Mrs Sciencebase and I took a short trip to Malta recently, visited a few of the places on the north side of the island, Pembroke, Sliema, Valletta, Mdina and also took a boat alongside Gozo and to the Blue Lagoon at Comino. Here’s a small selection of snaps from the trip. You can find all my public photos from the trip on the sciencebase Flickr page. There’s also a video slideshow with a selection of the snaps and an instrumental version of my song “Latin Class” to back it available on Youtube now.
We had a lovely hotel up on the north coast (Pembroke) with a balcony overlooking the sea and got beautiful sunsets and could watch frigates and fisherman and tourist vessels coming and going. The nearest bit of resort was a bit crummy with stripjoints and casinos and half built hotel blocks and lots of filthy traffic. All the resorts along this coast seem to be heavily developed with nasty brutal architecture shoehorned in between old walls and churches and the like.
Having said that, we had a lovely time, despite the coast not being particularly picturesque up close in terms of most of the architecture. The Portomaso Business Tower can be seen from almost everywhere and while it is an interesting building it is perhaps but more befitting a US skyscraper city than a Mediterranean island.
There are churches and some interesting buildings here and there along the coast and lots of interesting statuary and public art (sculptures). That said, capital city Valletta is beautiful, very relaxed, lots of fascinating streets and bars, restaurants and architecture old and new (Renzo Piano of Shard fame, for instance, designed the new city gate). Across the Grand Harbour is the Three Cities area, and that’s fascinating too, one of the three, Vittoriosa, was in the middle of a saint festival (San Dominico) when we visited so was a delight with all its banners and saintly statues aloft. Mdina, the old capital, is inland and again fascinating.
The boat trips are nice, but at the height of the tourist season the seas are busy as are the destination beaches and rocky lagoons, so not particularly romantic or photogenic at the time of our visit unfortunately.
The weather is great if you like hot and sunny with the occasional nocturnal blast of wind and rain that lasts no more than 20 minutes and scudding clouds as a little shady respite while you’re sunning yourself with a good book. I wouldn’t want to drive here and the buses are the easiest way around and cheap for hops that get you most places. I’d recommend taking a long weekend in Valletta rather than spending two weeks in a resort like St Julian’s and perhaps keep your resort holiday for elsewhere.
That said, we don’t regret going at all…and didn’t want to come home, but there are more picturesque places than Malta’s north coastal resorts. The people all speak excellent English, although I detected something of a slightly stiff upperlip throwback to British times that seems as incongruous on the Med as the island’s very British red pillar boxes and phone boxes. It was nice to see France on a very clear night from 38000 feet on the journey home with a very obvious but tiny illuminated Eiffel Tower in evidence.