Walking the Victoria Lines, ‘The Great Wall of Malta’

Walking along the Victoria Lines, Malta © Helen Jones-Florio
Walking along the Victoria Lines, Malta © Helen Jones-Florio

 

‘Originally known as the North West Front and sometimes unofficially known as the Great Wall of Malta…a complex network of linear fortifications known collectively as the Victoria Lines

What a revelation… to find so much nature, and tranquility, particularly after having read recently the tiny Mediterranean island of Malta equated with the word: ‘cementation’‘. And, in some areas, justifiably so. Where we live, for example, we are surrounded by deconstruction, reconstruction, new construction, behemoth cranes, and all the constant racket (and dust!) one can expect from the aforementioned.

From our starting point in a small village near to Mgarr,on the west coast of Malta, we walked along the Victoria Lines, across the country – with views (largely) unimpeded by towering metal structures – clambering up and down steep man-made steps, down into rocky ravines, clambering over lush countryside (yet another, much welcomed, revelation), with ‘distant sea views’ (much used by island estate agents), all the way to Medlienna on the east coast. Although officially 12km distance, we managed to cover a total of 22km, mainly due to the Victoria Lines wall no longer being there, in places, causing us to go (albeit pleasantly) off-piste a couple of times!

 

Off-piste! Where has the Victoria Lines gone to?! © Helen Jones-Florio
Off-piste! ‘Where have the Victoria Lines gone to now?!’ © Helen Jones-Florio

 

Walking the Victoria Lines, Malta
Back on track – the Victoria Lines, Malta © Helen Jones-Florio

 

Signpost - Victoria Lines, Malta
One of the very few signposts along the Victoria Lines, Malta © Helen Jones-Florio

 

Guard dogs - with wagging tails! © Helen Jones-Florio
Guard dogs – with wagging tails! © Helen Jones-Florio

 

And very friendly donkeys!
And very friendly donkeys! © Helen Jones-Florio

 

Victoria Lines, with Jason Florio
Walking the Victoria Lines, with Jason Florio © Helen Jones-Florio

 

Well recommended. So, get your walking boots on!

Helen Jones-Florio

Almost done! Walking the Victoria Line
A fine vista and almost done! L-R: Davide, Andrej, yours truly, Zane,RYP© Jason Florio

 

Reference: Walking in Malta by Paddy Dillon  & Map Guide

GPS Map - Victoria Lines, Malta
Thanks to Mr Florio for keeping track – GPS Map – Victoria Lines, Malta

 

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The Mass Attraction of Dawn walking in Malta

   It’s official, I have joined the ranks of the walking   masses!

 

SLIEMA SUNSET1
The sun rising in the East, over the Mediterranean Sea, Sliema, Malta iPhone image © Helen Jones-Florio.

 

Not that I haven’t always been a walker (Florio and I once walked around an entire West African country – albeit tiny, but 930km is by no means a stroll along the beach – oh, hang on, actually we’ve done that too!), but the point is I have never been one to gravitate towards what the masses do – right from my young punk rock self, back in the day in the UK, drawn towards a scene where we were then considered ‘outcasts of society‘ (that’s the polite way of putting it – you really don’t want to know the shocking names we got called, or what we got thrown at us, as we strutted past a bunch of market traders on a weekend, cockily showing off our newest Crazy Color barnet (fair/hair, get it?) de jour – red, blue, pink… .).

     “Och aye, Helen Jane, you’ll grow out of it

as our old lovely Dad was apt to say – rather wistfully. Somehow, though, thankfully I never did. Ok, not that I sport a different tropical-bird-coloured hairdo every week (he was right about that part), these days, but I do still tend to steer away from what the masses do, preferring to go down the route less travelled, which could mean making the very easy choice of Kinshasa, DR Congo over, say, a nice pre-planned itinerary holiday on a Greek island, to going out of my way to find a less-trampled country pathway, where I feel sure there will be little chance of bumping into anyone else.

However, after spending the last week heading out of the door just before the sun comes up, iPhone in hand, walking purposefully down towards the sea, only to find dozens and dozens of other people who gravitate to the seafront early every morning too, running or power-walking along the promenade, I can certainly see the attraction, can’t you?

