Malta - March 2018


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March 22nd 2018
Published: March 22nd 2018
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It has been quite a stressful year so far with a lot of family related worries so a break away was definitely needed πŸ˜ͺ I had wanted to go to Malta for as long as I could remember, all the history and the fact Valletta is a UNESCO heritage site, combined with the nice weather seemed to make it the ideal destination πŸŒ‡ . We generally like the idea of self catering because of the flexibility it offers and that combined with the lack of hotel choice in Valletta, meant Airbnb seemed to be the best choice. A house in the city centre that slept 6 with all the usual facilities ticked all the boxes. Flight wise there was a good selection but Andrew's determination that we weren't using Ryanair meant a trip to Gatwick for a nicely timed afternoon flight with Easyjet πŸ›«.



It was soon time to depart, thankfully we had perfected the hand luggage to travel quite lightly. We left on the Tuesday at 9am from Derby. We could have gone from Alfreton but visions of delayed flights on the way home meant Derby was the more sensible option. Thankfully the train wasn't too crowded and we sat in our reserved seats without incident. A quick change at St Pancras and we were soon at Gatwick in plenty of time. Being a Tuesday the airport wasn't busy and we breezed through security and we were soon trying out the Armadillo restaurant for dinner 🍽 Not our usual choice but not bad and couldn't moan too much at the bill given its location. A quick stock up on Toblerone in duty free and we were soon boarding 🍫(it's the only reason we fly anywhere, white Toblerone!)

The flight itself was very busy and we sadly had the misfortune to be sat next to the most unpleasant man who seemed to make it his mission to be as intimidating as possible πŸ˜– . Certainly not a good start to the holiday and we were very relieved to arrive in Malta in super quick time. (2h45m)



Our Airbnb hosts had organised a taxi πŸš• who despite not having a clue where the address was (alarm bells!) somehow managed to get us there in one piece. Our hosts were at the house waiting for us. It certainly wasn't what we expected and we were relieved it was only us staying as the layout was not suitable for anymore than a couple. It was also very cold but we put the heating on and decided to venture out into the city for dinner. The house was only a short walk to the centre but they had neglected to mention the steep hill which required climbing in order to get anywhere.β›°

We put our best foot forward and headed up. The city wasn't very vibrant at night but we managed to find a cafe which was serving food. Andrew was very impressed by his meatballs but my luke warm lasagne was on par with some dodgy ready meal, that coupled with people smoking inside didn't make for a pleasant experience. On the plus side it was cheap! We continued with a short walk around the city and stumbled across a very posh Waitrose where we stocked up with basics for the house before heading back.



When we got back to the house, the heating had done little to improve the ambience of the place so we headed straight to bed. A more torturous thing you would struggle to find so thank goodness for my trusty sleeping tablets which did enable me to get a couple of hours. Andrew wasn't so lucky and he complained about barking dogs next door as well which were definitely the icing on the cake. As we got up the following day, there was no natural light at all into the house because of the layout and the fact it was a mid terrace basement flat and was still bitterly cold so that was it.....time to check into somewhere else πŸ€”

Of course at this time we had totally forgotten about the lack of hotels in Valletta and were optimistic about checking into another without any problems. A quick look online took us to the Grand Harbour Hotel and fearful of making the same mistake twice we decided to go and check it out. Once we were there....no availabilty...so onto the one next door which again didn't have full availability, we would have to return to the airbnb for the last night but we were willing to accept this, if everything else checked out. The room sadly was very tired looking and expensive so back to the drawing board....luckily there was a cafe nearby for us to collect our thoughts. It soon became apparent that staying in Valletta was going to be very expensive and probably not worth it. Not knowing the other areas we placed our trust in a hotel chain we trusted and managed to get a reservation at the Holiday Inn Express in St Julians. Luckily we even had some points so we got one night free. We had heard good things about the public transport so hoped staying outside of Valletta wasn't going to be a problem πŸ€”

Firstly though, since we were already out and about and the sun was shining we decided to carry on exploring Valletta. First things first though, my eye was playing up and it was obvious there was some kind of infection going on so off to the chemist for some expensive eye ointment. Around the same area as the chemist there were a few market stores etc for souvenir shopping so that was the main jobs done. It soon became apparent that although Valletta was very pretty etc with fantastic architecture there was not a lot going on so we headed down the glass elevator to get on the ferry to the 3 Cities. The elevator was definitely impressive and all tall buildings should have one, amazingly free and not too busy. We didn't have a long wait for the ferry β›΄ at 5,60e for the pair of us it wasn't bad value and we were soon at the other side of the water. Food was calling us first and a mediocre KFC type meal filled that gap πŸ— Didn't plan on getting stuck in the loo but luckily Andrew was on hand to rescue me! After lunch we were both feeling quite tired, everywhere had been quite hilly and the lack of a decent nights sleep was taking its toll so the lure of the road train πŸš‚ very appealing and we had a good tour of the 3 cities, not exactly comfortable but hey you can't have everything. Then it was back to Valletta to gather our stuff and head to St Julians.



