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Malta Bound in NOvember

Old Jul 18th, 2005, 06:58 PM
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Malta Bound in NOvember

Spending 6 nights in Malta in November Got a great price at the Hilton of about $165 per night. Ideas as to how to spend the days, what tour guides to hire, whether of not to get a car, etc. Thanks
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Old Jul 19th, 2005, 02:10 AM
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Malta is a great place to go, but don't drive unless you're VERY confident about driving abroad - they nominally drive on the left, but actually drive in the shade, and it can be a bit hair raising if you're not used to it.
That apart, you should make sure you visit Mdina, (the old capital), the church at Mosta (stunning) and try to get across to Gozo for the day - totally different from Malta. The southern villages are worth a visit, try Marsasloxx when the market's on (Friday, I think)or Marsascala, which has some good restaurants. As for Valetta, the auberges of the knights are mainly government buildings now, but architecturally fine; St John's Co-cathedral is well worth a visit, and the city walls repay a walk with some stunning views. Be totally touristy, and take a carriage ride around the city.
If you're interested in history, there are some very interesting WW2 museums, and of course the Neolithic remains in the centre os the island (sorry - I can't remember exactly where)and there is a multimedia show on the history of Malta in Valetta, on Republic Street, I think.
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Old Jul 19th, 2005, 03:03 AM
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We are going to Malta in Sept/Oct, staying on Malta and Gozo. A couple of things:
- the latest Lonely Planet Malta and Gozo book is terrific, full of great info.
- if you want to visit the Hypogeum you have to book at least a couple of weeks in advance. You can do this via the website.
- Captain Morgan does lots of cruise type tours as well as an open jeep day tour of Gozo. check the website.
- people generally advise not to drive on Malta as buses go everywhere and are cheap and the driving/bad roads leave a lot to be desired.
Kay
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Old Jul 25th, 2005, 06:34 AM
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Contrary to popular option, I highly suggest renting a car. Yes, the people drive alittle crazy, but you get use to it pretty quickly. We went there last August and we found that the drivers were much worse in Italy. Again, I highly suggest renting a car because there are a ton of stuff to see and some of it takes 10 mins, while other stuff takes a few hours. If you rely on mass transit (the bus system), you'll be waiting around in hot sun for a while.
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Old Jul 25th, 2005, 07:31 AM
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the bus in malta is cheap and extensive-and im the type to the bus where i travel but i usually stay in ** hotels.

Get a car, the most compact model they have.i dont agree that Maltese are the type that 'drive in the shade' - ive been to italy and france and some people there dont respect red lights and cossing the road at crosswalks can be dangerous- in malta things have become very strict lately.you can get an automatic so driving

the hardest part about driving in malta is *parking* and navigating the narrow roads if you stray off the tourist path. some of these are barely 1 car wide, so you have to keep alert for oncoming traffic and yield accordingly.

my suggested itinary:
-valletta
-birgu & cruise of harbour
-a beach (choice depends on prevailing wind that day)
-mdina and rabat town (inclst agatha catacombs)
-south of malta:marsaxlok market is on sunday
-blue grotto hagar qim/tarxin neolotithc temples
-gozo

many locals eat fish at marsaxlock. but for something more upmarket your hotel is inside the prestigious portotomaso complex where there are the most priciest restaraunts on the island.

enjoy it
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Old Jul 25th, 2005, 07:50 AM
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btw i would have included a suggestion to visit a local festa but November is outside the festa season.

im a local so if you have any questions i would be happy to answer here on the forum.
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Old Aug 10th, 2005, 08:46 AM
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Willmar - I would like to take up your kind offer of information. My family (wife + 3 young kids) are putting together a hastily planned trip to Malta for 7 days, the week after next. Just starting to get info about Malta.

Q1 - Is Sliema a good place for a hotel? The kids will want places to run and play, e.g. a beach or park, but the pictures I saw seemed to show it on a built up harbor.

Q2 - Do you know the Waterfront Hotel in Sliema? If so, what do you think of it? We are usually a B&B type family, looking for smaller accommodations off the beaten track. But, if Sliema is a convenient central point from which to explore the whole island, it might make sense.

