Malta trip Oct 5-9t and Republic. Val

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Oct 9th, 2018, 04:32 AM
  #1
jft
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Malta trip Oct 5-9t and Republic. Val

We spent 4 nights in beautiful Malta. We stayed at the Palazzo Paolina Boutique Hotel which is a newly restored and modernized old home on St Paul Street in Valletta. This 15 room hotel was a real find. Everything was well thought out in the renovation by the owner who is an artist. The location is superb steps from pedestrian streets of Merchant and Republic. Valletta is not big.
breakfast, cleanliness, room layout all great. We asked for a quiet room- be booked the triple for added spaciousness. Staff were excellent.
I Found a young man Kurt Mallia who was recommended on a forum. We used him for airport transfers and for a 6 hour tour outside of Valletta visiting sites including Mosta Dome,some artist colony, walking through Medina, Rabat ( catacombs)and great pastitses at Crystal Palace; Dingli Cliffs, a boatride to the blue grotto and viewing nearby ruins. Kurt was very engaging and informative and a pleasure to spend the day with. I thought his prices were reasonable. Airport transfers are set. [email protected]. I would highly recommend him.
we had dinner at Beati Paoli right across from the hotel- excellent food and service. I would recommend reserving restaurants ahead of time as many are small and fill up. Another night we had a set menu of Maltese and Mediterranean food at Leglinin also reserved in advance. Approx 8 or 9 courses for 27.50 EURO per person. The menu is set daily and there are no choices- so not for people with dietary restrictions.Everything was delicious, service friendly. They have an extensive wine list.
lucky for us Saturday was Noite Bianca in Valletta where the streets were alive with music, people and everything was open late.
We reserved tickets to the hypogeum in Paolo way in advance online. Note 60+ is a senior in Malta with good discounts on lots of things including these tickets. We took the bus from the bus terminal stopping to view Tarxien on our way ( short walk). Both are worthwhile.
We had difficulty taking the bus to Marsaxlokk as it was a Sunday and 2 buses passed full . We ended up dplitying a taxi with a guy at the bus top who used the Taxify app. Walked around the market area and then had late lunch at 3 Sisters, a not so fancy place on the waterfront strip. Both fish and pizza were excellent and well priced. Sunday is very busy and worth reserving. We were happy with our meal. Took bus back to Valletta which was crowded but we got on first one.
more to follow
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Oct 9th, 2018, 08:16 AM
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Nice report, thanks. Glad you enjoyed Malta, I know I did and there's not much in the way of trip reports on it.
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Oct 9th, 2018, 08:17 AM
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Great report! Enjoying it very much.
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Oct 9th, 2018, 01:47 PM
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On my bucket list, details very welcome

Little things like the Sunday busses being full are great tips for future travellers, as well as how you filled your day ... as said before, not too many reports on Malta, so looking forward to the rest.
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Oct 9th, 2018, 10:50 PM
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Nice report. And you highlighted one big problem that the Island has.....Public transport.

The Island's core is so congested that even with plenty of buses, they are inevitably full pretty much as soon as they leave the bus stations. Passenges are sardined in, and the drivers have an impossible timetable to try and keep to, which means that the comfort and safety of passengers isn't a high priority.

Although only 17 miles long, it can and does take up to 2 hours from top to bottom.. Even from Valletta to the Gozo Ferry takes up to 90 uncomfortable minutes.

Out of control construction is also a blight.. I call Malta Crane Island, and it's not because of the bony legged birds.

Sliema, once had a wonderful skyline. But now, much of it has been spoiled by building on top of old buldings, not nice to see.

Valletta is a beautiful walled city, largely free of traffic, but when Cruise ships are alongside, the city gets congested with people, as do all the main sights on the tiny, once beautiful and tranquil Island.

I recommend highly the Lonely Planet Guide to Malta and Gozo. Because the islands are so small, practically every page in the Guide is useful.

Don't get me started on Politics and the EU influence.
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Oct 9th, 2018, 10:55 PM
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Originally Posted by Adelaidean View Post
On my bucket list, details very welcome

Little things like the Sunday busses being full are great tips for future travellers, as well as how you filled your day ... as said before, not too many reports on Malta, so looking forward to the rest.
Adelaidean.....Please feel free to ask as many questions you like about the Island. I've got plenty of recent experience, and always speak the Good, the Bad, and the sometimes Ugly.

