Thursday, April 24, 2014

MALTA

Sea breezes and sunshine, but Malta was so much more.  After landing in Malta, we had an hour bus ride in which Hannah vomited all over me, the bus driver was doing us no favors and as we bounced along I took in our surroundings and prayed that Hannah was OK because what I saw outside the window had me worried. My brother joined us for this trip and I can only imagine what he was thinking we were getting him in too (besides traveling with a toddler!).  Really it was not so bad, but alarmed mother mode was not helping my perception or smell.  
Spinola Bay
There was plenty of beauty to be found on Malta; in the vistas, architecture, people and culture.  Island atmosphere, sunshine and warm temperatures tend to melt away worries.  The food was delicious with a heavy Sicilian influence - pasta, seafood and pizza - can't go wrong with those dishes.  In fact, my dearest two year old proved some unusual taste buds as she refused chicken nuggets and opted for calamari rings.
There is so much history there - "Malta holds the record for the heaviest, sustained bombing attack: some 154 days and nights and 6,700 tons of bombs."  For such a small land mass this is astounding.  In fact, the whole island - around Valletta and The Grand Harbor - appears to be more of a fortification.  So there was plenty to see and explore.

Fort Manoel, Manoel Island, Malta
After wandering around on our own the first day or two we decided to do something that we've never done.  A sightseeing bus tour - two actually and a harbor cruise.  We'd purchased a public bus ticket for one week for 6 euros, but it turns out it takes forever to get to a destination.  So the bus tours suited our tight time frame.  I would recommend this option to anyone visiting Malta with a short period of time and disinterest in driving on the "opposite" side of the road. Since Malta was under British rule until 1964 they drive on the left side of the road.  Driving there seemed to contradict relaxing :) 

Bighi Complex (aka Bighi Hospital)
The two bus tours and harbor cruise took three days.  In hindsight, on the Blue/North Tour I wish we would have stopped wandered walked around the cities of Mdina and Rabat although the Aviation Museum was interesting.  The final day we took the South/Red Tour which was by far our favorite with highlights being the fishing village Marsaxlokk and the Blue Grotto. 

Marsaxlokk Village

Marsaxlokk fishing boats

Fresh Paint and Evil Eyes
Near Blue Grotto

WAVES...






That was fun....Yes, I am standing behind this camera wet, very wet from the knee down, but worth it.

Enjoying waves and sunshine
Heaps of beach glass - Balluta Bay
We were really surprised by how cheap things were - food, drinks, dining out and entertainment was all very reasonable.  As we walked through the grocery store I kept thinking to myself that this is an island and we naturally thought food would be more expensive considering the journey it takes to get there.  We weren't complaining though.  We really enjoyed the rental apartment we found through airbnb.com too.
Veranda view
Maltese Windows - everywhere
Outside Valletta
 A great place to be - we really enjoyed Malta - grateful to have made it there.  Enjoy!

Next up...Provence :)

Happy Travels!