Q3 - Would it be better to stay in one hotel the entire time, and do day trips, or move from night to night around the island?

Q4 - Is a day trip to Sicily feasible, or would you suggest finding a hotel and stay overnight there?

Appreciate any help you can give.
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Old Aug 10th, 2005, 09:47 AM
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"...they nominally drive on the left, but actually drive in the shade."

That is one of the great lines of all time. Well said Doonhamer!
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Old Aug 10th, 2005, 06:23 PM
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Hi Bermuda,

The Malta beaches are on the northern part of the island - Mellieha Bay and Golden Bay. Sliema doesn't really have a beach, or not a nice one - there's some shingle near the water but in 12 days I never saw anyone sunbathing or playing on it.

If you looking for water sports (swimming/snorkling) then stay in the northeast.

For getting around the island using buses I'd recommend Valletta since it's the hub for public transportation. If you stay in Sliema then you'll mostly have to take the bus to Valletta and transfer. Even when you can travel directly from Sliema to other towns it's usually faster to go via Valletta.

I wrote a very long trip report that might give you a flavor of Malta and the different areas. Here's the link:
http://fodors.com/forums/threadselec...&tid=34501467I

I don't think that you'll see much on Sicily in a day trip - it probably deserves a 2 week trip on its own. It's 1.5 hours each way on the boat. There's so much to see on Malta that I wouldn't spare the day to go to Sicily.


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Old Aug 11th, 2005, 04:16 PM
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Adrienne, Thanks for the reply. I did see your trip report and it had me drooling to see Malta. But, for the kids, I think a lot of the sights you mentioned will be "ruins, ruins and more ruins." Since we are on an island, water sports is not the big draw (although I always enjoy them when I can). Mostly, I want the kids to see new and different things, to expand their minds, while enjoying themselves. 5 days in Malta would seem to achieve that, allowing us about 3 days in Sicily. I'd like them to see mountains and decent sized cities (since we ain't got those things in Bermuda).

Any ideas on whether 3 days would allow us to take the ferry to Pozzallo, then spend a day in Agriengto (however, you spell that) to see the temples, and a day on or around Mt. Etna? I can't judge the driving (or bus/train as the case may be) time from the maps.

Thanks!
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Old Aug 12th, 2005, 07:35 AM
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Hi Bermuda,

If you're only spending 3-4 days on Malta I would stay in Valletta since the buses run from there. The town closes down early at night but is animated during the day with lots of people and cafes.

I would have dinner in St. Julian's at least one night - you can get there and back by bus. There are moderately priced restaurants overlooking the water.

My recommendations for kids on Malta:
- Aviation museum - WWII planes - it was great! Ask if Mr. Ken Yale is working that day. He was a pilot during the war and gave us a private tour and told of his experiences in the simulator.
- Hypogeum - an underground ruin. This is the one you should see since it's mostly intact.
- Archaeology Museum with all the "old stuff" that usually interests kids.
- Try to get into the fort which is not always open.
- They'd probably like the Dungeon Museum in Mdina but if it doesn't fit into your plans it's not worth going out of the way for.

All "cities" on Malta are like you'll find in Bermuda - not cities at all but smallish towns, looking different than Bermuda towns, of course, especially since most everything is made of limestone. And Malta is not lush, like Bermuda.

On Sicily their biggest thrill would probably be to see Mt. Etna. I don't know what state it's in now and if it is safe to go up.

I've never been to Sicily but have done lots of reading about it and have it on my agenda for sometime in the next few years (hopefully). Go to mappy.com for distances and travel times between places on Sicily. As in anyplace in Italy, add more time to whatever mappy says since it always takes me longer than the recommended time.

Have a great trip!

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Old Aug 12th, 2005, 08:12 AM
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Adrienne, Great ideas! Looks like now I have an itinerary. And, your sense of what kids would like on Sicily is spot on. This a.m. I called and asked my kids would they rather see some Greek Temples or climb a volcano. "Volcano, cool!" was the resounding response.

