Since leaving Portugal, Malta had lurked on my radar as our next beach destination. It was now time for Malta’s sun to shine, and I couldn’t wait to dip not just my toes in the ocean. Better still, we were to be joined by George, who was taking a couple more days off work to a) extend his recovery from Sziget and b) prolong his London summer as much as possible. Plus, I’m sure he was wasn’t yet ready to be rid of us! 🙂
We caught a taxi in from the airport (set fee of €20) and immediately noticed the unusual landscape surrounding us. Sprawling high rises, half complete and radiating neglect, dotted the horizon in basically every direction. Our accommodation in Sliema was an ex-resort that had gone to seed (and as it would transpire, similar to a lot of the buildings in Malta) however it was very spacious and had a beautiful pool looking across the harbour to the capital, Valletta and its expansive fort.
If we had longer I think we probably would have explored the island a bit more, but as it was, we only had four nights and were reluctant to spend too much of our time on public transport.
Buses in Malta are notoriously slow: it can take over an hour to get somewhere that looks so close on the map. We had hoped to visit St Peter’s Pool (amongst others), but the 90 minute expected journey time put us off on this occasion.
Instead we sought out an all inclusive boat tour. It was one of those crowded ones, where we were packed like sardines and had an open bar with a buffet lunch. We circled the entire island of Malta, enabling us to take in sights that we weren’t otherwise going to visit – such as St. Peter’s Pool and Popeye’s Village. The boat also made a stop at Blue Lagoon, which despite the copious amounts of people present remains a highlight of the trip. The water was SO clear (visibility of up to 20m) and so warm – I could have easily bathed all day!
Another swimming highlight was at St George’s Bay. The beaches are mostly quite small and crowded, but it’s the ocean itself that makes it so glorious for swimming. To our own disbelief we actually ended up walking both to and from St George’s – it couldn’t have been done without the knowledge that there was a swim waiting at each end! At one point we conceded as the heat got the better of us, but once we realised we had to buy a whole concession card for the bus rather than an individual ticket we decided it wasn’t at all worth it.
Sliema was a convenient place to base ourselves. We were able to catch a short ferry across to Valletta to explore the old town (and have a yummy coffee experience at Lot 61) and the Sliema promenade made for a pleasant morning walk. There were also lots of tasty food spots we visited, including the New Zealand owned Mint Cafe, the great value ImPasta Bar and the luxurious yet affordable 1926 Resort restaurant. We were also repeat customers at Cuba, where we tried Malta’s local pastry, the pastizzi: filo pastry stuffed with either ricotta cheese or green peas (the latter was better).
Our time in Malta went horribly quick – which is starting to become the theme of our trip actually… and sadly! It was a relaxing few days, still adventure filled but with lots of time for just hanging out. George only had three nights in Malta (he had to go back to work, sucker) but he couldn’t escape us for long: less than 12 hours later we’d be on our way to stay with him in London!