I don’t know whether you agree with me but I find the old shop-fronts of Valletta endlessly fascinating. Without knowing it, it seems that I’ve taken it upon myself to photograph all the ones I can find before they disappear forever.
Thursday, 26 November 2015
Sunday, 25 October 2015
The National War Museum has moved from the old Drill Hall of lower Fort St Elmo to the actual Fort itself. The entrance ticket is valid for both which means that you can tour the fort while visiting the museum. Fort St Elmo played a crucial role during the siege of 1565. The Knights defended it to the last man and, when it fell on June 23 1565, no defenders were left alive. But it cost the invading Turks many men and a lot of ammunition. I don’t know whether it was a coincidence or a strange twist of fate, but t he first casualties of World War 2 occurred at Fort St Elmo in June of 1940. Due to its long and varied history, Fort St Elmo deserves a post all to itself so I will leave that to another time.
The National War Museum houses a collection of items that date back to prehistoric times. The items are displayed in chronological order and span over four thousand years of history. There is a section dedicated to the Great Siege of 1565 but the biggest, and best, part of the museum is dedicated to the Second World War and the crucial role that Malta played during those turbulent times.
The exhibits vary from anti-aircraft guns, period uniforms of the British forces and items made by German POWs to the Gloster Gladiator nicknamed ‘Faith’ that I had written about here, the George cross (Malta’s award for gallantry) and President Roosevelt’s jeep ‘Husky’.
My favourite part of the exhibits was the hall dedicated to the SS Ohio and Operation Pedestal. Computer generated images projected onto the ground show the progress of the convoy of ships that left Gibraltar en route to Malta. It really puts into perspective the amount of men and ships that paid the ultimate price to save the island.
The new National War Museum is a vast improvement on the old one. There is ample space for all the exhibits, which are all clearly labelled, and information is readily available through photographic panels and audio visual presentations. It is definitely worth a visit.
The National War Museum, St. Elmo Place, Valletta VLT 1741
Monday to Sunday: 09.00 - 17.00hrs
Last admission at 16.30hrs
Closed on 24, 25 & 31 December, 1 January & Good Friday
Wednesday, 9 September 2015
Like all good things, we discovered Margo’s quite by accident, a couple of years ago. We had planned on going to another restaurant but it was closed. So we walked around for a while. And then we found Margo’s. We haven’t looked back. We think that they make the best pizzas on the island. The ingredients are simple: a thin sourdough crust, fresh produce and … passion. Margo’s pizzas exude passion. A passion for creating the perfect pizza.
My personal favourite is the Cruda but I’ve heard that the Margherita, the New Yorker and the Maltese are pretty awesome too. It’s all a matter of taste, of course.
And if you’re craving a sweet something, Margo’s home-made ice-creams will be the perfect ending to your meal. Needless to say, I always have to have a scoop or two of chocolate-flavoured icecream for the road.
As for who Margo is, I’m not sure anybody knows.
Margo’s, 63 Republic Street, Valletta
This is not a sponsored post and all opinions are strictly my own.
Tuesday, 25 August 2015
Growing up we learnt this rhyme:
Blue and green should never be seen
Without a colour in between
But I somehow it seems as if blue and green work well together here. Maybe the limestone wall is acting as the colour ‘in between’. So what do you think? Do you think blue and green look good together?
Location: Marsaxlokk, April 2013
Sunday, 26 April 2015
Garigue: shrubby vegetation of dry Mediterranean regions, consisting of spiny or aromatic dwarf shrubs interspersed with colourful ephemeral species (Collins English Dictionary)
At first glance it appears to be a barren stretch of land interspersed with rocks and a few shrubs, bent and stunted by fierce winds. But if you look closer and focus on the little things, you will come to realise that the idea that the garigue is barren is just a misconception. On the contrary, it is teeming with life. You just have to know where to look for it. In Malta the garigue is most common on cliff-tops close to the shore, especially in areas like Dingli Cliffs, Ghar Lapsi, Migra Ferha, l-Ahrax tal-Mellieha and the stretch of land between the Mnajdra and Hagar Qim temples and Wied iz-Zurrieq.
The small pockets of red-brown soil in between the jagged rocks are shallow and the only plants that will thrive have short roots and are able to withstand long periods without water under a blazing Mediterranean sun. So the plants that do grow are quite tiny and the best way to appreciate them is to get down on your knees and take a close peek. It is well worth the effort, especially in spring, when the majority of plants will be in flower.
Ironically, although at first glance the garigue appears to be so barren, plants thrive and flower there year round. The most prevalent shrub of the Maltese garigue is the wonderfully-scented wild thyme but it is also common to find asphodel, fennel and spurges. Less frequently, sea chamomile, different species of tiny orchids and irises are encountered. Some of these plants are endemic to the Maltese islands.
In the past, large stretches of garigue were destroyed by urban development and the mistaken mentality that these tracts of land are incapable of supporting any useful vegetation. Nowadays most garigue areas are protected and, thankfully, they continue to be a source of delight to all lovers of nature.
Tuesday, 14 April 2015
St Agatha’s Tower, or as it is more commonly called, the Red Tower is situated on a high ridge that gives anybody in it unobstructed views of the surrounding countryside and, more importantly, the sea.
The tower was built in 1647-1648 during the reign of Grand Master Lascaris as part of the coastal defences of the island and was dedicated to St Agatha – one of the patron saints on Malta. Inside the tower there is a small chapel dedicated to the saint.
Originally, the tower was probably accessed by a drawbridge. The interior of the tower consists of two vaulted rooms with four corner towers. If the need arose, it was able to house a garrison of about 50 men who had at their disposal five cannons positioned on the roof. The tower was manned by British soldiers during both of the world wars. At the base, the walls of the tower are about four metres thick. It is not known when or why the tower was painted red.
In recent years the tower has been restored by Din l-Art Helwa (Malta’s Heritage Trust) with the aid of three private companies.
The Red Tower, Triq tad-Dahar, Mellieha
Opening hours: daily 10.00 – 13.00 hrs; Tuesdays 10.00 – 16.00 hrs
Entrance fee: 2EUR
Tuesday, 10 February 2015
It’s been a long time. But I think it’s finally time to come back here and share more of Malta with you. I’m starting off with something very close to my heart: the traditional shop-fronts of Valletta. They are hard to find these days and some of them are in a less than pristine condition. But that’s what makes them all the more beautiful and mysterious. They make me wonder just what types of wares used to be sold behind those crumbling wooden shutters.
So tell me, which are your favourites?