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    • Day 1

      Day 1 • A new adventure begins

      March 22 in Malta ⋅ ⛅ 15 °C

      The French and I are in Malta! We arrived at Valletta Airport, earlier this afternoon, after a two hour flight from Marseille. It's the first time here for both of us. We’re excited.

      Over the next two weeks we are looking forward to exploring the rich history, vibrant culture and natural beauty of the islands of Malta and Gozo - and a day trip to Comino as well.

      Although Valletta is the capital of Malta, for our first five nights we have chosen to stay in The Three Cities. It was really a toss up of whether to base ourselves in Valletta or The Three Cities for the first part of our adventure. Both provide an excellent base and are separated by just a short ferry ride. But, after a little reading, we opted for The Three Cities. Here are some of the descriptions that captured my attention.

      'The Three Cities can rightly claim to be the cradle of Maltese history, as Vittoriosa, Senglea and Cospicua have provided a home and fortress to almost every people who settled on the Islands …

      The Three Cities are pieces of living history kept alive by hundreds of years of preservation, and the occasional miracle. The fortified cities sit like a trio of villages in the heart of Malta’s historic centre, directly across the Grand Harbour from Valletta …

      Offering an intriguing insight into Malta and its history, these cities are a slice of authentic life as well as a glimpse into Malta’s maritime fortunes ... You can get lost in the narrow streets, take a ferry across the Grand Harbour, tour the fortifications, and visit museums and galleries. And, of course, try the local food and wine.'

      After quickly settling in to our apartment, we set out to explore ‘the neighbourhood’. We deliberately didn’t concern ourselves with a plan - we just wandered. Here’s some of what we saw. Wow!

      We can't wait to see what tomorrow brings. ❤️
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    • Day 2

      Day 2 • Marsaxlokk and St Peter’s Pool

      March 23 in Malta ⋅ ☀️ 17 °C

      Today we took the bus, actually two buses, to Marsaxlokk (pron. I’m still not sure?), described as a small traditional fishing village in the south east of the island. It’s only about 7 kms from where we are staying, as the crow flies, but it took much longer than expected due to busy Saturday traffic and a missed bus connection.

      Marsaxlokk seemed a bit larger than a village to me, and there were plenty of tourists (like us) and harbourside stalls with tacky souvenirs (which we resisted) - so not so traditional in that sense. But fishing is definitely still the main game in town. The traditional brightly coloured fishing boats are charming and the larger fishing trawlers impressive.

      We enjoyed a delicious seafood lunch at one of the many restaurants along the waterfront, watching the world go by and the hard working fishermen untangling and organising their nets ready for the next early morning start. As The French often says, ‘le spectacle est dans la rué - the show is in the street.

      But the highlight of the day came later. We walked away from ‘downtown Marsaxlokk’´ over a hill and around to another bay and another world. We saw only a handful of people walking the path to St Peter’s Pool and beyond - sparkling white cliffs and clear blue green turquoise water - what a treat. 😎

      Later, we walked back to Marsaxlokk - maybe a 5 km round trip - and caught the #81 bus followed by the #2, a much faster trip back. We arrived home happy and tired after another day of discovery in Malta.

      Not sure yet what we’ll do tomorrow but we are spoilt for choice. ❤️ 🇲🇹 ❤️
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    • Day 3

      Day 3 • Inquisitor’s Palace and Biennale

      March 24 in Malta ⋅ ☀️ 17 °C

      Day 3 of our adventure on the Maltese Archipelago and I had been at a loss as to which images to feature in this post. Another day of discovery, contrasts and way too many photos. I don’t know that I’ve ever visited another place that offers such rich and varied experiences around every corner, within such a small area. It’s extraordinary.

      We have close to two weeks on Malta and Gozo - yet we already feel we may only scratch the surface. That said, we are spending five days on Gozo which is probably many more days than most visitors do but we are hoping to do some short hikes on the coast, explore the natural beauty and soak up the laid back vibe.

      But back to Malta, today we strolled along the harbour, joined in the enthusiasm of a local marathon race, visited the Inquisitor’s Palace, explored another part of Three Cities and had a late lunch in a small out of the way Italian restaurant. It was a glorious sunny day so, with a few hours of daylight left, we wanted to stay outdoors and enjoy the harbour. We decided to make our first visit to Valletta, the capital of Malta and a 10 minute ferry ride away. The ferry ride is a real treat, providing another perspective looking back to The Three Cities and ahead to our destination. We had a few hours tootling around vibrant Valletta - a reconnaissance for a longer visit tomorrow or the next day - before taking the ferry back ‘home’.