I'll let you know how the trip goes. Thanks again!
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Old Aug 12th, 2005, 08:26 AM
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If your kids are studying/have studied world history, I'm sure they would be interested in the Crusader sites as well; that era always seems to be popular with my students.

Here's another Malta thread with some ideas: http://www.fodors.com/forums/threads...2&tid=34569518
Hope you can add to it when you return!
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Old Aug 12th, 2005, 12:39 PM
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Amy, Great idea. My kids are little -- 4, 7, 9 -- but I have already been trying to sell them with the idea that this is an island "where real knights in shining armor lived...." Ok, so the shining part might be accurate.

I hope at least they start to gain an interest in world history.
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Old Aug 13th, 2005, 02:47 AM
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We are visiting Malta and Sicily later this year (approx. 2 weeks on each) and were going to catch the ferry to Pozallo but the timing of the ferries was awful. Check out Virtu Ferries website. If you decide to fly, it's about a 45 min trip with Air Malta to Catania, you can book tickets on the website.
With only 3 days in Sicily I would definitely stay in one place, maybe Taormina where you can visit the beaches below and do a day trip to Mt Etna. Here are two sites that do excursions:
http://www.compagniasicilianaturismo.it/home.asp
http://www.sat-group.it/escursioni.htm
It seems hotels can book the trip for you in advance.

The kids might enjoy the historical re-enactment at Fort St Elmo in Valletta on Sundays, also the armoury museum with all the knights suits of armour. There is also a Toy Museum in Valletta.
Have fun!
Kay
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Old Aug 13th, 2005, 02:49 AM
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Forgot to say - if you want to visit the Hypogeum you must pre-book as they only allow 10 people in per hour. You can book and pay on their website. I think they recommend booking at least a few weeks in advance.
Kay
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Old Aug 13th, 2005, 02:55 AM
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Kay - Thanks for your tips. I've gotten a booking for the hypogeum. I appreciate the head's up. The toy museum in Valletta sounds like it will be a hit.

I hear what you're saying about Sicily. It's big, so we'll probably pick somewhere near Etna to spend a few days. I can't imagine the one day Malta to Sicily tours I have read about. Everyone says it is a really long day; no way I'd inflict that on my kids (or myself & wife for that matter).
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Old Aug 13th, 2005, 03:19 AM
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I think I read that the one day Sicily trips leave at 5.30/6.00am and get back 11.30pm. Sounds exhausting.
The other place with an active volcano is Stromboli, one of the Aeolian islands. You can get there by ferry from Milazzo. Lipari seems to be the main island that people visit and you can do day trips to Stromboli from there.
Kay
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Old Aug 13th, 2005, 04:41 AM
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A day trip from Malta is doable. I did it a couple of years ago. It was worthwhile for me because I knew I may never get back to Sicily and so a rushed day trip there was better than none at all.

However, it's a very long day and I would not even entertain the idea of doing it with children.
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Old Aug 13th, 2005, 09:24 AM
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Well, for better or worse, I've booked an itinerary including an overnight to sicily - Tell what you guys think:
Day 1 - arrive Malta late pm, Waterfront Hotel, Sliema
Day 2 - Valletta, toy museum
Day 3 - Mdina, Rabat, catacombs
Day 4 - Ferry Malta to Pozzallo, Sicily 7 a.m., drive (train? bus?) to Taormina. Overnight at Pen. Svizzera.
Day 5 - Tour Mt. Etna, catch 9:30 p.m. ferry from Pozzallo back to Malta
Day 6 - Tour Gozo (but how best to get there? Can we drive and take a car ferry?)
Day 7 - Rest and Relax
Day 8 - Hypogeum (yes, I booked tickets) 10 a.m., then futz around until our 6 pm flight to Athens.

Does that sound overambitious? Underambitious?

Also, what a surprise when I realized that the Malta-sicily Ferry is quoted in Maltese Lire, so unless I'm missing something, at an exchange rate of about 3.5 US$ to 1 LM, the trip appears to cost about $150 per person US. That's about the same, maybe more than flying! How did I miss that before I booked. For 5 people, it adds up.

Anyway, I'd love any additional comments or suggestions about this itinerary, although hotels and major transit legs are already booked.
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