Malta; What’s the Malta with you? Mediterranean Cruise Part 7

Malta; What’s the Malta with you? Mediterranean Cruise Part 7

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Destination: Valletta, Malta
Date: December 2012

On the steps of a building in Mdina, Malta
January 2013

When we docked in Malta we were ready for a day of adventure.  We didn’t plan anything, and my Rick Steve’s book didn’t cover Malta, so we were on our own. I’d done a little browsing on the web to see what the “must see” sights were on this little island, and that was about it.  

At the port of Valetta in Malta
January 2013
Another beautiful view of the Grand Harbor in Malta
January 2013

When I saw that Malta was on our itinerary I have to say I had really no idea where it was located.  I know, a little embarrassing.  That’s when I found out that it is located in the smack dab middle of the Mediterranean.  Just between the straight of Gibraltar and the Suez Canal.  It isn’t a very big island but it does have a population of almost 500,000.  Of course it has changed hands of power over the years, being in such a strategic spot in the Mediterranean, but now it is under its own rule since 1965.  The last country to rule Malta was Great Britain so that made the national language English.  I have to say, after the struggle in Sicily, we were glad to be able to communicate.  The other national language is Maltese so of course the locals could still talk about us right in front of our faces, but at least they understood when we negotiated taxi rides.


The port of Malta is probably one of the most beautiful I’ve ever seen.  With long stone buildings with arches and bells it looks like something built back in the 1500’s at least.  I’m not sure what the age of the buildings are, but I did think it was funny that once we walked behind the building at the port, it was just a front facade almost like a movie set in Hollywood.  There was no building… it was just the face.  

In downtown Valletta, Malta
Can you tell how tired they are getting of all my picture taking?
January 2013

We negotiated with some taxi drivers at the port but found them to be too expensive for what we wanted.  From our reading we knew we wanted to visit the city of Mdina, the original capital of Malta and go to the Blue Grotto, a series of caves in the cliffs of Malta on the southern shoreline.  We had gotten instructions from the TI office about riding the bus, so we knew if we couldn’t find a taxi we could bum a ride on a bus.  

The twinkies taking in a beautiful view of the port
Valletta, Malta, January 2013
In the Barrakka Gardens in front of a monument
Valletta, Malta January 2013

From the port we were able to take an elevator ride up to the city level of the new capital Valletta, which put us in the Barrakka Garden.  This cute little city sits up on the cliff tops and overlooks the port of Malta quite majestically.  The town is small and inviting with lots of little shops and restaurants but we were ready to see some sites.  There are horse drawn carriages walking the streets taking tourists on rides, and beautiful cathedrals and gardens to see.  It was actually a really cute little city and had foreign music playing and the smell of a sheep barn.  A little musty I must say.  The kids begged to ride the horse carriages but we were still on the hunt for a taxi.

We began our walk through town over to the bus terminals feeling like a taxi wasn’t meant to be on this adventure.  Then Trent found some taxis parked near the bus station and the negotiating began.  We needed to go thirty-five minutes south to the Blue Grotto and then another twenty minutes to Mdina and then another twenty minutes back to Valletta.  We needed two taxis for the entire day who were willing to not only drive us but then wait as we did what we wanted to do at these locations.

One of the two taxis we took during our day around the island
Valletta, Malta, January 2013
The beautiful countryside we had a chance to drive through as we drove from Valletta to the Blue Grotto
Malta, January 2013

Luckily he negotiated a 50E for each taxi and we quickly split into two groups and started our journey.  After a very scenic ride through the island we arrived at the Blue Grotto.  This little city just south of Zurrieq, has a Mediterranean feel of the Greek Islands.  With a city built on a cliff side there are beautiful views from wherever we stood.  We walked down the steep streets to buy our boat tickets and get out on the water.  This was our first time in the water of the Mediterranean during our entire trip!

Colton posing out front of the ticket booth to the Blue Grotto
Malta, January 2013
Three happy girls, excited to be out on the water!
Malta, January 2013
Trent and I were excited to be out on the water exploring the blue caves of Malta
January 2013

Blue GrottoOur tickets were 6E each and with six boats running we were quickly on our own motorized skiff, with our own captain with the gruff of a fisherman with piercing blue eyes.  He kept slurring out words in English pointing out objects and between Trent, Colton, Bailey and I we were able to put together a meaning and understand what he was saying to us. 

The view we were enjoying from our dinghy
Malta, January 2013
The blue water was beautiful inside of the caves
Malta, January 2013
Lexi loved going into the caves!
Malta, January 2013

Our little tour took us to about ten different caves, through ice blue water that was clear as glass.  It was beautiful to be down in the caves with the ocean crashing against the rocks and see the beauty of the cliffside.  It actually reminded us a lot of the cave boat rides we’ve done with my sister “K” and her husband “M” in Lake Powell.  It was beautiful and this was one of the kids favorite activities of the entire trip.

On board our dinghy and having fun!
Malta, January 2013

When we were done at the Blue Grotto we got into our waiting taxis and proceeded to our next stop in Mdina.  This beautiful little city is the highest peak of Malta.  You can see three-quarters of the island from the view from Mdina.  We entered the city by a bridge into a large city gate.  The buildings were so close together and made for lots of long narrow alley ways for pedestrians.  With more churches and cathedrals to view, shops, restaurants it all wound around in the beautiful setting that I’m sure has been featured in many Hollywood movies.  It looked like a city from the castles of dark ages, but clean and without the muddy walk ways.

The narrow streets of Mdina with all six kids
Colton, 16, Bailey 14, Clay 10, Lexi 8, Leah 8, and Bella 5
January 2013
The kids posing again in front of a cathedral in Mdina
January 2013

We just had fun taking pictures.  Every time I suggested going into a church or a cathedral I was out voted and reminded how disappointing this or that church would be having just visited the Sistine Chapel.  I had to admit they were right.  We came across a long ledge that had a beautiful view of the beauty of Malta and we had to stop and take pictures.

Bella holding the flags of Italy and Malta
January 2013
At a cute red door across the street from where we ate lunch
Malta, January 2013

The funny thing about this little city is that even with the tiny streets, there were tiny cars driving around.  Every once in awhile we’d hear honking as a car came around a corner letting those who were walking know to get out of the way!  We stopped at Fontanella a garden tea restaurant for lunch and were sat at a table that had a gorgeous view from the outside veranda.  We sat together over looking the Mediterranean eating our eighth day of pizza.  Of course the kids didn’t care and we devoured it quickly.

Our delicious lunch with a beautiful view overlooking the countryside of Malta
January 2013
Clay finally started enjoying pizza our last few days on our Italian vacation
Malta, January 2013


Just sitting on that veranda with all of my children, and my husband will be a memory I will have for a lifetime.  It was so beautiful, and I was so happy to share it with the people I love the most.  

On the streets of Mdina enjoying our day with the kids
January 2013
Trent and I so glad we came to Malta!
January 2013

We knew from our little stops, shopping, our amazing lunch, and our lazy stroll that we were going to give our taxi drivers heart attacks after waiting so long. So we made our way back to the city gates.  Our day was over, but our mission was accomplished.  We saw all the sites we wanted to see, did a little shopping, and ate some great food.  Next time I get over to this part of the world I’d like to make a summer stop in Malta and enjoy swimming the beautiful blue water that surrounds this island in the Mediterranean.

Bella’s little fingers holding the flags of the region, soooo cute
January 2013


Safe and Happy Travels!