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Trip Report Malta in July

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I spent 7 days/nights in Malta. It was a ‘side trip’ during a five week trip last summer, the rest of which I spent in Italy. Basically, most of my Italian trip was planned to be mountains and inland areas and I really felt I wanted some ‘coast’ time. There’s not a lot of trip reports or info on Malta (at least compared to Italy) and some of what there is was not all that positive. But I like to try new places and it worked well with my larger itinerary. While I’m not sure I would choose it over a week on the Amalfi Coast, the Ligurian Coast or Puglia, I did really enjoy it, am glad I went, and will hopefully go back. Here’s the link to my photos:

I flew Ryan Air from Torino (and then returned back to Bergamo). Despite all the negative comments on numerous travel boards, it was really a pretty good experience. At check in they didn’t even look at much less weigh my bag (although I had made sure it was regulation size/weight). RyanAir is very efficient. Plane pulls into gate, people get off as we wait to board. No more than five minutes between last one off and first one on. Pilot opens his side window and reaches out and pours something on the windshield from a jug, then turns on the windshield wipers. Co-pilot reaches out his window with what looks like a tissue and cleans his windshield. But the flight was fine. So RyanAir was nowhere near as bad as I’d feared.

‘Malta Transfer’ was pretty disorganized. When you purchase the RyanAir ticket you are offered this transfer for 5€ so since I knew nothing about Malta public transportation I took it. You have to go to the Malta Transfer check in desk, then wait around and a guy eventually calls people by name or by hotel and takes a group to his mini van. Drove like a bat out of hell but I was the second to get dropped off and right smack in front of the hotel door too. So that was nice.

I stayed in Valletta, in the historic old town, and am very glad I did. A lot of tourists stay in Sliema, the modern high rise ‘suburb’ across the harbor that is full of hotels, apartments, restaurants, bars, shopping, etc. But nowhere near the character.

Grand Harbor Hotel , Battery Street, Valletta – nice old building, big room corner room (#507) with windows on two sides with absolutely wonderful views, right over the water! Could be the best hotel view I’ve ever had. Room itself super clean, recently redone, double bed, wonderful tiled bathroom, flat screen TV with British news, lots of space, lift, wi-fi, kettle (not that hot tea was what I wanted in hot weather). No mini-fridge though, that would have made it perfect. They sell liter bottles of water for 2€ at the bar (tap water is warm and yucky tasting). The hotel is close to the town center, but there are a good number of steps up to it (fitbit says 6 flights). But to get the harbor view you need to be down hill from the main street/square. It was worth the trade off. Looks like there are 8 rooms per floor and five of them have harbor views. Breakfast was good, like most Italian hotel breakfasts although they do have ‘full English’ options. 105€/night.

I did day trips most days – a boat ride around Malta and to the Blue Lagoon, to the fishing village of Marsaxlokk, to the old city of Mdina, to the ancient temples, to the “Three Cities” across the harbor, etc. I think a week was a good amount of time.

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    As you know, I LOVED your photos....

    Am hoping your day to day itinerary is still coming :), am curious about those day trips and how you organised them, would a 2nd base work or is Valletta fine for entire stay?

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    Got side tracked, here's the report. First I'll describe Valletta, then the day trips I did which were: Boat trip around Malta and to the Blue Lagoon, to Marsaxlokkk the fishing village, to the hilltown of Mdina, to Hagar Qim and Mnajdra Temples and the Blue Grotto, to Mostar, and to the "Three Cities".

    Valetta is a UNESCO World Heritage site for good reason: The fortifications, consisting of bastions, curtains and ravelins, along with the beauty of its Baroque palaces, gardens and churches and it’s drop dead gorgeous setting between the two harbors – it’s just stunning. It’s been named European Capital of Culture for 2018.

    It’s beautiful – a tad run down in places but so are all the other historic city centers in Europe. The setting between two incredibly blue harbors with blue water against honey colored stone buildings is striking. Maybe it’s not as wonderful in cool, cloudy weather, but in July it’s certainly impressive (I read that Malta has had absolutely no rain for 100 of the last 119 Julys). There’s a very harmonious feel to the place as all the buildings are built of the honey colored stone – there are almost no wooden buildings (in fact there seem to be very few trees in Malta, other than the ones planted for shade).

