Layover in Madrid

At the tail end of our trip to Valencia and Malta we enjoyed a brief layover in Madrid. Although we were tired from our flight and sad to be on our way home, we took full advantage of our two days to see some great art and get a small taste of the huge city.

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We took a bus to the town of Mdina, located about 30 minutes from Valletta in the Northern Region of Malta. A picturesque fortified city on a hill, Mdina served as Malta’s capital until 1530. When government business moved elsewhere Mdina earned the nickname of “Silent City,” a description that remains accurate today.

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Around Valletta

Valletta from the Sliema ferry

We’re staying in the heart of Valletta and it’s easy to walk to any point in the old city without too much exertion. Valletta holds the distinction of being both the smallest European capital (at 0.8 km2) and the southernmost European capital. The entire city has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1980 and historic treasures are crammed together more densely than anywhere we’ve visited.

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Valletta Apartment

When researching places to stay in Malta we came across Valletta Vintage. The renovated apartments they rent are beautifully styled and unique, but usually quite expensive. But in the off season — including January — the prices are more reasonable, in line with a slightly-above-average Airbnb. So we went ahead and booked their “Retro Pad” apartment.

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Arrival in Valletta, Malta

We hopped a short flight from Valencia, Spain to Valletta, Malta. Malta is a small archipelago of islands in the Mediterranean roughly 93 km south of Sicily and 300 km from Tunisia and Libya in North Africa. We’re staying in the capital city, Valletta which we will use as a base to take a few day trips to other parts of the islands.

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City of Arts and Sciences

We wandered through some of the City of Arts and Sciences (Ciudad de las Artes y las Ciencias) complex in Valencia. Designed in part by famous Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava, the buildings were completed between 1996 and 2009 at a cost of nearly €900 million.

El Palau de les Arts Reina Sofía

The complex sits within the Jardines del Turia, the park created from the former Turia riverbed. It includes an IMAX theater, a planetarium, an opera house, an aquarium, a sporting and events center, and an interactive science museum — among other things.

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On Saturday we took a day trip to visit the town of Sagunto, located about 30 km north of Valencia. The town is known for its sprawling castle ruin, restored Roman theatre, and historic town centre.

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Mercado Central

We visited the Mercado Central in Valencia, one of the largest markets in Europe. It was built between 1914 and 1928 in the Art Nouveaux style, which gives it the stunning high ceilings and a light, airy atmosphere.

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