Thursday, October 15, 2015

24 Hours in Valletta, Malta

Valletta The Little Magpie 9

Well hey there! And welcome to the first of my Malta posts. We stayed in Sliema the entire trip, but went on a couple of day trips throughout the week - for being so small, Malta has SO much to do - so today's post focuses on the first of our day trips, which was the shamazing Valletta, the capital of Malta. Ok, so I lied a little... it was more 8 hours in Valletta rather than 24 hours, but it doesn't quite have the same ring to it does it? Anyway, I digress. Our taxi dropped us off outside the city walls and we walked through the gate into the city to what felt like an Indiana Jones-style lost city set. The entire city is a UNESCO World Heritage site with buildings dating back as far as the 16th Century so it's filled to the brim with history. But first, behold the beautiful streets..

Valletta street view 1 Valletta The Little Magpie 18 Valletta street view

After ogling at the buildings for a good while, we headed down to the waterfront.

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Do you see what I mean about it looking like a film set? There's so much to see down this way, from the Siege Bell War Monument, to the Lower Barrakka Gardens as well as the War Museum.

Valletta street view (2) Valletta The Little Magpie 16

Having spent a good while down there, we headed back into the main part of the city to get something to eat, stopping along the way to admire The Grand Palace and the fountains at St. George's square (which dance in time to music for five minutes on the hour every hour, very sassy).

Piadine cafe Valletta Gluten Free Vegan Piadine cafe Valletta Gluten Free Vegan 1 Valletta The Little Magpie 15

For lunch we headed to Piadina cafe, which I'd found whilst looking for somewhere that did GF food and oh lordy, it did not disappoint. They do a salad, a soft drink and a coffee combo for 7 euros (7. Euros. MADNESS), a salad which, I should note, was about three times the size of my head. It sits right on a main set of stairs so we just sat and ate and people watched for a good couple of hours, making friends with the most adorable little Frenchie along the way.

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Once we'd finished our lunch we hopped on the Upper Barrakka lift and headed down to the harbour. By the time we'd walked along in the 30 degree heat we were parched, so stopped off at Hard Rock cafe and re-hydrated ourselves with, um, alcohol. When they look this pretty it'd be rude not too, right? I went for a big 'un but as soon as I saw Rob's little trio COMPLETE WITH NACHOS I knew I'd made a huge, huge mistake.

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After that, we walked up to the Upper Barrakka gardens which are absolutely breathtaking, the fountain (top two photos) genuinely gives the feel that you've walked into Heaven - I was half expecting naked little cherubs to come flying down at any minute. It used to be a private garden for the Italian Knights, but opened to the public in the 1800s. And for that, Valletta, I thank you. Being the highest point of the city walls, there are some really beautiful views to be had up here, riiiight across the grand harbour and over to the three cities. 

Rampila Restaurant Review Valletta 3 Rampila Restaurant Review Valletta 4 Rampila Restaurant Review Valetta 2 Rampila Restaurant Review Valletta

By night, once the tourists have started to filter out, Valletta is much more peaceful and feels like you've walked back in time, Midnight in Paris style. We headed along to Rampila for dinner, located right in the historic bastions of Valletta, which was such a lovely way to end the evening. It's tucked away down a little set of stairs, which open up to a (very well stocked) underground bar and restaurant. The tunnel that the restaurant's built in to is, like everything is in Valletta, filled with history; it was constructed all the back in 1570 and was originally used as the access passage to the Bastion gun emplacement. So there's your fact for the day! We chose to eat on the terrace which, as the sun set, lit up with little fairy lights, and we alllll know how I feel about fairy lights (good. Very good). They were so good with GF too, and able to tell me exactly what was and wasn't GF so it's one to keep in mind if you're a fellow gluten free-er! The food was really incredible too, and oh-so-very-flavoursome, one of my favourite meals we had in Malta in fact.

And that was it, back to Sliema we went! There's so much more to do in Valletta (St John's co-cathedral and The Casa Rocco Piccola for starters) so I'd love to go back but, as we only had an afternoon that was all we managed to squeeze in. I hope that gives you a nice little taster of the magical land of Valletta though!