    The one feature that is different from other stone cities is the wooden, enclosed balconies – they certainly define the character of Maltese urban landscape. They come in all colors, mostly made of wood but some of metal, some have glass windows, others don’t. I’m not really sure about the historical origins of them but apparently the government gives people financial incentives to renovate them. They may be of North Africian origin. Malta is very close to Africa and at some points in it’s history large numbers of people from North Africia did live there. There are also plenty of unusual, decorative motifs on the houses.

    Mostly Valletta feels very Italian – actually more Croatian (which in turn is pretty Italian feeling). It reminds me of a large Korcula. With a bit of Spanish influence. And a good deal of Greek. It’s a hilly peninsula with steep stepped streets going down from a central high point. Lots of steps and very steep streets (in that aspect it’s almost like San Francisco). Outlying areas of Malta have more cube like architecture similar to Greece.

    The main entrance to the city is through the ‘bus depot’ circular plaza surrounding the Triton fountain. There’s a very modern ‘gate’ (replaced the original) after a large pedestrian walkway over a moat like area – and then some pretty impressive city walls. There starts Republic Street (Triq ir-Republika). Wide, flat and full of shops and restaurants, many with outside seating. About 2/3 the way down it starts to slope down to Fort St Elmo at the tip of the peninsula. Paralleling Republic Street is Merchants Street, also pedestrianized with shops and restaurants. All the other streets in town are either steps or very steep slopes – up and down.

    There is a walkway all around the peninsula, at a level about halfway between Republic street and the harbor. On the southeast side are two gardens, Upper and lower Barrakka Gardens; Upper near the entrance to the city, lower near Fort St Elmo at the tip. Both with colonnades and terraces and wonderful views over the Three Cities across Grand Harbour.

    Valletta was the first planned city in Europe. The previous capital had been Birgu (Vittoriosa), one of the “Three Cities” across the Grand Harbor. Before the great siege of 1565, Valletta was a barren tongue of land with a small watch tower, St Elmo, at the tip. The Knights of St John realized if they wanted to maintain their hold on Malta they had to improve their defenses and build a fortified city. Valletta is the result. So it has a grid pattern, like Manhattan. But the hills are more like San Francisco. And the architecture like Italy.

    The most impressive buildings are the auberges. The Order of the Knight’s of St John was divided into eight Langues based on the geographical area the knights came from. Each built a large and splendid Auberge with lodgings, dining room and chapel built round a courtyard. The Auberge de Provence is now the archaeology museum, the Auberge de Castile is a huge palace like building; the Auberge de Italy is now the post office. The largest building is the Palace Of The Grand Masters, a rather plain building on St George’s square that was one of the first buildings in the new city and was the Knights’ administrative center and military headquarters. Once the Knights left Malta it became the seat of government and the residence of the British Governor. It is now the President’s Office and Parliament House. You can visit the palatial apartments for a fee but the two large courtyards are open to the public.

    There are also several beautiful churches – the main cathedral is called St. Johns “Co-Cathedral”, the mother church of the Knights of Malta. The exterior is a rather severe, twin-towered facade but inside it is dripping in gold and flagrantly displays the opulence of the church. Way over the top. The most interesting feature is the floor, inlaid marble mostly depicting cherubs, etc. but with several really nice skeletons as well. The other main churches are the Carmelite Church (big dome), St. Paul’s (tall campanile that from a distance looks like it’s part of the Carmelite Church but it’s actually a couple blocks away), and St Paul’s Shipwreck (cool name for a church).

    The Knights built a hospital (Sacra Infermeria) in 1574 to care for injured soldiers and pilgrims during the Crusades in the 16th century. At the time it was state of the art. All medical instruments and dishes were made from silver as the Knights knew it had anti bacterial properties and there was a lavatory by each bed. The walls were hung with tapestries in winter for insulation. The massive square stone building now houses the Mediterranean Conference Centre, but in the basement is an exhibition on the Knights Hospitallers (4€) that was pretty interesting. Lots of wax figures and models depicting all manner of nice gory medical stuff from the middle ages. Some cells, spooky music. Very well done.

