Do the domestics.
OK, this is certainly not the most exciting tip I will ever write on VT but it is designed to give some practical advice on a subject that may well be of use to the traveller especially if they are staying here for a long period of time, that of laundry.
I had looked all over nearby Sliema for a self service laundry without success and had been quoted a frankly ridiculous price for a service wash in St. Julian (something like €60 for one smallish bagful with a two day turnround) I really needed a laundrette. Fortunately, I was pointed in the right direction by a local acquaintance of mine and came upon this place. I don't intend to write too much about it as it is, after all, merely a laundrette other than to say you can play table football here if you are bored waiting for the spin cycle to finish.
The opening hours are as follows. Winter: Monday to Friday 0800 - 2200, Saturday 0800 - 1700, Sunday 0800 - 1400. Summer: Monday to Saturday 0800 - 2300, Sunday 0800 - 1700.
Costs for washing vary from €6 for a 5kg. machine to €10 for an 8kg. one and tumble driers run at €5 but I did find I needed two cycles of it. Should you need change, you can get it in Dick's Bar just up the street. Don't worry about asking, they are happy to do it as they have an arrangement with the very pleasant lady who runs the lundrette.
There, I did warn you, a completely unexciting tip but hopefully of assistance.
- Budget Travel
Another fine statue.
I have noticed, in my br4ief time on the island, the Maltese love of public statuary. You can hardly turn a corner or walk a hundred yards without bumping into one or another pieces of public art. This is not just an historic thing, there are many more modern pieces as well, it must just be part of the local identity. Actually, I quite like it as the vast majority of pieces are well-maintained and aesthetically pleasing.
On one of my first forays out walking n the island I came upon this, and closer examination revealed an intersting story as it so often does. Again, I have to thank VT as, had I not been thinking of writing a tip here I may well just have taken a quick snap, had a brief look and wandered on. I know it may sound overblown but VT really has changed the way I travel.
So what is this fairly standard Victorian looking statue all about then? Well, it is about something as prosaic and yet as important as water supply. It commemorates the extension of the public water supply to Sliema (albeit the statue is in modern day San Giljan) in the year of 1892. Now for many readers, I appreciate that seems like an awful long time ago and it probably is. However, it is the year before my maternal grandmother was born, so it is not exactly prehistoric. I know many people in the world still have to draw water from wells but that only reinforces the point about how important an event this must have been, important enough to warrant a statue.
Having seen the statue, I set abgout researching the main name on it, H.E, General Sir A. Borton and what a task that turned out to be as internet references were pretty scant. I even looked at Wikipedia as a case of last resort and he is the only British Governor of Malta not to have his own personal entry. I can only presume he was not of huge importance in the grand scheme of things and yet this rather fine memorial feturing hisname is right on the front at San Giljan.
I am sure the general reader will have become totally bored with a lengthy tip about a pretty average Victorian fountain by now but I use this as an example of how much you can find out if you just look around as you visit somewhere new. At least if you walk past it now, you'll know what it is!
- Budget Travel
- Historical Travel
Eat, drink and shop
We didn´t see anything else to do in St. Julians than eat well, shop and if you like party, then you could party party and little party again.. Not our thing, but people around twenties seemed to like it. Maybe if the music and bars were different and there would be maybe some brewery-pubs or something, we might have tried it, but one night staying late at the only rock bar we found was enough for us.
But other things you can do? Make trips around the island! There´s no reason to stay whole day here! (unless you have been up all night,m and going to sleep all day..)
Take a walk around the bays
From Spinola Bay we walked past the Balluta Bay. Now in November we saw lots of Maltese on a Sunday as well as retired British and other nationalities that enjoyed walking along the promenade of the coastline.
Coming from the Scotsman Pub down to the Spinola Bay, you will see the Spinola Palace (photo no. 1) which was built under the order of Bishop Fra Paola Raffaele Spinola in 1688 for the knights of the order.
In the Balluta Bay you will notice the small square (picture no. 2) which is a popular meeting place for the locals. In the background there is the huge Balluta building built in edwardian art nouveau style.
In photo no. 3 you will see the church Madonna tal-Karmnu in new gothic style. It belongs to the Carmelite monastery which marks the border to Sliema.
And finally in the 4th picture you see Malta's tallest building. Well, currently (in Nov. 2010) this is still the case but an even taller building is already under construction. In the back streets of this tall building you will find a good supermarket with an excellent selection.