LL
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Oct 9th, 2018, 11:06 PM
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Other than congested public transport, three other big negatives.

Make sure you research your accommodation before booking. Valletta is pretty much construction free. But everywhere else it can and does impinge on you holiday if you pick the wrong place to stay. Many hotels also attract noisy groups of students and young people.

The Island is 17 miles x 9 miles in size. There are in excess of 400,000 vehicles on the Island. The roads are very narrow, and nobody cares where or how they park. The roads weren't built for heavy traffic, and construction vehicles are everywhere.

Road works and construction is going on out of control all over the place. Diversions are everywhere, and spring up without notice.

Sorry if that's off-putting, but it's all true and based on 7 weeks recent experience.

It really can grate on you nerves very quickly, particularly so if you rely on the buses.

LL
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Oct 10th, 2018, 01:36 PM
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Thanks. I have next year’s holiday already planned, but was considering a week in Valletta in 2 years, tacked on to a different trip.
Having a realistic expectation and helpful advice like this will certainly help maximise any vacation.
So will definitely come back for advice when the time comes. Meanwhile...enjoying TR’s...
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Oct 10th, 2018, 08:19 PM
  #9
jft
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Blue Grotto


Beautiful Mdina


Mdina


Blue Grotto

Last edited by jft; Oct 10th, 2018 at 08:36 PM.
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Oct 10th, 2018, 09:44 PM
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We loved Malta last October but grew to really dislike trying to get around to visit the sights using the buses. We had a lovely Airbnb in St Julien but I'd recommend staying in Valetta, which is the start of the line. At least you have a good chance of getting on the buses, esp if you head out first thing. It wasn't fun watching the hourly bus to Mdina which just sailed past the bus stop packed solid. The taxi we then had to order was €20 there and another €20 back as the return bus also sailed past the bus stop full. On the plus side the taxis were air conditioned and we had seats so not all bad! Even the short ferry between Slimea and Valetta became a pain due to so many people. The HO-HO buses were better but expensive and very full later in the day, although we always managed to get seats. We gave up trying to get to Gozo having spent over an hour waiting for a bus when none of the three scheduled even showed up...

I'd love to go back but I'd base myself in Valetta, get going early to visit the sights and get back ahead of the late afternoon crush. There's plenty to see in Valetta. And try to book the Hypogeum asap, 6 weeks out there were no tickets available.
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Oct 10th, 2018, 10:05 PM
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Thank you for this, very useful for our upcoming trip!