    Valetta is the southernmost Capital in Europe, situated at the end of a peninsula surrounded by two harbors – Marsamxett Harbor on the eastern side and Grand Harbor on the southwestern side. It has a population of only 6500 – but the ‘metro’ area is almost 400,000. There are a lot of ‘suburbs’. To the northeast across Marsamxett Harbor is Sliema - all midrise apartments and hotels, lots of bars and restaurants and shopping. But it has a really nice harbor side promenade with gorgeous views back to Valletta. The best views are OF Valletta so obviously being across the harbors is where they are best. A really pleasant ten minute ferry crossing brings you from Valletta to Sliema, where you are instantly accosted by people trying to sell you boat rides.

    On the other side, across the Grand Harbor is the “Three Cities” occupying three smaller peninsulas that jut out into the Grand Harbor. The Three Cities are Vittoriosa (also known as Il-Birgu), Senglea (also known as L-Isla) and Cospicua (also known as Bormla). Their harbour inlets have been in use since Phoenician times: the docks always providing a living for local people. As the first home to the Knights of St. John, the Three Cities' palaces, churches, forts and bastions are far older than Valletta's. Tons of boats, mostly yachts, fill the area between Vittoriosa and Senglea, and there is a lovely promenade all along on both sides, a couple of impressive churches and historic buildings, some cafes. Combined with the views back to Valletta it’s about the most scenic area. Climbing up into the center of these ‘cities’ (really more like big villages) there are narrow stepped lanes lined with pretty buildings. Mostly residential. Another ferry does a 15 minute crossing here.

    I bought a 7 day ferry pass for 10€ and got my money’s worth. I went back and forth both harbor’s a number of times just to be out on the water, take in the view and walk around . It’s 1.50€ per ride without the pass.
    The inland half of the Valletta peninsula is Fiorania, yet another ‘suburb’, with a palm tree lined street running down the center of it, and the ‘Valletta Waterfront’ on the Grand Harbor side (where the cruise ships dock).

    And if all that isn’t enough, there is the “Britishness” of it all – red phone booths, red post boxes, driving on the right. Malta may be on the Euro but there’s no question it was a British colony for a long time. Even the electricity is British (so you need a British adapter). I think most of the local’s speak Maltese to each other, but all signage is in English and everyone speaks it.

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    I absolutely love your pics and your report. I've been wanting to go to Malta for so long but something else always comes up and I keep putting it off. Maybe next year I will finally do Malta. :-)

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    Oh, this took me right back! I, too, stayed in Valletta and was very glad I had done so. Malta really has a lot to offer in my opinion, but I have to admit that I'm a bit of a history geek and the layers of history present everywhere are fascinating.

    This is an old list, but you might be able to add to it:

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    Thanks for the replies. I did use that list, Amy, when planning my trip. It was very helpful.

    Anyone thinking of going to Malta should definitely go. I don't think it gets nearly enough attention on forums like this.

    Here's more of what I did.

    Arrival Day (Day 1) – 85 sunny and nice . I spent the afternoon exploring Valletta and took the ferry to Silema (leaves from near the foot of St John Street every ½ hour on the quarter hour (return from Silema is on the hour/half hour). 1.50€ per ride or unlimited 7 days for €10.) As I said, ten minute crossing with incredible views. Walked along the long promenade all along the harbor with fabulous views back to Valletta. Researched my options for a boat ride the next day. There was a fair amount of info on-line but it was somewhat contradictory and turns out inaccurate. There are at least three companies that offer boat rides – of the harbors, and up to the Blue Lagoon on the island of Comino. The largest company is Captain Morgan and I think they were the only one with the ride all the way around Malta. They were all offering ‘discounted’ rides if you booked ‘now’ for tomorrow but I decided to wait and see in the morning. Had excellent swordfish for dinner (‘local/Maltese’ specialties seem to be limited to fish and rabbit).