A day out away from the built up Valletta area. I had planned on taking the seaplane service, but the wind was wrong for landing at Mġarr so it was cancelled. I took the “express” 645 bus (€1.16 each way) from Sliema to the ferry at Ċirkewwa at the north west corner of the island. Took about 40 minutes from St Julian’s. The ferry cost €4.65 return, and takes about 30 minutes. A bus meets it to take you to the main town – Rabat/Victoria. Takes about 15 minutes and costs €0.47.
Unfortunately, no sooner was I off the bus in Rabat than I got a call from a client, which meant I had to just grab a sandwich and head straight back to my hotel to do some urgent work. Anyway, it all looked interesting enough on the Gozo side.
Ironically, the express 645 bus was one of the ancient specimens but the driver was a total maniac and sped through the towns at top speed to make up for the time he lost crawling up the hills. A bone shuddering trip in both directions (same bus, same driver).
- Road Trip
- Budget Travel
Spinola Palace and it's surrounding gardens were built in 1688 by Fra Paolo Raffaele Spinola, Grand Prior of Lombardy.The palace was enlarged in 1733 through the efforts of Fra Giovanni Battista Spinola. During the French occupation of these islands in 1798, French troops were stationed in the palace and wrought havoc there. In fact it is thanks to them that the Order’s emblem atop the clock on the façade was mutilated. Nowadays, the palace is not opened for public but it's architecture could be admired from the gate in front of the gardens.
- Castles and Palaces
Enjoy beach life at Mellieha Bay
People might tell you that Malta does not have beaches.. which is not true, because there are several beaches. Mellieha Bay is said to be the longest and best of them. It is situated on the north-east coast of Malta and can be reached by car or local bus. We stayed in Paceville and took bus number 645. It takes about 45 minutes to get there. Mellieha Bay is a large sandy beach with clear and lovely water. But everyone wants to go to the beach so it was packed with locals and other tourists. Sunbeds and umbrellas can be rented, LM 5 for 2 beds and 1 umbrella. A bit expensive, but you do get a madrass! There are a few kiosks and shops along the beach, but it lacked good alternatives for eating.. Also, in the end, I practically had my head between some girls legs.. it was just way too crowded and busy. That said, we went on a local holiday during August - probably the worst time of the year! But it's nice to get away from the town and relax on the beach. It was excellent for swimming! And they have watersports as well.
- Women's Travel
- Family Travel
Not to be missed: boattrip to the blue lagoon
Captain Morgan is a company that organizes different boattrips around the island of Malta and Gozo. There are several different types of cruises/boats to choose from. Like the Catamaran 'Spirit of Malta' (offer trip around the island, stops at Blue Lagoon, free buffet of fish and seafood, and free bar + music) Fernandes (huge wooden sailboat with buffet, free wine (to the food), takes you to the blue lagoon and gozo), pirate-adventure for kids with treasure hunt, evening cruise with food and music, Comino-cruise with or without buffet that let you stay at the blue lagoon for several hours.. Initially we wanted to go with SPirit of Malta, but it was fully booked throughout our week. Therefore we chose Fernandes instead. This was the best and most memorable day of our holiday. We were picked up at our hotel by a minivan and driven to the Sliema Ferries where we went onboard. Fernandes was a really lovely old-fashioned wooden ship and we could choose whether to sit on benches or to sit on deck on mats. They make sure not to bring too many passengers on board, so it was never crowded. It was a bit of waves and windy which made the trip a little uncomfortable at times, but we did enjoy ourselves very much. We got to see most of Malta (east side) parts of Gozo and most importantly the Blue Lagoon. We achnored at the lagoon, which is amazing..amazing clear blue water and you could see fish swimming beneath the boat. You can borrow equipment if you want to go snorkeling. And you can dive and swim from the boat. We went to the lagoon and it was good to have someplace to go back to, because the lagoon is packed, no place for your towels or to lie down. We were served a sandwich (simple, ok) after an hour or so, and when we arrived at the blue lagoon they set up a buffet with meat/fish, pasta, shrimps, vegetables, potatoes, bread..etc .
A few tips:
* book early
* check weather conditions at front.. be aware of windy conditions
* take pill/medication for seasickness at front
* bring/wear flipflops, bikini and towel
- Sailing and Boating
- Family Travel
Spirit of Malta
This is unfortunately something I missed out on but if I'm going back to Malta I really want to enjoy a day on the Spirit of Malta. It's a large catamaran that takes you on a trip around the island of Malta and Gozo, visiting the nicest and most beautiful places on the islands, and if the weather permits you'll also be heading for Comino and the blue Lagoon (which is fantastic!!). Music is played during the trip and you'll be served a buffet while onboard, in addition it's a free bar with all facilities, red bull, drinks, beer, sodas.. all day long. The catamaran-trip is very popular so you have to book early, preferably on the day you arrive, because if the weather is unstable they cancel the trips and you'll be booked for the next day instead. Booking can be done through several agents on the island, just look for Captain Morgan booking-signs, and preferably you should book through your travel agents, as you can save quite a few LM. The catamaran leaves from the Sliema ferries but a minivan will pik you up at your hotel and bring you back home again. I was so dissapointed when it was booked for the rest of our holiday so we didn't get to go..
