by the driver and if it was for the fact that we had a seat we would have been pushed off at the wrong stop. I think we needed a drink after that journey home as it took ¾ of an hour longer than should have been.

On the Wednesday it was the only day of rain we had and went into Sliema. All we could really do was go into a shopping mall. Thursday we all booked on a trip over to Gozo, which was a lovely boat ride to the Island.

We got taken by our guide to all the highlights of the island but I personally wished we had stayed longer at some places we visited. By the time you queued up for the restrooms and have a drink it was too much of a rush also to look at some shops that sold lovely knitted garments. After a meal that was included, we went to Ta’Pinu Basilica.

Pope John Paul 11 visited Gozo on the 26th May 1990 and celebrated mass on the Parvise of the shrine, during his visit. Pope Benedict XV1 visited on the 26th April 2010. The church building is listed on the National Inventory of the Cultural Property of the Maltese Islands.

We all enjoyed the day out but all felt it a bit too rushed Friday we all went on another excursion to Mosta, Rabat, Mdina and Ta ’Qali Mosta is Famous for its Dome. It is the third largest rotunda dome in the world. It was during Second World War that the Luftwaffe dropped an aerial bomb that almost destroyed the church when a 200kg bomb fell through the dome without exploding. All 300 hundred people who were attending mass at the time were unharmed. On the 9th April the bomb was taken out to sea and detonated. You can now see on display a replica of the bomb. When looking up at the fantastic dome inside the cathedral you can see where the bomb came through the dome.
Rabat is a quieter suburb of Mdina. You cross over a moat (which was once deep) and through an archway and inside there are narrow winding cobbled streets which are very well preserved. We had a leisurely stroll with the guide. She pointed out immaculately preserved noble houses, chapels, Palazzii and cathedrals. Where the pavements are so narrow we did have problems at times with the traffic.

After the guided walk round Rabat we walked into Mdina also known as the Walled City and also the Silent City. Here we went for a meal which was included in the tour. It was very cramped in the restaurant but the meal was adequate for us. We then went and watched a short 3D film on the Mdina experience. After the film show we walked up to the bastions and had a panoramic few of the surrounding fields and sea.

After that we went to Ta’Qali so called craft village which was a waste of time and we felt it could have been better spent walking around Rabat and Mdina Saturday some of us went back to Valetta as we wanted to go visit some of the places we did not have time to visit the first time.

We went into Saint Johns Cathedral as we thought Sunday would be harder to get in. It was built by the order of St John between 1572 and 1577; it is very hard to describe the interior as it is so ornate. When we came out we saw further down the street some air raid shelters which were at the back of the oldest house still standing in the main street in Valetta. It is called Casa Rocca Pic-cola. It goes back 400 hundred years to the era of the Knights of St John. The present owner is Nicholas De Piro 9th Baron of Budach and we had the privilege of him showing us around his family home, and it has been in his family since 1673. We went down the steps to the air raid shelter which smelt rather musty. When we came out I wanted to go looking for the Gut or known by its proper name as Straight Street but I could not remember quite were it was, but then it is not a Royal Naval Port any more.

Sunday we went back to Mdina to finish looking at some of the places pointed out to us when we did the walking tour with the guide. We went into St Paul Cathedral to have a quick look round and then went into the Cathedral museum. Were we spent quite some time looking at silverware and paintings. They had a side door leading into a walled garden restaurant where we had a small meal. The service there was rather dire as the waiting staff seemed to be more interested in talking to their friends and we felt they did not want to serve us.

We went to St Paul’s catacombs which could be claustrophobic to some people but you did have to watch your footing. The last point of call was to the Fontanella tea house which has a wonderful panoramic view looking over the island and they had cakes to absolutely die for. After filling our faces with cake we made a slightly sticky way back to the hotel to start packing for the following day’s departure home.

In all we had a very nice holiday and good value for money. I would like to say a big thank you to Audrey for finding this holiday for us.

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