Malta - Mediterranian Stronghold.

Trip Start Feb 01, 2005
Trip End Dec 31, 2020

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Where I stayed
Astra Hotel Sliema
Read my review - 3/5 stars

Flag of Malta  , Island of Malta,
Monday, August 1, 2011

Here we are on the tiny island of Malta, enjoying warm 30 degree days. Malta is tiny in size but with a population of 400,000 it is the most densely populated country in Europe. 

The capital, Valletta is all gorgeous white limestone buildings reaching up to the blue sky with even bluer water in the harbours below. Church spires dominate the skyline and steep steps from the waters edge disappear upwards, seemingly forever. Massive fortresses jut out everywhere and many boats, both tourist and pleasure craft ply the waters.

We arrived on Ryan Air, after one of the worst airport experiences at London's Luton and quite an uncomfortable flight. Luton, an hours drive north of London services the budget airlines and tries to accommodate too many people at once. Our first snag was that even though we had checked in online, as we are non EU, we had to present our paperwork for a "stamp". We queued and when arrived at the desk the girl didn't even look at our boarding passes and just put a stamp on them. This was rather unfortunate as she stamped my return journey instead of the flying out. We arrived at security and the queue was snaking its way through cattle races and it seemed like there were around 1000 or more people trying to get through. 

It wasn't until we got through to the front of security that the mistake with my stamp was picked up and I was sent back to get the correct stamp! Luckily I was able to get back through again without lining up, in the longer than ever queue, by explaining. Then we got to the actual security and it was beyond anything else we have experienced. It was off with shoes, jackets, computers out and seperate, toiletries out and seperate, and then one we have never had before, Avan's PLASTIC belt. It is a travel designed belt with a plastic buckle so it doesn't need to come off, but they insisted. We were feeling quite grumpy by now. We had been up at 3am and had driven an hour, taken a bus from the car hire depot back to the airport and been in queues for the best part of 2 hours, without even a coffee. Next problem was that unlike all other airports the signs to the gates were not easily visible, but hidden behind all the shops. Finally we arrived at our gate only just in time to board. 

Ryan air are definitely budget and attract budget people so we were glad when our flight landed and we could get off the plane and find our prebooked accommodation at the Astra Hotel.

Our room is spartan but comfortable with single beds and close to the ocean and transport. We have enjoyed our sightseeing by tourist hop-on-hop-off bus and a boat harbour cruise. We walked around Valletta and stopped via the bus at some ancient temples and a gorgeous blue grotto. Mostly we have enjoyed the chance to wind down a little and catch up on some blog writing, planning and sleep.
Off now to repeat the process of flying Ryan air and back through Luton airport for one last night in London with Rachel, Graham, Elliot and Evan before we head off to France via the channel tunnel. 

Travel Tip: The Hypogeum, Malta's principal attraction has a moratorium on numbers, hence booking a couple of weeks in advance is essential if you wish to visit.
 Footnote: City of Valletta,Hal Saflieni Hypogeum and Megalethic Temples of Malta 7 are all UNESCO World Heritage listed.
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My Review Of The Place I Stayed

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