Malta

My first Workaway experience – 2 months on the beautiful island of Malta

For anyone who hasn’t heard of Workway.info, they are “the world’s leading community for sustainable travel and cultural exchange.”

As a Workaway member you can contact thousands of hosts all over the world (they currently have placements in 180 countries) and arrange as many exchanges as you wish… offering unlimited travel opportunities!

The Love Statue @ Spinola Bay, Malta

I’m currently 3.5 weeks into my first Workaway placement, so I’ll be here for another 5 weeks. I can’t imagine much will change in those 5 weeks because I’ve learnt the ropes now, but if anything does I’ll be sure to update this post 🙂

How to apply

In a nutshell: you sign up for a yearly fee (this is currently €36 for singles and €48 for a couples/friends account) and then you get access to 38,000 Workaway hosts worldwide. Usually the deal is something like this: you work around 5 hours per day, 5 days a week and in exchange you get free food and accommodation.

NOTE: The projects vary greatly, so you really do have to read each profile/project for the specific details of what you are signing up for! Some don’t offer food for example, others might be 6 days a week, and other projects might be less hours. Don’t be lazy… the only way you’re going to get a brilliant Workaway placement is by spending time researching and then contacting your favourite hosts with specific dates and a personalised message telling them why you’d be perfect for the job. Yes, it is a job – kinda!

Workaway strongly advise copying/pasting generic messages to multiple hosts (they get so many messages and it’s *SO* obvious if you do this!) You will also need to give as much detail on your profile as possible, so that potential hosts can get an idea of who you are and what you can offer.

I personally spent at least 2 hours creating our joint account and then countless hours researching different placements all over the world. The reviews are key – hosts can leave reviews for Workawayers and vice versa, so reading the reviews of previous Workawayers will give you a good feel for if they are a good host or not.

 

My Workaway Project

I’m literally living in paradise. No joke.

As I say, I spent hours researching, so it wasn’t luck that I came across this specific exchange.

I liked the sound of the work I would be doing: “looking for someone who loves the outdoors and animals to help our family in Gharghur, Malta”, the work was only 3 hours per day, 6 days a week (the profile says 5 days a week but I usually do about 1-2 hours work on Saturdays) and in exchange I would get “a large double room with an en-suite bathroom and washing machine. Own entrance and own kitchen and living area. Food will not be provided but an allowance of €25 per week is given for food, €50 if it’s a couple.”

I was expecting like a little granny annex or something.

What I actually have is a 3 bedroom house all to myself – it’s massive! There’s an open-plan lounge, fully equipped kitchen, bathroom with bath, shower and washing machine, a massive double bedroom and a walk-in wardrobe! Needless to say I’m VERY comfortable here 🙂

I’ve checked with my hosts and they’re happy for me to write about my experiences and share photos. But I’m not going to post any pictures of their house or anything because I feel like that’s an invasion of their privacy. But here’s a picture of their cheeky sheep:

I’m mainly looking after the family’s menagerie of animals: 2 horses, 4 dogs, a couple of stray cats (one of them just had kittens!!), a sheep, chickens, 2 ducks and a parrot!

And, yes, looking after animals does mean picking up poo! No princesses need apply 😉 But the dogs are sooooooooo cute, so what’s a bit of dog shit between friends, eh?

I also do some light cleaning duties: mostly hoovering, sweeping and mopping. Sometimes I have to make beds, change beds, rearrange closets, put items into storage, that kind of thing. Basically whatever the family require at that specific time. It’s very fair for what I get in return!

 

The nitty gritty

The times I work vary – most of the time I can choose my own hours, sometimes my hosts request I work at specific times but it’s generally very flexible!

This particular exchange is also really good for me because I can cook my own food! €25 a week really isn’t a lot (especially with food intolerance) but I supplement that with my own savings. If you can eat pasta, bread and beans I’m sure €25 will do you just fine!

 

The Downsides

They’re aren’t many!! But I do have to be honest!

1. I have to feed the animals every single morning (including Sunday – my only day off!) but it literally only takes 10-15 mins. This particular placement isn’t for you if you can’t get up early in the morning.

