The second day of our cruise was a day at sea. After being onboard the ship for a whole day we were keen to reach our next stop. The second destination of our cruise was Valletta, Malta’s capital and a World Heritage site. Passengers were advised to get up early and see the ship coming into the harbour to witness the impressive views of the city. This was well worth it as the views were breathtaking. From where we were standing, on the ship, we could see the Upper Barrakka Gardens, the city walls and the surrounding area. If you are visiting Valletta I would highly recommend taking either a water taxi or ferry around the area as the views from the water give a different perspective of the city and shows how high up everything is.
Once we had docked we headed straight to the Upper Barrakka lift so we could avoid a long climb up the stairs! Well worth the €1 to save us getting hot and sweaty. Once we were at the top of the lift we wandered around the colourful gardens and took in the view of the Grand Harbour.
Beside the gardens is The Saluting Battery, a ceremonial platform from where gun salutes are still fired twice daily. The battery is located at one of the highest vantage points in the city. We went to see the gun salute at midday and it was so loud that I nearly dropped my camera in the process of recording it!
After visiting the gardens we decided to head into the centre of the city as we wanted to see the cathedral. We walked past the Auberge de Castille (Prime Minister’s office) and made our way to what I believe is the main high street. We didn’t’t go in many shops as most of them were English!
From the outside St John’s Co-Cathedral did not look like anything special but upon entering I was quite surprised at the size and intricate decor of the cathedral. The cathedral was built as a result of the Knights of St John aiming to protect the Catholic faith and the many works of art were donated by them which now represents a magnificent collection of the High Baroque era.
Visitors to the cathedral should check the opening times as on the day we went the cathedral was closing at lunchtime. It was very crowded inside so it is worth planning ahead if you want to guarantee adequate time to visit. It is also worth noting that due to the cathedral being a place of worship you are requested to keep your shoulders, chest and legs covered. However custodians were standing by the doors, handing out shawls.
Having finished our tour of the cathedral we decided to go in search of some food. As a previous visitor to Malta my Mum was able to recommend Cafe Ranieri on Republic Street. We only wanted a small snack so decided to try the traditional Maltese pastry called a ‘Pastizzi’. One had a filling of ricotta and the other with mushy peas. They were freshly baked, tasted nice and certainly filled the gap. My Mum has been to the restaurant for dinner and would recommend it for a local Maltese meal.
To walk off our snack we took a stroll down some of the local side streets where we found a number of old looking buildings with their original shop fronts. In particular I really liked the vintage looking cinema signs and it will be a shame if they all disappear when the regeneration of the city is complete.
I also like this sign-do people still wear girdles?!
To round off our day we took a ferry to the ‘Three Cities’ on the other side of the harbour. We walked along by the old port and spent our last hour in Valetta, sitting in a bar looking over the waterfront.
Have you ever been to Valletta? Can you recommend other places worth visiting?
Thanks for reading,