So I woke up Wednesday all ready for a day cruising around Malta on the Tip Top One catamaran, but at 7:45 that morning I received a text that the cruise was postponed. Apparently there was a wind warning on the water and high waves were expected. And I definitely do not like high waves or any chance of seasickness. Anyway, the trip was postponed to Friday so that meant my plans for Friday would switch to Wednesday and that meant … a trip across the Grand Harbor to the Three Cities.
I really did not have any particular plans once over there. I figured I would wander the little narrow alleys and streets and pretty much just hangout since I would be visiting the cities with a guide next week.
So after a leisurely breakfast, I wandered the short distance down the street (which was easy peasy now that I understood the area better) to the Upper Barrakka Gardens where an elevator takes you several stories down to harbor.
Now, I don’t what I was expecting for these gardens, but I did not think they were nearly as pretty or quaint at the Lower Barrakka Gardens. The views, however, were something else. Absolutely spectacular with a look back over parts of Valleta and over to the Three Cities.
And boy was I ever happy the boat trip was rescheduled to Friday. It was really, really W.I.N.D.Y. and waves were visible even in the protected area of the Grand Harbor.
So after taking in the views, I paid on euro for the trip down the elevator (masks required) and walked through the archway to what I thought was the ferry departure area. Turns out the the little sign for “ferry to the Three Cities” was actually for a trip on a little gondola like boat over to the Three Cities. The large Harbor Cat that was leaving every half hour for the Three Cities was further down the street, but I though what the heck. The little boat looked like fun. And I was right. We were low down in the water and the boat driver clearly knew what he was doing. The short little 10 minute trip was great fun and the waves were really not that bad. But the best part was looking at all of the amazing yachts and boats docked in the harbor area. Some were pretty unbelievable.
So once we landed, I tried to get my bearings. Quite frankly, I didn’t even know which of the three cities we had landed in. And unfortunately, I did not pack a map. Nor could I find the tourist office (all European towns have tourist offices, which provide maps and helpful info to tourists). Anyway, I stopped in a little store for a water, and the young woman was very helpful explaining the boundaries of the Three Cities, Vittoriosa, Senglea and Cospicua and what there was to see and do.
I was in the larger area of Copicua. Apparently not much to do here other than visit the The Church of Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception and to walk the fortified areas.
was across the bay from where I landed (and where the larger ferry docks). There was apparently a pedestrian bridge that connects Senglea to Vittoriosa, but for the life of me, I could not find it.
Finally, there was Vittoriosa, which is apparently where our little boat docked. Vittoriosa was the first home of the Order of the Knights of St. John (who were the architects of the fortifications around Malta). Vittoriosa is home to the magnificent Fort St. Angelo (which I will visit next week), the Inquisator’s Palace, the Malta Maritime Museum and the St. Lawrence Church, which was easy to spot since it sits less than a block from where I docked.
Since I was going to have a tour of Fort St. Angelo with my guide next week so I decided the Inquisator’s Palace would be fun to visit. Uh … think again. Once I found the palace, it turns out it was closed on Wednesdays. So I ended up wandering the old alleys and streets of Vittoriosa. And like Valleta, everything seemed uphill. Even after walking uphill, it seemed I had to walk up hill to get back to where I started. It was quite obvious why Malta was able to withstand so many attacks over the centuries with the advantage of being able to look down on the incoming ships and invaders.
Now one of the cool things about wandering around was discovering the little signs on many of the buildings that either provided a brief summary of the importance of the building or simply included the date of construction going back to the 16th century. Obviously with the WW II bombings there had been a lot of reconstruction, but still cool to see.
After meandering around the alleys of Vittoriosa, I ended up back down by the waterfront and found a cool little restaurant where I enjoyed a cold beverage and my first Maltese pizza. Wood fired, fresh mozzarella and fresh tomato sauce. Yummy. Reminded me of some of the pizzas I ate with my niece, Callie, in Italy.
By now, it had clouded over and I decided I had seen about all I was going to see without a guide so hopped back on the little gondola boat and headed back to Valleta.
It had been a fun little jaunt. I will probably come back over on Saturday to see the Inquisator’s Palace since that is not on the schedule with my quite next week.