Malta. Have you heard about it? I was there 10 years ago and have pretty good memories about the place. I liked the fact that being there with my mother and without a car, we could easily see the island together thanks to great bus network and without the need to spend big money on guided tours. And the buses in 2002 were quite stylish – old-school, yellow, with white roofs…
This time our trip to Malta was in a way unplanned (as I already wrote here) – we managed to buy last minute, cheap tickets! 🙂 We wanted to stay on Malta and we found ourselves on Gozo. It was a fantastic coincidence. Gozo is quiet, calm, sunny and sleepy and was a perfect place to relax. Malta is also small, yet a bit bigger than Gozo. It’s also more crowded and big cities have traffic problems – both in the streets and on the beach. The biggest beach in Melieha Bay was crowded even at 6 pm!
We loved our “village” on Gozo but Malta is still worth visiting… Unfortunately, we didn’t manage to see everything we wanted. Mosta, the city of silence Mdina-Rabat and Marsaxlokk are still on our list… well, what can you do if you’re travelling not only with your child, but in a company with 2 little ones? One is asleep and the other one wants to go to the playground. One is eating and the other wants to run around etc. etc. Therefore, it’s hard to adjust like we always do and see as much as we want… But still we managed to see some stuff! 🙂 Here it is then. One short day on Malta!
We left Gozo around 10 am with a “fancy” car that you may already know from the previous entires and then switched to a ferry. The ferry costs EUR 4,60 per person. The funny thing is that you can reach Gozo for free!!:) you only pay if you’re going back to Malta! If there’s anyone among you who thought of quitting the job and settling on a quiet island in order to live a long and happy life far from the civilisation (“I quit the corporation and…” story ;)), Gozo is a place for you! 🙂
Our Maltese trip starts with Cirkewwa, near Melieha Bay. Valetta and Sliema are quite “far” from there (considering the distances on Gozo) – approx. 30-40 km. We drive for quite a while due to heavy traffic, especially in tourist resorts such as Melieha. After 30 minutes on Malta we all can say that the staying on Gozo turned out to be a great coincidence. That’s because living fast in a big city (I know that Warsaw may seem like a little town compared to Bangkok, but in general it can be considered a big city:)), coping with the traffic every day, we like to spend our holidays in a place where we can relax and enjoy the silence. We also try to find spots with more locals than tourists. I cant’s say that we avoid all tourist locations. We don’t! We usually want to see them as well. But we prefer Kazimierz Dolny in winter than in summer, the north of Spain instead of the south, Brittany instead of French Riviera and so on…
We usually visit the tourist spots just to see them and therefore we’ll start with Sliema. I remember the place from my 2002 trip as a moderately big city with beautiful promenade next to the bay. It was also a bit… luxurious? Good shops, good hotels, yachts… I guess that the best word to describe the place is Spanish pijo or posh. Is sounds better than luxurious, trendy or rich 😉 Sliema still looks the same, the promenade is still a great place to go for a walk, however the 40 degrees heat makes it a bit difficult 🙂 All playgrounds by the sea are deserted around 1-2 pm and they look really weird 🙂 Elizka, who is travelling with us (Maks is asleep now – I told you! :)) tries to give it a try, but the see-saws and slides are so hot that she quickly withdraws… No wonder the kids start playing around 8 pm 🙂
Sliema was supposed to be a little summer town for the guys from the capital – Valetta. Beautiful bays, white rocks – a perfect spot for vacation. But as the population of Valetta grew, the population of Sliema declined. Villas and residences were built and the city became quite elegant and a bit posh ;). Nowadays there are around 15,000 citizens in Sliema and it really looks like a big city, even though 15 thousand isn’t a lot! 😉 Sliema post code is a subject of envy and other Maltese people call citizens of Sliema tal pepe which means snobs. It turns out that my recollections from 2002 and the impression from 2013 were both right…
Sliema is known for one more thing… Walking around the bay you will suddenly find yourself in the little town of St Julian’s – teenagers Mecca. They come here to study English or to party… You can imagine the rest! 🙂 I also made a sociological observation – I have never attended a charter flight with so many teenagers on… It made me think that I should have come here more often when I was younger ;P (Sorry, mom! :))
When you’re in Sliema, try to get a little bit away from the seaside promenade and get lost in the tiny alleys with typical Maltese balconies. That’s the kind of views we like the most!
One funny thing about Gozo are mobile shops. We never managed to take a pictures because we usually seen them passing by from our terrace. Little trucks carried all basic goods. A clever idea, especially on Sundays – we once tried to find an operating shop on Sunday and we didn’t find any in our neighbourhood on Gozo, even though we stayed in a quite populated area 😉 In Sliema we found a mobile grocery store! 🙂
Maks won’t remember too much from Sliema as he slept most of the time. He woke up in the end and managed to see an intriguing fountain on the promenade. Obviously, he loved it 😉 I, on the other hand, loved a beautifully painted bench on the boardwalk. I want more!
We left Sliema and drove to Valetta. We didn’t have much time, so we decided to have a walk down Triq Ir-Repubblika first. It’s the main street in the Old Town that connects the Town Gate with Fort St. Elmo in the far end of the peninsula, where the Old Town is located. For one reason it wasn’t an easy walk. Do you remember the video showing Maks walking around Prague? He got distracted by stairs, souvenir shops, toys, candles and everything else. Ir-Repubblika street distracted him even more than Prague because there were rocking machines every here and there “shouting”: “Maks, come and rock a bit!” and Maks just HAD to get these 20 cents from us and do it every single time… 😉
The Ir-Repubblika street also offers (apart from the rocking toys) a variety of souvenir shops, cafes, ice-cream shops, etc. You can also visit the Archaeological Museum and St. Johns Co-Cathedral. If you’re planning to eat lunch in the Old Town of Valetta, remember about the siesta… Theoretically, we remembered about it, but as we were travelling with another family and 2 kids it turned out that it was during siesta that we started to look for a place to have lunch. That’s why instead of going to a previously chosen restaurant on Misrah San Gorg (St. George Square), we ate in a random place on the Republic Square. A nice place with a restaurant described as “tourist place, nothing special”. But the food was alright 😉
After the “so-so” lunch we went to get lost in the streets of Valetta a little bit. Worth recommending!
Unfortunately, we got to Fort St. Elmo situated in the end of Triq Ir Repubblika too late 🙁 But it’s a place worth visiting. This time we had to leave without seeing it and go back to our car. But we took a different route – we went by the St. Elmo bay. Views, views, views! An absolute must! 🙂
We were planning to go to Marsalxlokk from Valetta and we even had a specific restaurant chosen, one that had recommendations from the chef from Beppe’s in Marsalforn. Unfortunately we ran out of time… The description of Marsalxlokk indicates that it’s a nice fishermen village and we would be happy to go there some time in the future or read somebody’s report.
Instead, we went to the beach in Melieha bay. No pictures this time as Maks went absolutely mad on the beach – he ran, jumped and dived into the water… and the Melieha beach isn’t too interesting to be honest… My friend who lives in the Philippines once said that after seeing the beaches there – maiden, amazing, deserted, like on a postcard – she can hardly get amazed by any of the European beaches. I don’t have such problems after 3 weeks in Thailand (maybe that’s too short? ;)), but I definitely didn’t like Melieha. If you have time, you can give it a look and let your little one play a bit. But that’s all 😉 Malta is still worth visiting though. But remember to choose Gozo as your base!