SLIEMA SUNSET2 AGAINST ST JULIANS
Me and my shadow – the rising sun towards St Julians Bay, Malta iPhone image © Helen Jones-Florio

 

Mind you, I do veer off the promenade as soon as possible, for an – almost – solitary walk over the rocks, bar the occasional dog walker or a lone guy practising Tai Chi, away from the masses. Just how I like it.

Helen Jones-Florio

More images on Floriotravels/Instagram

Postcards from a small island – Malta. Images ©Jason Florio & Helen Jones-Florio

Valletta, through a window © Jason Florio, Malta
Valletta, through a window © Jason Florio, Malta

 

Stormy skies over Sliema, and the Valletta/Sliema Ferry, Malta © Helen Jones-Florio
Stormy skies over Sliema, and the Valletta/Sliema Ferry, Malta © Helen Jones-Florio

 

'Knight Town', Valletta, Malta - Images © Jason Florio for Morning Calm
Travel: Knight Town, Valletta – Images © Jason Florio for Morning Calm/Korean Air

 

A very enjoyable travel story that we worked on, in Valletta, the enchanting ancient capital of Malta – and also the European Capital of Culture 2018 – for ‘Morning Calm’ (Korean Air’s in-flight Magazine).

 

On the rocks - dive time, Manoel Island, Malta © Helen Jones-Florio
On the rocks – dive time, Manoel Island, Malta © Helen Jones-Florio

 

Walking along the Victoria Lines, Malta © Helen Jones-Florio
Walking along the Victoria Lines, Malta ©Helen Jones-Florio

 

What a revelation, on our Malta walks, to find so much nature, and tranquility, particularly after having recently read that the tiny Mediterranean island is equated with the word: ‘cementation’ –  and, in some areas, quite justifiably so. Where we live, for example, we are surrounded by deconstruction, reconstruction, new construction, behemoth cranes, and all the constant racket (and dust!) one can expect from the aforementioned.

 

Doors of Malta © Helen Jones-Florio
Doors of Malta © Helen Jones-Florio  

 

On my frequent meanderings around the streets of this small Mediterranean island, I regularly come across sites, such as these. Beautifully decaying doors and facades – portals to another place in time. Often, starkly juxtaposed by the surrounding modern, steel and glass (which, it appears, is the de rigueur architecture of Malta, sprouting up all over), one could easily walk right past these exquisite, woefully neglected, facades without even noticing them.

Follow us on Instagram for daily photo updates @floriotravels / @jasonflorio

 

Valletta, as seen from Sliema ©Helen Jones-Florio
Valletta, as seen from Sliema ©Helen Jones-Florio

Postcards: Beached tanker, Qawra Point, Malta

 

Walking Malta - Beached tanker, Qawra Point, San Pawl il-Baħar, Malta ©Helen Jones-Florio
Walking Malta – Beached tanker, Qawra Point, San Pawl il-Baħar, Malta ©Helen Jones-Florio

 

“I started the engine and began preparing to navigate the vessel inland, but all of a sudden – within minutes – we hit the rocks,” Capt. Abedin said. Times of Malta 12th Feb 2018

The art of walking, and the people you meet along the way…

 

‘Dawn over Kalaji Bridge’ © Jason Florio – from ‘A Short Walk in the Gambian Bush – 930km African Odyssey‘
‘Dawn over Kalaji Bridge’ – Helen Jones-Florio and the team © Jason Florio – from ‘A Short Walk in the Gambian Bush – 930km African Odyssey

 

Wherever we are in the world, we walk, a lot, Florio and myself. As far as I’m concerned, it’s one of the only ways to truly discover a place – and the people who live there. One time, in 2009, we decided to walk around the small West African country of The Gambia. A mere 930km, with three Gambian friends, two donkeys (‘Neil’ & ‘Paddy’.), and a cart to carry our camping and photography equipment. As one does.

Along the way, we met many people and photographed quite a few of them. Amongst them, around 43 village chiefs and elders, the photos of which are now award-winning portraits, ‘Silafando – a gift to you on behalf of my journey

‘Silafando’ The Gambia  © Jason Florio

 

Another time, we took it upon ourselves to take a stroll along the coastline of The Gambia – a much shorter walk of around 80km. Again, we met and made friends with many people along the way.