2. I’m on my own a lot. I thought I would see more of the family/animals than I actually do. But they’re very busy people so…

3. Being attacked by a cock!! Hahahahaha! I can laugh about it now, but it certainly wasn’t funny at the time!

 

Some advice before starting a Workaway project

  • Don’t be a dick. If you want a decent placement, you have to put the work in. Write a detailed profile and add at least a handful of photos.
  • Research, research, research. Read the profiles and reviews carefully for any potential hosts you like, these are like gold dust!
  • Get as much information from the host as possible before starting your placement. If there’s something you want to know that isn’t listed in the profile – just ask! If they’re a decent host they will be happy to answer any questions you may have.
  • Work out how you’re going to get there. Will they pick you up or do you need to take a bus/taxi/train etc etc? Plan your route in advance, no one wants to start off with a panicky phone call that they’re lost…
  • Are you happy to work alone? Or do you want to work with other volunteers/Workawayers? If you’re in a couple or with a friend, this probably won’t be an issue, but if you’re a solo traveller (like me) then you will need to consider this.
  • Have fun! Cheesy but true! You are working but it’s working holiday… so enjoy it!!
  • Lastly, here are some tips on how to be a good guest from Workaway themselves!

 

Future exchanges

This is my first official Workaway – but it certainly won’t be my last! I plan on doing at least a couple of different Workaway projects while I’m in Asia… plus I’m going to volunteer at LASSie Langkawi and Elephant Nature Park again! 🙂 🙂 🙂

Have you ever done a Workaway placement? Or if not… will you in the future?

Hayley x

 

Last updated: May 2019

 

 

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The Malta Diaries: Week 3

Hello!

I’m late as usual… what’s new?

BUT… it is a bumper post as promised, so grab a cup of tea, or a glass of wine and let’s dive straight in!!

Saturday (Day 13):

My first visitor arrived on Saturday for a long weekend and since Sunday is my only day off, we bit the bullet and jumped straight into a pub crawl!

We pretty much did the same route as I walked on day 9 (so St George’s Bay, Portomaso Marina, Spinola Bay, St Julian’s and Sliema) but then with stops along the way in Happy Dayz (Spinola Bay), Paradise Exiles, Surfside, Hole in the Wall (all Sliema) and Good Thaimes in Gzira. The weather was absolutely glorious, about 23 degrees and in between bar hopping we walked just over 17km!

St Georges Bay, Malta

Happy Dayz, Spinola Bay

Hole in the Wall, Sliema

That’s not us btw. 2 random hipster women.

Sunday (Day 14):

The weather wasn’t as kind to us on Sunday, so we stayed local-ish visiting: Naxxar, Mosta, Gharghur and Top of the World. Thankfully we were both hangover free (how we managed that I have no idea!) but slightly jaded, so it was probably for the best that we didn’t venture too far.

Although somehow we still ended up doing shots of a prickly pear liqueur from Gozo when we got ‘home’. The Ukrainians who had been doing a Workaway previously had left it in the fridge… they had the right idea. Ugh.

Pretty door and window in Mosta, Malta

Monday (Day 15):

YAY! The sun came out again so on Monday we visited Bugibba and Mellieha. After walking the entire length of coast from Bugibba to Qwara Point (and back) we hopped on a bus to Mellieha.

Mellieha Parish Church

We stopped at Sea View Cafe for Aperol Spritzes and a Maltese platter (yum!!) and then headed to One80 for happy hour 🙂 Can you see a theme here…?

Aperol Spritz at Sea View Cafe, Mellieha

Tuesday (Day 16): 

Following my action-packed long weekend with my friend, I decided to give myself Tuesday off. Which for me meant: I worked for 3 hours, journalled, did some shopping and cooking, walked 20k steps and watched Dead to Me on Netflix 🙂

Wednesday (Day 17):

Wednesday morning wasn’t the best start. One of the dogs was in a weird mood and being an absolute dick. Another did a shit on the door mat. Two of the cats were following me around moaning and getting in my way and the Tony the parrot was squawking like crazy. No idea why everyone chose to have a problem the same day 🤷 realities of travel I suppose! It’s not all Aperol spritz and fairy tales!

At least Bono was being cute.

Bono

Thursday (Day 18): 

My day started badly again, I cut my thumb (whilst cutting cheese of all things)!! I then got attacked by the cock. I wish I was joking. It bit and scratched my leg and I actually drew blood. ACTUAL FUCKING COCK!

Once again, Bono looked cute though. Especially with his new haircut as the dog groomer had been in again!

Bono after the dog groomer had been let loose on him!

Once I finished work my plans were rained off! FFS. Though I did manage to get my 20k steps in later in the evening when the rain had finally stopped. (20k steps per day is my goal for the entire trip… I’m smashing it so far!)

Friday (Day 19):

Sun! YAY!

Belgian fries in Sliema

My plan had been to walk all along the coast from Sliema to Ta’ Xbiex, Pieta, Hamrun and then all the way round to the 3 cities (Birgu, Senglea and Cospicua) however since I walked from Gharghur to Sliema already, I was knackered and so only made it as far as Hamrun. The 3 cities will have to wait for another day!

So I abandoned that plan and walked from Hamrun to Valletta via Floriana and then got a bus back from there, with a quick stop in The Pub (yes, that’s actually what it’s called) for a cheeky glass of wine.

