MALTA, 27TH APRIL TO 1st MAY, 2012       (click on any photo to see a larger image)


Ryanair from Luton

Friday 27th dep 06.40 arr 11am  Flight   FR3882  / return Tues 1st 11.15am arr 1.30 Flight   FR3883

Be warned - they are very strict on weight and size - to the extent of having to put handbags and all carry goods in the suitcase as you are only allowed one bag weighing no more than 10kg. Watch it if you have a bottle of water as it may tip the sales!


Airport Transfer

Bus X4 and X5 - every15 mins to main bus terminal (takes 22 mins)  and costs $2 / Taxi is €15 from airport, however, we were ripped off on the return with a charge of $25 (taxi driver said it was more because it was a bank holiday)


Hotel Phoenicia 5*  

An ageing old hotel with great views over the harbour (if you have a room facing that direction). Excellent comprehensive breakfast. Free wifi in Palm lounge and dining room. Outdoor pool / gym and hot tub are all a long walk through the gardens of the hotel. You get one free bottle of water upon arrival and pay for any others – not really a 5* service!




Explored Valetta -  lunch at Kantina Café €31 for lunch, glass wine & beer  (excellent, large salad)


Triton Fountain   

Triton the mythological Greek god is known as the messenger of the deep with an upper body of a man and tail of a fish. He is the son of Poseidon, god of the sea and Amphitrite goddess of the sea. Triton's special attribute was a twisted conch shell which he blew like a trumpet to calm or raise the waves. The Triton Fountain, designed by Maltese sculptor Vincent Apap in 1959, is a stunning piece of local art situated in the centre of Malta’s main bus terminus.


Republic Street – the main street, pedestrianized with lots of shops and key sights such as the Co-Cathedral, the National Museum of Archaeology, Palace Square, the Palace, and more.


Strait Street - maybe the street with the most history in Valletta because of the 'colourful scenes' until it's recent past up to 30 years ago. It was the place where duels took place in the days of the knights and bar fights during the British rule.


St John’s Co-Cathedral

Built by the Order of the Knights Hospitaller of St John between 1573 and 1577, this church was designed by Girolamo Cassar, a Maltese architect known for designing many of the outstanding buildings in Valletta. Austere from the outside but impressive internally, this magnificent building houses, among other highlights, Caravaggio’s ‘The Beheading of John the Baptist’ – a monumental canvas and the only work the artist signed.


Upper and Lower Barrakka Gardens

The Upper Barrakka Gardens was built as a private garden for the Italian Knights in the 17th Century and  offers a superb panorama of the Grand Harbour.


Valletta Waterfront and Grand Harbour

The massive bastions wrap themselves protectively around the city and are cited as being among the most fascinating fortifications in Europe. The bastions were completed within five years, an impressively short length of time considering the extensive perimeter, using huge stones and primitive tools. Often there were more than 8000 workers a day. Within the thick walls are tunnels, secret passages and storage vaults.


The best sight of the fortified city is from the sea – there are frequent harbour cruise where boats trace the rocky coastline and the Valletta bastions rise powerfully high from the Mediterranean Sea. By night, these are floodlit to perfection, a stunning monument to the past, a spectacle of beauty for the present.


Ambrosia Restaurant – small cosy restaurant with excellent ambiance, service and food.

Valletta Grand Harbour Fireworks

Pyro-musical display by Pirico Fireworks (Italy)

A unique demo display by Ugo Lieto Fireworks (Italy)

A grandiose pyro-musical finale by Lourdes Fireworks Factory (Qrendi Malta), winners of the Malta International Fireworks Festival 2011.



Blue Grotto – Buses X4 and X5 go to airport and then 201 (hourly) from the airport to the Blue Grotto. The Blue Grotto is an area famous for its rocky coastline, natural caves and turquoise blue waters. It’s best to go in the morning as the sea is, apparently, a better colour. You take a boat trip from  Weid iz-Zurrie – there are many boats available.


The boats enter under an immense arch into a 140ft high cave cut into the rock face. The system consists of six caves carved by years of relentless pounding by the sea, of which the Blue Grotto is the largest and most impressive. The water seems an impossible cobalt colour as the sky reflects off the white sand bottom. The caves sparkle both with blue reflections of the sea and orange, purple and green of the various minerals present in the rocks. The boat trip is supposed to take about 30minutes but unfortunately, our boatman seemed to rush the trip and it was over in less than 20 minutes. You can also walk along the top of the cliff and look down to see the coastline.


We then hoped on the Malta Sightseeing South Bus Tour €15  and got off at the next stop for the Mnajdra Megalithic Temples.


Mnajdra and Hajar Qim Megalithic Temples  4km NW of Qrendi  

Both are around 3,600 years old.  The Mnajdra Temples are 600 metres down a stone path from Hajar Qim Temples. Both are protected under tentlike structures and both interesting to see 


Hopped on the bus again to Sliema. Sat in the harbour Café Oasis -  €21 lunch, glass wine & beer (excellent food, large salad)


Harbour Boat Tour – our hop on/off bus ticket came with a free harbour cruise. It was excellent and well worth it. I feel that the boatmen are missing out by not offering drinks to buy. 

