29 May, 2014

The Cannon Went Off And Malta Turned Magical

The Saluting Battery, Valletta, Malta
The Saluting Battery, Valletta, Malta
"All things co-operate for good
for myself and for all
with whom I come in contact with this day"

I've just arrived back from a holiday of two weeks in Malta - it was great, but might not have been! When we arrived at the hotel I had pre-booked I wasn't happy with the receptionist, it certainly wasn't the expected 'warm Malta welcome' I had envisaged. We were also disappointed with the restaurant service, so not a good start.

Then I started to get my thinking right. I'm always on about how we get back what we give out - so perhaps it was my fault. I was scribbling something in a notebook I carry with me, flicked the pages and came across the affirmation above. I put it into practise and it was magical! Everything started to fall into place.

At breakfast the following day Karin and I were laughing about something and  a German couple at the next table started to smile. The man said something to his wife about us, which Karin heard. As she speaks fluent German she replied to them, which they didn't expect. We ended up chatting together and they told us that they visit this particular hotel twice a year but they said, they hoped their next holiday would be in Cornwall, England - which by coincidence is where we live! They wanted to visit Lands End, so we exchanged email addresses.

The same morning we decided to take a local bus ride to the capital of Malta, Valletta. When the bus arrived it was packed and people were pushing to get on - it seems only the English queue! Somehow we got on the bus and the driver turned everyone waiting after us, away. Our luck had changed.

We decided to wander around Valletta without looking at any map or info leaflets and wandered where we felt like going. At about ten minutes before 12 o'clock we arrived at what we later found out was the Upper Barrakka Gardens where many people had gathered to look at something that was about to happen below a raised balcony.

There were lots of people so we didn't think we would be able to see what was going on but we went right to the middle and there seemed to be a gap which Karin squeezed into. Then the people seemed to part and there was room for me as well - so we were 'bang' in the middle.

Soldier at Saluting Battery, Valletta, Malta
A soldier arrives to set off the cannon
And 'bang' is the right word as at 12 o'clock every day a cannon is fired from the Saluting Battery - and there are amazing views over the water as well.

Soldier by cannon at Valletta, Malta
The soldier primes the cannon ...
... checks his time-piece and then ...
... the gun is fired at 12 o'clock
The Malta Heritage Trust explains the reason for the gun being fired, which is a tradition that goes back hundreds of years:

"This indicates the exact hour at mid-day for the benefit of ship-masters on board vessels to calibrate their ship clocks by. These time-pieces, also called maritime chronographs, were used to find the longitude at sea by comparing the difference between the time at the last harbour visited and that on board ship at that moment in time.

 The use of artillery as a means of announcing public time is not new in Malta, for three gun signals had been fired from a signal gun in Valletta since its inception. This gun was first operated from on top of St. James Cavalier where the Order of St. John also had its principal signal station. From here, three rounds were fired daily at sunrise, mid-day and sunset to signal out the exact time of prayer and to regulate the pace of life. The first and last shots also indicated the opening and closing of the city gates."

Following this our holiday continued to flow nicely. The next day, for example, we talked to a fisherman who told me he'd been to heaven and, unexpectedly, we saw one of the most expensive private boats in the world - but more about this another day.

Valletta Capital of Malta
Valletta Capital of Malta

Photos: © Mike Perry

Other Malta Posts:
The Maltese Fisherman Who Visited Heaven
The Billionaire And The Indian Empress In Malta Coincidences
A Pilgrimage To St Paul's Grotto In Rabat, Malta
Valletta: The City Built By The Knights of the Order of St John

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8 comments:

  1. Glad to see you back and more photos please! What do you do though if something does niggle you when on holiday, it must still happen mustn't it?

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    1. Thanks! Yes there were still possible 'niggles' like when we were waiting for a ferry and a large family pushed their way to the front (I won't say their nationality!) and so on. But we smile and say: 'We don't mind because we are on holiday'.

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  2. Glad you and Karin had a good two weeks away.
    I'm looking forward to the following holiday posts,too.

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  3. Welcome back! I love how your experience turned around. Looking forward to more posts on Malta!

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    1. Thanks, but be warned - I took lots of photos!!

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  4. gd that you are back never been to malta myself but looks interesting like the old buildings

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    1. Thank you Tom, Malta is full of history.

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