First let me say we were not paid to create this website and we are not in any way connected or affiliated to the various enterprises we mention. The opinions are ours and they are based upon our perception of how we saw things or how we were treated. It is our intention to use this site to promote the Island and the people of Malta, as a very safe and ideal tourist destination and let the North American traveller know that this is a great and unique place to visit. The islands history alone has to be a major plus, for where else on earth can you see 7,000 years of human history laid out at your feet?
Made up of three main islands—Malta, Gozo and Comino, with the small un-inhabited islands of Cominotto and Filfla. The main island is just 28 miles by 8, and from the ancient temples right through to WW11, Malta and her people have seen it all. I have been in love with Malta for over 50 years, the pace of life is perfect, the people are friendly and the climate is ideal.
I hope this website will pique your interest and make you get on a plane or cruise ship and visit, if nothing else please search the internet for further information about vacations in Malta. Try Search Malta for answers about Malta and Gozo at http://www.searchmalta.com/
While I am sure once you have read through the website, you will see that we really enjoyed our holiday on the island. and the question has to arise:- Were there any complaints. YES one and only one. There were groups of annoying "touts" working for Time share condo's who haunted the promenade along Sliema. They literally walk up to you and ask you to spend a few minutes at a presentation for one of the hotels. They try to tempt you with promises of free vacations etc, but beware this few minutes can stretch into as much as 4 hours, after which closers are brought in to see if they can make the "Punter" part with their hard earned cash, often to the tune of several thousands of dollars. Be advised that one of the companies doing this is under investigation in the UK and according to the British press, should be avoided.
I hope you enjoy looking through these pages and if you would like to email us, we would love to hear from you at firstname.lastname@example.org
We left Toronto at 1700hrs on the 2nd of November and flew non-stop to Frankfurt Germany, where after what seemed to be a long couple of hours layover, we would make a connecting flight to Malta the following morning. The first part of the trip in an "Air Canada Airbus" was memorable, if for no other reason than it was extremely uncomfortable due to the seat configuration. Ever wondered why you never get seats like those in the movies? Where are the "Lazyboy chairs" and where is the wide aisle that allows passengers to Tango while in flight and what-ever happened to the good old 747? These seats were not only hard and narrow (17.5" at the butt) and thereby uncomfortable, but had very little knee room. Now I certainly do not wish to make light of the hardship suffered by the poor slaves, but oddly enough I read somewhere that slaves being transported from Africa to North America in what was called "The Middle Passage" had more room, than passengers paying to fly in a modern airliner across the same Atlantic ocean. An odd comparison, but apparently true. I really have to believe that this particular aircraft was not designed for transatlantic flights, but commuter trips between major cities. This opinion later appeared to be true when we flew on the connecting flight from Frankfurt to Malta, on another Airbus, but this time "Lufthansa". The seat configuration is slightly different and provides not only more knee room but had a wider, more comfortable seat.
The 3 hour layover at Frankfurt Main was also something of an eye opener, because we arrived in a section of the terminal that was both old and dirty. I was sure that somewhere I had read Frankfurt had been upgraded or renovated. If that was the case then this section had somehow missed out, because the washrooms (both men and women’s) were literally disgusting and looked as though they hadn’t been cleaned since the place was built. The floors were wet (with God knows what) and strips of toilet paper and hand towel were everywhere but in the dispensers. So at this point we were beginning to wonder if these were omens of worse yet to come. Tired and somewhat disoriented we finally boarded a bus that took us from the main terminal on a long ride around the airport to the connecting flight, and here we were faced with something I hadn't seen in many years, two steel gangway's that offered the only means available to access the aircraft (did anyone ever consider people with a disability?). As mentioned, the arrangement of the seats was adequate, with ample knee room as well as seat width, even the aisles were wider and made it easier to enter and exit the cabin. So relaxing with an in flight lunch of pasta and 'something', yogurt and red wine, followed by a reasonably good cup of coffee, it now all seemed as if we were entering another phase of our vacation, albeit Day 2.
