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Malta, the Good, the Bad and the Ugly

Having just spent over a week on the Mediterranean island of Malta and thought i’d share some thoughts, while not being Maltese it is the place I was born, my Family were in the Military over there at the time. So while tenous at best there is a connection I guess.

Last time i went to Malta was when I was 18, and pretty much spent the week getting very drunk on Cisk the local bre, i didn’t remember anywhere this time as the Island has it seems taken on a more “get the tourists in” attitude and in doing so there are some areas you could be excused for thinking you were in a UK High street, others however with a little imagination have you thinking you could be wandering these streets in the Middle Ages..

So what was it like?

The Good

Weather

Ok, so yes, we were in the middle of the Mediterranean, the first two days it was cloudy and that still means it was hot. the last few days it wasn’t cloudy and it was VERY hot. September and the weather was great. There is a cool breeze running over the island as well which helps keep things just about the right side of bearable when you are near the coast.

Location

We stayed in Sliema, a strange place from our perspective of two halves, we stayed a the Palace and this is smack in the middle of the two sides of this town, one side Sliema Ferries is as the name suggests where most of the boats taking people out and about leave from from the big tour groups like Captain Morgan to the Ferry over to Valetta. This is where the eating is, shopping is, beer is.. The other side of the hotel is the part of the promenade which people exercise and walk on. It goes from Sliema to St. Giljan’s (The local spelling of St. Julian) and has a few places to eat and drink on the bay next to the water.

Having the ability to go out and about in the morning, and getting some fresh air at night meant for a nice mix

History

Malta is oozing history from its very core, from the Medieval streets of the capital Valetta to the fishing ports and Silent City of Mdina. As someone who loves to imagine just what a place must have been like hundreds of years ago i just can’t help thinking there are areas of this island which if you could jump back in time would still be the same as they are today give or take a few tarmac roads.

Buses

Buses, a good thing? Well in this case yes, avoid with all the energy you can muster the hop on, hop off buses, they offer little, charge the world and you can do anywhere you want to go using the local bust service for €2.60 a day. Just takes a little planning and a bus map. All the buses we went on have signs telling what the next stop is. And were give or take a few minutes on time even in remote areas. Some of the road systems get a little bumpy however some of the coast roads have the most amazing views.

The Bad

Popeyes Village an other Tourist Traps

Malta, like so may places which rely on the tourist industry are not short of their places to not go to. A prime location for this is Popeye’s Village. The set of a 1980 Robin Williams movie in all its glory isn’t so bad, however the €14+ to get in is far too steep for wat is essentially 8 buildings, a view and some dubious very load EuropPop blaring out of the speakers.

There is no “beach” its a 1metre strip of sand and yes, the Eurotrash got there first.. there are better places to swim on the island. If you really want a peek at this place sure. Take the arriva Bus, pay the bloke with the shuttle €1 ask him to wait 10 minutes, and take a walk to the left along the cliff road.

This isn’t the only tourist Trap, the “Blue Lagoon” is just the same, crowded stack of rock next to Gozo fortunate enough to have an enclave of white sand and 5 burger vans. Turning what must have been just a few years ago a diamond place to visit into a cisk/plastic bottle garbage can. Well done mankind another spot destroyed.

Hop on Hop Off

These are a complete waste of time, my wife and I took one 3hr trip round the south of the island, and pretty much saw the worst Malta has to offer which is a shame as other than a few spots the rest of the trip was pretty awful. They are expensive as well starting at €15 when you can get as i said before an all day bus pass on the buss for €2.60. There are plenty of maps around and Arriva the bus operator have a couple of good ones for tourist locations/bus numbers & times

Ticket sellers at Gozo Ferry

This i wasn’t expecting, arrived at Gozo Ferry terminal. a great service and there were 15 kids slammed up on the door of the bus. With about 5 people on the bus. Bam doors open everyone wants to sell me a ticket for something. I wonder if this has ever worked as a sales technique? Not this time or the other 3 times we were in this area it didn’t for anyone. We watched irked tourists most of them older unabl to get off the bus because of these touts.. Not good.

The Ugly

Flies

Flies, Flies and more Flies, the buzzing kind, the biting kind, they are everywhere, top of the hill, small island, rainstorm, heatwave, shower, bedroom, balcony.. Flies..

Dog Muck

Signs up all over the place, owners of dogs who crap over the place, will be prosecuted. I’m going to go out on a limb here and state no one ever has been. Dog muck every side street in Sliema and St. Julians.. No need people, just shows a lack of respect.

Conclusion

In the day and age of the global traveller, moaning that countries are keeping economies going utilising tourism, and providing guests with everything from home shouldn’t be frowned upon, the Spanish Costa’s have been doing it for years. Malta is a lovely place for 7-10 days and plenty to do without knackering yourself out doing it.

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