We are there for 4 nights/3 full days and were thinking or renting a car for a day (or 2) to go to Hypogeum (have tickets) and to visit other places. Bad idea?
Better use a driver as jft suggests?
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Oct 10th, 2018, 11:16 PM
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I am not sure why I have so much trouble posting from my iPhone. I just typed most of my next days activity, tried to save it and cannot find it anywhere. I also run into problems trying to edit attachments. I will begin again.
The next day (Monday) after breakfast at our hotel we walked up the street to the upper Barrakka Gardens ( nice views) to take the elevator to the Ferry to 3 Cities. Lift is free on the way down and free on the way up if you have a ferry ticket. Check discounts for Return fares or age related discounts(a senior is 60 in Malta) or if you have a day bus pass. We caught the 9 am ferry which was relatively empty. Nice views of Valletta and Birgu (AKA Victoriosa) and Senglea. We headed to Victory Square in Birgu as a starting point to a walking tour of the old town. Less touristy and much smaller than Valletta we enjoyed meandering the pretty and clean narrow streets. There is a historic home open to the public as well as free washrooms. We chose not to go to Fort Angelo ( later told it was worthwhile)as we planned to visit the War Museum at Fort Elmo. We later walked passed the ferry to view the church above the boardwalk. We walked over to Senglea and up a couple of streets. Unless I missed something I would concentrate on Birgu. We walked over the new pedestrian bridge and caught the ferry back to Valletta. I think you can allocate half a day to this trip unless you visit the fort and have a meal.
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Oct 10th, 2018, 11:41 PM
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Paranoid to lose parts of my review I am sending it in shorter blocks!
Having seen a lot of historic sites such as Grand Masters Palace and Armoury, and St Johns Cathedral on Noite Bianca we headed off to the Museum of Archeology to see some original pieces taken from the Hypogeum and Tarxien Temples which we had viewed the day before. Senior and student discounts at all/most museums are available.
We stopped for an ice cream at the Food Market on Merchant Street around the corner from our hotel before heading for a much needed rest.
We later walked to the War Museum at Fort St Elmo which has opened fairly recently. I thought Heritage Malta had done a very good job relating Malta’s war history in the context of world history and the exhibit is housed in 7 sites/ buildings within the fort. As Malta is the most conquered island in the world ( I think this is accurate), there is lots to learn. We thought this museum was worthwhile.
Very tired we walked up the street to our hotel( Palazzo Paulina) and rested before going to Leglinin for a lovely dinner.
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Oct 11th, 2018, 12:13 AM
  #14
jft
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Are you staying in Valletta? If taking the bus from the central terminal in Valletta, I don’t think you will have much trouble getting to the hypogeum but I suppose it depends on your timing.We had Sunday at 11 am tickets and caught the bus around 9 I think. There were a couple of buses that go nearby. (Took about 10 minutes by bus but no traffic Sunday AM!) Having loads of time went to Tarxien first which is quite interesting and compliments the hypogeum. It is around a 10 minute walk. There also is a lovely church down the road from the hypogeum. The reason we had trouble with the bus to Marsaxlokk was being a Sunday which is the Fish market day. Getting back to Valletta from Paola shouldn’t be a problem.
The fare using Taxify was 10 Euros to Marsaxlokk from hypogeum, probably double with a taxi.
IF you are planning to do a lot more on that one day you could book a driver/ guide but you might save it for another day and cover most of the other sites you want to see. You could drop Kurt an email who we used and ask him for a rate where he drops you off and picks you up later to do more sight seeing or if you can divide your time over a couple of days. He is quite flexible. You may not want to waste all your guide hours while you visit these two sites(you can check with other driver/guides too).
I don’t think driving is so easy in Malta especially if you have limited time. Because of construction where a crane can block off a very narrow street detours can pose problems.
Others can weigh in on this.
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Oct 11th, 2018, 01:36 AM
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We are staying in Valetta, but don't want to take the bus. Either taxi or rent a car for a day. We are there early December.
I'll drop a line to Kurt and check with him. Thanks for all the useful info!
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Oct 11th, 2018, 02:58 AM
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Still enjoying your report jft. Ref your #12, we really enjoy the 3 Cities too, and I agree that they deserve a full day to wander around, and eat along the harbour wall somewhere.

Also the Upper Barrakka Garens are a great place to be, particularly at 1200 each day when there's a Gun Salute and re-enactment. But, like all the popular places on the Island, it does get very busy with camera clickers.

I remember back in 1974 the Royal Navy ship I was on at the time spent quite a long time alongside close to St Angelo. Malta was a lot different then, much more pleasant and nowhere near as jam-packed with vehicles or humans.

I feel it's just going to get worse, and the phrase 'You can't fit a pint into a half-pint glass' is sadly becoming more appropriate by the day.
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Oct 11th, 2018, 09:03 AM
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jft
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There was a bigger cruise ship in harbour on the Monday. I would suggest to try and work your schedule around busy cruise days should they fall when you are in town. It does change the atmosphere similar to Venice or Dubrovnik on heavy cruise ship days.
On Tuesday we chose to stop into the Postal Museum after breakfast before our ride to the airport. It was around the corner from our hotel in a lovely renovated building. It was well done.

Thoughts on Malta......People are very kind and helpful, very family oriented. You see lots of middle aged people helping their elderly parents in a very loving manner.
I loved our hotel- staff bent over backwards, the owner also made an effort to meet guests and make them feel at home. We had excellent food in the restaurants we chose- they seemed reasonably priced; Heritage Malta does a great job with their museums or at least the ones we saw; also feed seem reasonable. I found Malta to be clean and people took pride in their appearance and property; some of the washrooms are unisex; some do not have the toilet seat in some restaurants. Museums had very clean bathrooms. We were never charged to use a toilet unlike in Germany where we are now. Lots of history in Malta; lots of nice scenery. Valletta, Birgu, Mdina are beautiful.
Lots of areas would be difficult for mobility challenged persons due to hilly towns and uneven streets; driving would be challenging. We did not spend time at beaches so can’t comment.
Overall we loved Malta and highly recommend it.
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Oct 11th, 2018, 01:28 PM
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Very interesting.
Have taken lots of notes!
I like your summary
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Oct 11th, 2018, 10:26 PM
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Valletta

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Oct 11th, 2018, 10:30 PM
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Valletta


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