Malta April 2024 DAYS 6-10

Day 6 Valetta

No holiday to Malta would be complete without a trip to Valetta. From the minute we got off the bus, it was obvious Valetta was a buzzing city. The previous city gate, has been replaced by steps that lead up to architect, Renzo Piano’s Parliament building in Freedom Square. I actually preferred the striking open air theatre next door which was also designed by Renzo Piano. This was a clever conversion of the old Royal Opera House which had been bombed out during the war and was now a monument to the destruction of the war but also a public place of entertainment . Looking down Republic Street, the shopping street of the city, there was a sea of people.

We were promised that National Museum of Archaeology would be anything but a bore, so that was our first stop. And it paid off! It was a tribute to the brute strength of man – the carrying of stones to build temples and the craft of man’s hands that could produce tiny figurines like The Hug and The Sleeping Lady. We were so impressed with just the ground floor that we decided to leave the other floor for another visit. On the way out, we visited The Clean Room an exhibition by Sofie Muller called The Perfect Baby – seven alabaster sculptures of life-sized nude babies on metallic tables exploring how far we would go to have the perfect baby. It was part of the Malta Biennale 2024 Art Programme.



We had a lovely dinner in the Kings Own Band Club (recommended by Irish Times). The service was great and the food was amazing.



We hit for St John the Baptist Co-Cathedral. The floor is so impressive – 375 tombstones depicting coats of arms, skulls and skeletons and under which Knights of St John are buried. The chapels on each side are allocated to the Langues (Germany, Italy, France, Provence, England, Aragon and Auvergne) of the Order of St John, each one trying to surpass the others in elegance and splendor. Another highlight of course is the Caravaggio painting of the beheading of St John the Baptist and there were long queues to see it in the oratory.
After a quick visit to NEXT, just off the main shopping street (always hard to pass) it was time to hit for Cirkewwa/home.

Day 7 Valetta

One day was never going to be enough to see Valetta so we hit for there again today. Valetta and the Three Cities seemed to be a popular tour so we decided to hit for one of the three cities Vittoriosa/Birgu first.


We picked up our own personal tour guide on the bus, Birgu born and reared and now in his eighties who advised us to just stroll through the city and only stop at the Inquisitors Palace and the Fort St Angelo. Ever obedient, we decided to follow his advice!!!!



The Inquisitor in Malta seemed to differ greatly from his counterpart in Spain and merely required confession and repentance! However that did depend on individual Inquisitors – there were 62 of them – so we did see examples of torture and interrogation. The Palace itself was a lovely building and the position of Inquisitor with its life of opulence was much sought after by many church leaders.
The Fort St Angelo situated at the very tip of the peninsula seemed to be an easy find on the map, but renovations made the only bridge very difficult to find. It was very impressive. However it location afforded absolutely no shelter and we were almost blown out to sea. We did climb to the top – and saw the hospital where “Auntie Nancy” was based and we watched a short film on the history of Birgu. Our old gentleman had advised us not to eat anywhere but on the waterfront so that was literally our next “port of call”. Super luxurious yachts lined the quayside and we splashed the cash alongside their owners!!!! Food was fine but the service was atrocious.
We got waylaid on the journey back to the bus stop by St Lawrence Church, reputedly the first parish church of Malta. Sneaking in to have a “very quick” look, we discovered there was an organ and choir concert and we decided to wait and listen – really well worth it.

Day 8 Gozo

We returned to Gozo today to use public transport to visit Ta’Dbiegi Craft Village and Ggantija Temples. We almost missed the village but luckily recognized some landmark. It was a fine example of a craft village – many of the artists actually working on their crafts or members of their families in the shops selling. We were very constrained in our spending and I bought some small examples of lace and tatting and two small pieces of Resin work.

Our next stop was the village of Xaghra and the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Ggantija. This is a megalithic temple complex from the Neolithic era, older than the pyramids of Egypt. The walk through the interpretation centre was so interesting, emphasizing that the two temples were not just impressive megalithic sites, but held profound spiritual and cultural importance for the community of Gozo. As a hub for community gatherings, these temples hosted rituals, ceremonies and celebrations to honour gods and seek blessings for fertility and prosperity.

Day 9 Mosta

We travelled through Mosta three times previously and each time wondered at the crowds getting off the bus there. Luckily we had a read of the guide book and realized that the Rotunda at Mosta was not to be missed. Mosta witnessed a miracle in 1942 when a bomb hit the cathedral dome but failed to explode. Today the bomb is seen as the proof of the hand of God and is on display in the vestry. The church itself is fascinating with many images not usually seen – the engagement of Mary and Joseph, the death of Joseph, the Widow’s son at Nain, Our Lady of the Rosary and the Assumption. Organ music played softly in the background – it was especially peaceful to sit and listen to Jesus Remember Me. We climbed to the gallery and roof – almost blown off. Fiona visited the underground shelter just outside the church.


