Our European Trip - 2005 travel blog

Arriving at Velletta in the Morning

Republic Street in Valletta

Co-Cathedral of St. John, Valletta, Malta

Hallway in Palace of the Grand Master, Valletta, Malta

George Cross Monument, Valletta, Malta

Old Cannons used as Bollards at Dockside, Valletta, Malta

Pilot Boat leaving MS Rotterdam at Valletta Harbour, Malta

We first visited Malta with Christine's Parents in 1970 to celebrate her Dad's retirement, so it is somewhat fitting that this is one of our stops.

We woke to gray skies and they stayed that way till we were getting ready to leave when the sun tried to break through. This was in sharp contrast to our memories of 1970 when the sun blazed from a bright blue sky for the two weeks we were there. We woke as the ship entered the harbour and I got up to watch it dock. Christine followed as we got into the berth and breakfast was soon delivered which we ate on the balcony while watching people leave on the tours.

We got ready and left the ship on foot for the climb up through the city wall of Valletta where we crossed the main city gate and descended into the city and back up to the main street, now called Republic Street. If memory serves me correctly, it had a royal name in 1970. We will need to see if we still have old maps from that holiday. We walked along the main street and went into the Co-Cathedral of St. John which is more a celebration and burial palace of the Knights of St. John than it is a place of worship. It was still interesting to see it and browse some of the artifacts in the museum.

We then went along the road and went through the State Apartments of the Palace of the Grand Masters. This, too, was interesting. It was somewhat topical as the Knights were organized, first to treat the wounded Crusaders, then to provide protection, then finally to defend the faith against the Islamic invaders, culminating in their victory of the Great Siege of Malta in the 1530s. Their victory was credited with helping to save Europe for Christianity at the same time as the pincer attack overland was stalled by Austria and Vienna. One could not help but make comparisons with our day and its problems.

We walked the length of Republic Street to Fort St. Elmo, but discovered it was closed, so we were unable to go through it as we had hoped. We went round the corner and had a snack at a cafe attached to the "Malta Experience", a video presentation on the history of Malta which we went to after eating. It proved very interesting and filled in some of the gaps in our knowledge of the island.

We descended to sea level and walked along the harbour side back to the dock and the ship where we indulged in some more snacks and drinks. We watched the last of the passengers embark and the ship sail away. Christine read and I updated the web site before we rested and got ready for dinner.

Well, how did Malta stack up from 35 years ago? Hard to say. As we have noted before, a lightning blitz visit like this does no justice to a place. We spent two weeks here in 1970 and spent very little of it in Valletta. We enjoyed our day there today and found the people to be friendly. It is certainly much busier and more "touristy" than we remember it, and the contrast in the weather was quite marked. It still seems a nice place and everyone speaks English, which helps, though that has not been an obstacle elsewhere.

We had dinner and then went to listen to the string trio till they went on a break when we went to get seats at the show where the crew cast was putting on their last performance - a mixture of Broadway hits. Again they were very good and must be absolutely exhausted after each show.

Tomorrow we spend at sea - the last full day on board the Rotterdam.

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