Ride A Maltese Dghajsa
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If there’s one thing more difficult to avoid on this island than the annoying couple that insists on sitting next to you in the hotel restaurant and boring you rigid throughout each meal, it’s the Mediterranean. On a small island like this, encounters with the sea are inevitable so you should endeavour to make them as pleasant as possible … in Malta that means ride in a dghajsa!
It’s widely accepted that you’ll get the best views and photographs of Valletta by going into the middle of the Grand Harbour on some kind of floating craft. There are many types of them to choose from too but the dghajsa is perhaps the quietest, most relaxing and certainly the most romantic.
That’s because though it looks like the result of someone dropping their coffee cup on the keyboard, it’s actually the correctly spelled name of a traditional Maltese water taxi.
They are small colourful boats, the Malta version of a gondola, powered by a boatman but using two oars not one, and you’ll find them departing from the recently refurbished Valletta Waterfront complex, which itself is well worth a visit.
The Waterfront was developed around a line of centuries old former storage warehouses that were built and operated by the Knights of Malta. The buildings have recently been transformed into a selection of fine bars and restaurants, all with quayside tables. These provide perfect venues for a scenic evening meal. You gaze across the harbour as the sun sets on another baking hot day. The primary reason it’s all there is that it’s the docking place for the many cruise liners that stop off at Malta.
Once on board your own much smaller and cuter vessel you will tour the harbour, while the boatman points out all the pertinent points of interest. They range from the old fortifications built by the Knights of Malta in the 16th century to the many magnificent vistas of the capital city.
You will be paddled around the various inlets of the harbour, heavily used and still busy commercial centres. You’ll see the historic Three Cities – incorporating the former homes to those Maltese knights – plus the bombed breakwater, Siege Bell memorial and the area used as a set for the Hollywood blockbuster, Gladiator.
On some trips, as you glide around, you can listen to a multilingual audio guide that will take you through your trip. The commentary is available in English, Maltese, Italian, French, Spanish and German. Passengers are also provided with a map that will help them to get their bearings within the harbour. If you get confused at any point then the friendly dghajsa boatman is on hand to answer your queries.
The trips are reasonably priced and leave throughout the day when there is a cruise liner in port as passengers from these giant boats provide the majority of business for the boatmen.
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