Tag Archives: Mellieha Bay Hotel

Malta, Mosta and the Miracle of the Bomb

Mdina Street

Mdina, Malta…

Leaving the unfortunate Fontanella Tea Rooms we were pleased to see that the weather was back to its spectacular best so we walked around the streets some more and made our way to the biggest building in Mdina, St Paul’s Cathedral standing erect and proud next to a section of the old city ramparts.

It was an interesting if not especially memorable Cathedral and after a short while we returned to the honey coloured streets and resumed our search for an alternative refreshment stop.  This didn’t take long and we found a tea room in a secluded courtyard which was no way near as busy as Fontanella but we soon found out that this was on account of the cakes not being anywhere near as good.

Mdina is quite small and we soon found ourselves going down the same streets as just an hour or so ago so we headed for the main gate exit and returned to the bus stop.  It was ten to three and the bus was scheduled for five past.  Ten past came and went, twenty past, half past, I found an inspector who suggested that it might be stuck in traffic (bus inspector’s first excuse every time I expect) and then when one did turn up it turned its destination light off and replaced it with ‘not in service’.  Malta now has a seriously bad bus service so we broke a golden holiday rule and together with another equally frustrated couple reluctantly agreed to take a taxi.

Mosta Malta

Mosta Church and the Miracle of the Bomb…

The next stop was at Mosta, for no better reason than to visit the Cathedral which was built in the nineteenth century and has a dome that is among the largest in the World – in fact (and you do have to be careful about these sort of facts of course) it is the third largest in Europe and the ninth largest in the World.  You can believe that or believe it not but the most remarkable thing about the Mosta Dome is the miracle of the unexploded bomb.

During the Second-World-War it is claimed that Malta was the most heavily bombed place in the World and on April 9th 1942, during an afternoon air-raid, a Luftwaffe bomb pierced the dome (two others bounced off) and fell among a congregation of more than three hundred people attending early evening mass. It did not explode. Apparently it rolled down the aisle and into the street outside so it was a good job that the doors were open!

I suspect that that part of the story may not be completely accurate and has been embellished and corrupted by the passing of time but this is the way they like to tell it.  I am sceptical if only for the reason that with a bomb crashing through the roof I imagine that there would have been quite a lot of panic and congestion in the aisle as people rushed for the door.  There would have been a mad dash and a tangle of bodies that would make modern day bus stop queues look like a Royal Garden Party and the bomb would be most unlikely to get through.

One version of this event states that when a bomb disposal squad opened the device it was found to be filled with sand instead of explosives and contained a note saying “greetings from Plzeň” from the workers at Škoda Works in the German-occupied Czechoslovakia who had allegedly sabotaged its production.

A nice story but not necessarily true.

Mosta The Miracle of the Bomb

To be frank there is nothing else to see in Mosta so we made our way to the bus stop and prepared for another fight to get onto the bus.  Sure enough there were far more people waiting than there could possibly be available seats but eventually it arrived and somehow the driver managed to squeeze us all on board.

This was a very uncomfortable journey and it was about now that I thought that it might be appropriate to make alternative arrangements for the journey back to the airport the next day.  I might be adventurous but I am not completely reckless and was not prepared to take the risk that the bus wouldn’t turn up or if it did that it would be full and wouldn’t stop or that I might lose my luggage on a chaotic journey.  Back at the hotel I booked a taxi which was expensive at €30 (ten times as expensive as the bus) but was worth it for peace of mind.

It was the last evening so we took a walk to the beach, sat on the balcony and played cards and then just for a change went to our favourite restaurant in Malta.  Later we went to the Limelight Lounge again to snigger at the entertainment and then we returned to the room to pack.

I had enjoyed the stay in Malta.  Kim had enjoyed the stay in Malta.  She said that she loved Malta and would gladly return.  More Malta stories coming up then…

Limelight Lounge Mellieha Bay Hotel

Malta, Mdina Twenty Years Ago

Mdina Cathedral 1

Mdina is called the silent city because it is a quiet pedestrianised medieval walled city of golden coloured stone with twisting narrow streets, dead ends and crooked alleyways all of which lead inevitably to the centre piece of the cathedral of St Paul.

Mdina Malta 1997Malta Mdina 1996Mdina pre restoration.

