My Own Personal Knight of Malta
by Jane Scott
For those familiar with Maltese history they will be well aware of the legendary Knights of Malta.
However on my recent stay in Malta I had my own personal knight, not in shining armour, but my hero all the same! I shall explain ...
Journeying to Malta for two weeks was our perfect idea of a honeymoon, combining my love of architecture and heritage with an appreciation for the Mediterranean lifestyle and climate.
My brand new husband and I stayed in the heart of Valletta and I fell in love with the city, its history, its character, its wonderful people.
Armed with our map and guidebook, we explored the island from end to end taking in the beauty and drama of the place, from the awe-inspiring Mdina where we enjoyed the medieval fayre, to Tarxien where the Hypogeum took our breath away, from Marsaxlokk where we soaked up the atmosphere of a busy traditional Sunday market to the peaceful Gozo.
We experienced on an almost daily basis the fantastic local bus services and grew to love those old vehicles with their quirks and fascinating decorations, and more fascinating drivers!
We wined and dined and tried all the Maltese delicacies, the octopus, the rabbit, the bigilla, the gbejniet and of course the marvellous Maltese bread.
For my husband, a real ale drinker, it was an interesting experiment trying the local brews, the Cisk and the Blue Label going head to head in an attempt to find his favourite. Blue Label won, which amused local bartenders who sometimes had to search their back rooms to find the less popular beer!
And then of course Kinnie. Quite unusual but very palatable.
Anyway, I digress ... Back to my knight in shining armour.
We had walked for miles one day exploring Valletta and Floriana and ended up late one afternoon heading towards Argotti Gardens, the private garden of a knight dating from before 1805 which is now popular as a botanical garden, a place to wander and take in the beauty of the plantlife and flowers.
However, just before we got to Argotti Gardens we were distracted by St Philips Garden right next door. From the gate it looked like a quiet, secretive garden and as it was on the Floriana Heritage Trail we thought we would explore.
We found a small piece of paradise tucked away, the Wignacourt Fountain playing centre stage to a deserted garden on a fortification. Long paths with colourful flowers, prickly pears and rose bushes, all alone we wandered about enjoying the peace and quiet.
We had joked on the way in, that there was a padlock on the open gate and wouldn’t it be funny if we were locked in for the night. We eventually wandered to the exit and realised it wasn’t funny at all, we had been locked in!
10 foot high spiked gates prevented us getting out! No-one was walking past and our only observers were a couple of Maltese cats who looked rather amused at our predicament.
We waited and we waited but no-one went past who could help us escape!
It all looked rather hopeless until my knight in shining armour decided to rescue his damsel in distress.
He rather carefully scaled the gates with a great deal of effort and caution, the spikes on top were very sharp. Over he goes and manages to drop to the other side, although the spikes did manage to rip his trousers in several places but luckily there was no damage to him.
My hero goes to summon help and the guardian of Argotti Gardens arrives with a key and lots of laughter. So, ripped trousers and a daring rescue and we didn’t have to spend the night curled up with stray cats under a bush!
We have so many good memories of Malta and it certainly was a perfect honeymoon destination.
We hope to return one day, perhaps for a wedding anniversary but will be more careful in future not to get locked in anywhere!
This story was one of 5 finalist stories in our first I LOVE MALTA CONTEST.