Hello from Malta! In celebration of World Tourism Day (today) our hotel has laid on a feast of Maltese goodies, so I am writing this with a cup of Maltese coffee (black, with cloves and aniseed) and a traditional almond biscuit (with pink icing) to hand.

The members of the Trefoil Guild have enjoyed their first couple of days in Malta. Yesterday was mostly spent travelling, having met at Heathrow early in the morning. One of the South African ladies was on the flight with us, so it was nice to get to know her before we arrived. After our short flight, we had our first taste of the Maltese heat as well as a Costa coffee – not our last taste of home! We headed onto the hotel, where we quickly settled into our rooms and had a well-earned rest and evening meal after our long day of travelling.

Today, we were up bright and early to visit the first stop on our tour of Malta – the capital city of Valletta. We began with a short visit to the Upper Barrakka Gardens. This is home to the Saluting Battery, which is fired at noon everyday. We also had time to admire the beauty of the gardens, even if they were slightly overshadowed by the massive cruise ships which had pulled into the harbour!

Photo opportunity
Photo opportunity

We then walked through the streets of Valletta to visit the main sights. It’s a very compact city, and is also built on a grid system, so it was easy to navigate. We also admired the balconies, which seem to be on every building.

IMG_0308 IMG_0313

We had a short break, so some of the group took the opportunity to visit the splendid Baroque St John’s Co-Cathedral – and others took the opportunity to visit the Malta branch of Marks and Spencer (apparently the clothes are the same but more expensive!).

Our next stop was the Malta Experience. This was a film show, which took in 7000 years of Maltese history. This was fascinating, as many of us knew something about the history of the country, however this brought it all together. It also helped to explain many of the items which we see in Malta still today – from the Maltese Cross, to the Arabic influence on the Maltese language. We will look forward to seeing more of these during our stay.

By this point, we were a bit peckish, so we hopped back on the coach and headed to the San Anton Gardens. Here we were welcomed with a much-needed cup of tea (it was in the British empire after all!) and a couple of the local ‘pastizzi’. These are a bit like a Cornish pasty, but with filo pastry and different fillings, including what seemed to be mushy peas! These seemed to go down very well.

Everything stops for tea

To digest the pastizzi, we enjoyed more sunshine and had a wander around the kitchen gardens. Many people took the opportunity to take some photos to use in their Voyage Award.

Kitchen Gardens

We then moved onto the President’s Gardens, which in the grounds of the President’s Palace. We had just been told about the President,¬†Marie Louise Coleiro Preca – imagine our surprise (and hers!) when she then rushed past us! I can confirm that Presidents apparently do sometimes wear jeans and t-shirts!

Having said that, we were also surprised to find these in the gardens as well…

How many terrapins can you see?

After all that exploring, the Maltese treats went down very well, though we are saving space for the lovely Maltese feast this evening. Now, you must excuse me, there’s a management drinks reception to get to… we are working hard, we promise!