A life long ambition becomes reality

Trip Start May 01, 2007
Trip End Dec 11, 2008

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Flag of Malta  ,
Thursday, May 31, 2007

Wednesday the 30th May was the day I finally fulfilled a lifetime ambition in getting to Malta. I was amazed I was actually beating my brother there! Stepping of the plane was one of those special moments for me, similar to my first step in a into a foreign country. I was really excited and had a big grin on my face. We navigated through the Hobart sized airport, and hopped on a bus for the Valletta bus terminus. The terminus is different to anything I had ever experienced. Scores of buses, ranging from brand new to 50 years old, all decked out in yellow and very noisy, but of course, extremely fun. I had only been on this tiny rock in the Mediterranean for half an hour and I already realised how different things are.

Stace and I eventually made it to Sliema, where we were staying for almost the next week. We had to find the bloody place first though, and it took a while. We weren't really sure exactly where we got off the bus, and the Lonely Planet's map is shite. Not to mention Maltese streets. Narrow, long, very few street signs, and all very similar in appearance. No wonder Malta's book of the road is called 'The Maze' ! I kind of enjoyed the experience. Aimlessly or purposely wandering through Malta's streets became one of my favourite past times by the end of my visit. So I was sweaty, but I made it to the reception of the Hotel Metropole, a nice hotel in Dingli Street.

That afternoon we wandered over the hill to the ferry terminal in Sliema and hopped on a ferry to Valletta. A lovely journey, and I was stunned by the view of Valletta. Immediately the things that struck me were the lovely narrow stoned streets, the long walkways of low gradient steps, churches, the monuments, and the huge amount of flags. And that was just the beginning. Being late in the afternoon, we wandered around a bit, on the way stumbling across 'The Pub', and found ourselves at Fort St Elmo. Fort St Elmo is currently occupied by the Police Academy, and houses the Malta War Museum. We decided to take a look at the museum.

Malta was severely bombed by the Germans and Italians in WWII, and this museum contains pictures and artifacts mainly detailing that period. The most impressive piece there is the reconstructed Gloster Gladiator fighter plane 'Faith'. Faith was part of the trio of fighters set to defend Malta in the early stages of the WWII attack. It was amazing to see her in the flesh so to speak. Visiting this museum was worthwhile as it gave me a better understanding of what Malta went through during WWII, and the atrocities the people faced.

Evening came, and time for my much anticipated first plate of ravioli in Malta. Our location was superb, right on the water on the Sliema promenade. I was relieved to find the ravioli was just as superb as my family's home made stuff, and even had the same tomato sauce. The food was one of the main things I was looking forward to Malta.

Thursday, my second day in Malta was a stunner. A perfect blue sky all day, we decided to do a boat cruise around Marsamxett and Grand Harbours. It was spectacular. The harbours are stunning, and the views of the cities from the water are breathtaking. The clear blue water on the backdrop of the old sandstone walls and buildings is superb. The fortifications of Valletta and the surrounding cities are very visible from the water, and I got a good picture of how it all fits together. I was sitting on the boat trying to imagine myself back in the Great Siege of 1565, watching severed heads fly across the the harbour from Vittoriosa to Valletta. Call me weird. The rich history of Malta captured me straight away, and I was wanting to learn as much as I could. The harbour cruise was not only a highlight of my trip to Malta, but of my entire trip so far. It was that good.

In the afternoon we did some exploration around Valletta, taking a stroll along the south wall with spectacular views over Grand Harbour and Fort St Angelo. We sat down for a late lunch in Republic Street in a square, and were caught by surprise to see soldiers marching right along the street, and form a guard of honour outside the Grand Master's Palace. Next thing motorcades, horses, politicians, and cardinals started arriving. Turns out it was a visit to Malta by the Hungarian President, greeted by the President of Malta! I've never seen a president before, let alone two!

Following this amazing event, Stace and I wandered towards to south-east side of Valletta for an absolutely breathtaking view of Grand Harbour, including the immense Fort St Angelo. This has got to be one of my favourite views ever. Stunning. We also visited St Johns Co-Cathedreal for a peep. Outside the cathedral is just another building, but inside is wow! The huge paintings on the ceiling and six chapels on each wing make it one of the most spectacular cathedrals I've been in. The highlight was definitely the Caravaggio of St John the Baptist being executed. This painting used to be viewed by the young Knights of St John for inspiration. It's my favourite of all the paintings I've seen so far. It's really dark, but moving at the same time.

It was a great day, one of my best on the whole trip. I hand only been in Malta two days, and I was loving it. I was loving the sights, and couldn't get enough of finding a new vantage point. I was thinking by the end of Thursday, that Valletta and the surround have got to be my favourite city that I have visited. The fortifications, the buildings, the harbours, the crazy bus terminus, and the people are all a delight to see. And best of all, the Pastizzi is scrumptious!!!!!!!
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