Malta and Goza
Malta is an Island with only a few beaches but the temperature remains reasonable in the winter at around 60 degrees and it makes it comfortable to travel around at that time. Malta has a big harbour and Liners tie up at the port on their Mediterranean cruises. The Island is strategically placed and as such, has been ruled by many countries over a time.
Just a bit of history, in the 16th century the Knights of St John (Often associated with guarding the Holy Grail and mentioned in Dan Brown’s Da Vinci Code) took over and fortified the Capital Valletta, successfully defending it for nearly 300 years. In 1798 Napoleon’s fleet on its way to battles in the Middle East asked Malta if they could have safe haven in the harbour and once inside Napoleon turned his guns on Malta.
Eventually Britain took it back from the French and made it a British Dominion until 1964 when it was returned to the people of Malta. It was bombed heavily in the Second World War and under siege.
As such today Malta is still popular with the British and its people are very friendly. During our visit in 2000, Malta’s still had its famous British Leyland bus fleet kept from the 1950’s and they were still running around the Island and looking in good condition but I have read recently that these buses are now being slowly replaced.
One other strange fact that is little known is that Malta is said to be the breeding ground of the Great White Shark (portrayed in the film Jaws) but I did not see any but one of 23 ft was caught there in 1987.
Valletta is a city sitting on a peninsular that guards the two entrances to its harbour and can be accessed by bus over the land or water taxis which cross the harbour to the opposite town of Sliema. Valletta is densely populated and apartments seemed to have been built historically high behind the fortifications.
Tourists can take a horse and carriage trip around the city there are many historic buildings and churches to see and sometimes the narrow roads open up into squares with restaurants similar to Palma. Inside there is also a shopping centre and modern day life goes on in the narrow streets. Once a week there is a large market held near the bus terminal.
We stayed in the town of Sliema where there were various restaurants/hotels overlooking the harbour. Often we would hop on a bus to the next town of St Julian’s where a number of restaurants had good views around an inner harbour.
We also caught a bus to the far end of the Island and saw one of the few beaches.
The highlights of the holiday was a bus trip to see the ancient Capital known as the Silent City of Mdina which again is fortified; Only residents are allowed to take their cars in and one can walk on the city walls. Behind these walls the city remains unchanged for centuries and one can walk or take a horse and carriage ride around the streets, looking at the original church of Mdina and even its dungeons with displays.
Apparently the building in my photo below, there is a famous foreign football team (I never did find out who they were).
Also we had a trip to the Island of Goza and had coffee and beers in Xlendi
On the way back we passed the church Mosta Dome (Ir Rotunda) which one of the largest dome churches ever built. During the Second World War the church had a full congregation inside and a bomb came through the middle of the dome and failed to explode.
We also when to a Horse and Trap meeting that was advertised and betting was done on the Tote and I think we had about as much success as Mick did with Perfect Cruise
All in all the place is steeped in history giving a nice tour around but the lack of beaches for me makes it a onetime visit unless one is interested in old buildings etc