The Knights Hospitallers ruled Malta for 250 years and left an indelible mark on the islands, from fortifications to hospitals. They were the best in Europe at the time, and ever so recognizable by their Maltese cross.
While in Malta I stayed at a hostel run by, of all people, a Russian woman. I am sure she is a nice person; she distributes food to Syrian refugees, she tries to help immigrants find jobs, she spends the money she makes from this hostel on charities. But she rubbed me the wrong way with her tough love style. Everything was “you have to” or “you can’t” in a little bit of a brash way. So much for hospitality.
Today I had the whole day to visit Valletta and the surrounding cities. I left the house at 8am and about twenty minutes later I reached the city gates. There was a rush of people but they weren’t tourists, they were people going to work. For a couple of hours I wandered around the city, drinking coffee, eating ice cream and occasionally taking pictures. By 11am, Valletta was full of tourists and it was getting hotter, so I came back to the house, picked up my bike and went to see Ħal Saflieni Hypogeum, an underground prehistoric burial site. Unfortunately, it was closed for maintenance. If it would’ve been open, it would’ve cost me a 30€ entry fee. In comparison, a visit to the Louvre is 15€. Just saying. I moved on to Vittoriosa, aka Birgu, on the other side of the Grand Harbour opposite of Valletta. At the tip of the small peninsula where the city sits, there is Fort St. Angelo, build in 870 AD. Squeezed between Birgu and Isla is a marina with a multitude of yachts of all sizes.
Tomorrow, on my way to the airport, I’ll have completed a circle around the island. But there is more to see on this archipelago, so there is reason to come back one day.
Today in numbers:
365 – churches in Malta
14 – public holidays each year in Malta
320 – monuments in Valletta alone
6-1 – countries checked off my target list vs ones still on it