A former teacher and charity worker from the North East of England, I love people and places and like to try out new experiences wherever possible. Capturing that 'perfect pic' is all part of the pleasure. Access issues are a particular interest.
Published January 16th 2015
Tigne Point 'zings' with imagination
The Shopping Centre at Tigne Point
With more than 10,000 people flying south from my local airport of Newcastle in the North East of England looking for sunshine and warmer weather over the festive season this year, the blue skies of the year-round holiday destination of Malta sprang to mind. My husband, Colin, and I were there just over a year ago and one of our favourite walks was around 'The Point' in the resort town of Sliema, which has stunning views across to Valletta.
Margaret on the viewing platform at 'The Point' with Dome of Our Lady of Mount Camel in the background
Tigne Point lies at the mouth of Sliema Creek, which is part of the Grand Harbour surrounding Malta's capital city, Valletta. In times gone by mariners needed all their skill to navigate the cross-currents from the sometimes turbulent Mediterranean Sea as they entered into the calmer waters of Sliema Creek when visiting the island.
At the mouth of the Creek, which is a deep water channel about a mile wide that runs between the walled city of Valletta and the Maltese town of Sliema, the remains of medieval fortresses that once guarded the entrance to the harbour can still be seen on the Sliema side of the Creek, however, today that area is the brand spanking new home of 'The Point' - the largest shopping outlet on the island, which has been very tastefully designed to provide a superb facility, complete with 10,000 parking spaces, for both locals and holidaymakers alike.
Outside, 'The Point' overlooks the historic city of Valletta, with its grand forts and beautiful domed Basilica church of 'Our Lady of Mount Carmel' hugging the skyline and drawing your eye , whichever way you look at it across the harbour. The beautiful little city is a UNESCO World Heritage Site in its entirety.
Meanwhile the sparkling new building on the Sliema side of the Creek reaches out and almost kisses the the resplendent old Fort St. Elmo as its sheer and towering walls rise up straight from the sea on the opposite bank.
A modern boardwalk style promenade joins the main Sliema one to take you 'round the Point' by foot, where tastefully designed rock gardens provide homes for the myriad of colourful lizards basking in the sunshine of their protected habitat.
A Chance to Meet the Local Wildlife at 'The Point'
If you're anything like my hubby Colin, wildlife spotting (particularly lizards) is a mini obsession of his wherever we go. I think the very fact that they are present signals our arrival in warmer climes - the next stage is giving them names.
I think it stems from his seafaring lifestyle or perhaps when our children were younger, it was a way of helping them appreciate local wildlife, especially if you don't see these things at home and not to be too scared of the unfamiliar. It works for me.
Continue walking around the boardwalk and you'll see swanky restaurants overlooking the harbour at a lower level and steps leading down to the water's edge. My husband took a wander down there so he could see the tempestuous geographical feature of the old Tigne Point (which I understand rhymes with 'zingy')so revered and feared by seafarers past and present. I'm not good with steps so remained at the top to watch him as he explored the oldest parts of the harbour (some of which had no fencing), which offered stunning views out to the Mediterranean Sea and Valletta itself.
On his arrival back at the top we continued around the boardwalk, which skirted the modern building, walking past some very swanky apartments – the sort where 'if you have to ask the price – you can't afford them' – so the saying goes. But who could blame them in such a superb location?
Not far from there is one of the main entrances to the shopping mall, which is spread over several floors and houses high fashion stores such as Armani and other designer shops - and with visitors from all over Europe and beyond, there are beautiful French and Italian outlets as well as many that are recognisable to the British shopper, such as Debenhams department store.
If you fancy a coffee or a bite to eat, there are a wide array of cafes and restaurants on every level but as it was a beautiful sunny day we completed our shopping expedition and carried on to an exit that brought us out to another promenade overlooking the Med and had a light bite al fresco as we enjoyed the sea view.
Tigne Point, Malta - Margaret enjoys the fresh air
From this promanade, which is still in Sliema, you can walk (or take a bus ride) to the neighbouring resort of St. Julian, about 3km away – but, with so many things to do in Malta, that was for another day, so we finished our walkabout around 'The Point' and looped back towards the shaded fountains of St. Anne's Square on Sliema's harbourside promenade and headed back to our hotel on 'The Strand'.