Street scene Valletta

Saturday and Sunday (Days 20 & 21):

I had to work (extra) on Saturday and Sunday. Well, I didn’t have to, but my hosts asked me nicely so I happily obliged 🙂 So not a lot happened those days. On Sunday I did take a little walk to Bahar Ic-Caghaq via Swieqi.

I’m glad I went there, because it’s walkable from Gharghur, but definitely not a must-see and I wouldn’t take visitors there. It was popular with the locals and on my walk home I went past a huge caravan park which looked a bit like a shanty town. I’m sure people actually live there! And also some random abandoned buildings covered in graffiti. It was the first time I’ve felt slightly uncomfortable in Malta, so I got outta there as fast as my long limbs would carry me! It was all uphill, so not bloody fast enough!

Salt pans at Bahar Ic-Caghaq

Bahar Ic-Caghaq, Malta

Hope you’ve had a good week?

The Dutchie arrives in 2 days!! Woop woop! So the week 4 post won’t happen this Sunday. It’ll probably be Monday (or Tuesday) 🙄

 

Week 3 stats (Saturday until the following Sunday): 

Photos taken: 112 (9 of which were of Aperol spritz!)

Distance covered on foot: 132.5 km (average of 14.7 km per day)

Steps: 205k (average 22.7k per day)

Bus rides taken: 5

NEW Destinations visited: Ta’ Xbiex, Pieta, Hamrun, Bahar Ic-Caghaq, Swieqi

Lowlights: Being attacked by a cock.

Things I have learned about Malta this week:  

  • Maltese people are quite into keeping fit! Especially walking, hiking and running.
  • Maltese women are super glamorous!!
  • Lots of people put 2 bottles of water outside their houses – weird! I’ve Googled this and apparently it’s to deter dogs… but no one seems to know why! *Shrugs*

Hayley x

 

The Malta Diaries: Week 2

Hi! Happy Friday!

So, my plan had been to post every Sunday as that’s my day off, but exciting news!! I have my first visitor arriving tomorrow 🙂 🙂

I’m VERY excited to have my lovely friend C here, but it puts a bit of a spanner in the works blog-wise, hence why I’m posting today. So this week’s post will cover Sunday-Friday… and I guess next week will be a bit of a bumper edition!

 

A quick re-cap of Sunday (Day 7): 

So last week I left off that I was going to a festa in Floriana. Go I did, but it wasn’t really my thing tbh. It felt a bit like King’s Day in Amsterdam but with people wearing green instead of orange and I was pretty much the only sober person! 😂😂 (Which NEVER happens on King’s Day I might add!)

I stayed for a bit and watched the festivities which mainly involved lots of drinking, very loud, very bad music and people chucking free stuff out of their windows. Random. 

Anyway, it might’ve been a different experience with friends, but it wasn’t really working on my own… so I went to Valletta again as it’s so close by and had a wander there instead!

 

Monday (Day 8):

I don’t dread Mondays anymore!! Yay! And this was a particularly good shift as I was outside the whole time in the sunshine! 😎 I racked up 8k steps before I’d even left the property!

Aaaaaaaaaaand I get to look after these little cuties ❤ what’s not to love!?

After debating for ages about what to do I bit the bullet and got on the bus to Mellieha!

Mellieha bay

Mellieha bay

It probably wasn’t the best day to go to the beach, as it was a bit windy!! But I still very much enjoyed my windy walk 😉 I visited the parish church and the Sanctuary of Our Lady of Mellieħa.

According to Mellieha.com: “The Parish Church of Mellieha is dedicated to the Birth of Our Lady, and was built between 1881 and 1898. All the stone was cut from a nearby quarry at l-Ahrax tal-Mellieha and transported up to Mellieha by the local peasants, who worked laboriously to see their wish of having a new church come true.”

Grounds of the Sanctuary of Our Lady, Mellieha

Grounds of the Sanctuary of Our Lady, Mellieha

Mellieha Parish Church

Beautiful, huh?

I also stopped at One80 bar, which is somewhere I’ve been a few times before and was very sad to see that octopus carpaccio wasn’t on the menu anymore! Or maybe it’s just the time of year… but chips with parmesan and truffle did the trick instead. It was also happy hour 4-6pm (Monday to Friday) so all drinks were half price! (Soft drinks, cocktails, local beer and wine etc.)

 

Tuesday (Day 9): 

I’m having a bit of an aversion to buses at the moment. Partly because my Tallinja card still hasn’t turned up (which means I have to pay every time, even though I ordered my card a week ago – I’m being Dutch!!) and partly because the buses here drive me bonkers!

