Tour bus experience in Malta!

Almost anywhere I go on holiday, I try to take a tour bus early in the trip, to give me some ideas as to where to go later on. Malta was no exception. There are two tours to choose from, the North and the South tours, and as we had already had a fairly good taste of the south of the island when we went to the Marsaxlokk market, we decided to take the North tour.

We got to the bus stop fairly early in the day, as the tours finish before tea time in the early evening and so we had to pack it all in earlier rather than later. We had pre-booked our tickets, so getting on the bus was reasonably smooth.

lamp in Valetta

A lamp in an archway in Valetta

 We didn’t get off the bus at each stop; we’d already had a look at the itinerary and planned where we would be stopping. We had already decided to spend a day in Valetta, and so just passed through the city on this part of the tour, taking interest in our surroundings in preparation for our later visit. We also passed a few other stops, including the gardens at St Anton. I think that, had I not had the two children with me, I might have stopped here, but I don’t think that it would  have been fair to expect the children to spend a considerable amount of time in the gardens. Our first stop was at the Mdina Glass factory. It was huge! If I’d had more money, I would have bought

me on tour bus

Me on the tour bus

loads of the stuff. It was just the sort of thing that I like; very colourful, happy colours and lovely, striking shapes. After I win the lottery, I’ll head back and fit out my new house with all the lovely glassware! You could watch some glassblowers at work, although how they could stand the heat, I just don’t know. There were also some lovely glass representations of famous works of art, such as Van Gogh’s ‘Sunflowers’. However, what was more in my price range was the jewelry.

Cheeky relaxing

Cheeky relaxing in the sunshine

My lovely Dad bought me a couple of pieces to wear, which I will have to photograph and share with you later on. I also bought a bracelet for my friend Maria, as well as some glass beads for future craft projects.

After making our purchases, we relaxed outside the factory, whilst waiting for the tour bus to return, and I had a can of Kinnie, the soft drink made in Malta which I have grown to love! The boys also enjoyed the break, as you can see in this picture of Cheeky having a bit of a cat nap, tipping his hat over his eyes, Indiana Jones style!

Our next stop was the Ta Qali craft village. I had been very keen to visit this place since reading about it, well in advance of our holiday. It is situated on an old air field, and the shops are all in old Nissen huts. I must admit that when I imagined what it would look like, I was way off course. I imagined a fairly barren field, dotted with a dozen or so Nissen huts. I was wrong! I didn’t have time, in the two hours I was there, to visit all of the shops, so I’ve no idea how many there were. The area was lush with trees and cacti as well, so it really was nothing like I imagined.  

Ta Qali craft village

Ta Qali craft village

 This was the ‘main street’ of the village. There is an eclectic mix of jewelry, woollen and lace goods, glass products and more touristy items for sale. I bought a couple of things, and again I could have bought much more, given the money! There was a particularly lovely hand made lace stole which I would have loved to have brought home for Maria, as she loves her scarves and shawls, but unfortunately €200 was a little over my budget! After a spot of lunch, we got back on the bus and travelled on to our next stop.

in to Mosta

On the road into Mosta

 This was the entrance to Mosta, and you can see the Mosta Dome just to the left of the centre of the picture. We decided that, again, and disappointingly for me, it wouldn’t be fair to the kids to stop at Mosta as there wasn’t really much for them to do. So we moved on to Mdina. Mdina deserves a post of it’s own though, so I’ll save that, too, for another day.

narrow maltese road

A narrow hilltop road in Central Malta

 The roads from Mdina to the north of the island were…interesting, to say the least! They were very narrow and rutted, and definitely not the sort of roads to be navigated by the faint hearted! I can’t imagine any bus driver in Britain being particularly happy to have to traverse these sort of roads! However, after about half an hour, we came back into a series of villages, and relatively better roads.

Bugibba road surfacing

Road surfacing on the seafront at Bugibba

Once reaching Bugibba, we thought that we were on the home straight. We had decided not to stop at the beach, as it was already four in the afternoon and we hadn’t brought any beach things (swimming costumes, towels, etc) with us. We thought we had made the better decision, until our driver decided to literally physically move a sign which proclaimed a road to be closed for roadworks. He couldn’t see anything happening and so decided he didn’t believe the sign, and stubbornly went ahead regardless. Well, the photo above shows what we saw a short way further down the road! The whole coast road was shut for the road to be resurfaced, and despite many minutes of arguments between the workers and our driver, we were not allowed to drive over the fresh surface. Can’t imagine why! We were sat in the blazing hot sunshine for a good twenty minutes before the bus driver reluctantly reversed all the way back up the hill, and then spent a further twenty minutes trying to find his way around the back streets of Bugibba to get back on his usual route! We eventually arrived back in Sliema nearly an hour later than anticipated, very hot, tired and in need of a long, cold drink in the coolness of our apartment.

Other than being unlucky in arriving in Bugibba at the exact time that they were resurfacing the road, the tour was really great. There was an audio commentary the whole way which was very interesting and informative, and really reinforced by previous impression that the Maltese are proud of their British links, as well as being very in touch with their own history over the past centuries. They still, for example, refer to Mdina as ‘our old capital’ despite the fact that it hasn’t been the capital of Malta since the fifteenth century!

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3 Responses

  1. Sounds like you had a lovely trip! I was fascinated by your account of the glass factory. I’d like to go somewhere like that.

  2. I’d definitely go back, and with some more money if I ever go back to Malta! And as my Dad said, it would be interesting to be able to spend more time watching the glassblowing process. It looked so effortless as they created a vase in front of our eyes, and yet the years of practise it must take! I’d definitely buy some glasses or a vase or something if I went back. Depending on how much money I was able to save up!

  3. Congrats on such a excellent post. I really liked reading it. Thank You!!

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