A week in Malta.
Having recovered from the worst of the food poisoning on Tuesday, Mum and I Ventured out to pamper ourselves. I’ve been promising myself a Mani/Pedi for a few months now, and it has become a holiday ritual away from the shop. We bussed into Sliema, a modernish shopping district with a lot of labels- particularly British.
The Maltese busses have a character of their own. Some are from the 1950s and still in operation, they are all orange. The old ones look as if glasses, eyebrows and moustaches would feature on their cartoon selves. They are so much a feature of Malta, they appear on postcards, and canvas totes. Alas, in two weeks they are all to be replaced by new German buses, which are teal. While I’m sure regular commuters will be pleased for cleaner, smoother rides it is sad to see the old ones die.
Wednesday morning we headed to my parents house, which is undergoing serious renovation. It is a tiny place spread over four floors, with each floor barely over a room in size. I shall be keen to see it finished (As I’m sure they are too).
Birgu is one of the ‘three cities’ on the natural harbour. All three cities have retained much of their original walls, and have fascinating histories I’m sure. Birgu was the only piece of Malta not taken by the Turks in (Siege of Malta, 1565)
We ate lunch at a fully vegetarian restaurant, which served the best spring rolls I have ever eaten, and a delicious strawberry bliss smoothy. After a stroll around Fort St Angelo (Home to the last knight of St John) visited the Inquisitors Palace and Malta at war museum. I am sure if I understood more of the Catholic faith, the Inquisitors palace would have held more for me, but it was still fascinating to wander through.
The War museum is worth a visit. After being shown a quick propaganda film made by the British, we were led to the bomb shelters by a young Maltese man, who was enthusiastic to share his knowledge. With safety helmets, we then explored the corridors which contained 600 people for several years during the air assault of Malta (Siege of Malta, 1940-1942).
Thursday, my final day saw us catch the bus into Valletta- the capital. The nights hired an architect and planned out Valletta, which Mum jokingly compared to Canberra in Australia. From Valletta, I could better see the layout of the natural harbour and three cities. After a delicious Apple crumble and a few jewellery shops, we visited the Archeology museum (I won’t go into it, but the oldest man-made structure found is in Malta, read about it here) and whipped around the armoury. Unfortunately the State rooms were not open Thursdays, as the same ticket will get you into both, and I hear the tapestries are worth seeing. The armour surprised me in how ornate it was. Beautiful gilding and etching decorates the breastplates- and in some cases- the whole suit. Modern Australian men would consider it a bit Pansy, but perhaps that is why there are no Australian knights.
Our final tour was a family home. This was the most charming experience I had on Malta. Mum and I joined the tour with three Japanese girls, who were excited to point out the Master and Mrs of the house in their tour guide. The house had been passed from generation to the next, and accumulated so much history. Knick-knacks, lace, antique silver, furniture and more art then you can possibly imagine. It was a piece of living history, and the head of the house was more than happy to share many family stories. The stories don’t stop either, there are many pictures and sculptures of his daughters, or Lace pieces on loan from the winner of the Lace competition. I could surely go through 6 more times and find new items to ask about, and hear stories of.