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Just back from Amazing Malta!

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Wow, what a great trip, I'd venture to say the best so far..Malta is so rich in history and beauty. It's a magical mix of the very old with very modern. And the culture is so unique and the people extremely warm. Two weeks is the perfect amount of time to get a feel for the country.

TRAVEL:
Took Virgin Atlantic from JFK, connected in London Heathrow on Air Malta. Arrived 3 p.m., smooth.
Grabbed rental car from Thrifty and headed to our rental villa in Swieqqi, a small town near St. Julians.

Lodging
I rented the villa through a private owner and it was amazing. Huge pool, three bedrooms, spotless, with a great view over the island.

Activities
With two young kids, we spend each day going to the beach in the morning. We'd alternate between the small pebbly beach right in St. Julians, St. George Bay, or driving up to Ghadira Bay in Mellieha, about a 40 minute drive. Mellieha was just gorgeous, so shallow and calm for the kids. There was a great beach restaurant, Maxim, that served delicious food with great owners.

Highlights
The capital of Valletta is incredible. We walked around the city, went to the Upper Barraka Gardens with its view over the water, took the Karozzin ride.
Vittoriosa is another of the fortified cities in Malta, just gorgous architecture and a great feel.
We loved Sliema for its vibe and the shopping and the Spinola Bay area of St. Julians for romantic evening walks.
Took a day trip to Gozo on the car ferry, just gorgeous. Went to Rambla Bay Beach with its red sand, lunched in Marsalforn Bay in a cute seafront cafe and looked around Rabat, the sleepy capital. Gozo is special, but a bit too quiet for a trip with the kids, in my opinion. Nice for a honeymoon.
Oh, and the kids loved the amusements on the Bugibba waterfront.
In two weeks, we basically went everywhere onthe island.

Dining

Peppino's -- St. Julians -- wonderful al dente pasta, fabulous views over Spinola Bay. SAt on a tiny balcony, just romantic.

Papparazzi -- ST. Julians -- Just go for desserts. Food's just OK. Try Nutella Pie, heaven.

Amici Miei -- on the Valletta Waterfront -- wow, this area of Malta is fairly new and just so pretty. There are some cool lounges and new restaurants and this is the best one.

Piccolo Padre -- St Julians -- Wonderful pizza, great location

Don Vito's -- Bugibba -- High above St. Paul's Bay, cozy, warm British owners

Best gelato: Angeli's on Sliema waterfront and the gelateria across from Tanti ice cream in Bugibba..

Malta is such a gem, undiscovered by Americans.. I'm so looking forward to my return.

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