Malta & Sicily
As I was still getting used to work, C and Hannah were settling into life in our new home. We still had no furniture (with the exception of a second-hand mattress and early 2000’s TV) and only very basic kitchen essentials. It was cold and dreary in England with the sun rising at 9am and setting by 4pm. We were feeling unsettled and itching for some sun. So C suggested we head south to the Mediterranean, specifically Malta and Sicily. In all honesty, I hadn’t ever really considered either destination but we went for it.
We boarded an Air Malta flight from London arriving in Valletta. It was a pretty basic flight but they did serve food and drinks for no additional charge which is becoming more and more rare these days, particularly on inexpensive European carriers. We had decided to stay in Valletta and not venture out of the city. Malta has some beautiful islands, beaches, snorkeling & diving spots, but it was February and we were only there a short period of time. Valletta is quite compact and although beautiful, we found 2 days to be plenty of time to see the sights.
Our Airbnb was a traditional Maltese house made of stone with tile floors and an enclosed balcony overlooking the street. Interestingly enough the toilets were in the back spiral stairway not truly “inside” the house. Our hostess was great, even arranging for airport transportation for us. The only con was there was a small shop across the street that received early morning deliveries which woke us earlier than we’d have liked.
Valletta is a port city with a lot of very interesting history, particularly as a strategic base for British soldiers during WWII. You can see glimpses of it’s colonial past in its red phone booths and English speaking population. Our first afternoon and evening we explored the area near our Airbnb, picked up a takeaway dinner and just took in the sights. Hannah was particularly fond of the phone booths and insisted on going into any and all she found. We also walked down to the Fort St Elmo and found some cats to
play with chase. A stop off for gelato on the way home was the perfect night cap.
Our only full day was spent exploring St. John’s Co-Cathedral. Pictures and words cannot do justice to the beauty and intricate detail of this church. Unfortunately, the two year old decided to be a two year old but C chased her while I gawked at gold painted ceilings and marble detailing. We then walked to see the underground tunnels but they were closed for an unknown reason…probably had something to do with the Turkish diplomats visiting. (Or I assume that because there were a bunch of fancy black cars flying the Turkish flag, lots of police and cordoned off areas.) Instead we wandered down from the waterfront to the Lower Barrakka Gardens and found a playground with gorgeous views of the water and port.
After nap we wandered through the main shopping drag to the famous, and somewhat controversial, city gate. Then we made our way to the Upper Barrakka Gardens, which were closed off earlier in the day. We had decided on pizza and pasta for dinner and found a well rated restaurant close to the Airbnb, Sotto Pizzeria. We walked in to an empty restaurant as they had just opened for dinner, but were quickly told they had no tables as they were full with reservations for the evening. They did offer takeaway though, so we opted for that. C had read good reviews on their tiramisu so asked for an order of it to go with our dinner. Unfortunately you cannot get it for takeaway as they bake it into ceramic cups. He really wanted to try it so we ate desert while waiting for our dinner to be ready. It was delicious! And dinner was good too.
Our last morning we ate a delicious breakfast at a cute cafe, 67 Kapitali, then caught a ride back to the airport. We boarded a Ryan Air flight to Catania Sicily. It was our first experience with Ryan Air and it actually wasn’t bad. My only complaint was the flight attendant made us put Hannah’s blanket up in the overhead bin for takeoff and landing since we were in the bulkhead row. I mean, the thing is a baby blanket so weighs a few ounces and is only a couple feet long but I wasn’t going to pick a fight.
We weren’t able to find an Airbnb we liked in Catania but I did find a serviced apartment rental that looked good. And it was great! We had a rooftop deck, great views of the city and a rather comfy bed. However, the lodging was the best part of Catania, we found. We wandered the city visiting a park which had seen better days. It had an okay playground but it was a bit crowded. The one upside was there was some sort of celebration where all the kids were dressed up in costume and throwing confetti everywhere. It was a sight to see Hannah covered in confetti and chasing after the local kids. The city overall was a bit tired, dirty and just not terribly interesting for us. Honestly, I wouldn’t return to Catania, but maybe a different city in Sicily.
It was a fun trip but we were ready to get home because our things were being delivered from the states shortly after our return.