Valletta – probably the quietest capital I have ever been to! Malta, not sure how many people are aware of this little country right in the middle of the Mediterranean Sea between Europe and Africa…..right beneath Sicily, Italy. The country made up of three islands – Malta, Gozo, and Comino. We stayed 6 nights in an apartment right in Valletta, Barrakka Suites for $610. Hotels in Malta, generally, are quite affordable! Most of the tourists stay at the resort area Sliema (right across from the harbor of Valletta) and St. Julian’s. The island is accessible by either rental car or its public transportation system – bus. I highly recommend getting the 7 days unlimited bus card for only €21 for the most flexibility and download its app – tallinja to get you from point A to point B (although with some exception which I will tell you later). I chose to stay at Valletta because I like quiet and old charming cities/towns/villages!
Early in the morning, we went out to hunt for a grocery store for drinks and breakfast items…..urg we were too early, most of the shops were closed! We ended up having breakfast at Piadina Café, two croissants, a Fanta, and a can of iced-tea for €5.50.
After breakfast, we walked to the Upper Barrakka Gardens, actually across from our apartment (we could even see it from our window) for our first view of Valletta and Malta’s Grand Harbor. Malta’s architectures are very uniform – baroque style, yellow colored, and colorful balconies.
Valletta, although is the capital, is relatively small in size; you can walk from one end to another within 15 minutes. Also, it’s impossible to get lost in Valletta as the layout is a perfect grid! But the small capital is extremely steep, like a bowl where the center is the lowest point and then it goes uphill both sides……talking about stairs….I chose our apartment which located right near the city’s main entrance gate so Jason doesn’t need to carry two luggage on hundreds of stairs 🙂
Next, we walked to St. John’s Co-Cathedral, the most famous church in Malta (admission €10). The exterior was partially covered by construction work grrr.
But the main entrance is on the other side of the building where there were few vendors there selling stuff.
Ladies, remember to bring a shawl to cover up your shoulders as they really enforce that rule but if you forget, they also provide them in the entrance 🙂 I would have never guessed that the outside looked just like other buildings but have such a lavish interior. As soon as we walked in, the bright shiny gold covered walls and ceiling blinded my eyes!!! This is the only place in Malta where we encountered massive tour groups!
The paintings on the vaulted ceiling illustrated the life of John the Baptist.
With a little bit of patience, photos without people still can be possible 🙂 The Cathedral has nine chapels, here are some of the photos:
Showing you the size of the church compared to people:
The co-cathedral’s most notable is not its gold-covered walls or ceiling but its marble floor which are tombstones of Malta’s important knights! Another interesting fact, high-heels are prohibited on the marble floor so please leave your high-heels home and bring your flats instead; perfect for me haha 🙂
Photos (no flash) are allowed inside except in the Oratory and Museum which hosted Caravaggio’s most famous painting, The Beheading of Saint John the Baptist. I am not a museum fine-art type of person but amazed by his mastery of using darks and lights!
I sneaked my camera out at one of the balconies for a street view from the 2nd floor, now the main street was filled with tourists.
After the cathedral, we walked around Valletta, one street to another to explore the charming old city. This shop is rated as #1 gelato, I must try it out!
Delicious but not my #1 in my list 😉
I like how they build those stairs, every wide so the height is very short which made walking up and down the capital much easier on our knees!
We headed back to the Upper Barrakka Gardens just before noon for the twice daily Saluting Battery. You can view it for free at the gardens but better to pay the €3 admission fee for a closer experience….aww I should’ve bought earplugs!
Across the harbor are the three sister cities (which we’ll be visiting later in the week).
While we were waiting for it to start…we walked around for photos, the blue sky and white clouds were super pretty!
The upstair balcony are the viewing for free….paying versus non-paying LOL!
Almost starting……he’s getting ready!
By now, see how crowded the gardens get?