Looking at the map, it all seemed simple enough. Get the ferry to Sliema β›΄ then a bus to St Julians 🚌 However the walk to the Sliema Ferry proved longer and tougher than planned so by the time we got to Sliema we jumped in the nearest taxi πŸš• Any seasoned travellers know this is never a good plan and is a guaranteed way of getting ripped off but we didn't really care at this point and at least we got to the Holiday Inn in one piece. St Julians seemed very built up but the hotel was bliss....practically brand new, warm and comfortable. We opted to go to their sister hotel next door for a posh dinner....which to be honest wasn't great but it required little effort on our part which was definitely needed. By the end of it all we were very glad to have a nice comfy bed.....πŸ›

The next day we were feeling much more refreshed thankfully and even their complimentary breakfast hit the spot and kept us going all day. The plan for the day was to go and visit the ancient city of Medina on the bus 🚌 . The waiter in the restaurant the previous night told us to go by google maps and all would be well. We managed to find a direct bus from approx half a mile from the hotel. Sadly the buses didn't seem to go by any timetable and were very crowded when they arrived but nevertheless we perservered and got to Medina about an hour or so later. The only plus side of the buses are that they are cheap at 1.50e each. Medina and Rabat (the 'town' next door ) were very quaint and full of stunning architecture. We visited the very impressive catacombs and had a proper tour on the road trainπŸš‚ before ending at the crime and punishment museum which is always a favourite of mine. Thankfully on the way back we managed to get seats on the bus but it was definitely safe to say we weren't fans. Having being 'bused' out through the day we decided to stay in St Julians for dinner. Plenty of choice to be had providing you liked burgers or pizza πŸ” πŸ•it was clear that St Julians was party central and really not our cup of tea so another early night then....



It was then Friday, our last full day in Malta and Andrew fancied going to visit the Classic Car museum which was in Qawra, another bus ride away .🚌 . Usual headaches associated with using the buses but nevertheless we arrived safely. No sooner had we got off the bus, when we were accosted by a Holiday membership Rep, who promised us free tickets to the museum in exchange for an hour 'chat'. Given we were planning on heading to the nearest cafe anyway, we thought what the hell and after an hour of pleasantries we were heading to the museum with our free tickets and other goodies in hand. The museum was quite pleasant and very quiet so we spent about an hour in there before harding for more cocktails in the nearby crepe cafe.... amazingly no crepes eaten at this point! We then got a little lost and walked further than we planned which as you can imagine went down well in what was the hottest day of the week! Luckily we got back on track before much harm was done and then it was definitely time for some crepes and shopping πŸ₯ž The area we were in, seemed a much better bet for any future holidays as it was much quieter and parking seemed much easier. We had been advised that parking towards Valletta and St Julians was impossible so car hire was pointless. There were also plenty of shops to look around and of course plenty of places to eat burgers and pizza! Once the sun had gone, it was definitely much cooler and we thought the buses would be less crowded if we stayed until after dinner. Big mistake as it turns out and it took us over 2hrs to get back to the hotel after our direct bus went straight passed 3x. Certainly not impressed and in the end we just jumped on anything and ended up going back via Sliema....not the most direct route by any means 🚌 . We decided not to risk the buses to get back to the airport and booked a taxi to the cost of 19e to get us there πŸš•

Sadly our last night was anything but peaceful and you could definitely tell it was a Friday night in Party Central πŸ’ƒ

Despite our disturbed night we managed to get organised in good time for getting the taxi to the airport πŸš• . It is somewhat of a miracle we made it given the taxi driver's shocking driving and use of mobile phone along the way but hey ho we survived. Again the airport was pretty quiet and we got through security etc in good time. There was a lot of talk about the snowy weather in the UK and someone had said the previous flight was cancelled because of it which made us somewhat nervous. Adding to the misery was the prospect of being stuck with the same unpleasant chap as on the way after we spotted him waiting for the same flight as us. Amazingly though luck was on our side and we took off on time, had a young lady next to us (phew!) and got first class seats all the way to Derby πŸ›© 🚈

A nice dinner of fish and chips met us when we arrived back to a very Snowy Alfreton. β˜ƒοΈ...and a very affectionate Jemima .😻

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