I am so behind on my blog, apologies! I’ve had a fair bit of studying to do, plus a few trips that I am slowly starting to write up – Malta, Marrakech and Krakow. So firstly here’s…..Malta!!!
I flew out to Malta, back in November and was met by wind, rain, thunder and lightning, apparently, Malta was experiencing some of the worse weather there in decades, which didn’t bode well for my week away. After getting through customs, I headed out to the bus stop and found myself on the X1 bus which goes through to Cirkewwa (the ferry stop for Gozo), via Xemxija, my stop for the Porto Azzurro Hotel. I am not joking when I say that the bus journey took nearly as long as my flight, 2.5 hours to travel around 7 miles – Malta simply cannot cope with bad weather on top of already stretched to the limits traffic capacity, especially at rush hour.
Finally disembarking from the steamy and crowded bus, I climb the short hill to the hotel and was met by the news that my single room had been upgraded to a top floor apartment with kitchen facilities! It was divine and I really cannot thank the hotel enough or indeed praise them for the great customer service and knowledgeable ladies on reception, who knew the islands bus timetables off by heart! A huge thank you to Alexis Meylaq, the Sales & Guest Relations Manager for my upgrade and also to Madeline, Rachael and Joanna, on reception for beaming smiles and flawless information.
I would recommend anyone pays for the upgrade, especially if you have children. The apartment was huge – a very nice bath & shower room, a very big separate bedroom with wardrobe & dressing table area and a massive kitchen/lounge area, with double sofa bed and another huge wardrobe. You can sit, having cooked a meal and look out over the bay, which is very beautiful, especially at night. There are also flat screen TV’s in the apartments (I had one in the bedroom and one in the lounge) to catch up on the news back home should you so wish. The reception area offers free Wifi and the facility to book excursions, I was there to do my own thing but it all looked very comprehensive and if like me, you have wifi included on your phone, there’s great reliable coverage in your room.
The hotel has an indoor and outdoor pool, I was there off-season and it was empty, there is also spa facilities and whilst not onsite, the beautician visits once an appointment is booked – a nice touch for the ladies, or gents who fancy a massage or facial etc. There is a small supermarket at the hotel and also a larger convenience store a short stroll away, where you can get everything you need, there are also a handful of eateries, which are all very good. There is a restaurant at the hotel, that offers breakfast at a reasonable rate and also evening meal offers, but I cannot really comment as I never tried there.
There is a bus route(s) at the bottom is at the bottom of the small hill, where the hotel is located which runs in both directions – towards either the ferry to Gozo or to Valletta, Bugibba and Sliema – try the buses, it’s great fun, if a little crowded and very cheap compared to the UK. I got the bus from and to the airport but the hotel does supply a shuttle service if you book directly with them, or can arrange a taxi instead.
The best bit about the hotel’s location is that it’s in Xemxija, so away from the crowds of St Paul’s Bay – which is still quite easily walkable, but is far less busy and retains more of the charm than Bugibba does. I would most certainly return to the PA, especially as, despite being there for a week, I really only saw half the island – 7 days was simply not long enough.
So who’s ready for a whistle-stop tour of the north of the island……
Day one, – the sun was shining and so I decided to walk from the hotel along to Bugibba, where the Aquarium is and the main resort area, including Bugibba Square – there are buses that run there but the walk is lovely and really doesn’t take long. Day one also saw me being propositioned by a local lothario, who interrupted my photography at St Paul’s Bay – he seemingly wanted to take me for spaghetti, I had other ideas, and when his back was turned, did a runner and hide in a Pizzeria called Tal Pjazza cafe, which was very family orientated and had a large family games room at the rear. It is also next to Pizza Hut but do yourself a favour and bypass the Hut and head to uber friendly family run Tal Pjazza! (http://talpjazza.com)
Day two and I braved the buses again, this time up to Mdina and Rabat, which is stunning! The Città Notabile is a fortified city in the Northern Region of Malta, which served as the island’s capital from antiquity to the medieval period. Narrow quaint streets of the sleepy, charming Mdina, has changed little in the last 1000 years, and in Rabat you can explore catacombs, along with WW2 bunkers – which are scarily claustrophobic and hot…those poor people during the war must have been petrified. Entry to all the attractions is reasonable on Malta, and to walk around the fortifications is free, certainly not to be missed and the views are incredible!