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Malta – stunning architecture, vintage buses and a Popeye theme park

A year later after my first visit, I still cannot decide if I like Malta.

The all seeing eye is watching you

I didn’t know what to expect. I had heard of the vintage buses that local people owned and ran.

Malta bus

And was disappointed to discover that they had been replaced with a modern fleet, that no one seemed to like.

Bus 084

The fate for the old buses was mixed. Some were used for special tours.

Souvenier Bus

Others, have a new life as souvenir shops.

Phil, my husband, and I became obsessed in finding as many as we could. And we were not the only ones many happy to see them.

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No plans had been made for a museum to keep the heritage of these buses going. There was no space on the island we were told. I am sure that The Malta Aviation Museum could have added to its collection of vintage vehicles. It seemed the perfect place to preserve the beautiful buses.

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We also became a little bit obsessed with the colourful doors.

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The architecture was beautiful. The capital Valetta, the ancient city of Mdina and the Mosta Dome are all worth a visit. They can get very busy as bus tours from the cruise liners take over, so go early morning or late afternoon to enjoy them without the crowds.

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We arrived at Mdina at about 9 am and had the city almost to ourselves. We then treated ourselves to tea and cake.

With views and cake like this, Fontanella  is worth a visit.

View from Mdina

To people watch, Cafe Cordina in Valetta is the place to go. And while I chose to sit outside and watch the world go by, it is worth a peek inside, as it is a beautiful building.

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And as you wander around Valletta, look up and see the past all around you.

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The Sunday Market at Marsaxlokk is also worth a visit. Go early as it gets crowded and the queues for the bus from Valletta were chaotic.

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Out of all the places we visited,we liked this town the best. If we were to visit again, this is where we would stay. We may even consider living here one day.

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We were based in San Pawl which we found too commercialised. We did however discover gems such as Damiano where we ate almost every evening.

We went to this pastizzi shop and this Gelateria for lunch on the go.

And ‘stole’ the free wifi here.

This is the Bugibba Bocci Club where locals gather every evening.

Looking back, the awfulness of the hotel was the main reason we did not fall in love with Malta (read my review here). Now, as I look back at the photos a year later, I can see how beautiful Malta is.

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The tragedy is that the colours and culture that are Malta are in danger of getting lost in the rush for modernisation and to spend all the EU grants. They have already replaced the vintage buses. There were cranes everywhere, new apartments and shopping malls were being built while old, beautiful buildings are left to rot.

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It also felt a bit too British and we both felt that we struggled to find the real Malta. It became a republic in 1974 after British rule ended in 1964. It is now part of the EU and it seems that after many years of occupation by the British and the French, the now independent Malta is seeking its identity. And is danger of losing itself in the process.

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Then we discovered this.

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The film set from the Popeye movie is now a tourist attraction.

And then I saw these….

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and thought that if Malta can hold on to all that is best of its past, it is not a bad place after all.







1 comment on Malta – stunning architecture, vintage buses and a Popeye theme park

  1. I too have been to Malta, twice, and I loved it, Medina, dangling my feet in the Blue Lagoon and the people so friendly, however, there is a darker side to Malta with their dislike of wildlife, particularly birds. The farmers blame them for everything that befalls them, from bad weather, crop failure etc.
    Before going please see Bill Oddie’s reports about the 2014 spring bird massacre on Malta and at least make your objections known to their government. Some of these birds come to Britain or are from Britain, numbers are dwindling.

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