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Valletta, Malta



In November this year I will be 60 years old. We decided to celebrate this landmark birthday early, with our first trip abroad since COVID. Jet2 are doing direct flights to Valletta, Malta from Newcastle Airport. Susan thought that this would be a chance to enjoy some late Mediterranean sun and for me to find some fresh inspiration.

We arrived at the airport a little earlier than needed to make sure we had enough time to navigate the Passenger Locator forms and NHS COVID Pass. The airport was quiet, so once that was sorted, the rest was very easy.

Valletta city centre is less than 15 minutes drive from the airport. It wasn’t long before we were at our hotel, Palais Le Brun which is delightful. Unfortunately the weather was very windy with rain forecast. We wasted no time in having a quick wander into the city before the heavens opened. There is a lovely restaurant next to the hotel called Di Carafa. We enjoyed a delicious seafood meal there. Despite the service being a little slow for my liking, the food was fantastic.

Valletta Harbour
Sketchbook watercolour of Valletta Harbour


Although the water is said to be safe to drink. Susan had a reaction and felt sick the whole time we were there. We went out the following morning with Susan feeling very poorly. I managed to do the sketchbook watercolour of the trees and architecture whilst Susan sat and watched. However, Susan needed to rest, so I left her in the hotel and explored Valletta by myself for a couple of hours.

There’s a spectacular Caravaggio of the Beheading of John the Baptist at St John’s Co Cathedral. The queues were not very long, so I paid homage to one of the great works by this master. I also managed another sketchbook watercolour of the harbour, this time from the Upper Barrakka Garden.

Collapsed Azure Window


The next morning Susan was feeling a little better, so we took the fast ferry over to the island of Gozo which was excellent value. Hiring a car is one of the best ways to explore the island. It was very reasonable, quick and easy to do. We drove through Cittadella to see the collapsed Azure Window. The winds were still quite strong from the storms, so the sea was lively. It was still great fun to paint the vivd blues and turquoise of the sea and to imagine what the rock formations would have looked like.

We explored more of the island before heading back to the ferry. Not all the road signs are clear on Gozo, so I needed some local knowledge to get back to the harbour.


We had hoped to squeeze a trip to the silent city of Mdina but Susan’s health was more important. She was still feeling poorly. We had a relaxing walk around Valletta instead. The winds had gone, the sun was warm and I was able to do one final sketchbook watercolour looking into the morning light.

Valletta, Malta
Looking towards Fort St Angelo

Malta is a place that is rich in history, has fantastic architecture and is very friendly. We felt safe the whole time and we enjoyed ourselves, despite Susan not being well. I came away feeling inspired to do some studio paintings of a place that feels more like Oman than Mediterranean Europe. I’m pleased that we went there.

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