Day 1 -Saturday
Arrived late at night into Malta Airport and was forced to make a quick decision on where to stay. I had looked at hostels online.. so I headed to one I liked after buying a public transit card.
I arrived at the hostel about 8pm and after the early morning I had to get my flight from Greece this morning I was pooped. However after checking in, I was shown my room and there was a not so quiet American there. I have not had many hostel experiences and was not sure what to say. But, since she was in a room alone before and seemed harmless we started chatting and really hit it off.
We chatted while I unpacked a bit and then went out to dinner at a delicious asian restaurant called Raku. After this I was exhausted and we went to bed.
A few things about my new friend:
Her name is Lesley and she is from DC area.
She is a product manager for a bank and just a few years older.
Day 2- Sunday
Day two Lesley and I woke up early and decided to do a day trip someone had suggest. First things first we had a quick breakfast at the hostel and headed out to the Blue Grotto. As small as Malta is you would imagine you could get places quickly.. Wrong– Everything seemed to take ages. For example a 20 min drive VS. an hr bus ride– being cheap and having already bought a bus card we hopped on the bus.
Once we arrived to the Blue Grotto station we walked towards the area were you could hire a boat to take you in the grotto. However, due to rough waters we were not able to get out under the grotto. Lesley imagined this meant we would not see it. I thought I had seen talk of a “viewpoint” somewhere online, yet wasn’t sure since we had not seen it.
Instead we decided to walk around the coast, enjoy the beautiful views onto the water, walk up to the top of the tower and watch the waves crash up against the shore.
After we stopped for lunch at a cafe by the grotto and got some delicious salads and as we were about to head out I spotted a group of tourists. So, I decided we had to hike up to them and sure enough we found the view point of the grotto and wow it was incredible. What a incredible creation by nature.
Next on our list was the Hagar and Mnajdra Temples. I have never heard of these temples at all before, but turns out they are the oldest temple formation of this complexity in the world.
We bought a combined ticket for both temples at the front desk and continued into the museum to find a lot more details on the history of the temples. As we were about to go to the temple grounds we were summoned into a 5D theater for a short history lesson. As we went in we got 3D glasses, then as the show was playing we had air blown down on us and we actually got rained on a bit. I really enjoyed it, since sometimes only reading boards in museums can become really boring.
Outside the museum we found the beautiful temples sheltered by these permanent white structures. The structures are needed in order to protect them from the natural elements and preserve the ancient places for future generations. In addition to being the rock being very sensitive the temples are also located right by the water.
The temples were supposedly built in accordance with the sun patterns, yet they are not sure since our planet is constantly adjusting its place in the universe. The big blocks of stone however did not move after they were places years and years ago. In order to move these big pieces of stone the people putting small circular balls of rock below the big stone making it easier to pull.
Just outside the temples shelters was a beautiful cliff line and since it was a bit rainy this day we got to see the sun just peaking through the clouds onto the water. It was a really beautiful sight and I think i would have been happy to sit there all day.
Following the temples we made one more stop in Mdina, a gated city that had the nicest little streets and entry way. Since I was really hungry and needed food, we decided to call it a day for sightseeing and head back to our hostel area to have a nice dinner.
Lesley had already scouted out places to eat and we decided on a place called Zerio. I personally was not super impressed especially for the cost, but the food was good and we had a fun time.
Day 3- Monday
On Monday we got up early and headed to Malta’s smaller island of Gozo. We took a bus to the Malta port, a large ferry across the water and then another bus towards the Gozo city of Victoria. Seemed like a fool proof plan, but turns out we got on the wrong bus. So we jumped out and walked to another station where we could take the right one.
When we finally made it to the city of Victoria we headed to Cittadella, an old fortified city used hundreds of years ago. Again this place had a great little museum, helping you understand the history of the place before seeing it and in addition to this they also had a nice history video projected on all walls of a room.
We explored this place for a while with its breathtaking panoramic views all the way around. Inside the city we saw some war time bunkers, a old prison, underground grain silos, an armory and elaborate architecture. It was a really good choice to go see this.
Following this city we grabbed a very average sandwhich and headed to the Ggantija Temples, a unesco heritage site said to be really incredible. These temples date back to before even the pyramids were built.
We wondered through the small museum, watched some if the optional video and then headed out to the actual site. This one was not covered to preserve it, but many parts of the rock was supported by metal scaffolding.
