Malta days 5 – 7

The past couple of days here in Malta have continued essentially along the lines of the first four.

On Friday, we had another quite tiring day, spending the day walking around Valletta. It is another quite historic place but has a lot of modern touches and shops. We visited a war museum first but probably the highlight of the day was Malta 5D. A brilliant experience enjoyed by everyone. We really should have something similar in Jersey.

In the evening we went out for a meal at a Maltese restaurant, Ta Marina, because we know they had music and entertainment. Both were great even if my own dancing was probably a bit dodgy!

Saturday had a slightly later start and a more relaxed agenda. We visited a few towns on the coast, but here the highlight was a boat trip to see the Blue Grotto and other caves. The trip itself was quite choppy, but actually that just made the whole experience better. I videoed the whole thing and look forward to seeing it back sometime.

Today we were back at Valletta, firstly to see the normal Sunday market. To be fair it wasn’t brilliant and we were reliably informed that it was nothing like as big as it used to be. Shame.

From there, and after a drink at the lovely Cafe Gordina just around the corner from the main square where there was a live singer today, we went to catch a ferry over to Sliema. That is a much more tourist focused place but not so much so to be unpleasant. In fact it was lovely, the only downside being how busy the buses are leaving there so we were stood up for virtually all of the 45 minute ride back to Mellieha.

So just relaxing now while we prepare to go out tonight. It seems like it’s been a very short week – a fact probably not helped by our difficult opening day or two – but it has been very very enjoyable so far.

Malta days 3 & 4

I’m writing this at the end of another couple of busy days here but again they’ve been really good.

Yesterday, we set out to spend the morning visiting first the walled city of Mdina. That was a really peaceful place and we enjoyed just walking around seeing the excellent views. We stopped off to see the Mdina Dungeons which charted torture and punishment used in Malta over the years. Interesting more than fun shall we say!

After a bit of shopping and a stop for a drink we went to find the Mdina Glass factory, for a bit more shopping. But also we could stop and watch the glass blowers at work. That was absolutely fascinating really and we just stood and watched them making item after item for a good ten to fifteen minutes. That was excellent.

After an unscheduled visit to the petting zoo next door we eventually found the craft village in Ta’Qali. This is the sort of place that was good fun just wandering round for a little while, although we had a great time and spent probably a good couple of hours there, including another lovely and very cheap lunch.

We also stopped off briefly in Mosta and visited the Mosta Dome where a wartime bomb went through the roof during a service but never exploded.

We came back to the hotel, relaxed for a bit and then went out for a meal, this time at a Chinese restaurant up the road from the place we visited yesterday. It was a long day in the end and I think everyone was very much ready for sleep!

So today we had a slightly earlier start to catch a ferry to Gozo. The smaller neighbour is much greener than Malta but no more/less lovely for that – it’s just different. And the roads are generally worse too. Anyway, we raced around the island today visiting Xewkija Rotunda Church, the Citadella, the Azure Window, a craft village (at the second attempt after missing it originally), a rock shaped like a tortoise and Xlendi Bay.

Just picking out the highlights here but the ferry was lovely and Condor Ferries could really learn a thing or two about how to run a frequent, slick and efficient service.

The best bit was probably the Rotunda Church. We were looking for it but ended up finding it by accident because we couldn’t find what the satnav called it. The church itself has a wonderful story behind it but for me the best bit was climbing the very high tower, complete with narrow spiral staircase, with awesome views at the very top.

Xlendi Bay was a treat at the end of the day. A beautiful bay with wonderful clear water, lots of lively fish in the water, and great friendly looking bars and restaurants right on the seafront (including the very lovely Churchill’s where we stopped). The only downside of Xlendi really is that it’s in the middle of nowhere so you’d really struggle to spend more than a couple of days there at most. But they’d be great days.

Then it was back on the ferry again to return to Malta. We ate out again tonight but energy levels are down I think from all the traveling. Having an earlier night tonight and get back on it tomorrow.

Malta days 1 & 2

I write this lying in bed after a pretty long last 48 hours, but actually one that’s been really good.

Traveling here to Malta was as good as BA business class usually is, although for one of our flights the oven wasn’t working so we couldn’t have hot food. But since both our flights yesterday were serving breakfast we certainly didn’t miss out.

Driving here wasn’t as bad as we feared but there were a few too many roundabouts with confusing looking duel-carriageways leading up to them but generally it’s been fine.

The fun began in the hotel, and really we had too many problems to list here in full, but amongst our joys were squeaky noisy air conditioning, a bed that broke when sitting on it then was fixed then broke again immediately, a toaster that glowed with a lovely white bright spark before breaking, an electrical fuse box covered by a sheet of A4 and absolutely no hot water. We asked if we should change room after being told the air-con would take a couple of hours to fix but it wasn’t till the hot water failure was discovered that the hotel agreed we should change.

Now we have an excellent room and working air-con and hot water too which is all very lovely. The room overlooks one of the pools too which is pretty handy. Overlooks as in our kids can claim over our balcony railings and step down to the pool.

So leaving all the bad things to one side. We’ve had a great couple of days. Particularly today, this morning/afternoon we went to Popeye Village (or Poh-pee Village as our satnav called it).  We were really surprised at how much stuff was there. Especially how cheap the food and drink was. We’re well used to being ripped off on that sort of thing when you are at a complex of some kind but no, they were more than fair.

Tonight, we wandered up the hill opposite our hotel and just picked somewhere along the way to eat at. We ended up at a place (I have now found out is) called L’Amigo. Lovely food well placed, and enormous amounts of it. What’s not to like.

After another walk back down the hill past the colourful fountains, we found somewhere for a drink. We quickly settled on a place fairly near our hotel, the 120 Bar, which was a little bit slow but again fantastic value. Any time you can buy a pint of lager for less than 3 Euros can’t be bad.

And that’s about it. Just relaxing now watching the ubiquitous Sky News which writing this.

Update: not long after writing this I was reminded we all got stuck in one of the hotels rickety lifts. As if we needed more stuff to complain about

Sprint intervals

I thought I’d post details of my last but one training session here as it was really one to remember.

Firstly, I have been very slack lately and have gone the best part of a fortnight between runs. It’s been a long couple of weeks so it was good to get running again.

However, this session was just a little bit special. Jean suggested we do some sprints between the lamp posts on the sea front. So we sprinted for two lampposts and walked for 4. In the end we did 7 or 8 sets and it was just really good fun. But the really startling thing about the session was the speeds I was apparently getting. The speed trace in this session had a fastest 1km pace of 2:11.

Which is a bit under 27.5kmh. Or 16mph. Or put it another way if I kept that pace going for 100m I’d do that distance in just a tad over 13 seconds.

I was shocked when I worked that out. I always thought I had a bit of sprint speed but was never sure.

Anyway, it was good to get running again, and now a couple of days later my legs are still hurting a fair bit. I think that’s a good thing!