    Day 2 – Sunday, July 5, 2015 85 sunny and nice. I took the 9:15 ferry to Sliema, got there at 9:30 and was able to buy a ticket for the 10:00 “Captain Morgan Round Malta” and to the Blue Lagoon on Comino boat trip (30€ is the ‘discount’ price, brochure says 35 but all the companies were giving discounts right up to the time of boarding). I’d give it an 8/10 rating. They loose two points for playing fast and loose with the facts and figures. The trip I wanted, which included sailing around Gozo is no longer offered but one of the ‘boat trip’ pushers – there are many - told me it went part way up Gozo. It doesn’t. They said the stay on Comino is about 1½ hours (it’s 3). They said the optional excursion to the caves and Popeye village is 10€ (it’s 15€ and it doesn’t go to the Popeye Village). They claim there is no where to get food on Comino so you should buy their €10 extra buffet lunch. Well there are at least half a dozen food trucks at the Blue Lagoon selling sandwiches, drinks, ice cream, etc. – cheap and good, and their buffet didn’t look worth 10€.

    But it was still a great trip (thus the 8/10 rating). They claim you “see” Marsaxlokk fishing village and the Blue Grotto – well you technically ‘see’ Marsaxlokk but from such a distance you can’t tell it’s a fishing village, much less see the boats, and the Blue Grotto from that distance is no different from the rest of the coast line. But you do see the Dingli Cliffs which are amazing. And they do go quite close to Anchor Bay (Popeye Village) and the Blue Lagoon really is incredible. The water is crystal clear light turquoise. Just gorgeous.

    There are a zillion boats – all the big companies bringing people up from Valletta/Sliema plus private boats but it’s still beautiful. Several companies, including Captain Morgan, offer old fashioned wooden schooners as well as the more modern tourist boats. There’s a path you can walk around the tip of the cove on with great views down to the water. You can rent umbrellas and snorkeling equipment but just being there is worth the trip even if you don’t want to swim.

    I got an excellent BBQ chicken baguette sandwich for 4€. Only drawback is there is almost no shade (you could have gone back onto the boat for shade if you wanted). I also took the power boat excursion to the caves. A lot of fun (you get a bit wet), and the caves are pretty cool (not ‘Capri Blue Grotto’ cool, but worth while). The trip back, 1½ hours, is less interesting as that side of the island has no cliffs. Total trip is from 10-5:30.

    I got pizza and tea opposite the cathedral for dinner (restaurant choices greatly diminished on a Sunday). But there is an Amorino’s! so gelato for dessert. Beautiful evening (27C at 9pm). Back in the room there were fireworks – pretty long, extensive display – that were being set off just past the hotel – great view from the balcony. This rates right up there with favorite vacation evenings.

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    Day 3 - Monday, July 6, 2015 85 sunny and nice. I got to the bus depot to find long lines due to a new ‘system’ so all the locals were there getting their new cards. I got a 15€ card good for 12 rides (weekly pass is 21€). Found the bus to Marsaxlokk, about a 40 minute ride. Marsaxlokk isn’t quite as scenic as some Greek fishing villages but has a sort of charm. The brightly colored small boats (with eyes) were picturesque. Nice large church and plenty of cube shaped buildings as backdrop to the harbor. This village definitely looks more Greek than Italian. Walked around and took a few hundred photos for an hour and a half or so. Buses on that route (81) are every 20 minutes so it wasn’t a long wait once I was ready to head back). On the way back I saw two stops with signs to the Tarxien temples but decided to wait till later. Good thing, cause back in Valletta at the IT they said they were closed this summer for restoration.

    Most of the island of Malta is ‘suburb’. While Valletta itself and Vittoriosa are picturesque, most of the rest is mid 20th century cement block construction. There are individual towns, some with a nice church or a few blocks old buildings, but mostly one town just runs into the next. Incredibly built up and congested. Traffic is horrid. Most of the places I went were no more than a few km from Valletta but took half hour or more on the bus. And I doubt driving would be even that fast as buses can at least use bus lanes and you don’t have to find parking. Away from Valletta there are some areas with a small amount of agriculture – tiny fields surrounded by stone walls. A few vineyards, some potatoes and a few vegetable plots, not much. Along the far coast – near the Blue Grotto, the temples and the Dingli Cliffs, it is more rural. The island of Gozo is less built up, but getting to the ferry from Valletta takes at least 1½ hours on the bus, then a wait for the ferry, then a 20 minute crossing – and then another 45 minute bus ride to it’s main city. I decided nothing on Gozo was worth that amount of travel for a day trip.

