MALTA – SEPT. 2012

Having decided there would be no other holiday this year following a month travelling Nepal and India, the rain drenching Scotland all summer soon changed our minds!

Malta was put on the table and so long as it was hot, I didn’t mind where we went!

A comfortable 30+ degrees Celsius was the prefect temperature for swimming and snorkelling along Malta’s beautiful coast and a number of boat trips around Malta, Comino and Gozo.  The Azure window earns and derives it’s name from the bluest and most turquoise sea you will ever see.    One issue though, beware of trips to the blue lagoon!  It was covered in litter and full of very loud Italian tourists – much like Maya bay in Thailand – a beautiful place which without the high volume of people would be heaven.  Unfortunately the noisy Italian tourists are somewhat a recurring theme on the Maltese Islands and you are hard pushed to find an escape from them!

Valetta is the capital city and was designed and built to keep its citizens well protected and safe from attack.  Malta has unfortunately suffered a number of heavy sieges in the past due to its geographic location and huge strategic port.  It is characterised by its many ancient forts that all carry tales of old and have withstood attacks from the Turks, Ottoman’s and the Nazi’s in World War 2.  Malta’s history is well documented and there are plenty of sights of historical importance to visit.   ‘The Malta Experience’ next to St Elmo’s Fort in Valetta is an Audio Visual documentary of Malta’s history and worth watching prior to visits to all the sites.  Another worthwhile activity is a tour of the three harbours.  There are a number of boat tours leaving from Silema on a daily basis and the views from the boat are much better than being up close.

Valetta is well worth spending the time just walking through its narrow streets and appreciating the original and worn facades of the buildings and venturing in and out of the many small boutique’s around the city.  Inside, they are just as interesting and we had the pleasure to be shown around an old hotel which at some point was a brothel used by the many sailors visiting the city.  There is a trend to renovate these old buildings, but to maintain their character and charm and all over Malta and Gozo you can see a number of development projects where they are restoring the facades and building behind them to create fabulous buildings.

We stayed in Silema – a more modern area where they are building large luxury complexes and where there are lots of hotels and apartments to rent.  This area has a good choice of restaurants and bars and is close enough to St.Julians Bay and Pacheville – the tacky nightlife spot on Malta and only worth going to for the Shisha outside Plush – that is unless you’re in your late teens or in your early twenties – then its a hedonists dream.

The highlight though, was Gozo, the smaller and much less populated island.  Gozo offers a much slower pace, better beaches and great boat trips around the island and Comino.  It is also home to the Azure Window and the Inland sea, perfect for swimming and scuba diving.  Also the best region for wine in Malta, try the fish and wine at El Kartel in Marsalforn, a beautiful bay with stunning views and restaurants.

Although just a short trip, Malta offered the perfect balance between relaxation, good food and wine and abundant historical places of interest and is well recommended for a simple Mediteranean getaway.

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