Valletta Carnivale, Malta

We got up early and down to the ferry terminal at the end of our street, and now we realise taking a boat over is the best way to go; avoid the crowds and rush and head across in style.

The walk up to Valletta from the ferry terminal
The walk up to Valletta from the ferry terminal

After a quick wander we got in line for Carnivale, it got postponed for a week due to heavy rains, and we weren’t quite sure how it worked, but I went up to the front and asked (first in Maltese but everyone speaks English here and were SO helpful!), and was told to buy tickets at the front. Glad we asked!

We picked our seats and were treated to a sweet show, emceed by two students from a local school, I imagine, and they did great. I even understood a bit of it. Amazing what being in a place will do for your language retention and understanding.

The Valletta Carnivale is groups of kids dressed up after a year of preparation
The Valletta Carnivale is groups of kids dressed up after a year of preparation

Lots of amazing costumes, everyone put heaps of time into theirs, and it really showed.

The Valletta Carnivale is groups of kids dressed up after a year of preparation
The Valletta Carnivale is groups of kids dressed up after a year of preparation

The floats were brilliant, here’s one, the head moved from side to side:

The floats at Valletta Carnivale are amazing, and tall!
The floats at Valletta Carnivale are amazing, and tall!

After we went down a street parallel to Triq ir-Repubblika, it’s mostly modern shops but some Maltese souvenir shops thrown in.

After the Valletta Carnivale we set off on another walk around Valletta
After the Valletta Carnivale we set off on another walk around Valletta

Back out to Lower Barrakka Gardens to take in the view and see a bit more of Valletta, you get a sense that Malta is an island stronghold, and its ports its battlefields:

Looking across St. Elmo Bay at a super yacht in the harbour
Looking across St. Elmo Bay at a super yacht in the harbour

It’s difficult to take it all in at once, there’s so much to see in Valletta:

A panoramic view looking across St. Elmo Bay from the castle wall
A panoramic view looking across St. Elmo Bay from the castle wall

And looking back toward Valletta there are even more layers of fortifications:

Looking back toward the bus station from Lower Barrakka Garden
Looking back toward the bus station from Lower Barrakka Garden

Walking back in from Lower Barrakka Gardens there’s the courtyard holding the Auberge Castille and across from it the Post Office; we took a quick water break here. Lots people walking around now, the weather starting to warm up just enough to take our jackets off:

Auberge Castille, Valletta, Malta
Auberge Castille, Valletta, Malta

Almost back to the Triq ir-Repubblika and the scene looks ancient enough I take a quick photo. I love turning corners like this and seeing something new, something I’ve never seen before:

The alley on the northern side of the Opera House
The alley on the northern side of the Opera House
Valletta main street, Triq ir-Repubblika
Valletta main street, Triq ir-Repubblika

These apartment windows are iconic in Malta (I have a tshirt with these on it, and I haven’t seen them quite like this anywhere else):

These windows on apartments are Malta to me
These windows on apartments are Malta to me

The Carnivale continued as participants walked up Triq ir-Repubblika in their ornate costumes. Unbelievably creative:

After Carnivale was a parade that lasted for at least an hour after, so much detail in every costume, Triq ir-Repubblika
After Carnivale was a parade that lasted for at least an hour after, so much detail in every costume, Triq ir-Repubblika
Triq ir-Repubblika, this statue commemorates a journalist killed investigating a dodgy bank in Malta
Triq ir-Repubblika, this statue commemorates a journalist killed investigating a dodgy bank in Malta

I love Guinness but this was so funny I don’t want to forget it. The reappropriation of a huge brand back to a local purpose. Craft beers are good because when done right they can represent a place:

My favourite beer sign on our travels
My favourite beer sign on our travels

Statue niches are all over Malta and there were many ornate ones in Valletta, here are a couple, stop to meet a friend here or pray and receive an “indulgence” for a certain amount of time afterwards:

Another niche, a meeting point and an indulgence received if you pray here
Another niche, a meeting point and an indulgence received if you pray here
A particularly ornate niche
A particularly ornate niche

Malta, and especially Valletta, is sandstone block apartment buildings and narrow alley ways. They seem normal when you’re there, you get used to them, but now they seem almost supernatural:

These narrow alleys in Valletta are hard to run down in an attack
These narrow alleys in Valletta are hard to run down in an attack

Nearing the end of our day in Valletta and we discover this great playground on the wall on the opposite side, closest to Sliema and the ferry dock, and the kids do what they do best (play):

At the playground above the Valletta Water Polo Pitch
At the playground above the Valletta Water Polo Pitch
At the playground above the Valletta Water Polo Pitch, you can't beat the view/location
At the playground above the Valletta Water Polo Pitch, you can’t beat the view/location

Winter is coming to a close but the rainy day last weekend postponed Carnivale to this weekend, but the Maltese are flexible and everyone seems to understand that if an event is rained out, the next week is when it will probably happen. It was a great taste of Maltese culture, and a sweet celebration.

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Nathaniel Flick

American born, Kiwi made. Bass player, black coffee, dark beer. Travelling Europe till 2018.

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