THE TERN BLOG

SO MANY MILES TO WANDER

The tiny Maltese Archipelago

My last trip in 2018, was a 10 day trip to Malta; people that visited Malta or at least have an idea of Malta, asked me why I would go there for so long. After I came back, I thought that I could have stayed more time; probably those people don’t enjoy so much walking and discover hidden gems.

I had an idea of the places I wanted to see, the cities and beaches; but my idea was catch the bus to the place, pay a visit and come back. Well, I didn’t do that every single day! I would go to a place I wanted to visit and then walk to the next one, most of these walkings where close to the coast.

Since I arrived quite late on a Thursday, I decided not to take a bus the day after, so I just wandered around Valletta and then walked to Sliema (It is a stretch, especially after maybe a 5 hour sleep). Honestly it is only worth to enjoy the view over Valletta because Sliema isn’t very nice regarding architecture. Still, I walked along the riverside while enjoying the view over Valletta.

Day after, I took the bus (good idea is to buy the 7 day card, and also to take screenshots of the timetable of buses you might catch that day), I went to visit Hagar Qim and Mnajdra. It was a lovely day, already getting a bit warm, but I walked down to Blue Grotto, and stopped at some viewpoints. When I got there I saw already a lot of buses full with tourists, I head to the boats that take us to the caverns, and it is a very quick visit. Back to land again, I went opposite the tourists to a quiet place where it would be possible to swim. Bus again, now to Ghar Lapsi; but it is October so the other bus doesn’t go down to Lapsi, it is about 20/25 minutes going down and looking at the Mediterrean, so what’s the fuss? I would have to wait for a table at Carmen’s, so they told me to come back in about an hour, so I just went for a swim. After lunch and more swims, I tried to find a ride to go up the road till the bus stop, it was too hot to walk.

Sunday, it is the day to go to Marsaxlokk to see the fish market. It seems it was a bit hidden in the middle of clothes stalls and other non-interesting things, so I just went behind the stalls, close to the water where it was quieter and I found some fishermen fixing their nets and cleaning the boats.

Next 3 days I went to Gozo, there were a lot of tourists heading to the ferry, but just a few with luggage, so I guess most of the tourists will stay only for the day, that is why they were in a hurry, pushing to enter the ferry (bought the return ticket on my way back to Malta island). Gozo is really small, if you stay in Victoria, you will probably be 15/20 mins away from any point close to the sea. There is plenty to see and do in Gozo and as the tourists come in a hurry, you will only come across them in major touristic spots.

I decided to go to Comino for a swim and what an awful surprise when I got there, I even considered not exiting the taxi boat. As you approach the tiny island, you see big boats, sun beds, beach umbrellas, a lot of noise and people and more people. I wasn’t going to stay there, so I walked far away from there and I found a spot with maybe 20 people, much quieter and it was where I stayed to enjoy my afternoon swim.

I walked a lot the day after, I took a bus to Marsalforn, it wasn’t a place that I enjoyed, however a good spot to start a walk that would take me through the salt pans. It took me more time that I thought it would take; it is what you get when you stop to enjoy the views and go for a few swims. I visited the fortified tower in Qbajjar and follow to Xwejni Bay where I took a swim before walking the road next to the salt pans, where the locals still collect the salt. Took the bus back to Victoria and in the afternoon took another bus to Ramla, to lie down on the reddish sand. At night I wandered around the quiet streets of Victoria, the silence would only be broken with the TV sound inside a house.

I would stay another full day in Gozo, to visit Dwejra Bay. I went by bus to San Lawrenz and went down the road. I went early in the morning; so I had time to ramble around with zero tourists. Someone was hoisting the flag in the tower, which meant, the tower was opened for visits; the views are quite amazing and I was able to find out that at the bay there were some stairs that would take me close to the water, where there was a ramp to help pull the boats out of the water. There was no one there, so I went for the first swim of the day. Went back to the inland sea where I took a small boat trip through the tunnel and visited some caves and the Azure Window, which unfortunately is now under water. I knew the Azure Window wasn’t there anymore, I heard it on the news in 2017; however many people weren’t aware of that. I stayed a bit more in the Inland Sea swimming and when I went to visit the Blue Hole, there were many big buses, like the Hop On Hop Off ones and so many people; it was time for me to leave.

Before I went to the ferry, I still went to Xlendi. It seems this bay is growing and I could see many new constructions. I decided to go towards Sanap Cliffs, walking in salt pans and agricultural lands.

Now back to Malta Island, I visit Mdina e Rabat. It’s better to arrive early to Mdina to beat the crowds, also ramble along other streets besides the main one; from the walls I could see the sea and Valletta. Rabat is just around the corner, so I paid a visit to St Paul’s Catacombs.

In the afternoon, I went for a walk along the Dingli Cliffs, but I think the view over the cliffs will be better if we see them from the sea. After passing by a small church, I waited for a bus closed to an intersection, there was a young couple that passed by car and offered me a ride.

A new day, I decided to start in Valletta in order to visit the St John’s Co-Cathedral and the famous painting from Caravaggio. In the afternoon, I took a bus to Mgarr and then follow the road towards the sea, until I reached Gnejna; of course some locals offered me a ride. After relaxing a bit at the beach, I started to walk along the sea, the idea was to reach Golden Bay and catch a bus there to go back to Valleta.

The path starts with a climb up to a tower where you can enjoy some amazing views over Gnejna bay and furthermore, over Riviera and Golden Bay. Before arriving to Riviera, there is a promontory, which is reachable through a path that looks like clay slipping down; it is a unique landscape. It is possible to go down the slopes and reach a small beach with reddish sand. It is time to reach Riviera, another reddish sand beach and go for a swim. After a bit of rest, I went to Golden Bay; which is usually quite busy during Summer, but fortunately is not peak season and it was real nice to be there: another swim and seeing the sunset in this white sand beach.

For the last day, I took another stroll in the streets of Valletta and a visit to the Lascaris War Rooms, an underground complex that housed the War Headquarters during the Second World War. In the afternoon I took the boat to Birgu and Senglea. After I got there, I crossed a bridge that connects both cities and stayed there for a bit, enjoying a canoe polo game. Wandered around Senglea, it is not as touristic as Birgu, but it is worth to do a short visit. In Birgu, I suggest a visit to the Fort St. Angelo and of course walking around Birgu’s old streets full with typical Maltese balconies.

It was quite awesome to fly from Malta, I was able to see the three islands: Malta, Comino e Gozo; and even recognize Blue Grotto and Ghar Lapsi.

Don’t expect to see Malta in just few days, take more time and also enjoy Gozo, do some trails and if you are into diving, there are many spots where you can dive. Spend time discovering this beautiful archipelago.

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This entry was posted on February 17, 2019 by and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , .

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