So… I walked to St George’s Bay (around 4 km), hoping to find a little undiscovered gem to add to the collection. But nope. Cranes, overcrowding and chain restaurants. Not my kinda place, so I abandoned that idea and walked all along the coast to Portomaso Marina, Spinola Bay, St Julian’s and Sliema (6 km+ in total).

The Love Statue @ Spinola Bay

I popped into Hole in the Wall which is a bar I’d spotted on Instagram. It didn’t disappoint! Great music, friendly personnel, hipster-esque decor and a deep-rooted passion for Chuck Norris. I’m sold! Pretty sure my friend and I will end up there at some point this weekend… 😀

 

Wednesday (Day 10):

In all honesty I was having a bit of a meh kinda day on Wednesday. I am missing the Dutchie a lot (what a sap!) and I was just feeling a bit tired and lazy. Netflix and my bed were calling, but fuck that shit – I’m in Malta – so I forced myself to go out for a walk!

Top Of The World, Għargħur

I went to good old Top of the World again but continued on a bit further on this time and found a path along the cliff edge. That certainly woke me up I can tell you! 😉

I also found this very pretty door in Gharghur 🙂

 

Thursday (Day 11):

On Thursday I decided to walk to San Anton Gardens, which has rave reviews on Trip Advisor. I’m not sure why, but I guess if you like gardens then it’s probably a good one…? Not really my thing, but hey – it was free and a 1.5 hour round trip on foot, so I got my steps in for the day!

San Anton Gardens

San Anton Gardens

Oh, and there were also some turtles which were cute:

Turtles at San Anton Gardens

 

Friday (Day 12):

Today I played assistant to the dog groomer on my morning shift! That’s one to scratch off the ‘potential new career’ list… I definitely do not want to be a dog groomer! Although I’m sure not all dogs are as uncooperative as Winnie (yes, as in the Pooh)! 😉 But the end result was worth it!

Winnie – so fresh and so clean!

I swear I still smell like dog! 😦

This afternoon I went to Bugibba. Upon arriving I realised that I have actually been before, last Jan, but it was cold and really windy at the time and I felt ill so we didn’t stay long. This time however, I walked the whole stretch of coast from Qawra Point to St Paul’s Bay. I racked up 28k steps today, that’s my record so far on this trip!!

Qwara point

Bugibba

 

Week 2 stats (Sunday-Friday): 

Photos taken: 125

Distance covered on foot: 85 km

Steps: 134k

Bus rides taken: 7

Destinations visited: Floriana, Mellieha, St George’s Bay, Portomaso, Spinola Bay, St Julian’s and Sliema, Attard, San Anton Gardens, Bugibba

Lowlights: Maltese drivers. I must utter “what a dick” at least once every time I leave the house! Getting a bit lonely on Wednesday – but I have a friend coming so… YAY!

Things I have learned about Malta this week:  

  • The best day to go walking is Sunday as there are way less cars on the road.
  • There are (free) public toilets everywhere, including most big supermarkets (speaking of toilets – most of them are Asia stylie – as in don’t throw toilet paper in. Use the bin instead.) 
  • Everyone names their businesses after themselves or a loved one here: Charlie’s Bar, Billy’s, Ronnie’s, Hugo’s, Nora’s, Becky’s. You name it. Literally. 
  • About 90% of elderly Maltese people are grumpy.*

 

So that’s it for week 2! What else would you like to know about Malta? I have a few ideas up my sleeve, for example: the best bars in Malta, Being gluten free in Malta… that kind of thing… plus a dedicated post about my Workaway experience.

But what else would you like? Free/cheap stuff to do in Malta, details of my spending budget, my favourite places after 2 months… etc etc. Please let me know! 🙂

Hayley x

*Not scientifically proven.

 

 

The Malta Diaries: Week 1

You remember how I told you I love Malta, right? Well now I’m here – for 2 months!! (I quit my job, but that’s a story for another time…)

St Julians, Malta

I’m on a Workaway project close to Sliema and St Julian’s and I’d like to document my trip, more for myself than anything. And as I’m flying solo (except for a weekend visit from the Dutchie, halfway into my trip) I should actually have time to write… so here goes!

Day 1

I arrived at Luqa airport on Monday, so it was one of the least Mondayish Mondays I’ve ever had. God it feels good to be free!

In case you don’t know, buses in Malta are shit! I mean they’re cheap and all and the network is pretty decent, but they’re almost never on time. (My first bus was 15 mins late, therefore cue missing my connecting bus – which only runs ever hour – and so I had to take 3 buses instead of 2. Then the 3rd bus was over 10 mins late.)

But you have to laugh. Patience is a virtue and all that…

So after spending almost 2 hours to get to my accommodation (it was supposed to take an hour) I realised that it didn’t matter anymore… OH. MY. GOD.