- Diving and Snorkeling
- Sailing and Boating
Portomaso complex and marina
Portomaso is an apartement complex with sassy and luxurious apartements with a matching marina where you can see some fine yacths.. The area also has many restaurants, some look really stylish, such as the Korean one down by the port! Didn't visit any of them though. Next time! The place is good for just walking around and enjoying the view of the magnificient boats and the marina. It is also here that you will find the Hilton hotel.
- Family Travel
What can I say, I am a girl I am 24 years old.. of course I recommend a bit of shopping! Saint Julian's has a shopping center known as the Baystreet Coplex (where our hotel was located as well). It is right behind St.George's Bay.. huge blue modern building, look for the Hard Rock Cafe sign. There are quite a few good shops there. Guess, FCUK, NafNaf, Mexx..for instance. And also some local shops, I'm not a big fan of mediterreanean fashion as I find it too bright-colored and too skimpy! I'll leave it to the locals who pull it off better than me:) Mark & Spencer has the best flavoured water I have ever tasted and some yummy potato chips as well. Sliema is great for shopping too. If you take the main road (the one that the buses take) you will find lots of international high street chain stores such as Accessorize, Monsoon, Dorothy Perkins, Zara, Oasis, Bershka, TopShop, Miss Selfridge..etc I guess it's not very interesting to those who have these stores at home, the prices may be the same as well.. but for us who has to go to London to visit these stores, shopping in Sliema is quite fab! Another option is Valletta, which has some of the same stores as Sliema. In the summer the shops have lots of sales as well, so it's a great time for shopping!
- Women's Travel
- Study Abroad
- School Holidays
Spinola Bay, St Julian's
Spinola Bay is one of the main attractions of the tourist resort of St Julian's.
This picturesque bay is basked in sunshine during the day, with small, colourful fishing boats bobbing up and down in the gentle waters. I used to enjoy sitting at a bench in the morning sun and reading my newspaper.
By night, the lights of the numerous surrounding restaurants reflect on the water and the sight is quite spectacular. There are a number of up-market restaurants with dining terraces that overlook the bay. The food is probably good in these places, but the price will be inflated by the exclusive location.
As Sliema, St Julians was initially a fishing village but turned to a summer residence for wealthy locals and now developed into one of the Island's mostly fetched resorts for night life and entertainment, especially for the youngsters and the middle aged.
Within walking distance to Paceville, this village still retains some of it's old dwellings and boat houses.
The Palace of Grand Master Spinola !
This Palace is situated opposite the playground just opposite Portomaso. This Palace was once the summer residence of the Grand Master Spinola. I was told that all the surrounding roads, that is, where there is HSBC, Portomaso, Wembley Taxi Service till mid- Paceville all belonged to him. Infact, around the whole palace his gardens where divided into sections by straight walls which were richly decorated. He used to use his gardens as a hunting lodge.
Another thing I go to know is that the Grand Master had access to the sea from one of his back doors that is, in the past there was a tunnel that led down to the sea. Today this tunnel I guess still exsists but there are restaurants built. I always imagined that the tunnel would be somewhere close to Bouzouki restuarant or somehwere at the edge of the sea in Spinola Bay where he would keep a little boat.
- Castles and Palaces
- Museum Visits
Paceville is the undoubted nightlife centre of Malta. The nightlife there is much more "in your face" than in the rest of Malta, even the other resorts.
The streets are lined with bars and clubs that are open fronted and loud music bellows from within and the people spill out into the street. There's a lot of cafes and snack joints too, as well as a splattering of really good restaurants and top class hotels, a cinema, 10 pin bowling centre and a nice shopping/entertainment centre (Bay Street). It's a bizarre mix - some really tacky (and a bit seedy) stuff standing shoulder to shoulder with top class luxury.
I've read reports and also heard from other people that it's "the pits", but we went there about 3 nights running and actually loved it. There was nothing scary about it and nothing threatening. What revelry was going on was good natured and under control. There were older people about (I mean even older than us) and families with kids, though of course the majority of people were teenagers and early 20s.
At the end of St Georges Bay is a small (artificial) beach that was very clean and is backed by fast food joints. At night it was floodlit and people just relaxed on the beach, chatting and eating. All very pleasant.
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