Staying in Marsaskala during our trip turned up to be great for exploring new parts of the island. During earlier visits, we had mostly seen the part west of Valletta. This time Little A and I could enjoy the eastern part of the island as well. Valletta is a must when visiting Malta, but there are the three cities across the bay to the east that I have wanted to visit during all of my three previous trips. Unfortunately I never found the time to visit them. This time was different, with Little A in the stroller we headed to Valletta to finally explore the three cities; Senglea, Birgu, and Cospicua.
Valletta – Prior to Being Emptied Because of Coronavirus
We visited Malta at the beginning of the Corona pandemic and it was not yet fully noticeable on the island. Well, people were extra suspicious of any sneeze or cough on the bus from Marsaskala to Valletta, but other than that life was going on as normal and Valletta was crowded with tourists. We walked up and down the streets for some time, ensuring that Little A had some lunch before taking the small ferry to the three cities. The ferry leaves regularly from a small pier below the saluting battery at Barrakka. It is not the easiest to reach by foot (especially with a stroller), but there is also a lift from the Barrakka Gardens.
Senglea – Finding a Way up the Stairs
The ferry drops you off in Senglea, right at the edge of both Birgu and Cospicua. Little A soon fell asleep while we walked around the waterfront of Senglea, around the tip of the small peninsula. The walk offered a great view of Valletta, but barely anything of Senglea as we were right below the city’s giant walls. So with Little A in the stroller, I started to push up the hill to get into Senglea and with the Gardjola Gardens at the top of the tip as a target. Trust me, there are a lot of slopes and especially stairs in Senglea and reaching the gardens with a stroller and a sleeping soon to be 3-year-old was a challenge.
The view from the top at the Gardjola Gardens was nice, it is a great spot to view the eastern walls of Valletta and also the Valletta Harbor. As we walked the central street back down the slope, we didn’t need to descend any stairs. The only obstacle was the traffic on the narrow streets.
Birgu – Exploring the Fortress
Once back at the ferry stop, it is just a short walk across a walking bridge before entering Birgu, or Vittoriosa as it is also known as. Birgu is probably the most fortified of the three cities and this was very relevant with us visiting the Three Cities to start with. At the point of Birgu there is the impressive Fort St. Angelo, which was our main destination for the day.
Sadly Little A fell asleep during the walk along the Vittoriosa Yacht Marina. So once we climbed the slopes to Fort St. Angelo, Little A was snoring in her stroller. So there I was, enjoying the view by myself and pushing her around the big fort as it started to rain.
Fort St. Angelo was built by the order of Saint John, also known as the Knights Hospitaller, during the 16th century. This is the same order that once controlled Rhodes. The fort replaced a medieval castle, the Castrum Maris. The reconstruction at the end of the 17th century by Carlos de Grunenbergh finally gave the fort its current appearance.
Little A finally awoke when we had just exited Fort St. Angelo. She did at least get to enjoy the large walls when we left Birgu through the gates at St. John Bastion.
Cospicua – Finding a Way Back to Marsaskala
Upon entering Cospicua it is the Immaculate Conception Church that is the most eye-catching attraction. It started to get late, so we were looking for a way to get back to Marsaskala. I didn’t want to go all the way back to Valletta to catch the bus. We were almost halfway to Marsaskala already. So instead I was hoping to catch the bus en-route. So we walked along the narrow streets to the St. Helen’s Gate and got stuck. The traffic was not something I wanted to push a stroller alongside. The result was that we took a taxi to get back to Marsaskala.
Once back, Little A was tired again but still wanted to go to the playgrounds. As I had had the chance to explore the cities, there should of course be time for Little A to enjoy the playgrounds.