Then after this temple we went to see the old windmill. It was pretty interesting. At the bottom of the windmill they had a small exhibit on the life and work of a miller. They even had a picture and bio of the last man to use the mill, how fun.
After this we had a lot of time before the next bus so we stopped into this small underground family owned cave. Apparently just a few generations ago the family was just looking for a fresh water source and discovered this fairly big stalagmites and stalactites cave system. Now the family operates it themselves and just charges a little to go down and see it. It was nothing like he big cave systems I saw near Budapest, but it was still nice to see and a nice family story.
Finally we wanted to see the Inland Sea near where the famous Azure window used to be before it fell. Since the darkness was creeping up on us we took a taxi an got to the inland see a bit before the sun set. The inland sea is a large natural pool of sea water a few hundred feet into the island. It was pretty gorgeous to see even if it started raining.
After we hiked out to see the sunset over the water the sea was really wild waves crashing up against the rocks and the wind so powerful it could probably blow us over.
That night we made some really bad decisions about timing of food an found ourselves VERY unhappy due to lack of food about 10pm. Then to add to our struggle we went to the wrong bus stop and had to walk about a mile or two to the restaurant we picked called Wagamama. When we arrived we ordered 3 full meals and could finally talk to each other in a happy manner again.
Day 4- Tuesday
–The day Lesley was silly enough to take her flight and leave me–
In the morning we waited for her to get all packed up, checked her out and then took a short walk along the water. We did a little last minute shopping and then Lesley got on her bus to the airport.
About 30 minutes later… I get a message from Lesley saying she is in the lobby AGAIN… apparently she missed her bus and come back to order a taxi instead., but honestly i think she just missed me.
Anyway, after she left for the SECOND time for her flight. I took some time to just relax and regroup before heading out to Valletta one of the most famous cities in Malta.
I walked aimlessly around admiring the architecture, looking into shops and entering various churches. I had a Turkish Wrap for lunch since nothing else looked good after my friend Armin told me he had one. After I finished my meal, I headed to Fort St. Elmo which had an extensive War Museum inside. I really enjoyed this museum. It was very interactive with many different videos, touch screen panels and projection displays. In addition to the nice displays, the fort also had great views over the city.
Following the museum, I walked down to the ice cream shop and got this incredibly delicious flower gelato that I tried for the first time in Florence with my friend Diem Mi. Then headed back to the hostel for the night, stopping along the way for little souvenirs and of course a good take out dinner.
Day 5- Wednesday
Can be referred to as terrible bus day; almost every single bus was late or didn’t come today.. but I just tried to roll with the punches and enjoy my da anyway. I was on vacation in a beautiful place what could be so bad!
I started my day in the city of Mdina. I walk around the town in the light and then decied to eat lunch at this adorable tea garden. I had a coffee and tried a traditional Maltese Ftira. The Ftira was nothing like i had eaten before, but I really enjoyed it.
That afternoon I explored St. Paul’s Catacombs. A fairly large catacomb system and that was pretty incredible to see and explore. They must have had over 20 doors to enter and the tombs were used over the years for a variety of religious backgrounds, including Jewish and Christianity. I had never seen anything like them in person and was pretty impressed by the underground structures. Although to be honest, it was a bit spooky knowing these caves were mainly used for burying dead people..
Next before the darkness hit I headed to the Dingli Cliffs, to see the beautiful views on he water. I sat along the cliff watching the sea for a while. Then before heading back to the hostel area, I got a coffee and cake at the cliffs restaurant.
Day 6- Thursday
Last day in Malta and I had already seen so much, so on this day I took it a bit easier. I first went to an area of town called Birgu and walked around the largest port in malta and saw the Fort Sant’ Anglu.
After I headed to the upper barrack gardens in Valletta and wow, was I glad about that decision, the views from the garden into the harbor were really breathtaking and watching the ceremonial shooting of the cannon was really great. I spent a lot of time there people watching, cat watching and eventually watching the sunset over the city.
Finally that night I decided to treat myself to a fancy Traditional Maltese meal and headed to “maltese mama.” A locally owned restaurant that served many local specialties, I got a complimentary bruschetta, salmon wrapped asparagus and a rabbit stew pasta. It was pretty delicious and a fabulous choice for my last meal in Malta.
Day 7- Friday
I woke up early and headed off the France to meet Kira, a friend from Denver living in Digne. I took a plane and a bus, but I made it there just in time for a nice dinner.