Since the last week of February the days have flown by! I’ve been so lucky to have three visitors within the past month, which gave me the chance to explore more of this teeny tiny island.
In late February, my dad came to visit Malta for a week… a whole week! Naturally, I planned day trip ideas weeks in advance and booked a car for a couple of days. Malta is overflowing with history and museums, so I knew my Dad wouldn’t be bored here. I’ll try to summarize his visit as quick and precise as the Maltese bus system (lol).
Day 0: Ta’Marija
We celebrated my dad’s arrival at a local Maltese restaurant. It was so easy to chat up because (a) we hadn’t seen eachother since July, (b) when we didn’t depend on spotty wifi and (c) we had seriously delicious wine. Oh, did we ever wine and dine, thanks to the wine, atmosphere and traditional dishes (Fish soup, rabbit ravioli and Maltese nibbles).
Day 1: Valletta – Carnival
We went into Valletta for the day to explore some museums. I was really excited to finally see some of the other museums after seeing the Malta Experience. We went into the National War Museum, which is located in Fort St. Elmo. I would highly suggest seeing this one because not only does it give you access to the Fort (which was empty), but between each segment you were able to walk outside and the sites. It was a beautiful day, so we didn’t spend it indoors completely, it was perfect. The museum itself was really well laid out. Malta’s history is amazing… it was conquered by so many groups it was hard to keep track of… but the museum did a really great job! I luckily had my dad with me to reiterate some of the stories and facts. My 10-year old self would have been so proud of me… I was not one for history tours back in the day.
We avoided the crowds of Carnival for most of the day, which was great. We also saw the noon canons at the Upper Barrakka Gardens! The day was rounded off with some delicious food at the Grassy Hopper (my personal favourite) and a ferry ride to the dark side, Sliema.
Day 2: Attard, Mdina, Rabat and Buskett
Our first stop of the day was the Malta Aviation Museum! As my dad is a retired pilot, this was like a candy store. Hilariously
enough, we found the first jet he ever flew in one of the hangers… which we had to document. We continued on to Mdina for a quick bite, then to visit a family friend in Rabat for a history tour of her house. It’s amazing what people find when they dig in Malta… and if you find something, best not to tell anyone. We went to Buskett Gardens for a walk, which is the president’s summer residence. It used to be an old hunting ground created by the Knights of St. John; they brought in animals and planted exotic nuts and fruits. We rounded off our day with some coffee and cake in Mdina and some more Maltese platters and wine at Toffee & Co, a local favourite of mine now (thanks to Miranda).
Day 3: South Tour!
We rented a car and headed for Birgu, one of the three cities. As we arrived, the skies cleared and it was a stunning day. On top of Fort St. Angelo, we had beautiful views of Valletta and the surrounding cities. We had the whole place to ourselves for the most part as well! After a long walk around the walls of Birgu and amongst the tiny streets, we had a small bite to eat in the city centre. Our next stop was Għar Dalam, an archaeology site in a 145 m long cavity – eat your heart out, Matthew! We continued on a scenic, yet off-road trip to The Blue Grotto and Dingli Cliffs. We had an hour before our dinner reservations, so I showed my dad a typical Maltese bar (simplicity at its finest). If you sit down for one drink, you’ll be given a large portion of food for a Maltese nibble. We ended the evening with a delicious, locally-grown/produced dinner at diar il-bniet (Highly recommend!).
Day 4: Gozo
What’s a weeks visit to Malta if you don’t visit the sister island!? We took an early ferry, which is always surprisingly civilized and went to our first stop, the UNESCO Heritage site: Ġgantija Temples. My brother (Archaeology graduate from St. Andrews) would have died and gone to nerdy heaven… this museum was really well done and the temples were huge! We visited the Victoria Citadella for a walk around and a view of Gozo. You can see the majority of the island and Malta on a sunny day, it’s tiny but so green!! We had a relaxing day in Gozo, choosing to not rush around much. We didn’t visit the Azure Window, unfortunately, as it collapsed only 5 days later!
Day 5: Dad’s day in Valletta
While the cat’s away/at work (me), the mouse (dad) went to Valletta to play! My dad had a list of places we still wanted to see in Valletta, so he spent the day wandering by himself. He visited St. John’s Co-Cathedral , the church for the Knights of St. John, and the Sacra Infermeria (which was established by the Knights in 1574), both of which he really enjoyed, especially the cathedral… and the hospital.. and Valletta… everything really! That evening, we enjoyed a meal at a local wine bar… finished off with some port wine on the house! If I could drink one liquid for the rest of my life, this would have to be it!
Day 6: Relaxing day, Walk around San Anton Gardens
I was really struggling to think of an activity for my Dad’s last day in Malta… I feel like we ticked so many boxes from the previous days! I had heard about the beauty of San Anton Gardens (the President’s residence/Game of Thrones location), so we went for a walk to visit. We had a really nice walk and lunch in the sun, before heading back to Mosta to buy some fresh seafood for our dinner. That evening, my Dad cooked up some fresh swordfish and squid (yummm!). We enjoyed our meal with some more Maltese wine, while listening to the CBC radio… felt like I was home!
Whewww, and that’s a wrap… long post for a long visit! My dad really enjoyed his time in Malta, but we only saw the tip of the iceberg… so he’ll be back to more, I hope!