I’m literally living in paradise. No joke. I’ve checked with my hosts and they’re happy for me to write about my experiences and share photos – except of the kids. But I’m not going to post any pictures of their house or anything because I feel like that’s an invasion of their privacy. But here’s a picture of their cheeky sheep:

In the Workaway advert it said I’d get my own double bedroom, with a private entrance, bathroom, kitchen and washing machine. I was expecting like a little granny annex or something.

What I actually have is a 3 bedroom house all to myself – it’s massive! There’s an open-plan lounge, fully equipped kitchen, bathroom with bath, shower and washing machine, a massive double bedroom and a walk-in wardrobe! Needless to say I’m VERY comfortable here 🙂

I have to work for 3 hours per day, Monday – Saturday in exchange for accommodation plus money for food. (*More details about my Workaway position at the end of this post…*)

So this means there’s plenty of time left for exploring!

Day 2

After my first 3 hour shift and learning the ropes I wanted to explore the surrounding area on foot.

I went to The Top of the World, Gharghur. It’s a lovely hike and the views are amazing if you’re in the area, but I wouldn’t bother making a special trip or anything. However I’m really happy I have this relatively close by – being the nature girl that I am!! And as I’m travelling solo I can sit on cliff edges without the Dutchie freaking out! 😉 (Sorry not sorry, dear husband…)

Top of The World, Gharghur

Top of The World, Gharghur

Day 3

On Wednesday, after completing my duties, including looking after a parrot (that’s one to add to the CV, eh?) I headed to Sliema, hoping to get my bus card (the Tallinja card) sorted. No such luck, I’d recommend just doing it online. (My card finally worked after about 5 times of trying! It’s a very frustrating website. Good luck!)

Sliema was much busier than when I visited 4 years ago and there’s loads of construction going on (that applies to pretty much everywhere on the island actually!) but I’m still glad I went for nostalgic reasons ❤ (The Dutchie and I spent our first wedding anniversary on holiday in Sliema.)

Sliema promenade, Malta

Sliema promenade, Malta

I then walked to St Julian’s and Spinola Bay! OMG… the water is just SO BLUE! I also went for a cheeky drink in the sunshine and I can confirm that G&Ts are still cheap as chips on Malta!! €2.50!!

St Julians, Malta

Day 4

I fancied staying a bit closer to ‘home’ so I took a bus to Mosta on Thursday. The Rotunda of Mosta (also known as Mosta Dome) is really beautiful, as are the streets and I ended up walking round for hours and taking pictures. It’s a really nice city, but probably not a must-see in Malta to be completely honest.

Mosta Dome

Mosta Dome

Streets of Mosta

Streets of Mosta

Day 5

Day 5 was supposed host my first outing to Mellieha… my favourite place on Malta! Maar helaas niet. But unfortunately not. I missed my bus (doh!!) and the next one wasn’t for another hour, so I just jumped on the next bus and ended up in Valletta.

I wasn’t overly enamoured with Valletta the first time I went there (again, 4 years ago). But this time I liked it WAY more. On my bus journey over there, I checked my Trip Advisor App and saw that I’d saved a couple of gluten free cafes in my list, and as I was starving I headed straight to Piadina Caffe. (Yes, two ffs). One diet Kinnie and a gluten free focaccia later, I was a very happy girl and ready to explore! (At the end of the trip I’ll probably do a dedicated post about being GF in Malta if anyone is interested!)

Piadina Caffe, Valletta

Piadina Caffe, Valletta

I then did what I do best: wandered round aimlessly for hours on end, taking in the city… and lots of photos obviously!!

I stumbled upon this one street, which I’m pretty sure is Insta-famous, and took probably one of my favourite photos I’ve ever taken:

Valletta street scene

Valletta street scene

Instagram clearly agrees because it’s got about 200 likes 🙂

Day 6

Yesterday I decided I couldn’t be dealing with buses (!!) so I explored Naxxar (prounounced something like nash-ar) on foot. I also visited the Top of the World again and racked up over 20k steps!

Pretty street in Naxxar, Malta

Pretty street in Naxxar, Malta

Day 7

Today I’m off to Floriana, near Valletta, because they’re holding a ‘festa’ there! The Maltese festa is a (religious) village feast – the Maltese love their patron saints and so a party is held in their honour every year – some villages even celebrate multiple times per year! According to MaltaUncovered.com I should expect “Lots of colours, lots of sound and lots of locals for starters…” And fireworks… don’t forget the fireworks!!

Happy Sunday everyone, hope you’ve had a great week!

