A tour of two harbors
Valletta Travel Blog› entry 9 of 10 › view all entries
I catch the 627 to Sliema on the North coast across the bay to the weat from Valletta. The northern coeast we drive to get to Sliema is picturesque Malta. It seemed more tour than bus ride. We follow the coast along several coves and inlets with sail boats and people enjoying a drinks at cafes on this sunny day.
We arrive in Sliema and I am on the lookout for a harbor cruise. It doesn't take much effort as there are stands for atleast a dozen within the first 50 feet. A guy immediately comes up to me and gives me his pitch. He offers a lesser price than there standard pricing due to the lack of tourists this day. Since it was the tour plan that I was seeking, I accept.
I learn that "marsa" is a Phoenician word meaning bay/harbor. All Maltese/Gozitan bays are marsa-something. The Phoenicians left their "marsa" mark elsewhere, Marsa-la in Sicily, and Marse-ille in France.
We set out from Marsamxett Bay and sail down to Msida. There are many marinas and hundreds of colorful sailboats. We sail around Fort Manoel and along the penninsula that is Floriana and the fortified city of Valletta. Valletta's fortifications were created in 5 years by thousands of Turkish slaves. The rush was a fear of a Turkish invasion. Valletta has extreme hills because the defense took priority over leveling the city.....so it is!
Rounding Fort St. Elmo at Valleta's tip, we enter the manmade Grand Harbor. There are waves crashing into the breakwater rocks and splashing high into the air.
We sail along the opposite side of Valletta and Floriana to the city of Marsa. It is quite industrial. There is an interesting sight as the the boat that Robin Williams sailed in the movie "Popeye" is here, now, as a resteraunt and on land. From here we sail into French Creek and along the city of Senglea. We pass the largest dry dock in the whole Mediteranean. If it can fit through the Suez Canal, it can be repaired here.
We sail around Senglea and on the thip is the famous watchtower in many pics and postcards. It has ornamentation symbols of an eye and an ear. They are here to see and hear all that goes on, protection. Senglea isn't so picturesque as a whole but, at night from Valletta it is lit well and the fortifications look impressive.
We sail around Senglea and into Dockyard Creek between Senglea and Vittoriosa.
We sail around to the other side of Vittoriosa into Kalkara Creek. The tip of this outermost penninsula is Fort Rinella. Within this creek the movies " The Spy who Love me", "White Squall", and "The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen" were filmed here.
We head back through the breakwater into the chopping Mediteranean and back into Marsamxett Harbor. We return to the dock, thank our guides, and I take the bus back to Valletta for a rest at the guesthouse before dinner.
Even though I am tired, I venture out to Fusion Four. It had been reccomended and this was my last night.
On my way back to the guest house, I walked slower than my ususal brisk pace to take in the interesting details of Valletta. The unique squared bay type windows, the limestone everything, the Roman ruins in the square, and the rollercoaster streets that seem to go on forever.
I decided to revisit my viewing spot fromt the previous night, along the outer fortificatin wall just outside Valletta's right bastion with a view of Grand Harbor. Again, I can see the spectacular night views of the the 3 cities. I happened to look inland and catch the last of the fireworks over Rabat/Mdina that were celebrating the feast of St. Joseph. They waited for me!!! As I walk back up the outer wall, I can see from atop Floriana, the last of the fireworks over Mosta's Dome. How special.....I am so lucky! Thanks Malta! Thanks for a great time!