Official Language: Maltese, English
$1 = 0.9 EUR
Stay: June 27th to July 4th 2012
Malta is a tiny island 80Km south of Sicily (Italy) in the middle of the Mediterranean Sea. Almost unknown and unseen in the map. Even though it’s small size it has always played a strategic location as a naval base. Even today you can appreciate the honey colored limestone fortifications that surround the island. Aside from this, when walking through the capital you can feel a strong medieval Mediterranean atmosphere.
My husband found a package deal on one of those websites that sell last minute trips. We got a Flight + Transfer + Hotel for €270 for the both of us. We flew on RyanAir from Oslo and it took 6 hours to reach Malta. We arrived around midnight and waited for the transfer staff to pick us up. There was some misunderstanding, delay and at the end they took us to the wrong hotel. So it was not a very good start. It was past midnight, it was extremely humid, hot and we were really tired. However at the end everything got figured out and we even got reimbursed for the taxi that took us to the right hotel. We stayed at Sliema Marina Hotel, right on the seafront facing Valletta on the other side.
The next morning we were woken up by canons. Why? Because that weekend they were celebrating the Feast of St. Peter and St. Paul. Maltese are mainly Christians, more Christians than the Italians themselves I would say.
Due to the continuous colonization by the Arabs, Sicilian and the Brits you could say that Maltese people are a mix of all of them. Physically resembling the Italians but due to the fact that it was lastly colonized by Great Britain, they speak English and follow the British system.
- The area around Sliema was mainly hotels, some cafes and restaurants. Down the road from the Hotel we found The Point Shopping Mall with a supermarket inside. We noticed that we had been spending a lot of money buying water bottles without realizing it. Since it was so hot and humid and we were walking around all day; we were going through 5 or 6 bottles a day. One small bottle cost €2 while at the supermarket they sold them for less than €1. It’s all these small things that we tend to buy without thinking that end up taking up all of our budget money. So since then we have learned that the first thing to do when arriving at a destination is to find the closest supermarket and stock up on the basics. Also works for breakfasts and snacks. Instead of wasting money at cafes you can just buy bread, fruits and other simple snacks for when you are hungry.
- Near the Hotel we also found this swimming area. Great for a morning swim because later in the day it gets completely packed. It was my first time swimming in the Mediterranean Sea and Oh my God it was so salty. Make sure you bring lots of sunscreen and hair treatment.
We found a restaurant called Tri Angelli Maltese Cuisine nearby the hotel. Aside from of course PASTA, we tried other traditional dishes like:
Bragioli, savory Stuffed Beef Rolls Braised in Wine
Fenek (rabbit stew)
Maltese Coffee (with aniseed)
Prickly Pear liquor
Kinnie is a local soft-drink which also contains strong Anise flavors among other herbs.
Most main dishes were around €15
We also enjoyed happy hour at this great place called MedAsia Fusion Lounge and their drinks ranged from €5 to €8.There are several tours offered to visit the other two islands of Gozo, Comino and the ancient temples. We booked a trip with Captain Morgan Cruises; the Fernandez Gozo, Comino and Blue Lagoon for €50 each. It was a full day trip on a Turkish Gullet with lunch buffet and snacks offered on board. We departed at 10am and came back at around 5:30pm. The trip was really nice and chill.
Not only snorkeling is a popular activity here but also scuba diving. We took a PADI Discover Scuba Diving Course at DiveShack. The beginners course was €60 and it took around 3 hours. Luckily we didn’t need to book ahead of time or anything like that. We just walked in the store and signed up for it. First we watched an introductory video on how the gears worked and then took a small test. Then we tried on the wet suits and practiced at shore. Finally, we went for a swim around the corals, going as deep as 11 meters. It was not as complicated as it seemed, learning how the gears worked and how to use hand signs underwater.
Since it was the Feast of St. Peter and St. Paul. there were some religious celebrations like processions and of course some stores closed during the weekend. Between the island of Malta and Gozo you can fidn 359 churches. One of the main ones is St. John’s Co-Cathedral and the Basilica of Our Lady of Mount Carmel (which can be spoted in Vallettas skyline).
Of course other attrations include military fortifications like The Upper and Lower Barrakka Gardens from where you can view the Grand Harbor, Fort St. Elmo and St. George Square.
Me mainly stayed in the area of Sliema and Valletta. We used a taxi-ferry that would take us across the water and it charged €1.50 per trip. It took less than 10 minutes to cross from Sliema into Valletta. Go venture into other areas of the city you can take the bus.
Even though Malta is not a famous mediterranean destinaton due to the lack of sandy beaches; it is still a good place to chill, do some water activities and enjoy ancient arquitecture. Safe Travels!