General: Malta

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General: Malta

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Review of "General: Malta"

published 28/02/2017 | raspberry_ripple
Member since : 27/02/2016
Reviews : 31
Members who trust : 10
About me :
I try to keep my reviews a little light hearted because that's my character and approach on most things. I'm not an English teacher, I didn't "stick in school" so my grammar isn't the best but I feel my reviews are true to my experiences.
Excellent
Pro Good weather, great people, lots of history, great views.
Cons Hills, hills everywhere!
exceptional
Value for Money
Sightseeing
Shopping
Nightlife
Ease of getting around

"Malta, feels like a home from home."

Mellieha View. I took this photo from my balcony at the hotel.

Mellieha View. I took this photo from my balcony at the hotel.

My Malta Experience


Quick Introduction

I'm literally writing this review just as I've returned from Malta, currently sitting on a train back home from the airport, I just couldn't wait to share my experience. I am quite tired though so it's likely I'll take a break and pick it up later at home. I tried to do something most days I was there and I did quite a lot, however, there's so much to do there that I'm just going to HAVE to go back.

I went for 7 nights, Sunday to Sunday and I stayed in the area of Mellieha which is one of the more quiet areas of Malta near the north of the island. Here's my mini list of what I did each day.
  • Day 1 - Travelling and Arrival at the Hotel
  • Day 2 - Visit to a Mellieha Air Raid Shelter, little walk and Massage within Hotel Spa
  • Day 3 - Lunch in St.Julians and a quick look in Valletta
  • Day 4 - Captain Morgan's Harbour Cruise around Valletta and Sliema and a visit to the Malta National Aquarium in St. Paul's.
  • Day 5 - Popeye Village
  • Day 6 - Captain Morgan's Boat trip with Gozo and Comino Tour
  • Day 7 - Discovered the roof top pool in the hotel and got a couple of treatments at the Spa within the hotel.

Everything in my review will be based on these activities over these days.

Everyone I met on the island spoke some sort of English, mostly well spoken too. They only people that didn't seem to speak much English were other tourists. It feels quite homely to me.

The Airport

The airport is pretty small, which is expected as the country is a small island. The staff are relatively friendly, everything was fast moving, I was never waiting for long periods of time on arrival or departure for anything. On arrival there was a small duty free section with mainly alcohol and tobacco products which you could purchase from while collecting your luggage. The airport transfer stations are really easy to find, even if you find it difficult, pretty much anyone in the arrivals section will point you the right way. When Departing everything was easy to find, they only have 20 something luggage check-in lines so no walking for miles to find your luggage drop off. Getting through security was smooth running, very small area but fast moving, I joined a very large queue and was surprised that I was only waiting about 7 minutes to go through security. Upon clearing security there is a relatively large duty free section considering the small size of the airport. Lots of choice and always cheeky deals on.

I flew with Ryan Air as I booked my holiday online and it's always a budget airline. There service was pretty decent, rocky landing in Malta but it happens sometimes. Not much to say about the flights as I'm reviewing Malta, not Ryan Air.

The Public Bus System

Oh my, where to start? In the winter time it only cost €1.50 to get on any Malta bus, this ticket is valid for 2 hours so if you return or need to change buses within the 2 hour validation period, you just scan your ticket. In the summer the system works the same but it costs €2 per ticket. There are lots of buses with different numbers which looks quite confusing at first, but I used google maps so it would tell me which bus to get and which route was quickest etc. Even if you don't use google maps it's not too difficult to work out.

The bus drivers are amazing, they turn and manoeuvre these huge buses through the smallest of streets, tightest of bends and steepest of hills. I haven't seen driving like it, I was amazed. It can seem like a slightly bumpy ride at times but you get used to it. The buses are quite busy, you can expect to stand and be crammed on like a sardine in a tin during peak times or not get on the bus at all. In my 7 nights there, this only happened to me once and there was another bus came along 5 minutes later going the same way.

Mellieha

As I mentioned, I chose to stay in Mellieha because it was one of the quieter areas of Malta and I just wanted to chill out. I chose to stay at the Maritim Hotel and Spa which is a 4 star hotel, and it was great. I was Bed and Breakfast Board and the breakfast was a buffet breakfast, plenty of choice and you could fill your boots! The staff were really friendly, anything you needed they'd get. My first destination was the Spa so I could book my treatments!