      With all of that, which photos to include today? I’ve landed on some images of our visit to the Inquisitor’s Palace - a fascinating place in its own right but with some sorry tales to tell. The things we do to each other in the name of religion!

      At present, the Palace is also a venue for a number of exhibits from Malta Biennale 2024. I’ve only ever been to a few biennale events over the years, wasted on me - just a bit too weird. Usually the word biennale has me heading in the opposite direction. But when we came upon a small room with a very unusual ‘something’ hanging from the ceiling, The French and I were intrigued. Turned out to be an exhibit called Ingenuity by Italian artist Chico described in these (not very appealing) terms:

      ‘Ingenuity, 27 calf bladders, stabilized with alpine herbs of high antibacterial value, 18 vegetable raffia and pet raffia bindings. Accompanying photographic and pictorial overlays on recyclable acetate, site-specific, variable sizes, 2024.’

      I loved it - so that’s the feature for today’s post.
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    • Day 4

      Day 4 • Dingli Cliffs, Mdina and more

      March 25 in Malta ⋅ ☀️ 22 °C

      Today didn’t turn out quite as expected. But we didn’t mind at all. The French and I are nothing if not adaptable. That’s one of the advantages of independent travel - you can be agile and change course easily.

      Our plan today was to go to the Dingli cliffs on the south west coast of Malta. It’s less than 20 kms from The Three Cities and easily accessible by a local bus, a few steps from our boutique hotel, and changing at the Valletta bus interchange to another bus to to the town of Had-Dingli. From there, a short walk to the coast and along the cliffs. We would have a few hours there, maybe a late lunch and then make our way back.

      It was cloudy when we left The Three Cities but the forecast was otherwise fine with no wind. Maybe the cloud would lift. You have to take your chances. Unfortunately by the time we arrived at Dingli cliffs the clouds were not only in the sky but had descended to sea level. Not exactly the ‘belle vue’ we’d hoped for, but it was quite atmospheric, even though you could barely see the cliffs. The French and I reflected that, as fabulous as the Dingli cliffs may be on a fine day, we do have spectacular cliffs in our own backyard, back home on the Bouddi Peninsula, so we can’t be too disappointed. Our time at Dingli cut short, what to do next?

      The bus we’d taken from Valletta had stopped at Rabat / Mdina, where we will be staying for the final two nights of our holiday. But, we thought, why not stop there on the way back and have a short reconnaissance tour of the Mdina. So that’s what we did, and thoroughly enjoyed our stroll and a delicious late lunch as well. Our time there made us even more enthusiastic for our longer stay late next week.

      So, next, the bus back to Valletta. But instead of taking another bus at the Valletta interchange we crossed the town and made our way down to the ferry stop. While waiting for the ‘big ferry’ - the one with extra things like safe gangplanks and life jackets - we noticed a man spruiking a ride on a traditional boat. Why not? So, on we hopped and had a quick and fun ride back to The Three Cities. Careful not to drop my phone overboard, I managed to take a couple of videos that I’ve included.

      One final treat, a family of mother duck and gorgeous fuzzy ducklings we had seen yesterday among the outdoor tables of a Greek restaurant on the waterfront were there again this afternoon. All in all a great day.

      Tomorrow, our last full day on Malta for a while, we will spend in the big smoke, Valletta, just across the harbour by big or small boat. 😎
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    • Day 5

      Day 5 • Valletta

      March 26 in Malta ⋅ 🌬 21 °C

      A day late with this post, and all I have to offer is an odd collection of images from Valletta. It was blowing a gale there yesterday so we cut short our time. Ferries were cancelled so we took the bus back to The Three Cities. By early evening the wind had died down and we enjoyed a delicious dinner dockside at a Greek restaurant. 😎

      Might come back to this post later with more on Valletta.
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    • Day 7

      Day 7 • Marsalforn Bay and the Salt Pans

      March 28 in Malta ⋅ ☀️ 18 °C

      ‘Salt is born of the purest parents: the sun and the sea.’ - Pythagoras

      We saw this wonderful quote today as we arrived at the salt pans of Xwejni. After the weather of the last few days, we woke this morning to clear blue skies and barely a breath of wind, so we didn’t waste any time starting the day. First, an excellent breakfast provided by Giovanna, then we took a local bus from Victoria to Marsalforn and walked along the coast to the Salt Pans. What a magical place.

