Malta – Last views of Valetta – photos

Having walked all around Valetta, sampled the beer, seen the sights and soaked up the atmosphere we headed back to the boat.

Past the shops and restaurants with their gaily coloured doors.

Back onboard ship, we slipped out of port to watch the picturesque city slip into our wake.

I think this is a place we’ll be visiting again.

Malta – Valetta – more scenes – photos

Coming out of the cathedral back into the sunshine we set off to investigate more. Stopping for a beer at a cafe and watch the people go by. A beautiful place.

I love the balconies.

A lot of religion around these parts.

Old streets and old buildings.

Great concern about people wanting to break in.

Was it Neville Chamberlin?

No.

Malta – The Cathedral in Valetta – Photos

The Cathedral was wonderful.

I loved the floor with its skeletons – meant to scare you into fearing death.

The colours and patterns.

The ornate embellishment and paintings. It was meant to overpower and impress.

Look at all this – it has to be true.

Splendid.

There seemed to be a religious theme!

Malta – Valetta a walk up the hill into town – Photos

We disembarked and walked up the hill.

This guy looked important.

I was taken with the coloured doors and window shutters. It is strange how a simple thing like that creates such a difference.

Up in the fortress, the guns were nicely polished. Strange, how the weapons of war, the hardware of practical defence, have become tourist attractions.

There were great views over Valetta and the other peninsulas,

The sun was shining. It was warm. We set off into the city!

Malta – Arriving in Valetta with the sun – photo

Like most ports and cities Valetta was heavily fortified. It is another reminder of how violent our past has been.

If a building looks wonderful it is usually a castle or a cathedral!

Now we look at these fortifications as picturesque. The pirating robbers now use a computer to rob us!

 

The Journey Pt. 33 – Vaulting through Valetta – Malta

Hi from afar but nearer (or further away depending on where you are),

We’re back at sea after visiting Malta, heading for Gibraltar (day after tomorrow). Then it’s Lisbon and home.

How quickly the formidable becomes picturesque, even quaint, and the functional takes on the patina of charm. Sailing into Valetta at dawn, with the sun already risen, yet still providing a soft morning glow, one was struck by the perfection and beauty of the harbour. It must rate as one of the most striking – scaling the very heights of chocolate box. Everywhere one looked were huge thick walls and fortifications. The skyline, with its many spires and basilicas, was revealing. This had been constructed to make a statement, to scream strength and power, and to be the most forbidding sight on the planet. This was a bastion of Christendom, successfully standing against the flood of Islam, a staging post to the Holy Land and a show of Christian might.

Back in its day any Muslim fleet daring to venture into that harbour, causing that enormous warning bell to be struck, would have been met with withering blasts of cross fire from a great array of cannon. The walls would have been insurmountable and the city impregnable.

Valetta was built for war.

How times change. The sandstone fortifications have now aged, glow with pastel honey, and are no longer functional and threatening, but have transformed to become positively endearing. The cathedrals and churches are places of beauty and no longer statements of defiance whose grandeur was challenging to those who believed differently. Now the narrow streets with their assortment of balconies are delightful.

The derelict shops on the waterfront have been refurbished and painted with gay colours. Muslim, Christian and Jew pay to visit the Caravaggio’s in the cathedral. Perhaps the world, becoming smaller by the day, has reached a point where travel has opened the eyes to the fact that we humans, despite our differing faiths and beliefs, have more in common than we have differences? Besides, there’s money to be made.

Malta has become a tourist destination. The climate lends itself. The military might of a past long gone has been gentrified. The gardens provide wonderful views a real scenerama. Around the corner are the resorts. There was a European feel to the place – mainly Italian but with strange British touches – such as the old bright red pillar boxes and telephone boxes. After the careering bustle of Asia it felt like we were back with the familiar – and everybody spoke English.

We spent a pleasant day wandering the streets, eating ice-cream, having a local tuna salad lunch, drinking a coffee and a beer and enjoying the pleasant temperature. It was warm, not searing. The people also provided warmth and those streets, gardens (replete with green lizards), churches and fortifications were good on the eye.

When we sailed out late in the afternoon, and watched the fortifications of the three cities slide past I was struck by how welcoming the might of the ancient military might can be.

We’d already marked down that Malta was definitely a place for a longer future visit. We’d only scratched the surface. What was below that patina of charm? More charm?

Only six days to go now before we hit Tilbury. Just Gibraltar and Lisbon left. We both have very mixed feelings. We’ve been on this boat for sixty five days and it feels like home. We’ve packed in so much that it is going to take us months to unpack our mental baggage. Yet we are looking forward to coming home to our new house and meeting up with friends, picking up the threads after three months away. Our real life is waiting for us on shore with a thousand and one pressing needs. This is all an unreality, like treading water in a fantasy. It will be good to get real again even if a lot chillier.