We are nearly at the end of our Maltese adventure, but not before the members of the Trefoil Guild had the opportunity to explore the island by themselves. Yesterday, they all had a day at leisure – though as Margaret B said, if that’s a day at leisure, she would hate to think what a full day would be! Here’s a round up of what they did:
Margaret B, Scotty and Esther went to the Malta Bird Park and saw some lovely birds. They then continued into Valletta, where they were disappointed to find that many things had closed. However, they did go to the Armoury, which was very interesting.
Anne, Pam and Lorraine spent the day in Valletta. They found the massive Siege Bell memorial, which is rung everyday at noon in memory of those who died in the Siege during the Second World War. They also experienced the Noonday Gun, and heard it being fired – although they’re not sure why other guns were fired too!
Margaret F, Betty and Linda ‘hopped on’ the hop-on, hop-off bus which goes around the island. Their first stop was the Ta’Qali craft village, where they discovered more shops and started their Christmas shopping! They also went to Golden Bay, in the North of the island, which deserves its name. They had a little paddle and they enjoyed the beach.
Isobel, Shelia and Marian also headed to Valletta. They explored more of the town, and found some giant painted figures. This was part of the ‘Nutto Bianco’ celebrations, where many of the museums were open later than usual. They also watched a band warm up in St George’s Square.
So as you can see, a rich and varied day and lots of stories were shared over dinner last night. And me? Well, I went to the beach and had a massive ice cream…!
Today (Sunday) is our last full day in Malta, and our last tour with our guide, Agnes. Although we will be sad to say goodbye, we had two final stops before then. The first was the stunning Blue Grotto, which is in the South-East of Malta, and is the more-well known sister of the one we visited on Gozo. Unfortunately, due to the weather, we were not able to take a boat trip out to see the Grotto close up. Nevertheless, we were able to see them from the panoramic viewpoint, which allowed us to get some great photos.
Our next and final visit was to Mdina, the ancient capital of Malta. Often referred to as the ‘Silent City’, it was claimed that this was the birthplace of Christianity on the islands, as it was where St Paul stayed after he was shipwrecked. Nowadays, it is a walled city full of religion and history. As cars are not allowed in the city, some of the group took the opportunity to see it from a different angle – horse-drawn carriage, or ‘Karrozin’.
After they returned, we all set off on a walking town of the walled city, where we learnt all about its history and its architecture. We also took the opportunity to look inside the ornate Carmalite church, and admire the artwork on its walls. A stop on the ramparts gave us a brilliant view across much of Malta – from St Paul’s Bay to the airport – as well as a good spot for a group photo. There was a surprise bonus too – a wedding was taking place this afternoon at the grand St Paul’s Cathedral. We were lucky enough to see the bride and bridemaids, in their wonderful gowns and stunning veil, as they were getting ready to enter the church. As we returned to the church later, the guests were outside to meet the bride and groom, and to release balloons in their honour. A wonderful and special addition to our tour!
Of course, this would not have been a Trefoil Guild outing without a stop for cake and tea. Today’s stop was the Fontanella tea rooms, which are set on the ramparts. With 30 cakes on offer, it was hard to choose, though Strawberry Meringue and Chocolate, Hazel and Apple cake were the two favourites!
We now have the afternoon to relax in the sunshine. It is very warm today (up to 34 degrees by some accounts), so we do not want to do very much! However, some of the ladies have made it up to the room terrace for a swim, whilst others are heading for a last ice cream on the beach. Hopefully tomorrow I will be able to sum up our time out here, so please do come back and hear our final thoughts. One last evening buffet beckons before then, though!