Do you have the same problem as me when travelling, namely taking too many things that will never be needed and forgetting items that were much more important … and then convincing yourself that you will write a list down for future trips?
A recent trip to Malta (to attend a wedding) was a perfect example. Three pairs of very high heels never left the suitcase. Two maxi dresses – similar story. Plus a few tops and shirts, all of which were too heavy for the high 30s temperatures.
And I forgot important stuff such as a light back-pack for GG to carry water, sunscreen, guide books etc.
So, maybe writing this post might help me be a bit more organised the next time. GG handles the flight and hotel bookings, passports, money, and travel documents. He’s also a dab hand at packing suitcases and even photocopies all our documents.
Unless you fancy the inconvenience of flying via the UK, there is only one way to get to Malta by air and that’s Ryanair.
In fairness, their new be-more-friendly approach worked, not least because the pleasant check-in girl ignored the fact that our luggage was a tad over the limit and wished us a good trip with a smile. They even took the carry-on bags for free which was an added bonus.
Flight leaves Dublin at 6.30pm-ish and gets to Malta at 11.00pm-ish local time, so if you don’t want Ryanair in-flight fare, have a good meal before you get to Dublin Airport (there are no culinary delights in Terminal 1!).
Inflatable neck support – bring one to ease the potential pain of the rigidly upright Ryanair seats during almost 4 hours of flying.
Be prepared for the trumpeting signal through the public address system if they arrive ahead of schedule – worse still (in GG’s opinion anyway) is the American habit of applauding the pilots for getting the plane back on the runway (it’s what they are very well paid for, after all, he says!)
Malta – Did You Know?
- They speak English very fluently, thanks to their British colonial history
- No need for a plug adaptor – they use our 3-pin plugs
- The currency is euro
- They drive on the left side of the road (like Ireland) but traffic is mad (considering it’s such a small island) and they like to drive fast, very fast.
- Bottled water is recommended for drinking
- Public buses are frequent and cheap
- Taxis are about the same prices as Ireland
- Air-conditioning is essential in high season
Where to stay
We had experience of two hotels, both in St. Julian’s. It ranged from the 3-star St. Julian’s Bay Hotel, at around €90 a night, to the 5-star Le Meridien Hotel four doors up the road at around €200 a night (although a deal can probably be done if you are staying longer).
The former was basic, but clean, we had free wi-fi and the air-conditioning worked perfectly while the latter was on a different level entirely, from the impressive reception lobby to the spacious, well-appointed bedrooms to the roof-top pool and terrace.
If you register (for free) with SPG (Starwood Preferred Guest), Le Meridien offers such benefits as free wi-fi in your room, bottle of water every day and various discounts, as well as building up points to be used when booking another SPG-registered hotel around the world.
Where to eat
The Medina Restaurant in Mdina – we can highly recommend this establishment. Our offspring and their young men kindly took us there for our wedding anniversary dinner and we spent a very pleasant evening in its courtyard setting, eating from an extensive and varied menu. Pasta starters were particularly good, steak ordered blue came practically mooing, fish dishes were superb – click here to see the a la carte menu.
We discovered later that it won Malta’s Best Overall Restaurant in 2015 and we can see why.
Maltese Coffee Fix!
It almost goes without saying that I had to find my coffee fix in Malta! And just between our hotel in St Julian’s Bay and Sliema we found ‘Dolce Peccati and More…’, the perfect place which served wonderful coffee, croissants, paninis, cakes and even an ‘English Breakfast’ if you were so inclined (it looked OK but not a patch on an Irish one!).
The affable owner Carlo greeted all his customers with a smile and when he realised we were visitors who kept coming back every day, paid us special attention. The waiters and baristas were friendly and outgoing in this busy little place and it was full of locals too, which would explain how Carlo reckons they make on average 1,000 cups of coffee a day! Well worth a visit.
Places to Visit
An ideal way to see Malta is to take an open-top hop on-hop off bus. We used the ‘Malta Sightseeing’ service on the Blue tour covering the north end of the island, costing around €17pp. There are many places to stop such as the capital Valletta, San Anton Gardens, Mosta (with its magnificent domed church) and Rabat.
An absolute must-see is the medieval walled city of Mdina, a.k.a. the Silent City. We only had time for a walk around its lovely shaded streets lined with churches and palaces but you could certainly spend longer. Lunch was in San Pier, a little wine bar located in the ancient walls – two lovely salads, a beer and a shandy came to less than €20.
Gozo – we didn’t have enough time to visit the neighbouring island of Gozo on this trip but our guest blogger Kirstin Smith will provide an insight into this charming spot.
Rachel & Neal’s Wedding
They have holidayed on the island for years and have a close relationship with a local family (Mario and Sandra and their sons Miguel and Daniel) so Malta was always going to be high on Rachel’s wedding venue wish-list.
It was an elegant, sophisticated occasion, with a lot of attention to detail such as organising coach transport for the guests, fans and bottled water supplied. Following the ceremony in St. Paul’s Pro-Cathedral in Valletta, we were taken to the Barracuda Restaurant overlooking St. Julian’s Bay for the reception.
The surrounding views were stunning and the venue was cool despite the high temperatures outside. We were first treated to champagne and traditional Maltese canapés, then tucked into a veritable feast.
In true Irish style, we danced into the early hours, rounding off a really memorable occasion.