- Lat:* 35 deg. 53.4 min. N *Longitude:* 14 deg. 30.6 min. W
- Weather: * Sunny all day with a few white clouds 19 c
For anyone who sails into Valletta you can see immediately why it was so important to the defence of the island of Malta. With a fort on one side of its narrow entrance and the high walled ramparts either side makes it ideal to defend. The whole place looks a sand or beige colour, as all of the walls and buildings are made of their local sandstone. The harbour is quite long and relatively narrow with a couple of side estuaries, one of which is the industrial docks, and the other quite a large marina. There is a good mixture of usage with pleasure and commercial craft, I have seen as many as 5 cruise ships in at one time. Our berth is the Valletta side of the harbour, and you are faced with a steep climb to get up to the town. But luckily for us visitors there are many forms of transport to take you to the top (or beyond!), a bus service, horse and carriages and taxis. The cruise terminal area has recently been developed with apartments with marina facilities, also pavement cafés and bars making a very pleasant environment. Another recent addition to aid the tourist is a lift which is 58 meters high which takes you from the water front level to the upper Barranca Gardens, which is at the main Valletta town level. (Incidentally the view from Barranca Gardens is terrific one, you get excellent panoramic view of the whole harbour).
We`ve have been to Malta several times but never really explored Valletta, so that was our main object for this trip. We decided to walk the route into town which was all up hill, and quite steep, but with a pleasant temperature and the sun shining we took our time. During the walk up the hill you get some fantastic views. As you near the “City Gate” and “Freedom Square” end of the town there are a lot of major restoration and refurbishment going on, and this is where some of their Roman ruins are. (The island has a 4,000 year history with many different cultures and societies). The whole town is laid out on a grid system, and the central main street is Republic street, it runs from the top to the bottom of the whole town. As you look down its length it had a dip in the middle so on our day visit being a Saturday when you looked down the street it seemed very busy with people, but with a good atmosphere!
Malta has long been connected to the Knights which were involved the crusades and as you walk down Republic street you will see many buildings connected to this time, St John`s Cathedral, Auberge de Castile, (former palaces of the Knights) and the Grand Master`s Palace, so there are a lot of fine buildings with history attached to them to be seen.
As you pass the many side streets to the northern side you catch a sight of the sea which is part of the harbour at Sliema another of Maltas towns, a place where most of the islands ferries work from. A sign outside one of the many cafes was a local delicacy of “Rabbit Stew” something you don`t see a lot of these days!! We did not stop for a drink at the many cafes but we did stop at an Italian ice-cream parlour and we were not disappointed,
for this particular parlour makes your ice-cream look like a flower with the petals of the flower being of the different flavour ice-creams ( very artistic but also Delicious!!)
After seeing what we wanted to see we made our way back to the ship at a slow pace. We took a late lunch on-board and retired to the promenade deck for a quite sit down but we were still able to take in some of islands views. At 6 o`clock we went out onto the ships handrail to see ourselves leave the harbour, this was well worth while as it`s a great harbour to enter of leave.