Where should I stand? I choose the side and waiting and waiting…..without any warning, the guy pulled the string before I clicked on my shutter :O
And we were welcomed to have a photo with him 😀
Since we were staying in Valletta, we had more opportunities to come back for more viewings for free at the gardens, I’ll capture it next time!
It was well passed noon, time for lunch! Valletta doesn’t have much choice in terms of cuisines, mostly are Italian. On our walk to the Capistrano Restaurant, more street photos!
We were the only customers in there…hum…..is that a good sign?
Free on the house…..the pumpkin cream was tasty!
I ordered the spaghetti with dried squid…..OMG the dried squid was super salty!!!
Jason ordered the fisherman’s pot, much wiser choice although not filling!
After the cheap and fresh seafood in Portugal, of course Jason was disappointed! Not as good as the Portuguese seafood rice stew 🙁 The lunch cost €39.25 ouch back to the Western European standard!
After that, we continued on our search for grocery store….we found out that there is no “supermarket” in Valletta (urg it’s the capital?) but some convenient stores and markets like this one! We bought some peaches and cherries, of course, not as cheap as Portugal.
Hum what is this structure for?
St. James Cavalier Center outside:
We went back to our apartment to store our drinks and fruits as well as getting some rest. Before 4 pm, we went back to the Upper Barrakka Gardens for the 4 pm Saluting Battery. Jason said just before the gun is fired, the guy pulled out his watch to look at the time and then he’ll put it in back into his pocket. Once he does that, start clicking on the shutter!
After the Saluting Battery, we walked to the Lower Barrakka Gardens to check out the views from there. It was a walk from one end to another end of Valletta!
The Lower Barrakka Gardens:
The view in the late afternoon wasn’t great as the houses were in shadow so best to be there early in the morning!
Weird hanging flowers…
Across from the garden is the Siege Bell War Memorial:
And back to the streets inside for more photos of Valletta!
The Maltese balconies! They reminded me of the Spanish architectures we seen in Cusco, Peru.
Red telephone booth…..yep Malta has big influences from the UK!
We stumbled into another church….in the highly religious Malta, there is no shortage of beautiful churches regardless the size of the village or town! All other churches are free to go in 🙂
And you just couldn’t tell or judge the interior by it’s exterior 😉
The steepness of Valletta’s streets:
Without realizing, we walked across Valletta to the other side facing Sliema!
You can get there by ferry or bus!
We turned back into Valletta 🙂
All green balconies :O
Madonna tal-Karmnu – Our Lady of Mount Carmel:
Almost oval shaped dome interesting….
I made a reservation at one of the restaurants at the waterfront area but getting down there by walking was a pain! Jason thought getting down there would lead us out to the waterfront but no!!! We wasted our time and had to walk back up.
We ended up giving up the idea of going to the waterfront and just have our dinner within the city wall! We went to Guze Bistro, a top rated restaurant. The restaurant looked like inside a cellar! It was very dark, I guess you can say romantic lol but bad for photos!
Noticed the table was made up of a sewing machine? I remembered having one of those sewing machine when I was little!
I ordered a seafood soup and it was very heavy shrimp flavored, I like it!
Spagehetti again, like I said, majority of the restaurants are Italian cuisine! But the homemade pasta was good, just wish for more quantity!
Jason ordered a fish……….I guess not too filling?
The dinner cost us €56.00 included a 10% tips….yea unfortunately, Malta being heavily British-influenced….tipping. Not to mention, it took them forever to hand us the check GRRR that we missed the blue hour 🙁 As soon as I paid with my credit card, we ran to the Upper Barrakka Gardens for blue hour night photos….not that I have a tripod….so I tried to stable on the handrail hehe. Malta’s Grand Harbor at night overlooking the Three Sister Cities!
Ahhhh Valletta, you are as pretty at night as day!
We had quite a relaxed day, been back to the Upper Barrakka Gardens three times in a day LOL! My first impression of Malta….very quiet and peaceful, great to explore on our own pace 🙂