I had not been back to Malta since 1958, so I knew there were going to be some changes, but at the same time hoped to see familiar places I had known and loved years before. So you can imagine how pleasantly surprised I was to get my first glimpse of the island through one of the aircrafts windows and recognize the familiar golden toned buildings and small patchwork fields I remembered from before. I am not sure whether it was my imagination or that I could actually feel the warmth of the sun through the glass, but I felt immediately comfortable as we were now on our final approach to Malta International Airport (Luqa).
For November the 3rd the weather was very warm and as we walked down a gangway toward the waiting buses, I found the same sunny island, set in a bright blue Mediterranean sea, a little known "diamond” to North American travelers. l say a diamond, because that’s what it is, the island boasts one of the oldest histories in the world, going back over 7,000 years and the temples at Hagar Qim (pronounced ha-jar-eem)Ggantija and Mnajdra are the oldest buildings on earth.
averages 14.1° C in the winter (Nov-April) and 32° C in the summer
(May-Oct). It also boasts
a pristine International airport with spotless washrooms,
reflecting the Maltese tourist boards desire to be "tourist
friendly" (they have a janitor check them every half hour). A word
of advise, there is a government authorized rate for taxi services, so
if you intend to take a taxi from the airport to your hotel, you should
visit the government Taxi booth, at the airport arrivals and buy your
ticket, you may find it cheaper than picking a random driver. Once this
is done, be prepared for the ride of your life as you are driven by a
Maltese relative of Michael Schumacher, through congested traffic and
narrow twisting streets
on what is to the North American visitor, the wrong side of the road.
This is an experience to be remembered, punctuated by a very courteous
driver who assisted with the luggage at both ends.
For our three weeks on the island, we stayed at the New Pebbles Aparthotel in Sliema, located at 88/89 The Strand. This hotel is owned and operated
by Joe and Joyce Casha, and while on the subject, I should tell you they are a great couple, who deserve all the credit for the long hours and dedication they have put into their business. Sheila and I were given a personal tour of the new building under contruction next door (left section) which is long term rentals, and were impressed with Joe’s keen eye for detail, right down to colour schemes and the finishing touches that make these apartments first class. During the tour he told us that he had grown up right in the area and that he and Joyce started off owning a very small bar (smaller than an average living room) and leveraged what they could, while taking calculated risks in order to get where they are today. They made our stay particularly welcome and deserve all the credit for what they have achieved. Joe and Joyce, we wish you both, all the very best in the future.
The Pebbles is in the perfect spot, located literally across the road from Sliema promenade, with a pedestrian crossing immediately outside of the hotel (very important item in Sliema), and bus stops right outside the door. Shops and Captain Morgan boat trips and other amenities are close by and the supermarket is at the top of Tower road. There is a small green grocers stand on the way to the supermarket, run by two brothers (I think). We shopped there all of the time and found the eggs, fruit and vegetables fresh and inexpensive. At this spot you are right in the centre of jewellers, clothing stores (Marks and Spencers and Dorothy Perkins) banks and shoe stores. Everything within minutes of one another. Check the side streets, they are full of other small stores, all of them crammed with bargains.
The Pebbles is rated 2 star, but don't let that concern you, because we found the rooms were very clean, with daily maid service, other than weekends and the prices are very reasonable. The self-catering, or aparthotel aspect is somewhat limited to a small fridge, a four burner cook top and microwave, which we found OK for our needs, but think that for a group of four, the area might be somewhat limited. The bathroom like most European facilities, consists of a bath with a hand held shower extension. If you require extra cots, just ask and they will be provided.
also a few apartments with walk in showers, but you should check their
availability when booking your accommodation. The
premium rooms are of course on the front of the building, with
magnificent views of Manoel Island and Valetta, and there are cheaper
rooms that do not face
There are also a few apartments with walk in showers, but you should check their availability when booking your accommodation. The premium rooms are of course on the front of the building, with magnificent views of Manoel Island and Valetta, and there are cheaper rooms that do not face
onto the promenade. Without any reservation what so ever (no pun intended), I have to say that what the rooms may lack in one respect, the New Pebbles makes up for with it's English style bar and restaurant, which in my opinion should be rated at least 4 stars. Personally we were out most of the day and as a bed/breakfast/dining room, the Pebbles served us well.
