So as I previously mentioned, I was supposed to take a trip on the Tip Top One Catamaran on Wednesday, but high seas and wind postponed the trip to Friday. When I woke, I anxiously awaited to see if I was going to receive another text telling me that our trip was postponed or cancelled. Fortunately, that text did not come. So by 9:00 a.m., I had packed my luggage, checked out of my hotel, rolled my suitcase down the street to the magnificent Palais le Brun, left my luggage with the front desk and made my way down the hill to the little ferry to Silema.
As it turns it, I was rather early for the boarding process which began at 10:45, so I sat at a street cafe, had some yoghurt and granola along with two lattes and watched the world go by.
At 10:30, I made my way over to the pier to jump aboard the family run Tip Top One. There were only 25 on board. The boat can hold 120 people, but even pre-Covid they limit the number of guests to 40. Post-Covid they limit passengers to 33, but with the postponed cruise, we lost some folks, so there would be even more room on board.
So once on board, the lovely and incredibly welcoming staff (dad, daughter and son-in-law) divided the passengers into table groups, and I was placed at table 2 with a young couple from Paris and two friends from London and San Diego, Danni and Anna (more about them later).
After the quick safety briefing, we were on our way out of the Siliema harbor past the city of Valetta and on our way to the island of Gozo.
Now as luck would have it, there is an air show going on in Valetta this weekend and we were the beneficiaries of practice show. Fighter jets roared overhead and a precision airplane team bobbed and weaved through the air. It was wonderful as we motored across the Mediterranean towards the little island of Gozo (which is part of Malta).
Now there were two options for seating on the catamaran. You could sit underneath the canvas covering over the tables or you could lounge on beanbags on the woven mesh hammock like area at the front of the boat. I was all about lounging so I joined Danni and Anna for a beer near the front of the boat as we skipped along the Mediterranean while the planes zoomed overhead.
And talk about small world! It turns out Anna is in charge of cameras and video for TVG (the US horse racing channel). I immediately asked her if she knew the Pegrams (friends of mine who are well known in the horse racing circles) … and … of course she did. I then asked whether she knew Mike Puhich, a horse trainer friend of mine, who has worked at many of the top racetracks in the U.S. Turns out she not only knew Puhich, but her good friend Zoe is very goods friends with Mike. What are the odds?
Anyway, shortly after 12:00 we were served a plate of appetizers consisting of Malta bean dip, crackers, olives, sun dried tomatoes and cheese. It was the perfect little snack.
Not too long into the trip, the little island of Gozo came into view. Now Gozo is connected to the main island by passenger and car ferries, but the main mode of transportation appeared to be tourist boats. They were everywhere.
So the most popular area for swimming and snorkeling around Gozo is the Blue Lagoon situated between the little islands of Cominotto and Camino followed by the Crystal Lagoon near Comino. Both islands were right off the coast of Gozo. Our destination, fortunately, was the Crystal Lagoon. We caught a glimpse of the Blue Lagoon and uh … no thank you.
Anyway, as luck would have it, the waves in the Crystal Lagoon were just too large so we opted to travel further around Comino Island to Santa Marija (St. Mary’s) Bay. It was perfect. Not too many boats and much calmer seas.
Now, I was completely unaware that we would be jumping on a speed boat to take us through the caves around the Crystal Lagoon and Dwerja Bay. The unexpected trip was spectacular.
We split into two groups, with my table being in the first group. We loaded on the speed boat and zipped around the point back to the Crystal Lagoon where we ended up puttering through the little tunnels and archways carved into the stone cliffs following years of “wave action”.
And while the trip into and through the little caves was lovely, the high point was the stunning and I mean STUNNING crystal clear blue water. I have never seen water so clear and blue. It was absolutely gorgeous.
We motored along the cliffs weaving in and out of tunnels and archways for about a half hour before heading back to the catamaran. And once back on the boat, Danni, Anna and I took a leap into the Mediterranean and spent the entire time while the other group was out at the cliffs popping around the incredibly salty Mediterranean. It was fabulous.
Once the other group returned from the boat trip, we pulled up anchor and headed back toward the main island. The crew then served us a lovely lunch of salad, chicken sausages, chicken and Maltese potatoes and bread.
Then it was time for a siesta. As we motored towards St. Paul’s Bay on the main island, the air show started up all over again with the same fighter jets zipping overhead and the red planes flying around in different formations.
We reached St. Paul’s Bay by around 4:00 and it was time for another swim around the Mediterranean. My elegant jump into the water was caught on film. Please don’t judge me …..
Anyway, the water was perfect for cooling off and the surrounding bay was beautiful with an old fortress overlooking the water and a sandy beach filled with sunbathers.
I bopped around in the water talking to a woman from Ireland before swimming around the catamaran back to the stairs that led me back onto the boat.
We started our trip back to Sliema, hugging the coastline, but the waves and wind had picked up a bit so the trip back was a little rougher than the trip out. However, still not bad at all considering we were in the open waters of the Mediterranean. And as an added bonus, rather than heading straight back to Sliema, our lovely boat crew took us to us along the Valleta city walls though the Grand Harbor before turning around and docking back a Sliema around 6:00 p.m.
It had been a fantastic day in the water. I cannot recommend enough the folks at Tip Top One (https://www.daycruisemalta.com/) If you ever find yourself in Malta on a Wednesday, do not hesitate to book the trip. They are fabulous.
Anyway, once off the boat, I made my way back to the ferry and crossed back over to Valetta.. I then walked the short distance to the hotel and literally collapsed on my bed. I was done, but was a wonderful day!