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.
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.
- Museum Visits
- Castles and Palaces
There are three main bays in St Julian's - Ballutta, Spinola and St Georges. Spinola bay is probably the most attractive of these, being filled with fishing and pleasure craft, many in traditional colours, and the shape and surroundings of the bay make it quite attractive too. At the end of the bay are a load of restaurants, most with outdoor seating overlooking the bay.
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.
The Balluta Building is one of my favourite buildings on Malta - in fact probably my most favourite. It was built in the 1920s in Art Nouveau style and still looks wonderful. In front of the bulding is a square that is busy by day and night, a meeting place for locals and visitors alike.
I fell in love with this place. There was always something going on that was quite appealing, whether it be kids playing around the fountain, students meeting up for a chat and a drink or locals out to enjoy the evening air. There's a few cafes and bars down one side of it (beside the Balluta Building) and a kiosk at the opposite side. In the middle is a fountain and at one end a kind of covered shelter (a shelter against the sun, I should add). It's all very picturesque and a bit of an oasis away from the very busy promenade across the road. In the picture, the Carmelite Church can be seen in the background.
The main street at the back of Spinola Bay is very attractive (I think it's called St George's Street). It's traditonal buildings unspoiled by hi-rise or modernisation and housing a variety of buildings including the Labour and National clubs, the band club, some good restaurants (and McDonalds) and so on.
Behind Spinola Bay is the very modern development of Portomaso (and beyond that but out of sight, Paceville). Both Portomaso and Paceville have some of the top hotels on the Island, the Hilton, Intercontinental, Westin, Radisson etc.
Critics slam the blue tower of the Portomaso business centre but I like it, it's distinctive and quite attractive (for a tower block) and it's certainly a landmark.
I like Balluta Bay. It's not as picturesque as Spinola Bay but it has two great eateries (Barracuda and Piccolo Padre) both perched right over the sea, the Cermelite Church and of course the Balluta Building and the square in front of that. There is also a few cafes along the promenade and the Water Polo club, which is always busy by night.
Another view of Balluta Square showing a fruit & veg van that is a regular visitor to the square and the canopies of some of the cafes that line that side of the square.
We had a snack and a drink in the square on quite a few evenings. The square was also handily placed at the beginning of the "shortcut" to our hotel in Sliema/Gzira - to follow thecoast road was almost an hours walk, the shortcut was under 15 minutes.
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
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
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
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..
- Sailing and Boating
- Diving and Snorkeling
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