Day 4: Valetta and Noto

Our last day in Valletta. Another hot night meant a fairly early start. We shared yoghurt and watched the boats on the harbour from our little verandah. Packed our bags and as I went to iron my dress ( yes even on holidays!) the iron had a leak and blew the power! Lucky we were leaving today. I phoned the lovely landlord Michael and explained what had happened. All was good and we left our packed bags ready to collect that afternoon .
We caught the no 52 bus to Mdina the old town about a 30 min away. It is heavily influenced by the Moors and is known as the quiet town. We wanted to arrive before the crowds (in busses off the cruise liners) and the heat so set off at 9. We got off the bus and walked through a small tree lined park and in through the ancient main gate. The town was clean, quiet and built with honey coloured sandstone . We bought our SENIORS ticket for the Cathedral and its museum and then went straight to the coffee shop of the Xara hotel. Gorgeous spot with beautiful views. Would love to stay in the hotel. Maybe next time! Brian and Jenny Byrne our friends (and Pandanus managers) are staying there in a few weeks.
After coffee and passing by St Dorothy’s the convent nearby (where we thought of our lovely Aunty Dorothy) we went to the cathedral. Fantastic – beautiful red curtains gave it an almost theatrical feel. The flowers were lovely (we think a wedding that afternoon) and when the crowds arrived we left and went to the museum. A wealth of gold and silver religious artefacts.
We walked around the wall, looking at the beautiful views and then visited Palazzo Falson.
I really like visiting houses belonging to local people, seeing them set up in way people lived. This one was very elegant and had a great commentary available with a little headset and wand you clicked as you entered each room. Very slick and worked so well.

By now it was hot with a capital H so we sought refuge in La Fontanel right on the wall with amazing views. Had another seafood thing – all my meals so far have involved sea food! Maybe I’m working on the theory that if I eat enough seafood I might swim like a fish! Here’s hoping!!!
After lunch we strolled in the shade of the buildings across to Rabat the town outside the ancient gates. Rabat is a common name for a town. and today we found out it actually means suburb.

To escape the heat we headed for the church of St Paul to visit his chapel with the catacombs under it. It was without bones but was cool!

Made out way back to Valletta and collected our bags from the apartment and after just a minor drama had a taxi deliver us to the port for our catamaran ferry to Pozzalla in Sicily.
It was a really easy comfortable ride across the calm waters (in an Australian built vessel) and spectaular leaving Valletta harbour by boat. We arrived in the port at Pollozzo at around 8 . We’d booked a taxi to save dramas with buses and found him waiting .

But life in Italy is nothing without a drama. Noto – here we come. Well we made it despite the taxi driver having a little “Italian Opera” about the location of our B&B. This was a good choice. Large rooms and a larger than life host – Giovanni. He sent us to a typical Trattoria for dinner Italian-style and it was terrific. We then walked the main start and saw all the locals enjoying a FRiday night together. Lots of chat, gelato and no drunk kids anywhere.

Day 3: Malta

A leisurely start to the day and a cab ride down to Avis to pick up a car. “Robbed” by the cabbie – but that is life! Took a long while to get the paperwork done but finally on the road. First stop – Marsaxlokk in the South. Very cute fishing village. We manged to see it all, and Steve bought yet another model boat! Very pretty! Breakfast and away before the tourist buses off the cruise ships in Valetta arrived!

Marsaxlokk
Marsaxlokk markets
An addition to the fleet

Driving here is a bit different – the distances are only short but the roads very narrow and extremely rough. We discovered that our little car had a very dodgy front-end suspension – and worst of all the air-conditioning didn’t work!

Ghar Lapsi

Next stop was on the West coast at Ghar Lapsi – in the middle of nowhere but a cute little ocean swimming inlet. Shared the water with some folk from Brisbane!

Bozo and friend go to Gozo

We then headed North to get the car ferry across to Gozo – the subtitle for today’s adventure is “Bozo goes to Gozo”. The landscape all over is very dry with hardly any trees and more stone fences than you have ever seen. The water is a clear and as blue as you could imagine.

We pottered around Gozo – saw some preparations for a festival (St Lorenzo?) and caught the views from the fort at Victoria – in the centre of the island and quite dominating.

Festival preparations at Xewkija

From Victoria

Then down to Masalforn for a light lunch and a swim – very refreshing. We then drove around some adjacent beaches and also saw some ancient salt pans – really interesting land forms.

Salt Pans
Xwenji
ir-Ramla

“The” beach on the island (sand!) is at ir-Ramla. No lifesavers on duty – just a statue of Madonna and Child to watch over the bathers. We had an cool drink and a look – and then the car wouldn’t start. Aided by a really helpful young local we got going (some weird occurrence in the ignition / immobiliser that self corrected!) and took off for the ferry back to the main island. Made it just in time!

Drive back to Valetta was uneventful and we handed the car back and retired to the apartment to freshen up before dinner. Special treat – restaurant called ll Horza. We were the only customers (it seats about 10 people!) which often is not a good sign. However we had the full attention of both owner and his chef and had a superb meal (including the most delicious tuna sausages) and much complimentary grappa etc to conclude. Bravo!

ll Horza

Day 2: Malta

We did a little”housekeeping before setting off for breakfast  – at one of the oldest cafes in Valletta -Cafe Cordina. We had a breakfast smoothie then we shared a kind of bacon and egg roll – called a rather fancy Maltese name.
We got to the Palace for the 9am opening but it didn’t open till 10. So down the road to Casa Rocco -a lovely Palazzo still lived in by the family who have had it in the family for 100 years. We even saw the old owner returning from an outing. It’s a great way to see how people lived all those years ago
We had a good nights sleep – our bedroom faces the harbour and the lights outside make it quite light even at night – but we managed to sleep. The weather is very warm – around 30 at the moment, so we’ve been thrown into summer again. It’s rather humid and is like our summer.

 
Casa Rocca 
In the entry hall

Entrance staircase at Casa Rocco

View from the gardens

The boys racing in Vittorosa

One of the three ancient towns

Day1: Malta

What a journey! Our flights with Emirates were all terrific and towards the end from Dubai via Lanarca we bonded with the cabin steward and he took some photos! Not sure if the 26+hours of  travel have me looking my best but it was good fun.
   

He  took some photos and presented them to us  in little Emirates photo frames. he took them with one of those polaroid cameras   

We were tickled to think our pilots on the last leg were Americans named Chuck and Randy and trusted with names like that they weren’t more used to driving bulls not planes.

Nevertheless we arrived in Malta to warm sunny conditions with the bluest of blue skies. Our apartment owner Michael met us in arrivals and drove us to the apartment. The apartment is (as friend Jill said “fairly modest”) but in a great position and has wonderful views of Valetta harbour.

Grand Harbour from our apartment
From our apartment

We quickly freshened up and wenт off to explore Valletta.
It’s a gorgeous old town with lots of up and down sloping streets. The afternoon light made it seem so beautiful. It’s on a peninsula with the Grand Harbour for big ships on the side our apartment is on.

 

our apartment
our street

We walked around the streets and found our way to the water and just walked. The buildings are built with the softest pink stone and look wonderful –  even the crumbling ones look great.

Steve has already brought his Mediterranean trip hat, and I have as well. It’s always our first stop: new hat, map, check out the sights and then a beer for Steve and an Aperol spritz for me.
So all is good!

The man in the hat
Palazzo