There are plenty of bus stops around the area so you can travel quite easily to other parts of the Island. Mellieha itself has plenty to offer, there are churches all over the place where you can go have a look for free, there's an air raid shelter that you can go explore for a small price, it's walking distance from Popeye village and there are small restaurants and souvenir shops dotted all about.

Mellieha World War 2 Air Raid Shelter

We found this little beauty by chance when we went for a wonder down the road from the hotel, it's located round the corner from a massive church on George Borg Olivier Street. It's up about 20 shallow stairs and it only costs €2.40 to enter. It's very cheap to see a little bit of history. There's a man that let's you in and as you enter there's a small glass cabinet containing some war items like shrapnel and some of the tools that were used to dig the shelter for you to look at. There are small pieces of paper next to the items telling you what they are but the man tells you briefly and lets you hold a piece of shrapnel which is actually much heavier than I expected. Once you've had a look at the items you can walk through the shelter. These air raid shelters were dug by hand and used to hold up to 700 people at a time, it's a little haunting walking through with the little lights on imagining how it would have been for the Maltese in the war without these lights. Throughout the shelter there are small roped off rooms with settings of how they'd be used, beware, there are mannequins and you will jump when you first see them. There's one of a woman holding a baby and before you approach and see it you can hear the baby crying, it's scary! There's also small information plaques throughout the tunnel explaining various pieces of history. It's well worth the time and money in my opinion.
Marion Mizzi Wellbeing Beauty and Spa

Located in Mellieha

This company has 3 locations in Malta, one of which was within my hotel. There was a "Treatment Menu" strategically placed in every room and signs around the hotel but there was no strategy needed with me, the spa was the reason I booked the hotel in the first place. I went down to the spa, located on level -1 of the Maritim Hotel in Mellieha, on the Sunday as soon as I'd arrived and dumped my bags in my room. The staff were very friendly and gave me some great information on the treatments and their benefits and whether they'd be any benefit to me or not. I ended up booking a Deep Tissue Full Body Swedish Massage which cost €65 for 55 minutes for Monday and for Saturday I booked a Back, Neck and Shoulder Hot Stone Massage at €50 for 40 minutes and a Deep Cleanse Facial at €65 for 75 minutes. All the treatments I received were great and well worth the money.

They offer so much treatments including different types of massage, facials, waxing, manicure/pedicure, body wraps, couples massages and so much more. They also have a sauna, jacuzzi, gym and indoor pool available to use. Hotel guests get free use of these facilities but gym memberships and day passes are also available.

My friend I was on holiday (who is is her 50s) also had 3 treatments and she said the hot stone massage was the best massage she's ever had and she's had a fair few in her time.

Worth finding one of these wellbeing beauty spas if you want to relax and be pampered while in Malta.

Bianco's Italian Restaurant

Located in St. Julian's

Working in the casino industry, you meet people that end up travelling for work, I have 2 friends that work and stay in St. Julian's so I went to meet them for some lunch and a quick catch up. We met at Bianco's which is located on St. George's Road in St. Julian's. The staff were really friendly and we were seated and served drinks quickly, we asked to have a few drinks before eating as we wanted to chat a little first and they were fine with it, couldn't do enough for you actually. They offer a good range of drinks including wines, spirits and beers both local and imported. They actually served more bottled beers than most pubs in Scotland, I was impressed. They have an open kitchen, so you can see your food being cooked, which is great.

When we did order, I chose to have a calzone. I didn't have the balls to try their local delicacy of Rabbit, I just can't eat Thumper! I was surprised to see they had Aberdeen Angus Beef on the menu.. I just couldn't escape home completely! Our food was served quickly and it tasted delicious, you could tell that the dough was fresh and all the ingredients were fresh.

It wasn't expensive either, €2 for a beer and my calzone was €10.50. Average food prices in my opinion.

Valletta

Well, I didn't actually see much of Valletta on land. I had a quick walk down one of the streets which had the Embassy on it because it was round the corner from the main bus station. You can catch a bus to anywhere on the island from the bus bays in Valletta so if you're ever in Malta and get lost, just jump on any bus that says Valletta B on it and you'll be golden. I seen more of Valletta on the Harbour Cruise being honest, I didn't have time to look around as much as I'd wanted.
Captain Morgan's Harbour Cruise

Located in Sliema

Captain Morgan's was chosen for us by the site we booked through, but if you head to Sliema harbour there are booths all along the harbour front where you can book these trips and go on the next available one, there are also small shops all over the island. We got a deal through our rep where if we booked one excursion we got the harbour cruise for free however if I remember right I think it was €20 to book this cruise on it's own.

