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Andy & Anita's adventures

Malta

MALTA | Saturday, 13 June 2009 | Views [903]

Mdina – the silent city

Mdina is the old capital of Malta and is essentially a high-walled fortress in the centre of the island, perched high on the plateau. I cannot remember the full history of the city despite enjoying the audio-tour and movie, so I suggest Googling it if you want to know specifics.

The guards at the gates to Mdina


We spent a morning in Mdina and were captivated by its narrow streets and ancient facades. Malta is just coming into a hot summer and finding relief from the 30+degree days is welcome, something the high walls of the city provided.

In Mdina, looking over to our home of Bugibba

Next to Mdina, outside the fortress walls, is Rabat; the place where St Paul lived for 3 months after being shipwrecked on Malta. Underneath Rabat is where you can find St Paul’s catacombs; a dizzying network of tombs spanning several hundred meters. The graves have been cleaned out and it is now a somewhat eerie tourist attraction. Above the catacombs is St Paul’s Grotto and church, also interesting sights to see.

The creepy catacombs

St Paul's Grotto

Mosta

I don’t know if Mosta can be considered a ‘tourist attraction’ but it is a great town and has a Monday market that we are yet to visit; although is has been recommended. What I particularly like about Mosta is the Mosta Dome, a mammoth church in the centre of the city that is intricately decorated with gold and sky-blue motifs. The artwork inside is amazing and looking high into the dome roof is breathtaking. The façade on the front of the church is dotted with statues of saints and intricate carvings – it was beautiful.

The Mosta dome

Inside the Mosta Dome

Another reason I liked Mosta so much was because of pastizzi. Yep, it is where the wonder of pastizzi began for us. Pastizzi is a small pastry containing cheese or a pea mixture and they are AMAZING. Most Maltese have a bit of a pastizzi belly due to the 1500-odd kilojoules packed into each one of these tasty little morsels – I can imagine this is how it feels to be addicted to cocaine! Haha – they are so good!

Dingli cliffs

We haven’t been for the boat ride around the country yet but apparently the Dingli cliffs are an imposing sight from the water. We have only seen the view from the top but it was pretty nice! The south side of the island (the bit facing North Africa) is very sheltered and as such the sea is very calm. They say that on a clear day you can see Africa…. 290km away – I don’t think so! It was, however, almost impossible to see where the sea ends and sky begins – beautiful. I cannot wait to see it from the water.

Dingli Cliffs

Golden Bay

Our flatmates are here in Malta on a working holiday and have secured jobs at the beach-front café at the very popular Golden Bay. Feeling slightly guilty with our ‘unemployed’ status we lie on the boiling hot sands and develop our tan whilst they work. There is a small watchtower on the cliff overlooking the bay that we got some great views from, but the purpose of Golden Bay is to relax so we have not done any strenuous sightseeing in the area! There is a large plateau high above the Bay that looks out to sea that Andrew is keen to walk to though – we will see!

St Pauls Bay and Island, Bugibba and Qawra

It would be wrong not to talk about the sights right on our doorstep. Bugibba is a tourist hub, complete with Gelato stands, ‘I love Malta’ T-shirts and your PizzaHut/McDonalds chains scattered among the many sea-front restaurants. Bugibba, and neighboring Qawra, however are also located on the very beautiful St Paul’s Bay. We walk or jog the long stretch of coastline frequently and it is perfect.

St Paul's Bay

Just last night we walked about 20km in a big circuit to St Paul’s Island, on the opposite side of the Bay. It was lots of fun, we found a disused army barracks from the 2nd world war, complete with underground bunkers. We also found a heap of native Australian eucalyptus trees – the returning Maltese must have been hiding seed in their pockets! The best part of the walk was getting lost in the terraced fields and having to carve our way through the brambles in a very steep decent – I was not dressed for climbing through prickle-bushes! Haha

The fortification guarding us from imminent attack!! Bugibba

The best part about exploring past the tourist-borders is discovering where the locals go for their BBQ’s and picnics, where they go shopping, which bars they frequent, etc. I really feel at home here and the locals are so friendly. There are no Coles or Woolworths, just small family-run stores with limited product offerings. We buy our fresh fruit and veg from street-side vendors and our bread (Andrew has fallen in love with the traditional Maltese bread which looks like damper but with a thick crust and different taste) is cooked fresh at the bakery each day. Love it, love it, love it!!

The view from the roof of our apartment

Masaskala

I have had a cold (in Malta we call it a ‘warm’ because it is impossible to be cold in any sense of the word!) and didn’t want to do anything too strenuous so we took a day trip to Masaskala, on the east coast. We walked along the waterfront to St Thomas Bay and went swimming in the crystal blue waters of the largely deserted inlet. The fish came up to us as we swam and the sun beat down on us as we reclined against the cliffs; I felt instantly more healthy – what a way to get over a cold!

Swimming in the grand harbour, opposite Valletta

Splash and Fun Waterpark

I am such a big kid at heart. We got the opportunity to go with our flatmate and some of her friends to the waterpark, which is situated right on the coast between Valetta and Bugibba. It is essentially a wave pool, a dolphin enclosure and some waterslides but we had a brilliant time and that was the day that I really cemented my tan – I don’t think I have ever been so brown! There was one particular slide that Andrew and I both nearly turned away from (a stomach-churning freefall) but in the end we went on everything (My favourite slide being one that spits you out into a circular bowl where you spin around the edges before falling out through a hole in the bottom). The park’s location next to the coast means that whilst you slide you get views of the Mediterranean, ancient forts, expansive coastline and dolphins in the adjacent pools - it cannot be beaten.

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