first time visit to Malta

Old Apr 11th, 2003, 11:58 AM
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first time visit to Malta

My husband and I will be visiting Malta for the first time June 2003. We will be staying at the Dragonara in St. Julians. Does anyone have any advice on what to see, where to go? What is the best way to travel from St. Julian's to other places?

Thank you for any suggestions.
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Old Apr 11th, 2003, 12:28 PM
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My husband and I were in Malta in '97 for 10 days. We loved it. There's a wonderful network of buses that cost hardly anything and will take you all over the island. My recollection is that you can get a bus in Sliema but the hub of the network is in Valletta and you can take a ferry across the harbor from the east side of Sliema to Valletta and then walk to a rotary surrounded by buses with the numbers of the different routes on the front. If you've got a map of the bus routes, you just look for the route you need. Everybody we met there spoke English to some degree and people were very helpful, occasionally stopping to ask us if we needed help when we were just standing on a corner looking at a map.
First you should find a guidebook to Malta (local library or bookstore) and see what appeals to you, then you can figure out how to get there. I worked up a series of daytrips for our stay there that took us each day to 2 or 3 sights along a particular bus route. There's beautiful fishing village (Marsaxxlok?) on the southeastern side of the island, neolithic ruins on the southern coast, the walled town of Mdina which is so old that cars aren't allowed, so pedestrians can walk the crooked narrow streets without fearing their lives - we found a cafe built into the walls of the town where we had coffee and pastry looking out to the sea from the center of the island because it's so flat on the rest of the island. There are catacombs in Rabat, next to Mdina. Cathedrals in a lot of towns, some of which hold world records as the largest dome, etc., etc.
Beware of drivers in Sliema/St. Julian's -- they're ferocious, tanked up on caffeine and sugar, and they drive British style so if you're on foot, crossing a street, you have to train yourself to look for cars to your RIGHT, not your LEFT. My husband was hit by a car while he was crossing in a crosswalk, looking in the wrong direction. We had the interesting experience of going to a Maltese Hospital, receiving free medical care and x-rays, and despite a huge black eye and sore hip, he still loved Malta!
Do a search on this Forum using Malta as a searchword because I think I've seen posts (albeit not a ton of them) about Malta.
Buen viaje!
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Old Apr 11th, 2003, 01:00 PM
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I am also going to Malta in late May and June (1-8), staying at the Le Meridian, close to the bus station in Valletta. The bus is definitely the best way to get around. Some routes do go thru St. Julian's, so check that out first before heading to Valletta.

In addition to the places gailw mentioned, be sure to visit the island of Gozo (reached via ferry). If you like to walk, there are suppose to be some good walks on both islands.

Of course there are also the attractions in Valletta itself.

When are you (puglia) planning to visit??

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Old Apr 14th, 2003, 12:52 PM
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Thank you so much for your helpful information...such great details!

We will be in Malta June 2003. The more I read, the more excited I get.

I have heard the bus is a good way to get around. I will plan on going to Gozo.

Thanks again for your suggestions.

Does anyone else have anything to add? I would love to hear from you.
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Old Apr 14th, 2003, 04:47 PM
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Puglia - Please post a trip report of your Malta vacation upon your return. As our trip is already planned for this year, Malta's looking pretty good for next year. Thanks and have a great trip.
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Old May 16th, 2003, 05:57 AM
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This message is directed at Howard. Am I mistaken, or did you at one time have a Web site with your pictures?

Also, I EAGERLY antcipate your trip report on return. My wife and I are doing Malta/Tunisia/Sicily March '04 and are in the very initial planning stages right now. Your report I am sure will provide the perfect blueprint. (Afterall your two weeks in Paris pretty much took the place of my LP guide).
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Old May 16th, 2003, 06:15 AM
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Puglia: I have posted some comments about the Westin Diagonara on a recent thread (Report on hotels in Malta), since we stayed there early May.
Hope this helps.
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Old May 16th, 2003, 11:44 AM
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Joelle, I did read your comments about the Dragonara and appreciate your advice. I also noted you mentioned a few other hotels that had the same noise problems. Do you have any suggestions of a better hotel? I'm not sure that I really want to start looking for another hotel now and I did get a really good rate at the Dragonara because I booked early.

I would love to hear more from you about Malta. Have you posted trip report?

How long were you there? What did you see/do while you were there?

Any other advice you would like to share?
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Old May 16th, 2003, 12:04 PM
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Puglia,
I haven't been to Malta for quite a while but on our trip I loved the overnight trip we took to Gozo. If I went back I'd certainly want to spend more time there. You can hire a car, take the ferry over to Gozo, which is a smaller island very close by,and visit some of the small villages which have incredibly lavishly decorated gorgeous parish churches. I highly recommend it!
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Old May 16th, 2003, 04:20 PM
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There are also several good websites about Malta which may interest you: aboutmalta.com, searchmalta.com, visitmalta.com, travel2malta.com, and maltaweather.com.

I echo the sentiments of the other posters regarding Malta. I was there last year and had a wonderful time. The people were friendly and helpful, and since the island is only about 17 miles long, it is easy to get around. You can take a bus from St. Julian's to the main bus station in Valletta, although the ferry from Sliema to Valletta is another option. Be advised, though, that when you get off the ferry, there is a rather steep hill that you must climb before you can get to the main street in Valletta(Republic).

In addition to exploring on my own, I also walked to a local tour agency and booked some day trips. The commentary was minimal, but they were convenient in terms of time and logistics and to give me an overview of the island.

I took a ferry to Gozo for the day, and the next time I go to Malta, I am going to stay there at least a night or two. I also enjoyed Marsaxlokk, Mdina and Rabat, the Blue Grotto, Valletta, the waterfront in Sliema--well, pretty much all of Malta!

Since you will be there in June, you may want to check out one of the many village festivals that are held during the summer months. June 29, a public holiday, is the Feast of St. Peter and St. Paul and the harvest festival of Mnarja. You can find information on these and other local events at the main tourist office at 280 Republic Street in Valletta.

Have a wonderful time in Malta!
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Old May 16th, 2003, 07:05 PM
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My trip - to London, Malta, Tunisia, starts in 5 days. Am looking forward to it all and will report back when I return.

Last outstanding detail to take care of is to get our Bruce Springsteen tkts in the mail - they were supposedly mailed last week from London - where we are (hopefully) seeing him on May 26th.

Happy travels to all!!
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Old May 19th, 2003, 12:23 AM
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Puglia: on the 3 hotels we just stayed at during our two and half week trip to Malta, the Westin is the hotel where we slept the best, although noisy doors made it sometimes difficult.
My advice to you would be to ask for a room at the far end of a corridor (for instance room 674 that our friends had - nice room with a great direct view on the sea. Our friends suffered less from the noise problems than us who had room 665).

As a matter of fact most of the rooms have sea view, but some are sea-facing, others are not...

We rented a car during 10 days in Malta and visited all the megalithic sites + churches + Valetta and Gozo. Roads are always very bumpy, and Maltese drivers somewhat crazy (they don't know what a "stop" sign means...), but it was fun !
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Old May 19th, 2003, 06:37 AM
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Thank you all for your wonderful suggestions. We are planning to tak a day trip to Gozo. At first I wasn't sure we would have time but after reading so many wonderful things about it I will make sure we find the time for Gozo.

Thanks again for all your help!

I can't wait to hear Howard's report!
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