We fricken love Maltese food!
Gululus in Spinola Bay has been frequented by us twice now: two nights ago and again tonight. We haven’t had any bad meals in Malta, but there is a lot of very standardised restaurant favourites on hand for the tourist masses. Gululus has a traditional Maltese menu, the service is great (the friendly waiter takes orders in many different languages) and so is the setting (at the water’s edge). See the menu here if you’re interested.
We had spoken to Grandfather Charles about some of the Maltese dishes, so it was great to actually see them on a menu and be able to try them. We will definitely be back again. It’s also very good value – given the large portions we split a main (more than enough) so we had a three course dinner and wine for €25 – no way you can do that in Auckland!
Two days ago we caught the bus to Vittoriosa for the afternoon. Vittoriosa is on the other side of the Grand Harbour from Valletta. It measures 800m x 600m and is home to around 2,500 people. It was the site of a great battle between the Knights and the Ottomans as part of the Great Siege in 1565.
There are a few tourist attractions in Vittoriosa. We didn’t do any of them and instead wandered each of the narrow lanes, stopping to take in the view of the Grand Harbour. Before 5pm the streets were literally deserted and we found ourselves whispering to each other. We saw four other tourists.
The residents take great pride in their city (there is no rubbish at all) and the streets are lined with potted plants. Several streets had plaques presented by the local council to the street for “embellishing their street with potted plants”.
Yesterday we went to the Sunday fish market at Marsaxlokk on the far eastern side of Malta. Marsaxlokk is a traditional fishing village and on Sunday the fisherman set up stalls to sell at the market. The bay is filled with traditional “Iuzzu” fishing boats decorated in bright colours.
Unfortunately the combination of the incredible heat and the fish stalls meant that we weren’t keen on spending too much time in the market. The market also had a number of other hawkers selling usual tourist tat.
Knowing how popular the market would be, we had made a reservation for lunch at one of the fish restaurants lining the bay. Ir Rizzu was popular for its excellent fish – the restaurant itself was very bland. Alex chose the swordfish which was recommended and was very nice despite the old fashioned presentation.
Diving the HMS Maori
Alex booked a dive today for the wreck of the HMS Maori sunk during WWII in 1942. The dive was excellent – even though it is right in the harbour the visibility is still much better than we typically get in New Zealand. Inside the wreck you can see shells with the year 1941 inscribed on them.
Wikipedia provides the following information on the wreck:
Maori served with the Mediterranean Fleet, was involved in the pursuit and destruction of the enemy German battleship Bismarck in May 1941 and served with the 14th Destroyer Flotilla during the Battle of Cape Bon in December 1941. Maori, commanded by Commander R. E. Courage, RN, was attacked by enemy German aircraft and sank at her moorings in the Malta Grand Harbour on 12 February 1942 with the loss of one of her crew. She was raised and scuttled off Malta on 15 July 1945.
Located a few hundred metres from the shore from Valletta, HMS Maori is now a popular dive site. The bow section lies in white sand at a depth of 14m, the aft section of the ship having been abandoned in deep water during the tow from Grand Harbour to Marsamxett Harbour. Much of the forward superstructure is still extant, including the two front gun bases. Much marine life can be found on the wreck.