Daytrip from Sliema to Gozo & Comino Islands

Just a cross the street of my hotel “The Sliema Marina” where I was staying I saw these boats leaving everyday with tourists to Valletta or to Gozo and Comino Island bringing them back in the evening when it was already dark. Around 6 or 7 pm. Since I have been in Malta in november this means it’s already dark around 5 pm in this time of the year. To complete my Malta trip I had to visit those Islands even if it would be for a short time and just to go out there and see something.
The next day I bought my ticket at a small ticket boot, there are many companies who try to sell you tickets for the boat and busses and the good thing is since tourist season is over in October the prices in november are much cheaper, more discounts are being given and the drinks at the bar like beer and soft drinks were free, real open bar. The weather is still ok, not so hot, however sometimes in november you can have heavy rains and winds but since Malta is an island it quickly goes away. I was lucky this time, no rain like I experienced in Batumi (Georgia) and Kotor (Montenegro).

Boat trip to Gozo and Comino from Sliema

Hotel Sliema Marina

upper deck of the bus touring Gozo

Gozo countryside

Cittadella Fortress in Victoria

John Paul II statue inner court of the Cittadella

The boat heads first for the biggest Island of the two which is Gozo, there all the people get of the boat and hop in to a bus, so did, I sat in the upper deck of the bus, it’s the same kind of busses like the hop on hop off busses, but from another company. The place you go see is the Cittadella fortress in the Victoria the capital of Gozo. In the Cittadella there are several museums, there is a cathedral with in front a statue of Pope John Paul II and a restaurant.

Cathedral of the Cittadella

walking the Cittadella walls

 

After spending an hour there, it was back to the bus and then back to the boat again to set for Comino the smallest Island. In the summertime Comino is popular for watersports, no people live there is what I’ve been told and I can imagine cause all you see are rocks, cliffs and caves. We got out at the Blue lagoon, a spot were you can take a plunge in the mighty blue water. I didn’t go for a dive as I found it to windy. I did a little walk to get a little idea about the island but basically I felt like it was more of stepping foot on it and that’s it. I think in full summer it must be nice to come here for the whole day and swim and dive from the cliffs in to the water.

Comino Island

Blue Lagoon

Elephant rock

It was a nice day out and since this was my last full day in Malta it was better for me to go on this day trip to see a glimpse of the other two Islands then to spend my day walking around Valletta again or to go shopping in Sliema.

evening falls on our way back

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SMOM The country with no land

The only country recognised by the United Nations that has no land is located in Fort St Angelo in Birgu on the Island of Malta.
If you have not heard about this before, then its nothing to feel embarrassed of as I also didn’t knew about its existence untill a friend of mine Jonny backpacked it.
The name of the country is the Sovereign Military Order of Malta or  “The Sovereign Military Hospitaller Order of Saint John of Jerusalem of Rhodes and of Malta” and it has its own flag and as mentioned already its recognised internationally by more than 100 other countries in the world. St. John was the leader of the Order more on this person can be found on google and wikipedia (link)

Fort St Angelo

First you enter Fort St Angelo which belongs to Malta you buy the entrance ticket at the reception desk and although the Fort brochure says you need to pre-book a visit to the upper part of the fort, it wasn’t a problem for me to visit this place. I just told the man at the reception that a friend of mine visited it a month earlier and that he recommended it to me and that I was interested in seeing the upper part of the Fort which is a new Country.
The upper part of Fort St Angelo is where the Order or country is situated. It’s private property and closed by a gate with above the gate the emblem of the Order.
I got a guided tour which is the only way to enter this private area of the fort. The guide opened the gate and I left Malta to enter into a new country SMOM = Sovereign Military Order of Malta. It was almost a 2 hour tour with a lot of history and interesting information about the place. Funny that there are 2 countries in one Fortress.

 

The emblem of SMOM above the entrance gate

me in front of the entrance gate ready to enter a new country

with my guide at the Magisterial Palace

The Magisterial Palace , residence of the Knight

a look inside the Knights home

One of the private rooms of the Knight had a balcony with a great view over Valletta at the other side of Birgu

So what’s there to see on the upper level ?

The magisterial Palace the home for the only resident Knight on the Island of this Order with the St Anne’s Chapel and the adjoining terraces.
This part of the Fort is a 99-year-old lease that they have which was given to them in 1998 after an absence of 200 years. In a treaty signed by Malta and SMOM.

the terrace or courtyard

chilling area

St Anne’s Chapel

Inside St Anne’s Chapel

In Front of the St Anne’s Chapel there is a statue of St. John and 2 flag poles, one with the flag of Smom and the other with the Maltese flag

The Military Order of Malta has 2 lands that they own, first one is the one I visited which is the upper part of Fort St Angelo in Malta. The other one is in Rome, that’s where the Order has it’s capital. This is the address : Palazzo Malta Via dei Condotti 68, Rome, Italy
I have been in Rome several times a few years back and never knew I was so close to this address where the Order has its government with library. It’s close to the Spanish steps at the Piazza di Spagna.

If you want to know more about the Sovereign Military Order of Malta (aka SMOM) go check their Wikipedia page (link click here)

 

 

Malta

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Malta a stone in water was what I heard someone once say, and yes its little Island but not as little as Easter Island. Malta got 3 Islands the Island of Malta itself, Gozo and Comino. I visited all of them although it was not planned to do so cause my time there was limited. I started in La Valletta the capital while staying in Sliema. This town is at the opposite side of Valletta and there are boats and bus tours you can take from there to Valletta and the rest of Malta.

View on the Sliema bay

boat connecting Sliema and Valletta

Going to Malta :

I booked a flight to Malta through Ryanair, an airlines that I used quit a lot over the years as they mostly have the cheapest prices for travel in Europe. Ryanair however had some problems lately with most of their flights because pilots had to take their vacation days before the end of the year 2017 and so there was a shortage of pilots and as a result of this, flights got cancelled or schedules got changed. My flight was supposed to fly out of Brussels in the late afternoon, till Ryanair decided to reschedule my flight into the early morning, for me it was a problem and because the new departure time was changed 8 hours earlier then my original flight and they offered me a full refund, which I accepted. So was my travel plan to go to Malta falling apart (?) well to my own surprise no it wasn’t I found a flight on the same day with Air Malta in the afternoon just like I wanted my flight to be in the first place and a cheaper than Ryanair.

Ryanair return ticket from Brussels was 95 EUR
Air Malta was 80 EUR
Not a big difference but I was surprised that Air Malta was cheaper and this for a non early flight. Everybody who travels regularly knows that morning flights and evening flights are the cheapest compared to a midday flight, well not this time thanks to Air Malta.

La Valletta :

The capital is worth a citytrip, it’s not that big, you can easily do it in one day.

Few interesting spots to see are Fort St Elmo, St John’s Co Cathedral, St. George’s Square, St Paul Cathedral,…

La Valletta with the Basilica Our Lady of Mt Carmel and the St Paul Anglican Cathedral

Maltese flags in front of the city walls of Valletta on a roundabound

The old city walls

Parliament a modern building in front of the old city centre

Auberge de Castille

St George Square

The Malta siege Memorial with Bell

Other places I have seen by taking a hop on hop off bus (has been a while since I have taking one of the busses) were : Marsaxlokk, Mosta and Mdina.

Mosta Fort with dome

Mdina

Marsaxlokk

Typically Colored wooden Maltese fisherman’s boats in Marsaxlokk