It’s been a little while since I posted anything on here but there’s been a good reason, I’ve been away on holiday for a couple of weeks. For my break I chose a Mediterranean cruise sailing with Oceania on their new ship Sirena. You can read a post about my experience onboard soon, this post and the one’s that follow are all about the ports we visited. The cruise started on the island of Malta where the ship overnighted.
Malta’s a lovely island in the southern Mediterranean with a very chequered history. Its capital city is Valletta and is incredibly easy to explore as it’s very walkable. The city was founded in 1566 with its bastions, forts and cathedral completed within 15 short years, all built by hand.
The city’s narrow streets boast some of Europe’s finest art works, churches and palaces as well as one of the world’s deepest natural harbours.
Everywhere you turn there are historical buildings, votive statues, niches, fountains and coats of arms on high up parapets.
St John’s Co Cathedral in Great Siege Square is a beautiful baroque church dedicated to St John the Baptist. It is most famous for its stunning interior.
With no particular plan I just wandered around Valletta’s narrow streets finding tiny shops and cafe’s at every turn.
Gradually I made my way to the waterfront and found the Fort of St Elmo which houses the National War Museum. Next to the fort is the Siege Bell War Memorial, a massive monument from where you can get some great views.
From there I headed up to the Lower Barracca Gardens from where you can get stunning views over the breakwater entrance to the Grand Harbour. There’s a statue to the first British Governor of Malta and a monument to the Great Siege.
Although my time in Malta was short I felt that I got a good feel for the city of Valletta and its friendly people, it’s certainly somewhere that I’d love to return to for a weekend break and explore some more.
The ship left Valletta early in the morning and headed for our next destination, the island of Gozo.
Gozo is part of the Maltese Islands although it’s much smaller than its big sister Malta. Our time here was short and due to bad planning on my part I didn’t leave enough time for proper sightseeing. So with a slight hangover after a few too many cocktails the night before it was decided to just have a quick wander around the port area.
Perched on the top of hill was a small church which looked quite interesting so we started to walk up to it. It turned out to be the church of Our Lady of Lourdes. The story goes that the statue of Our Lady of Lourdes was placed in a niche in the rock face overlooking Mgarr Harbour after a visitor in 1879 saw a resemblance to the grotto of Lourdes in the rocks, in 1888 The Blessed Virgin Mary of Lourdes Sanctuary was built as a gothic church inspired by the basilica in Lourdes.
At the top apart from the church we were rewarded with some beautiful views of the bay.
After a little more wandering around our time was up and we made our way back to the ship ready for our departure. As the ship sailed away from Gozo we were treated to some amazing views of the island including its famous Azure Window.
Next port of call Palermo, Sicily.