Monday, 14 November 2011

A Long Weekend In Malta - Part One

Mr LG is currently working in Malta as a consultant to their national airline, he and the other consultants are very good at what they do and inch by inch they are progressing. Change is not something welcomed with open arms and it can be very frustrating for those that can see that change is the only way forward - "The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and over again expecting a different result." Whoever said that is right (Einstein or Franklin, take your pick!), but the culture here really doesn't like change. This makes the long 10 hour work days for Mr LG really rather stressful and tiring. He does come home some weekends, although not all weekends, and rather than being totally relaxing and stress free they can be stressful too. I am good at coping on my own but when Mr LG gets home things happen such as the terrierist LGs escaping and pulling all nighters which are stressful, and the ordinary everyday stuff  such as laundry doesn't magically do itself so I can't just forget that the school uniform needs to be washed!

Being at home I don't really get to forget that I'm a mother first and foremost. My eldest is now 18 and the youngest 15. The eldest is great at doing practical things such as putting up new fencing to try to contain the LGs, the youngest gets himself up in the morning and gets ready for school. But I'm still their mother and get to do the laundry and most of the cooking and clearing up! So I suggested that it might be an idea for me to pop down to Malta for a couple of days rather than Mr LG coming home, and I have to say that it's been wonderful. Although you never completely forget being a mother, it's rather nice for a change to just be a wife.

Mr LG normally stays in the Victoria Hotel, Sliema, which looks fabulous as you walk in, very opulent and regal, however, he arranged for us to be upgraded to the parent hotel, The Palace, which is connected via a corridor, and the differences are apparent immediately e.g. the lift in the Palace wizzes you silently and smoothly to your destination floor while the lift in the Victoria trundles, rattles and jolts at around a quarter of the speed. I think possibly because Mr LG is a regular here his upgrade request was upgraded again and we have one of the Designer Suites on the 7th floor with an enormous bed you literally sink into,  a huge flatscreen TV in front of a comfy Chesterfield and a luxurious bathroom complete with a deep tub you can wallow in for hours with your Kindle, a separate shower and fluffy bath robes, not to mention the huge balcony with sun loungers, table and chairs accessed via two sets of sliding doors.

Friday evening after I arrived we went out to the local supermarket and bought some food and sat on the balcony to eat it. It gets dark pretty early here, being close to the equator, so it was rather romantic sitting in the warm November evening with the lights on the yachts and all over the towns twinkling away, and the church just across the street looked so beautiful with the dome and bell towers all lit up. Then even though the clouds looked fairly wispy and non-threatening it started to rain, so we shoved the table and chairs under the overhang of the balcony above and continued dinner in what turned out to be a fairly hefty thunderstorm!

Caffe Cordina
Saturday morning we went into Valletta by bendy-bus (yep, Malta has got Boris's cast offs!) which was experience. I don't suffer with travel sickness but it was a close call on a bendy-bus bouncing alarmingly over rough and potholed roads! Don't come to Malta expecting to pick up bargains, many of the shops are British (M&S, Next, etc.,) and cost more than at home. Mr LG did take me to a wonderful place for coffee, Caffe Cordina, which is definitely worth a visit as the interior is absolutely stunning and has a rich history. You can while away some time sipping your coffee and indulging in some of the luscious looking cakes whilst the locals pop in for a swift breakfast taken at the bar.
Interior of Caffe Cordina
Another must see in Valletta is St. John's Co-Cathedral whether you are a practising Catholic or a staunch agnostic - remember to take something to cover your shoulders as you won't be allowed in if not suitably dressed. The rather austere outside of the building hides an awesome baroque interior - the word awesome is used far too readily and has lost much of it's meaning these days, but the interior of this building does leave you feeling truly awestruck.
St. John's Co-Cathedral
Love it or hate it, the intracate carvings, paintings and inlaid marble floors have to be seen to be believed and the very reasonable entrace fee of 6 Euros per adult gets you access to the cathedral to wander at your leisure (outside service times) with a handheld audio guide, viewing works of art such as Caravaggio's Beheading of St. John The Baptist (macabre subject matter but the size of the canvas is immense and makes you wonder how on earth they removed and transported it for restoration!) and Saint Jerome Writing, as well as a collection of sacred vestments and Flemish Tapestries. 
Interior of St John's Co Cathedral with chairs removed
On Saturday afternoon we drove to the ancient walled city of Mdina which is also worth a visit to wander around the medieval and baroque architecture and to gaze at the views from the walls across the island. You can take a horse and carriage ride around the city, but these are very touristy (i.e. overpriced!) and best avoided so that you can explore to your hearts content the narrow alleys.
Narrow medieval street
in Mdina

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