When we finished our cruise, we disembarked in Rome and flew from there to Malta for a few days. We’d always wanted to visit Malta and let me say that this beautiful island did not disappoint!
We stayed at the Hilton, which was a little out of the Valletta old town but located at the Portomaso Marina. This is a lovely spot with great restaurants overlooking the luxury yachts and boats and an easy walk into some local shops and other restaurants.
Our plan to book outside of school holidays didn’t factor in the number of retirees that obviously had the same idea! We had hoped that Malta towards the end of September would have been a quieter period but it was BUSY! So busy in fact that the Hilton (which is huge) was totally booked out. This wasn’t a problem as the resort had the space to accommodate a crowd but it made some of the other activities a little tricky.
We spent a couple of days lazing by one of the Hilton’s five pools! Then decided that we really needed to check the island out.
One of the first things we did was book a Hop on Hop Off bus. They had a deal that included a boat ride around Malta harbour for a couple of hours so we chose that one. The boat ride was interesting with some great commentary and luckily we managed to get on one that wasn’t too busy. The boat that left before ours was literally jam packed — perhaps with people from a tour bus, so we were lucky to have missed that one.
We were told by friends who live in Malta that we must see “The Malta Experience” which is an audio- visual show that outlines Malta’s 7,000 years of history! This was great advice and really gives a good perspective on the island’s interesting and extensive history. The ticket includes a tour of the La Sacra Infermeria which is a must see.
The Hop on Hop Off bus did stop at the Hilton, which was handy, but it was over an hour late and took us over an hour to get into the old town, which is generally a 15-20 minute car trip. Most of this time we spent standing in the aisle after having vacated our seats for elderly and less mobile passengers. By the time we reached the old town we hadn’t managed to listen to any commentary or see anything of interest. We ended up ditching the bus idea and negotiating an hourly rate with a local taxi to drive us to the places which we were interested in. This worked out really well and whilst more expensive, it was faster, more comfortable and we toured to our own schedule.
We visited a local artisan town where you can view a demonstration of glass blowing and purchase some Malta craft. Rabat and Mdina were next on our tour which are, definitely must see towns. Mdina used to be Malta’s capital and is a fortified ancient town that is fabulous to wander around.
From there we travelled up through the mountains and stopped at a cliff with fantastic views and a lovely little church perched at the top. We tried cactus fruit here from a roadside stall. The fruit was surprisingly delicious and sweet and makes me wonder why we’ve tried so hard to eradicate “prickly pear” in Australia! The Blue Grotto was our next stop, made up of a number of sea caverns on Malta’s south coast. You can take a boat trip into the grotto but time prevented us from doing this and we settled for viewing it from the cliffs above. It was a great day, all up about 4.5 hours and we definitely felt that we got our money’s worth.
The people, scenery and history of Malta definitely make for a fantastic and interesting visit. I highly recommend it!!!