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"Nice trip - But, read on for ticket collection info"
We were foot passengers on this weekly Grimald Lines sailing from Catania to Valetta. Arriving at Catania Port is confusing. The normal Grimaldi Lines office is closed. Which was especially annoying when we turned up at the ship and were told to walk (in the heat, with our cases) to the building that houses the office. It was quite a panic when both the ground floor and 2nd floor offices were closed and no information was visible. We walked back to the ship and a helpful security guy who spoke some English told us we needed to find the shuttle bus which would take us to the Sunday office. This turned out to be an unmarked Portacabin about 1km from the ship. Thankfully we saw the shuttle bus (nice and air-conditioned) coming off the ship and were able to get everything sorted. It was a stressful 45 minutes and we just wish we had had more information ahead of time. Once on board, the staff and facilities were really nice. We decided to rent a cabin which we were able to do at the boat Reception and this enabled us to store our luggage securely (there isn't anywhere else to do this) as well as have a snooze and use the powerful, hot shower. Leaving Catania with Etna towering above it was special and arriving in Valetta at night was too. People in Malta were surprised we didn't take the faster catamaran. But we loved our 'slow boat to Malta' and - especially now we know how things work in Catania - we would do it again.Read More Read Less
The Sicilian city of Catania is located on the east coast of the island and lies on the Ionian Sea between Messina and Syracuse. Known for its historical relationship with earthquakes, having previously been destroyed by an earthquake in 1169 and again in 1693, the city has also suffered from volcanic eruptions from nearby Mount Etna, the most violent being in 1669. The city is also home to the first university opened in Sicily in 1434, and in the 14th century and on into the Renaissance, Catania was one of Italy's most important centres for culture, the arts and politics.
The city's symbol is u Liotru, or the Fontana dell'Ellefante, which was assembled in 1736 by Giovanni Battista Vaccarini. The symbol shows an ancient lavic stone elephant topped by an Egyptian obelisk from Syene. The city has had a poor relationship with volcanos, having been buried by lava a total of 17 times in recorded history. In layers beneath the present day city are the Roman city that preceded it, and the Greek city before that.
The Maltese city of Valletta is the island's capital city and a UNESCO World Heritage Site that is almost an open air museum. The city is filled with Baroque architecture which dates back to the Knights of St John nearly 5 centuries ago. Throughout its history, the city has welcomed emperors, heads of state, artists and poets and is now home to the seat of the Maltese Government. There are a number of charming cafes and bars in the city and it is now one of the island's most popular tourist attractions. Sites in the city that are worth visiting include the lovely St John's Cathedral with its fortifications and priceless paintings contained inside. The city's Grand Harbour is frequently referred to as the most beautiful in the Mediterranean and the city in general hosts a number of cultural events each year which range from theatre productions to concerts by leading opera singers.