Chef Arnold is in charge of the kitchen for the "da Giuseppe" restaurant and is responsible for preparing some of the finest Maltese and European cuisine anywhere. We especially liked his Paella and a baked sea bream dish, served with a good local wine, of which there are many, followed by a generous slice of his Chocolate cake. Meals can be served inside the restaurant or in the bistro area out front by very capable and attentive staff. Prices by some North American standards may seem expensive, but compared to the rest of Europe they are in line. Be sure to ask your waiter or waitress if you can meet the Chef, tell him you read about him on this webpage. You will find that he is always ready to prepare food to the clients liking.
In our opinion, the “Gem” of the Pebbles has to be Freddie. He works behind the bar everyday other than Sunday and Tuesday, from 0900 to 1700 and aside from making a great cup of Cappuccino (60 Maltese cents), he is always willing to help with advise to the newly arrived tourist and in the three weeks were there, we never saw him without a sincere smile, or a pleasant good morning. If Freddie left the Pebbles it would be a sad day. We missed Freddie's Cappuccino’s so much, we couldn't wait to buy a machine as soon as we got home, but somehow it doesn't taste quite the same. Maybe it's all in the machine? After all $200.00 versus a few thousand has to be the difference don't you think, or maybe it's the way Freddie makes it?
A couple of things to note, as mentioned the Pebbles is really close to all of the boat or bus trips you can go on around the island (including Sicily and Etna. Bus pick-up) and we thoroughly recommend Ivan who runs one of the many tour booking agencies along the promenade. With his office
located at "Kollections", 46 The Strand, Sliema, tel; 356 2134 0928. We dealt with Ivan and his brother Mario (he said to tell everyone that he is the good looking one, so here goes) exclusively during our stay and found them to be extremely helpful, which I have no doubt applies to all of the vendors. Ivan can be seen most days standing at his booth on the promenade, promoting various trips.
There are dozens of bus tours around the island and I would recommend trying some, but be aware of the buses. They are rather small (see below) and the operators cram as many people on board as possible. On the surface this is not so bad, but add the condition of the roads, multiplied by
the worn shocks on some of the vehicle and you get the picture. The cost for these trips is inexpensive, ranging from just a few Maltese Lira in most case, but this does not include admission into the temples or other sites.
We did not rent a car for several reasons, not the least of which were the driving conditions and apparent lack of parking anywhere, plus public transportation is so cheap and covers the entire island (Sliema to Valletta is 20 cents Maltese one way). Be sure to have the right fare because the drivers rarely make change. The Maltese bus system has to be one of the cheapest, most effective public transportation systems I have ever seen and certainly London Ontario (Canada) could learn something from them. The number of trips performed daily on the scheduled services is approximately 3,700, covering some 80 routes most of which terminate at the main bus centre outside of Valletta. The service in Malta comprises of 508 buses, all of which are privately owned, in most cases by the drivers themselves. There are approximately 400 owners who have organised themselves into a collective, or the Public Transport Association. The most expensive fare is still under 1 LM and the buses visit every corner of the island. Some trips you will need to go to the main terminal in Valletta and change.
Our fairly extensive use of the system resulted in nothing but favourable comments and we noted that each bus has the personal stamp of the driver. For example on one of them the driver played nothing but Elvis and another the driver seemed stuck on Frank Sinatra. We actually used "Elvis" on three separate trips from Sliemma to Marsaxlokk, so this must be his regular route.
I think my biggest disappointment was on our first trip to Valletta and seeing the massive change that had been made to the main entrance into the city. Years ago I recalled a large and ornate gateway, with stone Knights on either side and a large Coat of Arms right above the centre gate (see below), declaring proudly that this was one on the finest cities in the world. Now this work of art, created in 1853 has been
replaced by what can only be described as something very ugly. I don't wish to seem unfair, but this looks like a structure built by someone who spent their entire life designing nothing more creative than boxes. Sad to think that what WW11 had not entirely destroyed, an architect managed to do at the stroke of a pencil and slide rule. Every year it seems that someone brings up the issue of the gate and the old opera house and once again promises are made to change it, however it is still there and the opera house is still a bombed out ruin. A living testament to the heavy bombing the island sustained during WW11, by German and Italian air forces.
on above for 1555 X 1037 large image of gateway