For the past week or so, Jude and I have foresaken the glorious sunshine in Switzerland for a beach holiday in Gozo. Our flights to Malta landed late in the day and returned early, so our week on Gozo was sandwiched between 2 separate nights on Malta – one in Marsaxlokk (pronounced Marsashlock) and one in the capital, Valletta.
I’m not sure why, but I’d imagined the islands to be green and fertile. It was only when I noticed on the map they were further south than Tunis that I realised the land would be dry and barren. Though somehow they do manage to grow grapes to make some very acceptable local wines. The San Blas beer wasn’t too bad either ! 🙂
Apart from the over-crowded roads on Malta (the highest density of cars per capita in Europe I gather), our lasting impressions will be of the crystal clear blue waters, the quality of the restaurants and the many, huge churches. The biggest, in Xewkija (pronounced Shookeeya) was only built between 1951 and 1970 and has a dome larger than St Paul’s Cathedral in London. It has an internal diameter of 27 metres, a circumference of 85 metres and weighs 45,000 tons. It was so big inside I couldn’t fit it into just one picture. Also, the old church, upon whose site it now stands, was dismantled and rebuilt brick by brick inside the back of the new building.
Valetta was the highlight of Malta, with its grid of narrow streets, its history and many ancient buildings.