      At the small shop set in the cliff opposite the salt pans, we briefly met owners Manuel and Rosa, whose family is one of three salt farmers of Xwejni. They explained that they are in maintenance mode now until next month when harvesting will begin. From what we’ve read, salt farming is hard work but certainly a labour of love for Rosa and Manuel. How’s this for a story:

      ‘The Cini family’s ancestors have worked the Xwejni Salt Pans since the 1860s. Josephine Xuereb is a 5th generation salt-farmer continuing the family tradition of her mother Rosa’s family. Her family are synonymous with salt. In Gozo, the process of making artisan salt through evaporation goes back to Phoenician and Roman times. During the British occupation of Gozo salt-harvesting was revived when the Government offered concessions for local people to work them and share-own them.

      Josephine says: “My father Manuel is known all over the world as ‘Leli Tal-Melh’ which means Manuel The Salt Man. He’s been making salt since 1969, when he married my mother Rosa and they revived her family’s business. Salt harvesting then was dying out because it is physically very hard, back-breaking work. But after my mother met my father, she taught him the trade – they fell in love, they fell in love with the salt pans and the rest is history. Today, 50 years later they are both still harvesting salt. The salt preserved their love and preserved the local trade as well.”

      Xwejni’s Salt Pans chequerboard pattern and shimmering mirrored reflective pools are always a dynamic sight to behold. Spanning several kilometres across Gozo’s northern coast. Today they are divided between 3 salt farmers. The intricate formation of shallow square pools and larger feeder pools, which Josephine compares to delicate ‘lacework’ use 3 raw natural ingredients: the sun, sea and wind to create this essential mineral for life.’

      More here.…

      What a treat. 😍

      PS. We visited some other cool places today but the Salt Pans were definitely the highlight so will leave it at that for today. 😎
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    • Day 8

      Day 8 • Comino Island and Blue Lagoon

      March 29 in Malta ⋅ ☀️ 21 °C

      Well, I think the pictures are worth a thousand words. What a glorious place. 😎

      Not really much to say other than - if you are visiting, go as early as you can. We arrived at the Blue Lagoon soon after 10am. There were a few boats alighting, but not crowded. Some stayed on the beach or swam from moored boats. We walked on the island for about an hour and a half. By the time we got back to the Blue Lagoon at 11.30, there were many more boats and at least 10 times as many people.

      Happily, the boat we were on then took us around to Crystal Lagoon where we moored for about 45 minutes - for lunch, for a swim in the clear turquoise waters, to just enjoy sitting on the rocks - or all of the above. Tranquille.

      It is Easter long weekend, so that accounts for some of the ‘busyness’, but we are not even in April yet. We could only imagine how crowded this glorious island becomes in summer. Go as early as you can … and enjoy. But don’t expect you will be the only one with that idea. 😎
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    • Day 9

      Day 9 • Il Barrag Farmhouse B&B, Nadur

      March 30 in Malta ⋅ 🌬 21 °C

      Here on Gozo, it’s beginning to feel like ‘Déjà vu … all over again’.

      Some reading this post might recall that late last year, while on what was supposed to be a 1,000 km walk, I had knee trouble that put an end to that - specifically a stress fracture in my right knee (and later a meniscus tear in my left but that’s another story). After months of doing very little, some of it on crutches, it seemed that the fracture had healed, confirmed by a scan. I started building up exercise, walking a little more and all was going well.

      On this holiday, I’ve been prudent, or so I thought. But a few days ago my right knee started bothering me … a little at first, but more so now. I know from experience where that can lead and I do fear a refracture. So I’ll be taking it easy until we fly back to Marseille on the 2nd April, and hoping a few days’ rest in the meantime will help to get me to our next destination and then home without too much drama.

      I’m encouraging The French to explore a little more in coming days and I can share some of his photos - in the meantime here are some of our digs, a restored (400 year old) farmhouse B&B in the small town of Nadur.

