We have had the loveliest day in Vittoriosa. The weather is still a bit dodgy, no actual rain today but very cloudy and on the cool side, so we dressed in warmish clothes packed Howard and Hilda (our very good and matching waterproof jackets which fold up the size of a slim paperback) in my rucksack and braved the morning wind to catch a bus to Valletta and then a connecting bus to Vittoriosa which is one of the "Three Cities" the other side of the Grand Harbour in Valletta. The first bus had a lit up Madonna over the driver's cab - that's a new one. We changed at the bus station and continued up to Vittoriosa on a new bus. The bus system is absolutely brilliant, all the buses go to Valletta, timetables and maps are available free there and you just go and find the next bus. At 47 cents a trip it is very cheap too and much the most efficient way of getting round the island.
We had a sort of plan for Vittoriosa which involved the Maritime Museum, lunch, The Inquisitor's House and St Lawrence's church. All of which were achieved, eventually. The Maritime Museum is superb, Onslow is rather keen on boats of any description (he actually sailed for the Army) so he was in his element. Apparently all the badges of rank on the naval officers' uniforms are wrong and I was told in no uncertain terms what they should be wearing. The WRNS uniform displayed would have been too small for my 12 year old grand-daughter - the WRENS were obviously not built on the same lines as the WRAC - I am one of the smaller ones amongst my friends at 5'9". There is some really fascinating stuff in there though and I managed to spend two hours being interested. The actual building it is housed in was originally the Navy Bakery and the plans are there to see how it operated.
We had a very nice lunch, I had a paella which was stuffed with seafood but the rice was the wrong sort and it was on the dry side and Onslow managed fish, chips and peas. You can take the boy out of Bolton but he still wants fish and chips if he sees it on a menu. I tried the famous Maltese beer called Cisk (pronounced Chisk) and it was really lovely - very light and refreshing. I think it is quite low alcohol but delicious.
We then went to the Inquisitor's House which was quite interesting. The house itself was practically destroyed over the years but is now being restored and there were some extremely interesting displays. My favourite was the Christmas one which showed the importance of cribs in traditional Maltese Christmas celebrations and there were lots of examples from the last couple of centuries.
We wandered back to the main square and had a drink and a piece of apple pie. And what an apple pie it was - absolutely fantastic and quite different from any I have ever had before. The pastry case was soft and spongelike and about two inches deep and on the base was a thick custard. Then a sweet apple puree of the type you get with Bramleys which had lots of chunks of dessert apple mixed in and then slices of dessert apple in circles around the top. It was glazed with sugar and toasted almond slivers sprinkled on top. It was served warm but since I chose it from a chilled display cabinet I think it was zapped in a microwave. No matter, it was lovely.
My guide book said that St Lawrence's Church opened at 4pm but that was wrong, it did not open until 4.30. So we were hanging around a bit waiting. The church was the original church for the Knights before they moved across to Valletta and there are quite a lot of Maltese Crosses around, the stained glass windows, the altar cloths and above the entrance being the most obvious examples. Inside it is very ornate but quite dark so I am not sure we saw it at its best and I might have to back for another look.
A lovely day.