Malta Visit 2019

Ray and Ken's Malta trip.

Tuesday 14 May 2019

We took off from Bristol Airport at 13:15 on our Air Malta A320 flight - arriving at Malta's Luqa airport at about 17:30 local time.
Our TUI rep made us wait for about 30 minutes while he searched for two 'missing' passengers - not a very auspicious start to the holiday!
Driven in a mini-bus acrosss Malta to Sliema and our hotel - the Plaza Regency - where we checked in to our room to unpack and settle in.


Wednesday 15 May 2019

Following breakfast,  we went for a stroll along the promenade in Sliema before meeting a second TUI rep in the hotel at 10:00 for a briefing and sales pitch for various excursions.
Throwing caution to the wind, we signed up for three - 'Heart of Malta', 'Marsaxlokk Market and the Blue Grotto' plus an all-day 'Three Island Cruise' to the Blue Lagoon on Comino and Gozo.
The rest of the day was spent on taking the local bus to the Sliema ferry for the short ride across to Valletta, where we wandered around, had a beer, took in the sights, had some lunch and another beer - before returning on the ferry for the short bus journey back to our hotel.


Thursday 16 May 2019

Our first tour of this trip started with a mini-bus journey to meet up with tourists from other hotels and guide Daz on a bigger coach for the ride to Mosta and the famous Rotunda.
Next up was a visit to a glass factory where we watched a glass-blowing demo, before travelling to the megalithic temple complex at Ħaġar Qim.
From the temple we were driven into Rabat where we had lunch in a restaurant before visiting the fortress of Mdina.
After the fortress tour, the party split up - the coach (and Daz) leaving six of us to wait for our mini-bus - incommunicado, cold and miserable in the drizzling rain.
It turned up after 20 minutes to take us back to our hotel in Sliema - strike two TUI!

Friday 17 May 2019

The plan for today was to take a local bus ride to the Malta Aviation Museum at Ta' Qali - but as the buses were a bit intermittent, we decided to splash out on a taxi - which dropped us on the doorstep and was worth the expense.
Following the museum visit we had intended to take another local bus into Valletta, but after waiting at the bus stop for some time, we opted to take a different bus into Rabat - from where we caught the Valletta bus.
This took us to the bus terminus on the southern end of Valletta - somewhere we had not yet explored.
After a light lunch - and a beer! - we walked through the narrow, steep streets to Fort St Elmo on the northern end of Valletta to visit the National War Museum - home to the famous Gloster Sea Gladiator 'Faith' and the island's George Cross.  
Following the usual ferry crossing to Sliema, we took the opportunity to sign up for a Harbour Cruise from one of the many kiosks touting for business.

Saturday 18 May 2019

Taking the local bus from outside the hotel to the ferry terminal, we arrived early to get the best seats on the harbour cruise boat.
The cruise around Manoel Island was fine in the calm waters of that bay, but we then had to go into rougher waters to round the headland into Grand Harbour - which was fun!
After seeing all the sights in and around the calm waters of Grand Harbour, it was back into the choppy waters of the Mediterranean before mooring back at Sliema.
With an afternoon to kill, we hopped onto the ferry back to Valletta to visit the Lascaris War Rooms - a large underground complex from where the aerial defence of Malta - and later the allied invasion of Sicily - was executed.
Our young volunteer guide James was very knowledgeable and explained how the plotting tables and communications all worked during the seige.  

Sunday 19 May 2019

The second of our planned excusions - this time to the fishing village of Marsaxlokk with its market and the Blue Grotto caves.
Our TUI guide made the executive decision to do the caves first - which proved to be a good move as there were less tourists early on.
There was some confusion about paying for the boat ride - and it was difficult for us old codgers to step on board the little heaving boats from the slippery quayside - in fact one older lady couldn't make it and turned back.
Once settled into the eight-seater boat we donned our life jackets and set sail into the rough waters to visit the Blue Grotto caves - which was fun, if a little trepidatious - I couldn't stop thinking 'what happens if the small outboard moter fails?' and 'I wonder if they have ever lost anyone?'
Safely delivered back to the jetty, we boarded our coach for the trip to Marsaxlokk - where we wandered around the busy market stall on the harbour front.
After a couple of very welcome beers, it was back on the coach for the trip back to our hotel.

Monday 20 May 2019

The last of our planned excursions - on a schooner from Sliema to the islands of Comino and Gozo.
As we set off on the good ship Fernandes we were served a nice snack and on arrival into a small secluded bay in Gozo, we dropped anchor, the gangplank was lowered and the more able passengers jumped off for a swim in the clear waters. We were slightly disappointed that we didn't actually set foot on Gozo as we had expected.
A very nice lunch was served - with free beer! - before we weighed anchor and sailed across the short channel to Comino and the Blue Lagoon.
This was a very picturesque bay with stunningly clear turquoise waters - spoiled only by the large number of boats, hundreds of tourists and dozens of stalls selling Pizzas, Pina Colada's, ice creams and the like. We were as guilty as the rest - going ashore and partaking of an ice cream whilst admiring the views.
Back on board, the stern gangplank was raised (we nearly left three passengers behind as the captain was a stickler for timekeeping) - and we set sail back to Malta.


Tuesday 21 May 2019

After a 5am wakeup call, we checked out of the hotel and boarded the mini-bus to be taken to Luqa airport for our 10:10 flight back to the UK.
Unfortunately, the flight was delayed by an hour - so we didn't depart until 11:15 and were thus late arriving at Bristol.
To add insult to injury, the baggage carousel at Bristol airport was broken - so we had another 30 minute delay before collecting our bags and trekking through the car park to find my car - which I had clevery (so I thought) parked in the shade.
We found it covered in a weeks worth of leaves, sap and resin from the trees - so we had to spend a ten minutes trying to clear the goo from the windows!
Still, we had a great time on Malta and the whole trip was very enjoyable - thanks Ray!


 Ken Duffey - June 2019.