Hayley x

 

Week 1 stats (up to Sunday): 

Photos taken: 137

Distance covered on foot: 76 km

Steps: 117k

Bus rides taken: 6

Destinations visited: Top of the World, Gharghur, Naxxar, Mosta, Sliema, St Julian’s, Spinola Bay, Valletta, Floriana

Lowlights: the buses!!

Things I have learned about Malta this week:  

  • Walking anywhere outside the main tourist areas feels like dancing with death! There are rarely any footpaths. Ever seen Italians drive? Same.
  • There are cranes everywhere 😦
  • Dead cactus smells like wet dog.

 

Workaway.info

For anyone wanting more info about this Workaway position:

I’m mainly looking after the family’s menagerie of animals: 2 horses, 4 dogs, countless stray cats, a sheep, chickens, 2 ducks and a parrot! Plus some light cleaning duties: mostly hoovering, sweeping and mopping.

It’s very fair. They’re actually looking for someone to replace me at the end of June, preferably for 3 months as they’re away a lot in the “summer” (it’s 20-22 degrees at present! So summer enough for me!!) it’s mostly going to be house sitting / looking after the animals. If you’re interested and can stay for 3 months, please contact Rachel via their Workaway advert 🙂 You won’t regret it!!

 

 

My personal tips for Malta

Mellieha, Malta

Mellieha, Malta

Hi! The title of this post could’ve been catchier I realise, but what it actually is – is 100% honest. I could’ve called it ‘The Ultimate Guide to Malta’ or ‘Top 10 Things to do in Malta’ or something SEO-y like that (yes, obviously I get why other travel bloggers do it) but I’m calling bullsh*t on people pretending to know everything about a place when they’ve been once!

This is a personal pet peeve of mine because I work in the travel publishing industry and I’m currently working with a lot of bloggers… so the first thing I’ll always check is what posts they have about Amsterdam. Most of them are complete crap (#sorrynotsorry) so it’s a very quick way for me to separate the wheat from the chaff…

Anyway, small industry rant over!

Full disclaimer: I’ve been to Malta three times. Therefore I *do* know more than the average bear… but I’m no expert. Nor do I profess to be. These are my tips for Malta, ones I’d give to family or friends who are going on holiday there. Things I did and thought were awesome, without a side of bs.

You’re welcome!

 

Where to stay in Malta:

I’ve stayed in 3 different places in Malta:

The Waterfront Hotel, Sliema – 4 star (apparently – it’s more like 3 tbh). Great views and cocktails. Rooftop bar / pool, but the pool itself is teeny. Would recommend it if you want to be close to St Julian’s but not stay in St Julian’s… or if you want to be close to Valletta but not stay in Valletta 😉

Cocktails at the Waterfront Hotel, Sliema, Malta

Cocktails at the Waterfront Hotel, Sliema, Malta

db Seabank Resort and Spa, Mellieha – another 4 star but this one probably does deserve 4 (at least it did when we last visited). It’s an all-inclusive resort though, which I DO NOT recommend. The food in Malta is soooooo goooood you do not want to be all inclusive! Good location, very close to Mellieha Bay and Popeye Village (more on those later).

Pergola Hotel and Spa, Mellieha – also 4 star but more like 3. Great location and views, but it’s a very noisy hotel. (Especially where we stayed which was right by reception.) Great full English breakfast in the on-site cafe.

View from Pergola Hotel, Mellieha, Malta

View from Pergola Hotel, Mellieha, Malta

Conclusion: I personally wouldn’t stay in any of these hotels again as I like trying new places, however I do recommend Mellieha as a base. I recently helped my Mum and Dad book a trip to Malta and they’re going to the Maritim Antonine Hotel & Spa which looks awesome! (I haven’t stayed there myself but it’s very close to the Pergola hotel, so we walked past it pretty much every day on our last trip. The rooftop restaurant looks ace!)

If you don’t fancy that, there are plenty of other hotels and Airbnb properties in Mellieha! Just make sure you read lots (and lots and lots) of reviews before booking.

 

What to do in Mellieha: 

So, if you’ve listened to my advice 😉 you’ll be basing yourself in the north of the island in Mellieha. Good choice! I’ll start there first, and then give some tips for the rest of the island.

 

Views

As I’ve already mentioned, there are fantastic views from The Pergola Hotel (if you’re a non-resident you can still visit the bar/restaurant), same goes for Maritim Antonine Hotel & Spa.

You can also get a fab view from Sea View Café – they do simple food like sandwiches and salads, plus lots of cocktails.

Sea View Cafe, Mellieha, Malta

Sea View Cafe, Mellieha, Malta

 

Food 

One80 Kitchen and Lounge have the most amazing Octopus carpaccio… hands down one of the most delicious things I have ever tasted in my life. I’d go back to Malta just for that tbh. The scallop and prawn dish was also top-notch. I didn’t get a photo of that as I devoured it in about 10 seconds flat!

