We arose 15 mins earlier today - logic being that we could get a few things done before it got too hot.
We also did a load of washing in the machine - hopefully our towels will be dry for tomorrow.
We walked one block up and then a few metres away we were in the Upper Barraka Gardens. We wandered about for a while, then went down the steps to the Lascaris War Rooms - but still 15 mins to opening time. No problem - we sat in the shade and watched kids chasing pigeons and the like.
At 10 we went down the steps and were directed to go left. It was actually quite a walk down lots of steps, then in to a tunnel that headed slightly upwards and into the massive limestone rock. After we had gone 3/4 of the way we came to the War Rooms. Firstly, we saw a good film about Malta during the 2WW. The destruction was huge and there was a massive rebuilding effort afterwards.
Malta is only 100km from Sicily from where the Italians launched their air attacks. We saw the underground rooms, carved out of the rock, where the air defences we’re controlled to stop the attackers, and also where the invasion of Sicily was controlled a couple of years later.
In many ways, the systems were simple by today’s computerised systems, but they worked. Some of the girls working there were only 15, and many of the aircraft spotters were 15 yr old Boy Scouts. Another interesting aspect, the Italians and Germans knew nothing of this facility until 1957! This was a great thing to see. J was also impressed to see a Dad’s Army “Stupid Boy” mug for sale!
As it was so hot, and we were close, J and C decided to return to the apartment for a toilet stop, then lunch at the small Micallef Dolcerea and cafe. Here we had a local pastry called Qassatat ( C had spinach, J had spinach and tuna), great coffee (again) and some ricotta filled cannelloni. Away from the strictly tourist strip, these little cafes are mostly frequented by locals, and are good and cheap.
Next stop was St John Co-Cathedral. “Why Co?”, you might ask. J also asked. So did C. Wikipedia - A co-cathedral is a cathedral church which shares the function of being a bishop's seat, or cathedra, with another cathedral, often in another city. So now you know!
Anyway, it is very beautiful High Baroque building - heaps of gold , marble, and paintings. Considered one of the best in Europe. The most famous paintings are by Caravaggio, including his highly famous painting of the 'Beheading of St John the Baptist' - a biggggg painting.
It was here that the problems began. C had her headphones and electronic guide plugged in, and J was having trouble as usual, trying to juggle a bag, a hat, sunglasses, camera, lens cap, headphones and electronic guide. Which item was going to be the one dropped? Anyway, C was getting annoyed as J’s device seemed to be broken, so she was telling him to get another, in rather a firm voice. Of course, as she had earphones on, she didn’t realise that she was shouting! “Keep your voice down” said J. “WHAT?” Said C. “You are shouting”. “I’M NOT SHOUTING” she bellowed. Eventually J’s guide started behaving and things settled down.
Afterwards, we had a half hour sit with a drink to watch the passing parade. This was quite interesting. As it was still quite early, we decided to walk down the hill to the Fort St Elmo at the tip of Valetta. We took our time, down many steps and past numerous jewellers and silversmiths until we reached the fort.
When you think of a fort, you might think of the one at Bellerive bluff, or even the wooden one from F-Troop. But this one is ginormous. Along with the numerous other forts, bastions, etc around Malta, you could tell that they meant business. The entrance to the War Museum within the fort, is an archway with the date of 1522, together with a carved eye above. It is an interesting museum that takes you through the history of Malta and the wars it has been involved in from the 1500s up until today. Of particular interest was Faith(one of the 3 Gloucester Gladiators that defended Malta) Eisenhower’s Jeep, and the George Cross presented to the people of Malta by George VI.
Now we had to get home and J thought that there must be an easy way to walk horizontally to the Barrakka lift, and therefor avoid climbing. Great idea! He asked the girls at the ticket desk. There was much discussion, but obviously no clarity or agreement on a solution. In the end they said “turn left”. So J and C turned left.
We all kept walking, seeing many interesting sites - people swimming off the rocks, some “shanty” houses, a cruise boat leaving, a French reporter being filmed, and many interesting buildings and streetscapes. Eventually we climbed a few steepish streets with steps, and we arrived at the corner of St Paul street, 10 m from our apartment.
After a suitable rest period we went for food - burgers and a drink , then some provisions including wine and a bottle of Limoncello. That should take away the pain from all the walking!!
Maybe a bus or ferry trip tomorrow instead of walking!