Valletta is the capital of Malta, and today we planned to visit for the morning and then try one of the shore dives there. It was another beautiful sunny day. We set off at about 945, first calling at Maltaqua to pick up cylinders.
It takes about 30 minutes to reach Valletta from our hotel. We parked in the usual MCP car park which is next to the main bus station and right outside the old city walls. The walls are mighty, stone, very high and thick. They’ve withstood many an army. The city itself is perched on a hilltop, and down its slopes all around the natural harbours that made Malta such a prize in historic times. As we walked towards the city walls we could see the tops of several cruise ships down in the Grand Harbour. It was going to be busy.
First impressions are of a beautiful, stone built city, golden stone, lots of upper balconies, some colourfully shuttered. Narrow main thoroughfares, with tiny side streets. Lots of shops, coffee bars, restaurants. Valletta is old. It is ridiculously historical. Lots to see.
We stopped for a coffee at our favourite coffee restaurant, Charles Grech website a really stylish place we discovered a few years ago. The coffee is great, they do really sophisticated small plates of food and the spirits selection is outstanding. No extra charge for an outside table to watch the world go by either.
Then we wandered down the main street, admiring the old mansions, the little shops, the Cathedral, the Palace. Their was quite a crowd outside the Palace, with a motorcade lining up. The President was about to come out. We waited a while, but then moved on. There are lots of plaques relating to the relationship with Britain dotted about the place. The post boxes are still red, and the policemen are walking around in uniforms that we havent seen in Britain in decades i.e. not a flak jacket in sight, but a uniform jacket and a peaked cap!! A nod to a more peaceful time…..
We wandered around enjoying the atmosphere and then it was time for lunch which we took in a small pub called The Ordnance, just inside the great walls. Oh, no! I forget! Before that we went into the little park at the top of the town that overlooks the Grand Harbour. We were just in time for the noon ordnance – the firing of the cannon. It went off with a heck of a bang, flames and big puff of smoke. Some people screamed!!!!! They just fire a dummy cannon ball these days which I believe is bio-degradable! My video of the midday gun blast There were about 5 cruise ships in port today. Sooooo many people. My panoramic view over the Grand Harbour (use your mouse to rotate the view around) link
Anyway, back to lunch! Nice to sit down. I had calves liver, Bob had a steak and kidney pie, Stuart had a chicken Caesar salad and Fi had a chicken and bacon burger with chips. All the food was lovely.
After lunch we set off in the car for our dive. We were going to dive the Lighter shipwreck, the X127. This involved wending our way onto a small island, Manuelo Island, in the harbour which is largely now a massive marina. Unfortunately when we got there our way was barred by development and we could not access the site. So… back to the drawing board and around the bays again to try the shipwreck of the Maori, which is more within Valletta Harbour. We got parked up and had a look, but to be honest, the water didn’t look very inviting. It was clear enough, but there was a lot of thick oil floating on top and debris, and to reach the wreck we would have to swim through it. Offputting. In the end, it was about 3pm and we decided it didn’t look inviting enough to get wet for…. so we headed back to Maltaqua to pick up more cylinders for tomorrow. Tomorrow will be a two dive day and we are leaving the choice to Stuart as it his last diving day this time. A bit disappointing not to get a dive in today but I really enjoyed Valletta. It is always a great pleasure to visit and I could easily spend a long weekend there exploring and enjoying the sights and restaurants.
Tonight we are meeting Jack Ingle for dinner at a restaurant near Maltaqua. I will post about it tomorrow.