First Days

First Days
Malta, Malta

Malta, Malta

We actually left home on Monday afternoon because our flight to Malta was at 0720 on Tuesday 7th. We booked a night at the Premier Inn at Gatwick North. It worked out very well. We dropped the car with the Meet and Greet service at Gatwick and went up to the BA area of Departures and dropped our bags. We only realised recently that at Gatwick you have the option to check bags in the night before. Most useful. We like the Premier Inn. Very convenient about 2 minutes walk from the terminal and the beds are really comfortable. We had an early dinner at one of the outlets in the terminal which was ok but nothing special. Thomas Culpepper’s Pub. It was about what you’d expect given the location. Up at 6 and into the terminal for 630. Straight through security and by a miracle our gate was actually the first one on the “arm” and not the last. The flight with BA was really smooth and just a bit over 3 hours. A cold breakfast which wasn’t particularly nice but I was starving so I ate it!We arrived in Malta to bright hot sunshine at about 1130. Picked up the luggage and the car and we were on our way by 1pm. The hotel is about 35 minutes drive from the airport and we immediately noticed that the roads were busy and the beach was swamped when we got to the hotel. Had never seen it like that before. It turned out that it was a public holiday!!! Everyone was out. We checked in but our room wasn’t ready so we went off to LIDL and stocked up. Most shops were closed but not good old LIDL!!! Got a massive shop for 160 euros. Things are much cheaper here which is odd considering it all has to be imported. Had a quiet dinner and an early night Our apartment is really nice. A large bedroom, lounge/diner with a sofa bed, massive bathroom and a well equipped kitchen. The balcony is huge. Not sea view but very nice hills and old stone buildings. We’re on the 8th floor which is super quiet. Wednesday we spent by the pool. There are two actually plus a children’s pool. It was busy but quiet. Not really any children as it is not the school holidays yet. The sea is so blue – an amazing colour against the rather bare honey coloured rock and cliffs of the island. It is exactly like a big block of cinder toffee or honeycomb. Not green like Cyprus but beautiful in its own way. A very ancient landscape. You see buildings and walls all over the island that are clearly built from very very old stones used and re-used for millennia. The weather is pretty warm. About 30C today and the sun is strong. Despite our tans (fading!) we needed the umbrellas.
Today we had our first dive so we called first at Maltaqua in St Pauls Bay to pick up cylinders and weights and to say hello to Agnes, the owner. Lovely to see her again. Then, off to our chosen site which was at a place called Ghar Lapsi.Ghar Lapsi is an absolutely lovely little cove with crystal clear water and a number of caves and reefs around it. We kitted up in the carpark at the top of the steep lane leading down to the water. It was sloped for boats and with many shallow steps for pedestrians. It was easy going down and once down, entry to the water was even easier using some steps. I was glad I’d put a wetsuit on because the water felt quite cold. 20C. I must be getting soft!!!! We swam out of the cove on a bearing to find an overhanging cave on the reef dropoff named The Crib. The overhang of the cave resembles a nativity stable and at some time someone has erected a nativity scene in there!! It was a fair swim mostly over eel grass and we were quite pleased we found it right away just using our compass bearing. We then turned along the reef and explored eventually circling back to the shallow reef wall where we swam into a cave which has a hole in the roof. When you come up through the hole you are in a small pool in the side of the main cove. The water felt like a bath! A lady was sunbathing on the rocks there and I think we gave her a heck of a shock when we popped up!!!!Had a picnic lunch back at the car (the climb up the steps in our gear was puffing ) and then we decided to go and have a second dive at Anchor Bay. This had nothing to do with the thought of having to climb the steps again at the end of a second dive. How could you even think that! LOL This is another narrow cove more famous as the site of the Popeye Village, the movie set built for the Robin Williams film some years ago. They have really done it up and made it a sort of beach club/attraction. Looked quite popularThe dive site is just beyond the village and consists of reef, huge anchor and more caves. Would have been a great second dive but we got caught in a massive traffic jam on the way there and by the time we were there, it was getting a bit late. So, we decided to can it for today but come back with Daisy as I think she would like it. Headed back to Maltaqua and dropped the tanks off. They don’t allow you to keep them in the car overnight anymore (and strongly advise against having valuables in the car at all) because crime is now a problem on the island. It has always been so safe but the past few years have seen a spate of car breakins and burglaries. What a shame.
As I write this, Daisy is in the air and on her way out having worked this morning. We pick her up at about 820 tonight. Not sure what she’ll want to do tomorrow – have a pool day to acclimatise or dive right in, so to speak….. Let’s see….

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