I’m okay with heat. In fact, I’ll go so far to say I’m pretty awesome in warm climates. I absolutely loved lazing in the sun on our boat trip to Comino, feeling the warmth on my skin as I snorkelled the beautiful waters. Any excuse to eat ice cream with every meal, and stop every ten minutes for a ‘refreshing’ cocktail…
In Valetta though, I hated the heat. For a start, I’d worn a bloody stupid dress with an inside lining that was sticking to my thighs within approximately 20 seconds of getting off the bus. I’d not picked up anything to overcome the horrible chafing that was occurring. This is entirely my own fault, obviously.
Secondly, as opposed to the fresh, breezy heat of the seaside, to me the inner reaches of Malta were sticky and sweaty and every time I stepped into the sun, it felt like the buildings all around were concentrating down the burning beams on to my face, legs, shoulders and scalp.
I’d not done any research on where we should go once in the city, so we spent most of our first hour or two aimlessly wandering. Which usually, I’m a huge fan of – but Valetta’s streets were quite tough to navigate. It’s not the fact there were uphill bits and steps – just those, I would have been fine with. You don’t get legs as hench as these with an aversion to a bit of staggered upward movement once in a while, y’know *flexes leg muscles*. Haaa.
It was the fact that the sunny weather, over many many years, have turned the pavements into ice-like slippery pathways. And my shoes had absolutely no grip whatsoever. Which meant walking at a snail’s pace, and getting nowhere fast.
By this point, I’m almost ashamed to say, I was having a full-on, entitled brat tantrum. I like to think that I don’t have those very often, but when I do…the cure is pretty much always food. So we sat down at an outdoor cafe (with a very large fan behind me), and a chicken mayo baguette and chips went a long way to help pacify me.
Although I hadn’t had the best start to Valetta, as I explored a bit more, I actually did enjoy spending time in the city. We actually met up with one of my old friends from Uni, who’d moved to Malta a while back – which is when I started to get the vibe of the place a bit more. For a start it wasn’t as RIDICULOUSLY HOT any more, and I didn’t feel like the pavements were burning my feet through my ballet pumps any more.
The first moment I was seriously impressed with Valetta was when we made our way to the Upper Barraka Gardens, a public garden space with terraced arches and panoramic harbour views. Avoiding the pigeons, we found ourselves above the Saluting Battery, just in time to get a front row spot for the afternoon salute.
Being a big fan of anything involving boats, I got pretty excited for a trip across the harbour – especially when we found out it was only about 50 cents more expensive to get a water taxi than the standard ferry. And the experience was definitely 100% more fun. We ended up with a water taxi boat to ourselves, jetting across the harbour and seeing it all from a new perspective.
The opposite side of the harbour, home to Fort St.Angelo and Malta’s Maritime museum, offers winding streets in contrast with central Valetta’s straight lines. It was definitely easier to walk around, and a lot quieter too. We stopped for cocktails (2 for five Euro for happy hour? Sorted.) before making our way back to the water taxis. If you do visit the city, you need to get a water taxi – for a bit extra, they also do tours around the harbour itself.
Arriving back where we started, we said goodbye to my friend and grabbed a beer at a Valetta bar. The friendly barman recommended a beer called ‘Fuck Art’, which had no label on. Taking a seat outside, we sipped our beers and people (and dog) watched for a while. Finishing up and moving further, we stood fascinated as a religious parade took place on the way to a local church.
Once it hit around 6/7pm, everything seemed to just…stop. Crowds filtered out, and we spent some time hunting for an affordable restaurant. Finally, we found a pizza spot with outdoor seating, and welcomed in the evening in a doughy, cheesy, wine-fuelled manner, before finding ourselves a bus back to Mellieha.
Valetta is pretty. And interesting. And filled with history, and all the things any visitor or travel blogger or Instagram fiend will love. Is Valetta worth visiting if you have time and you’re in Malta? Yes – as long as you wear shoes with grip, actually do some research into what you want to see, and are prepared to encounter crowds of tourist groups. Despite my initial reservations, I’m glad I got the chance to see the city. I didn’t love it…but I definitely didn’t hate it either.
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