Walk 1 – St Julian’s to Floriana
First walk today. Taco and I were out the house at 8.55 – although slight set back when I reached the end of our road and realised I’d forgotten poo bags for Taco. Here’s us leaving for the start of the walk.
Officially began the walk at 9.15 from Spinola Bay. Unfortunately the sunny day I’d been promised on my weather app was not to be. It was quite overcast and grey. Good for walking but not for photos. However here’s a shot from the starting point. Spinola Bay, St. Julian’s.
We set off at a fair pace. Spinola Bay is usually very pretty with coloured boats bobbing in the bay and the sun dancing on the water. Today is was grey and as I walked round through Balluta Bay and then on to Sliema what I noticed most the stark contrast between the old Maltese buildings – many of which are in a poor state – and the modern apartments. Also the scale of building work. Everywhere you look there are cranes and buildings half built.
Balluta is one of my favourite bays as it has some beautiful huge art nouveau buildings, a grand neo-gothic church, a pretty pjazza with cafes and in summer steps down to a nice sheltered beach which is a popular for swimming. Today the water was choppy and uninviting though so I strolled on quickly round to Sliema.
The ‘cat hotel’ at Sliema is a favourite in our family with the kids and with Taco who as usual had a good sniff and poked her nose in to see if any cats were at home. It’s been set up for homeless cats – oh which there are many in Malta. I had to pull Taco on.
Here we ducked down from the prominard and walked round the beach which is basically rock. You can do a good stretch of beach here on the rock and Taco could run around off the lead (although officially forbidden but who is watching?).
Sliema is one of Malta’s sought-after locations and tightly packed apartment blocks line the water front. In summer it’s really nice to swim off the rocks on the front but today we just walked along until reaching the children’s playground where we cut across the peninsula just before Tigne point.
When you cut through to the other side of the penisula you instantly have stunning views of Valletta across the water. You can’t get tired of this view – it’s such a picturesque city.
As we walk along we pass the many tourist booths selling boat cruises and bus tours. Even now in January – the middle of winter – many are still operating and there are still tourists around. Can’t say a boat trip looked very appealing to me with the choppy water and grey sky but there were a few desperate tourists getting ready to depart.
From here on, past Sliema, I haven’t really walked before so this bit is the most interesting for me. Taco and I have been going for just under an hour and I’m starting to long for coffee but I press on as I’m not sure how long the next stretch will take.
We reach Manole island which I haven’t been to and wasn’t going to include in this walk. However as I was looking over I saw what I thought was a super delux cat hotel! Made of straw and sort of floating on the water. Although hang on.. don’t cats hate water? I had to take a closer inspection so I walked over the bridge to investigate. It’s not a cat hotel but a duck village! Compared to the Sliema cat hotel this is the Hilton for ducks. Windmills, roof terraces, underground cave things, a clock tower, a boat. It had it all and not exclusively for ducks as I initially thought. There were chickens, guinea fow, guinea pigs and cats (sitting high up and looking surprisingly uninterested in what I would have thought would have made a tasty lunch). We would’ve stayed longer but a cocker spaniel tied up outside took a dislike to Taco so we left the island and continued on our way.
We were now walking along by the marina at Ta’Xbiex. Lots of fancy yachts along here and lots of nice places to eat ranging from London style little mobile lunch places to big yacht clubs.
We passed Avotaco – the highly rated Taco van. We stopped by to say hello and the aptly named Taco got her photo taken for their social media and also a bowl of water. Unfortunately they weren’t yet open so no snacks to keep us going.
We then passed the ‘Black Pearl’ – restaurant inside a pirate ship style boat. Noted as a place to take the kids…
As we rounded the end of this short penisula round to Msida Creek there were beautiful houses with colourful balconies as well as more stunning views of Valletta across from a WWII war memorial.
Walking along a coast, especially here, means that you are constantly going in and around peninsulas which can make the length of your walk to the end destination difficult to judge. Suddenly it seems so close and then you’re walking back inland. Anyway, we had the final jaunt along Msida Creek and marina taking in a huge church and more boats.
Then we were here. We’d arrived in Floriana on the outskirts of Valletta. We did a quick trot up San Maison Gardens which is a steep grassy verge overlooking the harbour. I sat and recovered while Taco had one of her mad moments – which consists of her running around me in circles like a crazed dog and barking at any lone men she sees. How come she had so much energy left?
So we were done – walk 1. It took 2 hours exactly and was 9.15km. A great easy, flat walk to start with which I would highly recommend. Bring on the next one….