    Back in Valletta I had a late lunch and then visited St John’s Co-Cathredral – talk about dripping in gold and overly opulent. Would be enough to turn anyone off religion. The floor is interesting marble inlaid and there were a number of cool skeletons among the cherubs. €6 Then I went to the Grand Master’s Palace which is rather austere on the exterior (although one corner has a very cool sculpture looking down on you) but has two very pretty courtyards you can wander around. I decided against spending another 10€ for more over the top displays of wealth so didn’t go inside. Instead I checked out some of the auberges. Auberge d’Italie houses the IT. Auberge de Castile is at the entrance to town. Auberge de Provence houses the Archaeology Museum. And one nice perk to Malta (over Italy) is they have Costa Coffee Shops with wonderful iced cappuccinos.

    I also took the lift from Upper Barrakka Garden (free down, 1€ up) to the ferry over to the Three Cities. The early evening sunlight on the harbor and boats and buildings was just gorgeous. The promenade around the harbor between Vittoriosa and Senglea extends for close to a mile and a half and is a really pleasant walk.

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    Thanks, hopefully it will be useful to people considering a trip to Malta.

    Day 4 - Tuesday, July 7, 2015 88 and Sunny - Mdina – Woke early so was at the bus stop by 7:50 and a bus was ready to leave. Got to Mdina by 8:20 (so half hour to get there, but took 45 min to get back later). Country side – which is mostly built up with a smattering of small fields – about the same as on the way to Marsaxlokk. I noticed there is not much vegetation in Malta. Palm trees, a bit of oleander, small amount of bougainvillea but nothing like Italy. Much less. Hardly any olive or lemon trees.

    Mdina is a world class walled stone village – about on a par with the average European cities of this sort. Certainly nice, well kept, harmonious golden stone. Windy narrow streets, few churches, few impressive buildings but mostly simple. Like so many hill towns, except, while it’s on a ‘plateau’ higher than the surrounding land, it’s almost completely flat once you get in there. Impressive entrance gate across a stone bridge over a moat (now a park). Nice medium size cathedral, ornate, but less so than the one in Valetta (but with the same floor). When I got there it was almost too early as the sun was too low so most of the streets were in deep shadow, all the shops closed. But also no people.

    By 9:30 the light was better, the shops opened and a good number of people were around, but not too many. By 11:30 the crowds descended, including some tour groups. By 11:40 I’d seen what I wanted, wasn’t ready for lunch yet so got a bus back to Valletta. Malta may be small but it takes 45 minutes to go anywhere because of the congestion and traffic (of which there is a lot).

    Day 5 - Wednesday, July 8, 2015 86 and Sunny – Hagar Qim and Mnajdra Temples and the Blue Grotto - I took the bus to the airport (X4,X5, or X7) and connected with the 201 which goes right to the temples and, one stop before it, the Blue Grotto. Approximately 20 minutes each leg of the journey. The Airport buses have their own stop right opposite the Triton Fountain in Valletta, but it’s the only stop without a sign! You’d think it would be the most important one to have a sign but it doesn’t. Since there are three lines, one comes about every 20 minutes, though they were a bit late. At the airport the sign for the 201 is clear enough. That one only runs once an hour but it was on time and my timing was good so only had a 10 minute wait.

    The Temples, a UNESCO world heritage site, are quite impressive. There’s a visitor center/museum (tickets are 10€) and a 3D movie. The movie isn’t terribly informative but it is fun and well done. Both temples are now under giant tents to help preserve them. They are 5000 years old, that’s older than Stonehenge or the Pyramids, but they were mostly covered until they were discovered and dug in 1839 and since then the damage from the sun and rain threaten to destroy them, thus the tents. So they aren’t as atmospheric as they could be but they are still quite a sight.