 

Malta, Happiness and a Walk to Mellieha

Mellieha Malta Postcard

Luckily it was only a short walk from where the bus dropped us off and it was all downhill so dragging the bags wasn’t too much of a chore.  The sun was shining and it was a perfect Spring temperature as we made our way along the driveway to the Mellieha Bay Hotel and to the reception.

Mellieha Bay Hotel…

I could tell that Kim wasn’t overly impressed.  The hotel was opened in 1969 and I had visited and stayed there in 1996 and 1997.  At nearly fifty years old and almost twenty since my last stay the place was showing its age and to be honest you would probably have to say a little beyond its best and in need of some attention.

But what the place lacked in style was more than compensated for by the welcome that we received at check in.  In a 2013  report by the World Economic Forum Malta placed seventeenth in a list of most friendly countries in the World (Iceland was first and Bolivia was last but I don’t think the list included Syria or Palestine) and it is also currently placed sixty-seventh in the New Economics Foundation Happy Planet Index.

Follow this link for a happy song about Malta.

Valletta Malta

The room wasn’t ready and the man at the desk apologised for that but I didn’t really mind at all because just along the way at the end of the room I could see the bar so we made our way to the delightfully sunny terrace and ordered a beer.

This turned out to be rather a shock because it was €4.50 for a half a litre which for my sort of travel budget feels like a bit of a mugging so one of the first jobs was going to be to find a mini-market with sensible prices.

Luckily we sat close to a couple who were preparing to go home and as they had been there for a week were full of good advice about bars, shops and restaurants.  They told us about the weather, the buses, the sightseeing and the hotel.  At some point in the conversation he leaned forward and whispered ‘yesterday the French started to arrive and they are a lot of them’ and we could tell by the tone of his voice that this was something that he clearly disapproved of.

It didn’t take long for the room to be made ready and soon we were unpacking, changing into summer clothes and admiring the spectacular view from our balcony across the bay to the village of Mellieha on the opposite side.  Kim’s Malta assessment was still on the wrong side of the love/hate scale but that view helped nudge it in the right direction.

Mellieha Malta Parish Church

We walked out now to investigate the place and strolled around the edge of the horseshoe shaped bay with its sandy beach and multicoloured sea that sparkled in the sunshine and made our way to the string of bars on the other side.  As we walked we found some nice looking restaurants with reasonable prices and all the while the indicator needle on the scale was moving positively.  I confess that I too have been guilty of making hasty assessments on arrival at places but I generally find it is best not to – things generally work out for the best – and if they don’t you can always trash the place!

Mellieha Village, Malta…

It was a steep walk to the village with a long sweeping road that looped around in extravagant sweeping bends and we were glad when we reached the top and the huge Parish Church.  Every village in Malta and Gozo has a church the size of a medieval cathedral and all have a story of how it was paid for and built by the residents of the village and this one is no exception.  It is indeed a grand structure standing in the most prominent place in the village with glorious views in all directions.

The main square has had extensive infrastructure works since I was last there but really you can’t really accuse Mellieha of being especially attractive but along the main streets and the steep side alleys, so steep that the pavements need steps, there are some interesting buildings and some fascinating balconies – some looking rather precarious I have to say.

Apart from a visit to the war time air raid shelter cut into the rocks under the church, there isn’t a great deal to see in Mellieha, even though it has been included in the EU list of ‘European Destination of Excellence’ it isn’t really a tourist destination and it is all the better for that, so after a while exploring the streets we made our way back down to the bay and selected a bar for a beer and a snack of a Maltese platter.

Mellieha Malta

The beer was a lot cheaper than the hotel and the platter was delicious so by the time we returned to the hotel via the mini-market Kim was coming round to my point of view about Malta.  I think she was starting to love it!

After a walk along the beach front and a temperature test in the swimming pool – way too cold – we spent the early evening on the balcony where the fierceness of the afternoon sun was replaced by the soothing cool of early evening as the scents of the gardens wafted into our room on a gentle breeze and we looked out over the glassy translucent sea as the lights of Mellieha started to flicker on one by one and leave a reflection in the sea.

Kim chose the restaurant, she is so much better at it than me and we had an excellent first meal and I think we both knew that we had found a place that we would be returning to.

Since you are here, check out my visit to the Mellieha World War Two Air Raid Shelters.

Mellieha Malta Balcony