We got a bus to Sliema which was about 40-50 minutes from Mellieha, asked someone at one of the booths when the next cruise was, we waited around 30minutes then jumped on. It's a 2 level boat, of course we sat on the top deck and looked like raging lunatics as we were in sleeveless summer clothes and everyone else was wrapped up in scarves and coats (wimps), but we wanted a tan haha.

When you set off from the harbour you get taken around the Sliema and Valletta harbours, you're shown all around and told the history of the buildings and the creeks within the harbours. It's really informational and you learn a lot about the history of the harbours and the buildings around it. The views are beautiful and the photo opportunities are rife. If we hadn't gotten it for free, I'd still have been happy paying €20 for the cruise. We were on the boat for over 2 hours.
Malta National Aquarium

Located in St. Paul's

I really don't have much positive to say about this aquarium, it's probably the shortest and least money worth place I've ever visited, most disappointing of the trip. We went because we received discounted tickets from our hotel. It costs €12.90 for an adult to enter the aquarium, the top floor is a massive coffee room area and a VERY expensive gift shop (€5 for a bloomin' fridge magnet). When you got through the gate with your ticket there's a happy chappy waiting to take your photo in front of a green screen, you have no choice in the matter, he basically force talks you into posing while a shark tries to eat you. You then go down some steps and you're in the aquarium. We were walking round, having a look in the tanks, taking pictures of the fish, lizards etc. There was a tunnel you walked through that had sharks and stingrays floating over your head, I found Nemo, which I was delighted about, and around 15 minutes after entering the aquarium, we came to an exit sign. I was so disappointed that somewhere that had so much advertising across the Island was just a massive disappointment. Whether it would be more enjoyable to a small child or not, I can't give an opinion. However, for the price of entry, I'd expect at least an hour of occupation for my money. It just seemed to me like there was more gift shop and coffee shop seats than there was aquarium.

We had a look at the photos that were taken on our way in, it was the same 2 photos put on different backgrounds. If you wanted to buy 1 photo it was €8, and if you wanted 2 photos you were €16 and you got a 3rd photo free. If you bought the photos, you got a receipt with a code on it where you have 30days to go online and download all your photos. The download option makes it a little more value for money but it's still expensive for photos.

Popeye Village

Located in Mellieha

This was the highlight of my holiday, I recommend anyone going here before I even describe it, absolutely brilliant. It's a great experience exploring where the Disney Popeye movie was filmed. There is only one bus that goes to Popeye Village, the 101, we caught it outside our hotel and it took about 8 minutes to get there but you could catch any bus to the Mellieha area and jump on a 101 from there, the bus drops you off right outside the ticket desk.

The cost of entry is €10.50 for adults and €8.50 for children. With the cost of an adult ticket you get a free glass of "punch" which is basically a mulled wine, which was very nice, you get a free postcard from the gift shop and there is usually a boat trip as well. Unfortunately the sea was too rough that day for their little boats so there was no boat ride, however, in place of the boat ride we got a free photo which we could have taken anywhere in the village. I chose the stocks haha.

Once you buy your ticket there is a small but pretty steep hill to go down, there's a small hut with spectacular views of the creek and a signing in book so you can write your name, the date and a small message to show you were there. You then go down another small but steep hill to get into the village, there's some stairs provided at this point if you don't wish to do the "I'm trying not to run and trip down the hill" walk.

There are little shows within the village, a Popeye actor does a little film recording with groups where he has you acting out scenes from the film, there's a puppet show and you can go watch the full Popeye movie if you please. There's a snack kiosk, a small restaurant, an actual jewellery shop inside the silversmiths shop where the man is sitting actually hand making jewellery, a gift shop and a little elf village. You can go inside the buildings and explore them, there are items left as they were from the filming of the movie. Theres also a mini golf course and a small summer play area that had a small pool, however this isn't open in the winter. Some of the building have information about the film, the writers, the producers etc.

It's honestly the best value day out we had, we were in there a good few hours.

Captain Morgan's Boat Trip with Gozo and Comino Tour

Located in Sliema for pick-up

We booked this trip through our Rep for €40 so we would get the harbour cruise for free, if you book at a kiosk in Sliema it's only €35 euros. The extra that we paid was a fee for being picked up and dropped off to and from our hotel rather than jumping on a bus.