Octopus Carpaccio at one80 Bar and Kitchen, Mellieha, Malta

Octopus Carpaccio at one80 Bar and Kitchen, Mellieha, Malta

Ocean Bar for the best fish & chips I’ve had in a long time. They have a gluten free version too! The bar looks a bit ropey from the outside, but the owners are really friendly and it’s so worth it for the food!! Very budget friendly too!

Fish & Chips at Ocean Bar, Mellieha, Malta

Fish & Chips at Ocean Bar, Mellieha, Malta

Debbie’s Café is a good bet for brunch if you want an avocado based meal. If you want a full English, the one at the Pergola Hotel and Spa is better.

We also ate at Rebekah’s restaurant… which was a bit stuffy, overpriced and disappointing and at Bouquet Garni (no website) where we had amazing seafood platters which were really reasonably priced… but the lighting was bad so no pictures. Soz.

 

Bars

There’s a bar/restaurant at Mellieha Bay called Munchies, I’ve never eaten there but it’s nice for drinks if you can get a table on the terrace.

We also liked Charlie’s Bar. It’s a bit of a dive bar and it’s popular with local expats, but everyone was really friendly and we loved the pub quiz (every Thursday night). We even won the 90’s pop quiz! Score!!

 

See & Do

Parish Church of Mellieha – also known as The Sanctuary of Our Lady of Mellieha is a beautiful highlight of Mellieha. You can’t miss it, literally!

Parish Church of Mellieha

Parish Church of Mellieha

It’ll be in pretty much all of your Mellieha photos, it’s such an iconic building perched on the hilltop. It’s also worth exploring the beautiful gardens for the amazing views. I’ve never been inside the church, but I’m told it’s spectacular so that’s on my to-do list for next time!

 

Popeye Village / Anchor Bay is well worth a visit. (There’s no need to visit Popeye Village itself unless you’re with kids. The film set from the 1980 film has been turned into an open air museum / theme park). Depending on where you’re staying in Mellieha you can either walk here or take the bus. More info on their website.

Hopefully this photo explains why you should go there:

Popeye Village / Anchor Bay, Mellieha, Malta

Popeye Village / Anchor Bay, Mellieha, Malta

 

Paradise Bay – I’d like to say it does what it says on the tin, but in the interests of remaining 100% honest… it’s not exactly paradise. I mean it’s nice, but if you want paradise beaches you probably need to go to Thailand…

Anyway, it’s still lovely and well worth a visit, even if the name is a bit over-confident 😉 And it’s easy to reach by bus!

Paradise Bay, Malta

Paradise Bay, Malta

Paradise Bay, Malta

Paradise Bay, Malta

 

Ghajn Tuffieha Bay / Golden Bay are next to each other, so if you visit one, you might as well visit t’other! Again, very easy to reach by bus and the views are beautiful…

Ghajn Tuffieha Tower, Mellieha, Malta

Ghajn Tuffieha Tower, Mellieha, Malta

Ghajn Tuffieha Bay, Mellieha, Malta

Ghajn Tuffieha Bay, Mellieha, Malta

 

Red Tower (St Agatha’s Tower) 

Much like Mellieha Church, you can see the Red Tower from most places in Mellieha. If you like hiking, it’s well worth the climb to see the tower close up. If you plan your visit around the opening times, you can also get a magnificent view from the tower itself.

Red Tower, Mellieha, Malta

Red Tower, Mellieha, Malta

More info on St Agatha’s Tower website. It can also be reached by car or by bus, the closest bus stop is Qammieh.

 

What to do elsewhere on Malta:

There are SO many places to go on the island – so it really depends how much time you have and your priorities. But here are some of my faves:

Comino & Gozo – if you have time, I highly recommend taking a boat trip to Malta’s sister islands. Unfortunately, Gozo’s main tourist attraction, the Azure Window, is no more after severe storms in March 2017. But it’s still worth a visit. Gozo has a lot more going on, however many people still visit the site of the former Azure Window and the nearby Blue Hole. (I’m also making a mental note to explore more of Gozo on my next trip…)

Comino is really all about the Blue Lagoon. It can become really over-crowded in the summer months, so try to go in winter or shoulder season if you can. And if you must go in summer, then at least try to avoid the weekends.

