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Monday, 28 May 2012

Thursday 10th May - our 32nd wedding anniversary

We had already booked the Hypogeum in advance a few months before we travelled and, as that was booked for 2 p.m., we decided to visit St. John's Co-Cathedral in the morning as early as possible as we had already seen the queues to day before.  It was the right decision!!  No queue!!  The Cathedral was just magnificent inside and is well worth a visit.  I can't remember what the cost was now, but they do concessions for pensioners, so I was the only one who had to pay the full price!!

My photos really don't do it justice.  The interior is just fantastic.  You are given handsets to use as your guide and all you need to do is follow the numbers on the map you are given and press the buttons on the handset, hold it to your ear and hey presto!!  It does however look like everyone is going around with a mobile phone stuck to their ears!!

Now for our next adventure - to the bus station to find the bus that would take us to the Hypogeum!!  The staff in the information kiosk were very helpful, but I bet they get so fed-up answering the same questions day after day!!  The bus driver was very good and shouted 'Hypogeum' at the top of his voice so that we knew where to get off!!  Now, there are no photos at all allowed inside the Hypogeum, and all your belongings are locked in a cabinet at reception prior to entering, so there's no change of sneaking a mobile phone or anything like that in with you.  They are also very strict on numbers and places get booked up quickly.  As I already said, we booked months in advance and, when I checked just before we travelled, there were no places free at all until after June 7th.  I can't remember the exact numbers now, but there are only something like eight visits allowed per day, in groups of ten, and I began to wonder why there were far more than that waiting for the 2 p.m. visit.  It turned out that a group of about six Americans had booked to visit, but had booked the wrong date (at least that's what they said), and they were just not allowed to join our group at all and sent on their way.  So, if you perhaps think that you could book anyway for the wrong date, and just turn up on any old day thinking you will be accommodated, you will not be.  It was a truly fascinating visit and quite a memorable thing to do for our anniversary.  The entrance to the Hypogeum is down a small side street, so it can be easily missed.

After catching a local bus back to Valletta we decided to visit the St. Paul's Shipwreck Church as we had spotted a small sign to it down a side street - there are just loads of side streets, usually on a slope or consisting of steps, in Valletta!!  We entered the church through a small side door and were just gobsmacked at the beautiful interior.

We had an early dinner that night, bought postcards and went back to the hotel to catch the sunset.  I haven't written down where we ate, and I can't remember now as we visited so many places!! All in all however, it was a great way to spend our anniversary and we thoroughly enjoyed our day.

The only small disappointment was that, even though I did e-mail the hotel in advance to say we were celebrating our wedding anniversary, they did not acknowledge it at all.  I have stayed in many hotels around the world where we have celebrated special events and where the hotels have supplied small gestures such as cake, fruit, champagne, discount on meals or an upgrade, but the Grand Excelsior did not seem to pay attention - or simply forgot!!

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