The trip entailed setting off from Sliema harbour and heading over to the sister island of Gozo for a 2 hour tour then floating on over to the island of Comino where they have the Blue Lagoon for an hour before heading back to Sliema Harbour. The best part of the trip for me was the fact there was an open bar on the boat supplying beer, wine and soft drinks, as much as you could handle for free!

The beginning of the trip heading to Gozo wasn't too bad, the captain tells you a few things as you're cruising out but it's not as detailed and informative as the harbour cruise, it's more like "hey look over there, that's the casino", just pointing things out really. There is then a multi-lingual recording played to sell you tickets for a boat trip in Comino, I'll get into that later.
It was an overcast day we went and a little windy so there was some motion in the ocean but nothing too drastic, just a little wobble here and there, not enough to spill my drink! When we arrived at Gozo, we were met by tour buses and coaches, we jumped on a coach because we figured if we were higher up, we'd see more. The driver spoke really fast, I have no idea what he said or where he took us. We went somewhere on the other side of the island where there was a small church building and lots of tourists, we were told we had 20 minutes here then had to head off. I spent 15 of those minutes queuing for the toilet and the other 5 having a quick smoke so that was a waste of time. Our next stop was a small gift shop where lots of coaches stopped, we were told 10 minutes here. I went in, there was a free sample of Gozo coffee, traditional nugget and some prickly pear liqueur (which blew my senses out). There wasn't much time to have a proper look so I bought a fridge magnet then left. Back on the bus we went, we then stopped in Victoria, the only reason I know this is because I looked at a street sign. It was 1:30pm and we were told to come back for 1:55, so we got 25minutes, all we had time to do was walk up the hill and queue for a grab and go lunch then head back to the bus where we ate it. We then headed back to the ferry and that was that. I was so disappointed, you'd be better catching a ferry over there yourself and having a wonder round the island, we spent more time on the bus than we did looking anywhere, which would have been fine if there was a guide telling us things.

We then headed to Comino Blue Lagoon which is a nature reserve island, there are no shops, no restaurants, no-one lives there. There is a building that is a public bathroom and that's it. We had an hour here, but in the summer they stop here for 3-3.5 hours so people can swim etc. As a non-swimmer, an hour was fine for me. So I said there was sales of boat trip tickets on the ferry, we were roped in by promises of seeing the caves and the crystal lagoon where water was 20m deep and you could see to the bottom just by looking over the edge of the boat. This was a 20minute boat trip for €15, we did it. Oh the regret, it was a small boat that held about 20, we set off from beside the blue lagoon which might I add it actually the smallest beach I've seen in my life. We headed for the caves and barely had time to snap a photo before the boat took off to the next cave. The boat was too big for us to head into any caves so we were basically shown the door. It felt like we'd been on the boat for around 10 minutes when we started heading back, I said to another passenger, what happened to the crystal lagoon? Where I was told "that pretty water you pointed out, that was it". the captain didn't tell us anything, I didn't even know I'd been there.

After the hour was up we headed back onto the ferry and headed back to Sliema, thank goodness it was an open bar because I was heading back with the feeling that I had to get something for my money other than a rocky boat ride!

In all honesty, I wouldn't advise this trip to anyone from Captain Morgan, you'd be much better organising to go to the island through the ferry by yourself. The only thing that made the trip slightly worth it was the free beer and the free harbour cruise.
In Conclusion

I loved visiting Malta and I'd most definitely go back but I'd choose to stay in a different part of the island so I can explore more. I seen so much while I was there but there's still so much more to see.

I'd recommend the spa, the harbour cruise and most definitely Popeye Village. The public buses are cheap and easy enough to use, the food and drink is reasonably priced and the people are so nice, they can't do enough for you but be prepared to climb lots of hills if you like walking. I chose to get a bus to the top of the hill and work my way down because I was on a relaxing holiday, not an active one.

If you do venture to Malta, I wouldn't bother with the Aquarium unless you have money to burn and I'd advise making your own way over to Gozo and finding a boat trip to the blue lagoon from there rather than taking the Captain Morgan Trip. Unless you feel you can drink your €35 worth on the boat, it really doesn't show you the best of the island as it claims.

All in all, I enjoyed my trip and look forward to heading back there in the future.


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Comments on this review

  • afy9mab published 05/06/2017
    Excellent.
  • LiveMusicLoverLyn published 27/03/2017
    A great review
  • Violet1278 published 14/03/2017
    A superb review. E from me.
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Product Information : General: Malta

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