10/16 Malta – land of hills and churches
After spending 4 days in Gozo, it was time to take the ferry and head back to Malta for 8 days. (The ferry is free FROM Malta to Gozo but they collect 4.75 Euro from everyone on the way TO Malta.) This turned out to be the worst weather day in a year of traveling. The rain started while we waited for the bus to get to the ferry, bucketed down on the way to the ferry and while we waited for the ferry, letting up only when we actually rode the ferry. By the time we landed at the terminal in Cirkewwa on Malta, the downpour returned!
What happens to taxis when it rains? They disappear! With no taxis in sight, we huddled under the bus stop with everyone else, complete with suitcase of all sizes and shapes. Since we arranged to meet our AirBnb host at the apartment, I texted to tell him we were waiting for buses to appear. James was stuck in traffic, too, and said he’d just pick us up so “hang out”! What a great guy!
We spent 8 days in Melleiha on the west end of Malta. It’s a “real” town – only 3 things listed in Lonely Planet to see and very quiet at night. We met 2 Americans who live there when we were in Scotland last year at the Whiskey Experience in Edinburgh and enjoyed two dinners with them in Malta. Sorry – no pictures! They’ve lived in Malta for 3 years so gave us the scoop on what it’s like – inexpensive services and health insurance, inexpensive food, lots of hills to walk, traffic if you choose the wrong time of day to drive ….
The hills surprised us in Malta – they are everywhere! Melleiha has hills and steps connecting different streets on the hills. One day we walked up 43 flights and down 47 flights, according to our Garmins. After a little arithmetic and geometry, we figured out one block we walked has about a 13% grade. If Malta residents don’t have great legs, I’m not sure why!
Malta is fairly cheap as far as Europe goes, including the wine they produce and import. We tried some Malta wine – 4 Euro for a bottle and it was perfectly drinkable.
The bus system covers the island pretty well and we used the bus to get from Melleiha to the capital city of Valletta one day and visit . Valletta is a port city with lots of cruise ships stopping. The day we went, three cruise ships were in port, crowding everywhere! One recommendation (We clearly didn’t do it.) is check what cruise ships are around if you’re going to a port!
Another day we took the bus to Mdina, a walled city next to Rabat. This bus ride took an hour with stops, narrow roads and streets, hills, and traffic to go 11 km. It’s a beautiful city, though, after we finally arrived.
Sunday, we went to the Melleiha Beach along with the locals and had lunch on the beach.