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
Our TUI rep made us wait for about 30 minutes while he searched
for two 'missing' passengers - not a very auspicious start to
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
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
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!
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.
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
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.
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
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.
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!
Duffey - June