    The setting is wonderful – a truly ‘windswept’ hill on the coast, high up on the cliffs. You walk about 5-10 minutes between the two temple sites through scruffy, rocky terrain (but on a nice new paved, gently sloping walkway) with cactus and some kind of wild yellow mustard plant. The ‘garigue’ landscape between the two, and around them is dotted with dry stone huts built by bird trappers and the Hamrija Tower, one of 13 coastal watchtowers built in the 1600s. Just off the coast is the uninhabited small island of Filfla.

    Unlike other Neolithic temples on Malta (there are about 20 of them), these are the most complete and they are not surrounded by modern development so that they can be appreciated in their original setting. The Hagar Qim Temple was built during the late Neolithic period, around 3600BC and has several rooms and doorways. The temple buildings were built of limestone megaliths, a relatively soft, yellowish stone that is still widely used for buildings around Malta. The main building at Hagar Qim has the most complicated plan of all the Maltese megalithic temples. It is clear that the building was not planned at a single moment, but modified and extended at different times. While the buildings are called ‘temples’ very little is actually known about what they were used for, although sculptured figurines that are thought to be some sort of religious offerings were found, including the most famous, the “Fat Sleeping Lady”. 500 meters down the hill from Hagar Qim is Mnajdra Temple. The South Temple of the Mnajdra complex was built in such a way that its main doorway is aligned with sunrise during the spring and autumn equinoxes.

    It took me just over an hour to visit the site, of course meaning it would be another almost hour till the next bus. But it was only about a half hour easy walk to the Blue Grotto, along the road, most of which has a sidewalk and wonderful views out to sea. At the Blue Grotto there are several restaurants and tourist shops and for €8 you can take a 25 minute, 9 person boat ride out to see the blue grotto as well as several other caves. Totally worth it. (And much better than the boat trip at the Blue Lagoon to those caves, which are similar, but not as good as these – plus this is a smaller, slower boat and our ‘driver’ was very friendly and informative about what we were seeing, pointing everything out and even encouraging us to stand up to take photos (which I did, despite the fact the boats rock quite a bit, we actually had to put on lifejackets, it’s a ‘requirement’) and to stick our hands in the water.

    The Blue Grotto is one of several sea caves worldwide that is flooded with a brilliant blue and emerald light. The quality and nature of the color in each cave is determined by the unique lighting conditions of that particular cave. The caves include: “Cat’s Cave, Reflection Cave, Window Cave, Blue Grotto, Elephant’s Foot and Blue Window Caves”.

    My timing turned out to be pretty good so I only had about a 10-15 minute wait for the next bus (and a lemon granite to drink while waiting). At the airport I went to the Malta Transfer desk and got them to switch my pick up time to an hour earlier. They get terrible reviews and it was pretty chaotic on arrival so I wanted to be sure to have plenty of time to take a regular bus if they didn’t show up when they should. Given the horrid reviews the sightseeing companies get, the fact that the regular buses tend to run late, traffic is horrible, the boat guys lie, etc. I didn’t hold out much hope of a smooth transfer (but it turned out OK). Only reason I don’t just take a regular bus is that I’d need to drag my suitcase up the equivalent of 6 or 7 flights of stairs to get to the main bus terminal from the hotel.

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    Day 6 - Thursday, July 9, 2015 86 and Sunny – Captain Morgan Harbor Cruise - I took the ferry to Sliema and then got the Captain Morgan Harbor Cruise. They are right there when you get off the ferry, pushing the cruises – list price is 16€ which quickly dropped to 12 and then 10€ as I walked away (was going to check out the other companies) but their boat did have the best seating up top and for 10€ it was a good deal.

    Always nice to be out on the water, but can’t say what you see is all that exciting. The best views are of Valletta which can be seen from the ferries on both sides, and the three cities, also seen better by the ferry which goes further into the channel than the cruise does. Everything else is pretty industrial and ugly. The harbor cruises are only a couple of hours, I spent the rest of the day exploring Valletta.