Our constant companions, during our walk around Jinack Island, Gambia © Helen Jones-Florio
Our constant companions, during our walk around Jinack Island, Gambia © Helen Jones-Florio

 

Making friends, Jinack Island, the Gambia © Jason Florio
Making friends, Jinack Island, the Gambia © Jason Florio

 

Historian and local fisherman, Modou Sonko, Jinack Island, Gambia-image © Jason Florio
Historian and local fisherman, Modou Sonko, Jinack Island, Gambia-image © Jason Florio

 

And, our walks in certain places always seem to attract a good deal of attention

'Any chance of a bit of privacy?' Camping in a the village chiefs compound comes at a price ©Jason Florio
‘Any chance of a bit of privacy around here?’ Camping in the village chiefs compound comes at a price ©Jason Florio
Image: ©Jason Florio-2009 Gambian boy on his horse & farmer, on his bicycle, near the town of Basse, The Gambia, West Africa
Gambian boy on his horse & farmer, on his bicycle, near the town of Basse, The Gambia, West Africa Image: ©Jason Florio-2009
For some reason, we seem to attract dogs, wherever we go! Jason Florio and ‘Seven’ (from Footsteps Eco Lodge) talking to the cockle collectors, Gambia – image © Helen Jones-Florio

 

Of late, we’ve taken to meandering – going off-piste whenever possible – discovering the clifftops, valleys, and crevices of Malta.

Graffiti - President Trump and broken wall, Malta ©Jason Florio
Graffiti – President Trump, Malta ©Jason Florio

 

And, just when you think that you’ve seen all it has to offer, the small island in the middle of the Mediterranean (sandwiched somewhere between Sicily and the North African coast) never fails to reveal something more of itself.

Scenes from Malta - photography by Jason Florio & Helen Jones-Florio
Scenes from Malta – photography by Jason Florio & Helen Jones-Florio/Instagram

 

Victoria Lines, with Jason Florio
Walking the Victoria Lines, with Jason Florio – image © Helen Jones-Florio

Are we in Texas?!

Are we in Texas? Wind turbine, Malta © Helen Jones-Florio
Are we in Texas? Wind turbine, Malta © Helen Jones-Florio

 

Valletta, through a window © Jason Florio, Malta
Valletta, through a window © Jason Florio, Malta
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@floriotravels / @jasonflorio
These boots, and Birkenstocks, are made for walking
These boots, and Birkenstocks, are made for walking

A Moment in Time: One man and his horse, in the water, at Sliema Bay, Malta

I came across this rather enchanting scene, this morning, as I was walking around Sliema, Malta – the only way, for me personally, to get a real feel for a place. It’s one of the first things I love to do, when I travel to a new place… take some time, stroll around, and get my bearings (no GPS or maps involved!).

Screen Shot 2015-05-26 at 2.06.47 PM
Image © Helen Jones-FlorioInstagram/Floriotravels   

 

I sat on a rock, nearby, trying not to feel like an intruder, and marveled at this sight, and the tranquility it invoked. It looked as if this was a regular occurrence, as the horse was obviously very used to standing there in the water, taking in the early morning rays, as his master stood quietly by. The man looked over at me, and smiled, ‘good morning’, he said, before turning his attention back to gazing intently at his horse; as I quietly slipped away.

HJF

For regular travel photo updates from us – Helen Jones-Florio and, photographer, Jason Florio, please visit our Instagram page: floriotravels

 

 

Photo of the Day: The Phoenix search & rescue team leaves for another mission in the Med.

PHOENIX DEPARTING_VALLETTAIMG_5196
The MOAS Phoenix departing the Grand Harbour, Valletta, Malta, 27/06/2016 © Helen Jones-Florio

 

Wishing all the team onboard the Phoenix – which also includes photographer, Jason Florio – a safe journey, as they head back down towards the coast of Libya, for their second search and rescue mission of 2016, in the Mediterranean Sea.

Helen Jones-Florio