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Norwegian Gem Mediterranean Cruise in November: Malta (Escape to Mdina) – Entry 3

Tuesday -- Malta

“Get up extra early in the morning and watch the ship come into the harbor. It will change your life.”

Well, maybe we’re jaded, but it wasn’t a life changing experience. The approach to Valletta, Malta is pretty enough, but neither Linda nor I found it to be spectacular.

Valletta is a very “earthy” looking city, and if brown is your favorite color, then you’ll probably love it. It’s a walled-city, though, and that’s pretty cool. Neither of us has been to Israel, but Malta triggered that thought in our imagination. Is this what the Holy Land looks like?

The main thing to do in Valletta is to walk up the main pedestrian street and visit St. Johns Co-Cathedral, and like any good tourists, we did that. St. Johns is certainly worth a visit, but no matter how lovely a Cathedral is, there’s only so much time you want to spend there. So, we looked around for a few minutes and left. Shopping isn’t my thing, either, so wading through the mass of people on the main street wasn’t my idea of fun.

What we continue to notice, however, is how much smaller the typical Mediterranean person is. I found myself easily looking over the crowd, as though I were a giant among men (which I am, of course, but usually not so literally).

Earlier in the morning, we took the public bus over to Mdina. That was the best part of the day, and had we known it, we would have stayed in Mdina longer and skipped Valletta all-together. Interestingly, all buses on Malta start at the Fountain outside of Valletta’s city gate. So for 3 Euros (about $4), we traveled from the ship to the Fountain to Mdina, roundtrip. By way of comparison, the comparable cruise-sponsored excursion to Mdina cost $95 per person. So, you do the math. Yes, the cruise excursion let you taste wine, but that’s a lot of wine to make up the difference in cost.

Mdina, someone said in a cruise review, is a good place to kill 75 minutes. Wrong. This is a place worth visiting for as much time as you have on your cruise stop. And unlike Valletta, Mdina is relatively empty of tourists. Only a 30 minute bus ride from Valletta, this is a very quiet place, and if you want to see a church, they have one there, too: St. Pauls.

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