Domestic goddess and backyard explorer with a passion for freelance writing!
Published January 9th 2015
Explore ancient relics and human history
When we mentioned to our friends we were headed to Malta for a weekend, well three days actually, they were curious and perhaps a little bemused at our choice of holiday. I guess it's not the most popular destination in Europe, but from what I had read, there were a few fascinating things to be seen, not the least of which were the UNESCO world heritage sites.
We visited in December--it was off peak and therefore quite cheap. The weather is a bit cooler and not quite the endless days of sunshine that most Europeans hear of when they think of this island archipelago in the Mediterranean sea.
Through our hotel, the Topaz, we booked the hop on hop off tour of Valletta, the capital of Malta, and surrounds, covering all the key tourist sites. We purchased the tickets, which included three different routes, one of which covered the trip between Buggiba and Valletta for our convenience.
Local buses are also easily available and very cheap so do consider these.
Our second day began with the early hop on hop off city sightseeing bus pick up at our hotel, around 8.30 am as we wanted to make most of the day (and daylight). It was quite pretty to see the various coastal towns as we zigzagged our way toward the Maltese capital of Valletta, which took over an hour or so as we picked up other tourists from their hotels along the way.
As soon as we disembarked at the final destination by the water (well it was an island after all), we realised we had to catch 'the lift' up to the Valletta town centre and navigate our way from there, as per the bus driver's instructions. Either that or you could opt to walk up the 300 or so steps. No thank you; we needed some energy left for the rest of the day, not to mention time. The lift cost around 1 euro.
The town centre had some photographic opportunities with the splendid archways through which the sparkling blue of the Mediterranean could be seen, the fountain and the port itself with its many boats. At this point we decided to explore the city a little and walked around, to realise it was a lot more active than Buggiba.
Our next stop was the Archeology museum, which I had read about on the internet and was quite eager to check it out. We spent about 1-2 hours here, mostly because I chose to read most of the information in some detail, but you could definitely cover it in less time. It wasn't spectacular or very large for that matter, and my husband was a bit underwhelmed, but it was only about 5 euros each for the entry. I enjoyed it from the historical aspect, learning quite a bit along the way!
As we walked along the shops and main pedestrian walkways of Valletta curiously, we came across St. John's Co- cathedral, also something I had read about and on my to see list. We decided to skip the war museum and the museum of weapons etc. as we had to prioritise our time effectively. We also chose to skip the cruise you could take to admire Malta from the ocean and get a history lesson at the same time. Valletta itself has many old buildings, reflecting the many eras the island nation had seen over time.
St. John's Co-Cathedral was one of the cultural highlights of Malta for me anyway, not the least of why was the artwork of Caravaggio, including the 'Beheading of St. John the Baptist'. Fascinating indeed. It was a beautiful structure, with active restoration efforts which were noticeable, and we did an audio tour of the place, which is recommended particularly if you enjoy art and history, and exploring the finer details of the many artworks.
Just having seen St. John's Co-Cathedral and realising the daytime was rapidly deserting us, we made our way back to our original waterfront bus stop. Here, we took the lifts back down the way we had initially come from the town centre, and rushed towards the buses. Luckily, one of the hop-on hop-off buses was just about to depart and we made it there just in time.