The first part of the ride takes us mostly along the northern coast waterfront through the towns of Bugibba and Qawra, then on to St. Julian's and Sliema. The small harbors in St. Julian's and Sliema are very picturesque. We pick up another 10-12 passengers along the way.
We definitely will return to Valletta for a day (or maybe two) to explore.
The taped recording uses some of the time to explain that both English and Maltese are taught in the primary and secondary schools. College courses are taught in English. We've noticed that the population easily slips between the two languages. There is also a great deal of Italian spoken. I thought this makes sense with Sicily so close, but the taped recording also explains that as late as the 1930's legal documents and official proceedings were conducted in Italian. It was with the political situation in Italy before WW2 that Italian was eliminated as an official language.
Our trip north through the center of the island is very chilly - the temperature is still around 15C but the sun is now behind the clouds, there's high winds and the bus going 80-100 kilometers an hour! We wiz past the Hagar Quim and Mnajdra, ancient archeological sites. The driver would stop, but no one is waiting to board and the six brave souls remaining on the upper level have no plans to get off for now. The scenery is of small farming areas cultivated with irrigation or arid soils.
The bus takes us past the Ta-Quali Crafts Village then into Mosta. The Mosta Church has a huge rotunda. It's reported that a bomb fell through the roof during a mass in 1942 but did not explode.
From Mosta the bus continues north toward St. Paul's Bay where we initially boarded and and the city of Bugibba. We depart after four hours on the bus cold and windburned, but with a much better appreciation for the island and the country.
This evening we are sitting within the flat discussing the day and the flat begins to shake. We look at each other and both say "earthquake?" It only lasts a few seconds, but sure enough the news reports that on Wednesday, January 13, 2016 at 6 pm there is a 4.4 earthquake 40 km north of here in the sea between Malta and Sicily.