      After two nights here, we will make our way back to Malta Island to Rabat / Mdina for another two nights. Thankfully we’ve already had a short visit to the Mdina and The French will have time for a longer visit which he’s keen to do. The good news is that we’ve pretty much seen everything that was high on our list so, while this is a frustrating development, there is no sense of missing out.

      And our host tells us that the Easter procession on Sunday morning will pass along the narrow street right by our front door. Our room has a small balcony on to the street, so we may not even need to leave the room to see it.

      l-Għid it-Tajjeb. That’s Happy Easter in Maltese. 😎
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    • Day 10

      Day 10 • Nadur, Gozo - Easter Sunday

      March 31 in Malta ⋅ ☀️ 23 °C

      Nadur is a small town sitting above the Mgarr Harbour. I read that it was ‘one of the first hamlets of Gozo island to be raised to the status of a village. It took place in 1688, when Nadur with its outlying area was dismembered (!) from the Matrice parish in the Citadel and established a parish on its own.’

      Easter Sunday morning and soon after we finished breakfast the procession began from the Church around the corner. I was able to take a couple of videos from our balcony. I’m not much of a videographer - I kept cutting at all the wrong moments. And while faffing around with the video, didn’t take any photos until right at the end. The French was down in the street, just at the corner with a close up view. You can see him top right.

      Nadur offers picturesque coastal walks to nearby beaches, which we would have enjoyed in other circumstances. Instead, I had a quiet and relaxing day in our B&B - grateful for Netflix, though I could/should have been doing some French homework - while The French took the bus to see the Fungus Rock.

      It was a lovely evening and The French and I took a short, slow stroll to the town square for dinner. We were surprised and delighted to find a small restaurant offering a Japanese / Thai menu. ☺️
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    • Day 11

      Day 11 • An evening in Rabat

      April 1 in Malta ⋅ 🌙 18 °C

      This morning we took the Gozo fast ferry to Valletta and then a BOLT * to Rabat - Mdina for our last two nights on Malta. We visited the Mdina on the way back from Dingli Cliffs last week (see Day 4), but hadn’t wandered around Rabat. Accounts of Rabat - Mdina seem to vary - but there’s no doubting a rich history going back many thousands of years. More info below.

      We arrived at our new digs, grateful for an early check in and delighted to find we had a light and airy studio with kitchen facilities and a sunny terrace. The French went for a stroll to a nearby shop and came back with provisions to make a ham cheese and tomato baguette for lunch on the terrace. 😎.

      In the afternoon The French went back to the Mdina and also did a reconnaissance for likely dinner spots not far from our apartment. He discovered quite a few restaurants in the heart of Rabat, and just 800 metres away. It was a fine evening, and we enjoyed a slow stroll, through some charming narrow streets, and dinner in the courtyard at Castelletti. We had a small (very small) martini blanco as an aperitif (or I should say aperitivo) to begin.

      Lovely evening. Last day tomorrow. 😎

      More here on Rabat and Mdina…

      * Travel tip: Up until my knee started playing up we’d mostly taken local buses (frequent, efficient, on time, inexpensive, clean) to move around - when ferries were not an option. In the past few days we’ve opted for a BOLT car door to door. On Malta they have taxis, Uber and BOLT (new to me) with the last being the most popular. We’ve never waited more than a few minutes. Given the size of Malta, and Gozo much smaller still, it’s rare to need a long/expensive journey. Most of our journeys have been between 5 and 10 kms. Recommend downloading the BOLT app if visiting Malta / Gozo.
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    You might also know this place by the following names:

    Republic of Malta, Malta, Mɔlta, ማልታ, مالطا, Мальта, Малта, Malti, মাল্টা, མལ་ཊ།, Malta nutome, Μάλτα, Malto, مالت, Malte, Málta, માલ્ટા, מלטה, माल्टा, Մալթա, MLA, マルタ島, მალტა, ម៉ាល់តា, ಮಾಲ್ಟಾ, 몰타, ماڵتا, Malita, Malitɛ, ມັນຕາ, Malite, മാള്‍ട്ട, ମାଲ୍ଟା, Insula Malta, Mâlta, මෝල්ටාව, Maalda, Maltë, மால்டா, మాల్టా, มอลตา, مالٹا, Man-ta, Orílẹ́ède Malata, 马耳他, i-Malta

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