Although we had planned to go on to Mdina, we decided to head towards home and visit instead the Grotto in Mellieha. The little chapel supposedly dates to 409 and the depiction on the wall of Mary is allegedly by St Luke – we couldn’t see it at all!

Day 10 Pool, Sun worshipping and Home

We got an extension in our room till afternoon and decided that after packing we would hit poolside (Fiona had some Jazz Mass practicing to do). We had our last lunch in Porto Restaurant before some more sunbathing.
Taxi driver advised us to take the mountain route back to the airport – very scenic but also showed the amount of agriculture that there is in Malta.

Malta April 2024 DAYS 1-5

Day 1 Mellieha

After a late arrival last night, we went for a relaxing morning, availed of the complimentary lunch in the Porto Restaurant and took the bus in Mellieha for the afternoon. Everywhere, except bars, closes from 2 till 5; so we did some window shopping before finding a wine bar for some relaxation (again). We climbed (Mellieha is built on the side of a mountain – it’s all steep and steps uphills and downhills) again to see the parish church, before home for dinner and cocktails.


There was a big group staying in the hotel – all playing Buraco (a Rummy type cardgame). Generally, the games were pleasant and amicable although an odd outburst spiced things up. We were adopted by a lovely Italian lady Anna, who with actions only invited us to stay with her in Naples any time!

Day 2 GOZO

Our hotel – the Paradise Bay Resort is misnamed! There’s no resort, only the hotel. The area is called Cirkewwa and it is a short walk from the Cirkewwa Bus terminal and ferry port. It has a perfect views of the islands of Comino and Gozo. Today, we took the Hop-On Hop-Off version of the island tour. It was a lovely taste of the island allowing us to see
Ta’Dbiega the Craft Village,
Dwejra’s inland sea which has only cave access to the Medierranean, the famous Azure Window and the Fungus Rock whose fungus reputedly has healing powers and the theft of which would have earned you seven years in the galleys if caught thieving there
Ta’Pina where Our Lady appeared and is a site of Maltese annual pilgrimage, like our Knock

We alighted in Victoria, found a little restaurant, installed ourselves in the courtyard out back and feasted on the local delicacy Ftajjer – we chose the only non-vegetarian version Oink Oink – delicious with the Gozoan Rose wine. Fortified, we started the steep climb to the Citadella.



We were rewarded with stunning views of the town and a lot of the island. We visited the Cathedral of St Marja before our descent to the main street and the bus trip back to the ferry. I wonder about the images on many of the headstones – macabre!





Day 3 St Paul’s Bay

Our original accommodation in Malta was in St Paul’s Bay so I was interested to see what we might have missed. As it turned out – very little. We visited the Tourist Office where a very helpful cailín gave us directions to the two big St Paul’s attractions – the National Aquarium and the Maltese Classic Cars Collection !!!!! Neither very high on my list!!!!!

So we just did our own exploring and found some little gems – the Franciscan Church of St Paul – closed but we were able to visit the beautiful little oratory; a laugh with a local when we asked about a park marked on the map – an overgrown site awaiting building; a tour through apartment land with another local who showed us an alleyway exit from the apartment maze; a view of the salt-flats which unsurprisingly were mentioned in no brochures; the Bugibba Neolithic Temple whose whereabouts even the locals were unaware (now in the grounds of the Hilton Double Tree Hotel).

And with all this, we found an amazing little restaurant called Michele’s who served the Maltese speciality – fried rabbit liver with caramelized onions on sourdough Maltese bread – I think this will be rated my Number 1 “favourite food” of the holiday!

Day 4 Mdina & Rabat

Sunday was not the best day to visit these sites particularly in the afternoon when most places close even on weekdays. So we opted for 2 very touristy experiences – The Knights of Malta Museum and the Mdina Experience. Considering I knew very little about either the history of Malta or the Knights of St John, it was interesting to get a snapshot of both.



Nothing beats the real experience however and it was wonderful to walk the narrow pedestrian streets, the only traffic the tourist horse-drawn carriages. The Cathedral was closed unfortunately.




We decided to have a late lunch in Rabat, opting for the Point de Vue Hotel. During WW” this building housed about 250 pilots from the airfield in Ta’Qali. Despite its elevated position it was only bombed once but was a vantage point to watch dogfights. Service dreadful.

Day 5 Cirkewwa

We decided to take a break today. As mentioned earlier our hotel was quite isolated so we walked along the coast to the next two closest hotels for a morning coffee. There was an art exhibition of local works which was interesting. We sat by the pool in our own place on return but the temperature of the water did nothing to entice us to swim.

There is music most nights in the hotel. As soon as it starts a couple  take to the floor and waltz, rumba, cha-cha or whatever dressed in matching outfits – here they are in Dubs attire.