    Day 7 - Friday, July 10, 2015 86 and Sunny – Mosta Dome - Took a bus to Mosta to see the dome of the church. According to Malta tourist literature it’s like the 3rd or 4th largest in the world, bigger than St Paul’s in London, on a scale with Aga Sophia in Istanbul. Well it certainly doesn’t look like it’s as large as either of them, and nowhere near as impressive. And when you google ‘world’s largest domes’ it doesn’t even come up. Anyway, I took a bus there to see it. There are at least a half dozen routes that go through Mosta so some bus should have left every ten minutes or so yet they were all late. The crowd waiting for the buses was getting pretty big. Then the bus took half an hour. Of course there are several stops in Mosta so I wasn’t sure which was the one I wanted, but I stayed on and it was eventually very apparent. The church is nice, the dome is big (and a nice light blue with gold stars) and there’s the trivia fact that a WWII bomb pierced the dome but didn’t explode and the church and the 300 people in it were unharmed. Since so many buses pass by there, it was a very short wait for the return but all in all it took 1½ hours on/waiting for bus to see the church which took 15 minutes. On the way back we passed what I think was the end of Sliema “Creek” and there were some nice boats and a nice church so I hopped off, wandered around and took a few shots and got another bus back to Valletta.

    Still only late morning so I took the ferry to Vittoriosa in the Three Cities. I really liked Vittoriosa. The first time I went over I walked along the waterfront but didn’t explore the city center, this time I went up into Vittoriosa. Lots of nice quiet residential streets, quite well kept and nice. Lots of construction – improving squares, roads, houses. But it had a pretty upscale feeling to it. Had a fabulous lunch at Café du Brazil on Victoria Square. Huge salad of crisp lettuce with olives, capers, cucumbers, tomatoes, corn and topped with a lot of fresh smoked swordfish, tuna, salmon and prawns. Served with bread and butter. Large ice tea (with ice!). Then checked out the Inquisitor’s Palace – another Malta Heritage Site, nice building, mildly interesting stuff about the inquisition. Lovely stroll along the water front again and nice boat ride back.

    All in all I had a great time in Malta. Definitely worth a week. Might have been nice to see Gozo but that really requires an overnight and still not sure moving hotels and that amount of travel would be worth it. I really think the highlights are on Malta and Comino.

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    Thank you for your trip report. Malta holds a special place in my heart because of the good memories. We especially loved Valleta, Mdina and Gozo. In fact, if I were to go back, I'd stay longer on Gozo. We were there one day and saw a lot. It was greener and more laid back than the main island.

    Happy Travels!

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    about the Mosta dome it is the 3rd largest UNSUPPORTED dome in the world and the 3rd largest dome in Europe :). As for neolithic temples, Ggantija in Gozo is the oldest of them all. Ggantija because they thought it was built by giants (ggant in Maltese). However, Hagar Qim and Mnajdra, are just as magnificent, as well as Tarxien temples (and of course the nearby hypogeum - which you have to book much earlier).

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    Hi Isabel,

    Just returned from Malta and wanted to thank you for your trip report, it provided some valuable information. We stayed at the Grand Harbor too and liked it a lot. Great location and loved the rooftop views. Did a lot of walking, did the boat trip to Gozo/Camino plus they threw in a Harbor Cruise all for 30E (Luzzo Cruises) and also found an amazing Thai Aromatherapy massage/facial in Silima for 49E. We also took the bus to Mdina and the three cities...all very easy. It wasn't high season so there was no traffic at all and it was quick to get places.

    We also enjoyed our stay on Malta, the people are wonderful, food is good and the history amazing.

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    Isabel - I love your photos & TRs

    What camera do you take now on your recent travels? Thinking of leaving my Nikon 5300 behind in 2017. Getting too heavy to carry around on long explorations.

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    Thanks. The cameras I currently use are Panasonic Lumex. Main one is FX300 and small back up is LX 7. I'm on at least my third version of each of these and love them. MY Nikon DSLR never gets to go anywhere, it's too heavy and to get the same zoom range you'd need a lot of heavy, expensive lenses.

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