We flew to Malta with its national airline. I had fortunately pre-booked an exit row for me and Leanne. It cost a little extra, but it was worth it. There was a man on the plane who was well over 2-meters tall and he couldn’t sit down in the regular seats. In fact even those who are vertically challenged didn’t have any leg-space in the other rows. The admirably-tall Dutch man was required to pay to have the privilege of sitting in an exit row.
We picked up our rental car at the airport. It was a perfect size for us fitting the four of us and all our luggage comfortably. The GPS I had brought over sadly didn’t have maps for Malta, but it is a small group of islands and we thought we’d be ok with the paper map. I quickly adapted to the manual transmission and driving on the left side of the road. The traffic was hectic however and we struggled with directions taking an hour to get to the hotel and driving through the heart of old Valletta and its narrow streets in the process. We were a bit unlucky with the weather that day, but wandered down to Spinola Bay and had dinner Pepinos restaurant. The place had decent food and the walls were covered with awkward paparazzi taken photos of some of the numerous celebrities who had eaten there including, Brad Pitt, Madonna, and Leonardo DiCapro.
The following morning we left early to navigate our way across the island of Malta to the ferry across the Comino channel to Gozo. There we ventured out to the Azure Window, a natural rock bridge. After wandering through there we got somewhat lost going through tiny towns and country side before coming upon the Ta’ Pinu church. We carried on to the Citadel in Victoria where we twice found the best parking spots available. One was just at the entrance to the citadel and the other right beside the centre of town near to where we had lunch. We ate on an outdoor rooftop overlooking the city square.
Before leaving Gozo we visited the Ggantija Temples which predate the pyramids of Giza, but are not much of a sight to see. Back on Malta our driving adventure continued and we happened upon Popeye’s village, the actual set created for the movie and still remaining as a tourist attraction. We then went to Golden Bay, considered the best beach in the country, to dip our toes in the sea. The highlight that day was going to the medieval walled city of Mdina. It was early evening the day before Good Friday and we were able to walk around in peace and quiet. That night we had Thai at the acclaimed Blue Elephant restaurant that was connected to our hotel. For those that know Carol, yes she ate Thai and has been adventurous in trying all sorts of food normally avoided at home.
On our last day we went to see the fourth largest free-standing dome in the world in the town of Mosta. We then went to the west coast and got in a small boat to explore the blue grotto and rocky coastline. The next stop was the fishing village of Marsaxlokk. Our challenges with navigating the unmarked roads were severe but we always managed to find our way. When we left the hotel that afternoon we managed to make it to the airport in just 15 minutes. Just when we had started to learn our way around it was time to go.