The harbour boat tour goes inside Sliema Creek, around Monoel Island to Lazzaretto creek, better known as the yacht Marina, round Ta’ Xbiex to Msida and Pieta creeks, cruising by the battlements and fortifications surrounding Valletta and Floriana into the Grand Harbour and then returning past the Three Cities which is the description of the three fortified cities of Vittoriosa, Cospicua & Senglea. (They are called cities, but actually they are like small towns!)

Marsaxlokk is a very pretty, traditional fishing village in the SE and one of the oldest ports in Malta. The bay is is memorable for the many colourful, traditional fishing boats called luzzu. The painted eyes on these luzzus are believed to protect the boats from danger. These boats are thought to have been used by Maltese sailors since Phoenician times 800 BC. There is a plethora of seafood restaurants at very reasonable prices.

Tartarun Fish, Marsaxlokk  - excellent fresh fish €68.50 for 2 with wine

The bus 81 takes 38 mins and departs every 20 mins.




Mdina is one of Europe’s finest examples of an ancient walled city and extraordinary in its mix of medieval and Baroque architecture. Stroll through the medieval narrow streets of sleepy, charming Mdina, which has changed little in the last 1000 years. Mdina has been inhabited since at least the Bronze Age. The Phoenicians established a settlement here, and the Romans a city.


Originally called Maleth, Mdina (arabic for fortified place) gained its present name around 1000 AD when Malta was occupied by Arabs who built 19ft defensive walls around the city. The new city walls left many of the poorer population living outside of the new defences and this area became known as Rabat (arabic for suburb). The Normans, who conquered the island in 1091, thickened the city's defensive walls and widened its moat, firmly establishing Mdina has the country's capital, which it remained until Vittoriosa, and later Valletta, were built in the 16th century. Mdina became known as the silent city after most of the population left to live in the new capital Vittoriosa. Today the city has only a population of around 300 people, though the neighbouring town of Rabat has a population of 13,000.


The Mdina Experience is a 25 minute audio visual spectacular and well worth seeing. It traces the history of Malta’s former capital, from its foundation to the present.


Lunch at the Xara Palace Hotel was excellent – lunch, ½ carafe wine, coffee  €26.30

The buses 51, 52 or 53 take 31 mins and depart every 20 mins


Chez Cyrille,Cordial Restaurant – small and hot (I can imagine that it gets too hot and stuffy in the mid summer) . Good fresh fish.  €156 for four (fresh fish, desert, wine)


Valletta Grand Harbour Firework Competition first night

Pyro-musical display by Apogee Fireworks of Canada.

Pyro-musical display by Phoenix Fireworks of the UK.

Pyro-musical display by Jost Fireworks of Austria. (third)



Casa Ricca Piccola

Built in the 16th century, it is one of the last remaining unconverted palaces in Malta that is still lived in today by a Maltese noble family - The 9th Marquis and Marchioness de Piro. The Palace contains over 50 rooms, the majority of which are open for viewing. It is steeped in history, old paintings and antiques. Our guide was excellent and we met with the owner who was showing a group of school children around.


Palace of the Grand Masters

Dominating the Palace Square, the Grand Master's Palace has always been the house of government in Malta, first by the knights, then the British and now it hosts the President’s office. You can visit it when parliament is not in session.

In the interior of the palace is the famous Council Chamber, adorned with valuable Gobelins tapestries woven in France for Grand Master Ramón Perellos y Roccaf. The other rooms and passages of the palace are furnished with art objects, old coats of arms and armour. The former Hall of the Supreme Council of the Knights has fine frescoes and the Hall of the Ambassadors, where portraits of Grand Masters and European rulers hang.

On the basement floor is the Armoury, one of the largest collections of its kind in the world, though reduced to a fraction of its former size by the depredations of the French. Among its principal treasures are a suit of armour made in Milan for the Grand Master, Adrien de Wignacourt (1690-97) and a full-length panoply made for Grand Master Martin Garzes by Sigismund Wold of Landshut.


A ticket gives you entrance to the Palace and the Armoury. There are only four rooms to be seen in the Palace and they didn’t have any furniture when we were there so it all looked a little sparse.


Marsaxlokk  - Café du Paris for lunch (glass of white wine €0.70, small beer €1. Four of us had fresh king prawns for 3 and fresh tuna for 1, ice-cream and wine = €88)


British Hotel dinner and then on the roof terrace to watch the fireworks. Stunning view over the harbour but they could do with a better chef. 3 course set menu dinner + carafe of wine & bottle of water €75


Valletta Grand Harbour Firework Competition second night

Pyro-musical display by St Michaels Fireworks Factory Lija, Malta. (winner)

Pyro-musical display by Mirnovek Fireworks of Croatia.  (second)

Pyro-musical display by Surex Fireworks of Poland.



Malta is steeped in history - mainly baroque architecture with buildings made out of sandstone.

The people and culture originates from Arabic, Italian and English. The local language is Maltese yet they all speak English. They drive on the left and use UK electrical sockets. 



Good restaurants with plenty of fresh fish at reasonable prices. Good quality food.

Maltese wine – they don’t have much area to grow grapes and not a lot is made so it is for domestic consumption only – none is exported.



Aviva buses were always late, even from the main bus station. But, very plentiful and very cheap at only €2.60 for a day’s unlimited travel. Bus drivers are very friendly and courteous. Bus routes