With Christmas day around the corner its time to move again, this time to a more central town (so we’ll actually be able to get something to eat on Christmas day and everywhere wont be shut).
Time now for a bit of luxury, we stay at the Seashells resort in Qawra near St John’s bay.
It’s Christmas eve, so we wander into the main town to explore.
Just after lunchtime on Christmas eve, I’m disappointed at the number of drunken “balloons” around so we head back to the peace and quiet of our hotel.
We sit by the Ocean and have some nice drinks. I cant remember a Christmas eve lunchtime like this before.
We’ve not booked anywhere for Christmas eve dinner and I’m starting to get concerned. No matter we’ll sort something out.
Our first stop, is the hotel itself, as a reception is being held for all guests by the hotel management. We popped in and joined them for a drink (they were really nice, and it wasn’t the “sales promotion” kind of thing I’d expected.
As we head around the hotel, we find a quiet bar called the Blue Dolphin (so quiet, that Nikki and I were the only guests).
I’m not religious, but Christmas is always a special time for me and I’m having a nice time.
But what are we going to do about dinner (my contingency plan of the breakfast bars I have in my rucsack just wont fly with Nikki 🙂
We ask the bar if they can recommend anywhere and they have an attached restaurant.
Result, the food is lovely and the wine selection extensive.
When we first sit down its pretty quiet, but a few minutes later, several family’s arrive. One group is so big it fills the entire table in the centre of the room.
With food eaten, toasts given, hands shaken and Happy Christmas said to everyone, we head home.
We decide to have a list drink in a bar nearby. The end of Christmas eve, was a special time.
It being Christmas day, what can we do but head out walking.
A bus takes us too Ghadira and we walk a road up to Slugs bay.
From here, we follow a track along the coast with views like the one above.
There were loads of recreational boats moored here, and I presume people come here at weekends to go sailing and boating.
One of the beaches has a public bathroom.
I loved this sign, that says please don’t wash your feet !.
We wander passed Ramla bay resort.
I’m not a “summer holiday” type, but this place looked like it had everything.
Only thing was, it appeared derelict and closed down. Since returning home, I’ve realised its still open, it does a full shutdown at certain times of the year. I really liked it and I’m going to go back there.
It even has a diving school, and this map shows a number of wrecks nearby that you can dive too.
Continuing, we cross a rocky outcrop.
There’s an enormous cave (so big that some people are camping in there and as we pass are rock climbing inside the cave with ropes.
A place a found really exciting was an abandoned army base, used during the 2nd world war and finally closed in 1967.
I reminded me a lot of the sort of thing you used to see on the xFiles, but Nikki didn’t really enjoy it as much as me.
Near the end of our walk, and we arrive at St Agatha’s tower built in 1649 and instantly recognizable by its red colour.
Nearby is a nature reserve with lots of birds.
I find these abandoned buildings (I quite like abandoned buildings).
It looked like it used to be either a hotel or a very wealthy persons house.
Whatever it was, it was derelict now, but the vandals had at least painted nice murals all over it.
We wander back to the bus stop and while waiting had a drink at the Maxima bar.
Relaxing the rest of the day and evening, we set of the next morning for our final destination, the capital of Malta, Valletta.
We stay in hotel Fortina which is really nice.
They’ve mad a mistake and we dont have a sea view.
To compensate were given us a massive room. We found out when we went for breakfast that several hundred people are staying at the same hotel and they are all British, at least 60 and wearing sportswear from a different era :).
The capital is a funny sort of place, as its made up a of a few different peninsula’s. As were staying on Sliema, we have to get a ferry (or walk a long way) to get to Valletta, Paola or Birgu.
Stepping off the ferry, we walk up this steps to reach the main street of Valletta.
Its a vibrant thriving place so we immediately start exploring.
The South-east side of Republic square.
A library today, it was originally used to store records and contracts used by the Knights of Saint John.
The Knights of Saint John, occupied and ruled Malta.
There symbol, the Maltese cross is today used by the St John’s Ambulance society.
The 8 points on the cross represent the 8 languages spoken by the Knights (they were a multinational organisation) and the 8 rules/principles they were bound by.
Above is the Grandmasters palace of the order of St John.
Inside, the usual red carpet room thing.
And this corridor with amazing art work on the ceiling.
They had an extensive armoury which I found fascinating, and Nikki found rather dull.
We discovered one really cool thing about this Medieval town.
We had drinks in a place called Malata bar across from the Grandmasters palace.
A street along was City lounge where we’d decided to have dinner. I mentioned this to the barman, who showed us a “secret passage” at the back of the bar.
Down some dark steps and were actually in the main restaurant of the City lounge !.
And after such “Indiana Jones” excitement, what else but a lovely piece of steak, with Cafe de Paris sauce.
St John’s Cathedral.
They were doing restoration work, its always disappointing when a facade is put up, but I suppose its necessary.
We visited the Lascaris war rooms, deep underground.
Malta had played a significant role during the war, as it was strategically placed once the African front opened up.
It was frequently bombed from Italy.
Radar was used to track flights from Italy, so they knew when to be ready.
Worst of all, was when a British war ship HMS Havock was docked in the Grand harbour for repairs.
The enemy were determined to sink it in harbour and Spitfires were scrambled from Malta several times each day.
The Island itself suffered heavy casualties but life still went on.
Our guide in the war rooms said simply, we are Roman catholic on this Island, we produce people the way other society’s produce potatoes.
Hardly politically correct, but I think it reflected the personality of the people there, who I’d grown to love.
Another “historical” event that took place in Valletta, Malta was at this pub (which is simply called “The Pub”).
It’s here that Oliver Reed passed away after a night of heavy drinking (while making Gladiator, the producers had to use some animated material to complete the film).
It was loud and brash and not somewhere I’d want to go. So exactly the kind of place Oliver Reed would like 🙂
Instead, we had a few drinks in D Office Bistro, a much more calm and relaxing environment.
Its such a nice evening, that instead of getting the boat back, we decide to walk.
Next morning we head back to Valletta.
The arches and fountain of upper Barakka gardens.
From the battlements nearby, we can see across to the Forti Sant Anglu in the centre of the Grand Harbour.
We travel over and visit the fort. After several hours, we leave and have a drink at Cargo bar and dine.
We have a look around Malta Maritime museum (obviously ships and boating are important if you live on an Island).
It’s located in a former Naval bakery. They are hosting a wedding there that evening, so there are flowers everywhere.
On one floor, they have constructed an entire engine room from a frigate sent for scrap.
Afterwards, we “charter” a small boat back to Valletta.
He asks for 5 Euro’s but we give him 10.
Lovely and peaceful sailing back to port with all the ships lit up.
We wander up onto the battlements, so I can get a better look at this ship (one of many massive boats in the harbour, but the one I liked the most).
An enormous thing with swimming pool and helicopter landing pad.
As I passed it, I did a wifi scan. They had crew_recreation_ 1 & 2 which gives some idea of how elaborate things must be on that boat.
Near the lower Barakka gardens, the Siege Bell memorial.
A final memory of the trip, its time to head back to the hotel, as were flying home in the morning.
I love this place.
My thoughts go back to all those years ago. I’m glad I went to the Alps but part of me wishes I’d come here as well.