Malta Magic: Exploring The Best Of Valletta
Super League Triathlon (SLT) isn’t simply about taking the best athletes on the planet and watching them tear chunks out of each other on the race course – although we do enjoy that bit! We also like to use our Championship Weekends to give our athletes the opportunity to engage with the local community whilst exploring new surroundings and exciting locations.
On the Wednesday before the racing we took our group of superstars on a walking tour of Valletta, the ancient walled capital of the Mediterranean island nation.
Given the time and guidance to explore the beautiful city, we had expert advice on hand to point out the most impressive elements and unearth some of its rich history.
Malta is a melting pot of diversity with a variety of cultural influences making it a fascinating place to lose yourself for an afternoon.
“Compared to Jersey it is hot! It’s beautiful though and it’s great to be given the time to have a wander around with a local guide pointing out all the things to see”
First stop we spent time overlooking the Grand Harbour and admiring its visible history as a place that has seen so much – a natural harbour that has been used as such since the Phoenician times – and the site of two Great Siege’s, it is a sight to behold.
“Such an incredible view and to get a small insight into the history of the place is really interesting”
We then stopped for some lunch in one of Valletta’s many food halls boasting cuisine from all over the world – with options coming from every corner you can get a real sense of the melting pot of cultures that Malta really is.
“So many options – I didn’t know what to go for but in the end I couldn’t resist a chicken shish kebab!”
From there we pressed onward towards the Grandmaster’s Palace, built between the 16th and 18th centuries, as the palace of the Grand Master of the Order of St John. Some of our athletes were quick to point out the inscription on the wall titled “Buckingham Palace”. This was a gift from King George to the people of Malta as they were awarded The George Cross for their heroism and devotion during the great siege in the early part of World War II. Another example of the visible history that can be found spread across this diverse island.
The fountains outside the palace provided a new challenge of their own, as the SLT stars darted in and out of the water streams trying to avoid getting soaked! A challenge some found easier than others, especially when Jayden Schofield attempted to jump over one of the increasingly high jets! It was then that a member of the public stopped to see what was happening commenting:
“it’s not often we get to see athletes of this global caliber coming to our small island, and to see them out and about enjoying themselves and having fun in our city is something special in itself”.
The slow meander through the historic walled town continued past the ruins of the old theatre, designed by English architect Edward Middleton Barry, and erected in 1866, there is not much of the original construction left in place. In 1873 it was severely damaged by fire, before a rebuild in 1877, but then suffered a direct hit from an aerial bombing in 1942 during World War II. Since then it has been redesigned in 2013 by Italian architect Renzo Piano and now is back functioning as a performance venue.
Before we knew where the day had gone we were back at the bus and heading towards the hotel – some had to train, others had to rest, but without question the athletes had enjoyed soaking up all Valletta has to offer in terms of culture, cuisine and aesthetic beauty.
“In other formats and race series we really don’t get the chance or opportunity to really see or understand the places we are visiting. That’s what I love so much about Super League – we really feel part of a place for the short time we’re there”