February 21, 201 – Balzan

Another bus adventure. It all began with a late bus and a runaway puppy. Today we were going back to Valletta so could catch the bus just outside our house. It was a few minutes late and just before it came around the corner the cute little dog from the house across the square “escaped” as its owner was cleaning around their front door. Luckily it ran right up to us to say hello and I was able to grab it and return it to its owner. I ran, if I can call what I do these days running, for the bus, Bob and Caroline were already on it. This was our second bus trip to Valletta and after about 15 minutes we started to think this does not look familiar. We looked up at the display at the front of the bus and yup, we were not heading to Valletta. Bob checked with the driver and our best course of action was just to stay on the bus as he was circling back to our stop and then heading to Valletta.

We had timed getting the bus to coincide with the 11am showing of a movie about Valletta bus since we missed it we went to the Grand Master’s (Knights of St John) Palace first. Part of the palace were being renovated so there were spots where wall frescoes were covered and ceiling fresco pieces were removed. Lots of painting in the reception rooms which were hard to see as you could only stand it the doorways of many of the rooms – pretty dumb we thought.

Hallway in Grand Master’s Palace

They could have roped off the centre of the room to spare the rug and put runners around the edges so you could walk inside the room. There were objects being described in the audio guide that you couldn’t see at all. The main meeting room of the Knights was covered in beautiful very large tapestries from the 18th century but the room was barely lit so many were hard to see except for the ones near the door way. I’m sure this is done for conservation purposes but I have seen tapestries that were just as old displayed so that you could see them better. End of grumbling – almost.

Several of the rooms in the palace are used today by the president for formal occasions such as greeting diplomats from other countries. The palace also houses a very large armoury with all manner of weapons; swords, crossbows, guns, cannons and I can’t even think of all the names of the various weapons. The collection of suits of armour and head pieces was impressive. The armour belonging to more wealthy/important persons was often beautifully engraved as were many of the gun hilts. It seems things don’t change when it comes to war and killing, lots of money spent on making it as effective as possible.

Bob scored big time in finding us a lunch spot that was on the way to the Malta Experience where the film was being shown. He found the restaurant, Beati Paoli, on good old Google maps, it was great. A very small room seating a minimum of 12 on the street level which is where we sat, and they also had an open kitchen seating level downstairs. The food and service was excellent and we’ve discovered a very decent Maltese white wine.

Side street in Valletta

It was a short walk to where the 45 minute film about the history of Malta was being shown. It could have been the wine but we all nodded through the film, Bob the least, me the most. Our ticket included a tour of the Knights hospital which was really good. It was a walking tour so that certainly helped us stay awake. The building is very long and narrow-ish and is used today for banquets and probably weddings. Both the upstairs which had been for the wealthy and downstairs, which had been for the poor, were set up for pretty fancy looking dinners.

Former poor people’s section of the hospital

The trip home was uneventful no one got lost and we got on the right bus.

3 Replies to “February 21, 201 – Balzan”

  1. Looks like a great place to find the super wealthy of this era, i.e. those « Golden Passported «  Russian money launderers. Sumptuous space in any case.

  2. A lot of the side streets look very familiar . We most likely travelled some same routes on our hop on hop off bus tour .
    It was a rainy cold day on our day trip in Valletta . Of course we sat on top and froze our #%^* off !!
    Enjoying your blog and pics !
    Safe travels .
    I believe there is a good bird sanctuary . It was closed when we were there .

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