Very happy to be at the Blue Lagoon, Comino on our 1st wedding anniversary

Very happy to be at the Blue Lagoon, Comino on our 1st wedding anniversary

 

Sliema – we loved our first visit to Sliema, but after visiting Mellieha, the north has won our hearts. Sliema is still well worth a visit though. There’s cool street art, some lovely bars and restaurants, plus it’s an ideal location if you want to be close to St Julian’s and/or Valletta. (Tip: for cheap and cheerful Thai food, go to Good Thaimes! Props for the name too…)

Sliema. Malta

Sliema. Malta

 

The best place for lively nightlife is St Julian’s / Paceville… so stay away if you’re not into that! There are also several casinos. It was a little while back, but our favourite place in St Julian’s was Fresco’s Cafe & Restaurant. (Happy to see it still has great reviews on Trip Advisor!)

St Julians, Malta

St Julians, Malta

 

Marsaxlokk is fantastic if you like seafood. There’s a fish market every Sunday, but seriously, who wants to cook when they’re on holiday? A few years back we went to Tartarun Fish Restaurant which is apparently still a good shout (Number 2 of 48 seafood restaurants in Marsaxlokk). Looks like it’s a bit pricier these days, but when we went it was worth every penny. Make sure you book!

If you do go to Marsaxlokk, you might as well also go to St Peter’s Pool too, as it’s close by. It’s not a beach – more like a rocky pool as the name suggests. When we visited loads of people were jumping off the rocks – even the Dutchie had a go! (I’m a wuss, so I did not!!)

St Peters Pool

St Peters Pool

St Peter’s Pool is no secret (unfortunately) so try to avoid the weekends if you can, otherwise it’ll be crazy busy. It’s also a bit of a pain in the arse to get to (we ended up spending a lot on taxis that day!) so if you can I would suggest hiring a car and driving yourself.

 

Mdina also known as the Silent City is Malta’s old capital – it dates back more than 4,000 years! You could spend hours wandering around the narrow, cobbled streets… and we actually did. This ancient walled city is tipped as one of Europe’s finest examples with its stunning mix of Baroque and Medieval architecture. My tip for Mdina is Fontanella Tea Gardens – you will thank me later for the views 🙂 🙂

Fontanella Tea Garden

Fontanella Tea Garden

 

Valletta for the historic stuff… I’ve left Valletta until last when I’m sure most people would’ve put this top of the list. After all it is the European Capital of Culture for 2018 and Malta’s capital city. I wasn’t a massive fan, I found it all a bit samey tbh… but you can’t go to the country without visiting the capital, right?

 

Food & Drink – Maltese specialties

Make sure you try pastizzi on your trip. As Malta’s national snack, they’re widely available at cafes and bakeries. They’re basically filo pastry filled with either ricotta or mushy peas. But which is your favourite? You’ll have to try both! 🙂

A Maltese platter is always a good idea – and it almost always come with bigilla (a broad bean dip) which is surprisingly awesome. I mean, it’s a bean dip. BUT IT’S SO DAMN GOOOOOD.

Maltese Platter

Maltese Platter at Ta Randi, Mellieha

One of the other famous dishes is rabbit. It’s on the menu at most restaurants in some shape or form. I had rabbit pasta twice on my first trip to Malta (ohhhhh, the good old days when I could still eat gluten… *sob*) and it was freaking delicious.

To be fair, all the food in Malta is just bloody amazing… so just go and eat everything! (Ps – I’m jealous!)

The local drinks are Cisk beer (pronounced “chisk”) and Kinnie which is kind of like coke. I say kind of because it’s bittersweet and has an orangy tang. It’s probably not for everyone, but I love it!

Cisk beer, Sliema, Malta

Cisk beer, Sliema, Malta

I can’t eat many desserts, coz y’know, lactose and gluten are in pretty much every dessert…  dammit. But what they do well in Malta is sorbet. Mmmmmm, lemon sorbet. For an extra kick, sometimes I’d also order limoncello liqueur and pour it on over! I got the idea from one80 Kitchen (mentioned earlier) when they served a limoncello slush puppie at the end of the meal. Yum!!

 

Transport:

Car hire: We’ve never hired a car in Malta, but obviously if you want to see and do a lot it’s probably a good idea! Seeing as I have no experience, I’ll let you Google that one for yourself 🙂

Taxis: On our first trip to Malta we took LOTS of taxis. (Tbf it was our 1 year wedding anniversary so we were celebrating!) But they’re flipping expensive and it certainly adds up. Not recommended unless you’re on a Kardashian budget!

Bus: If you don’t mind being a bus w*nker (and if you get that joke – you have very good taste in British TV shows!!) then it is definitely the cheapest way to get around! It costs €1.50 per journey in the winter to any destination, within two hours. So depending on how far you’re going, it can also serve as a return ticket. In the summer it’s €2 per journey for night buses it’s €3. You can find more info on the Malta Public Transport website.

Tour buses: I DO NOT recommend the hop-on-hop-off tourist buses. We did that once in Gozo and had a very bad experience. The driver was a maniac, you couldn’t see any of the sights from the bus – so it was hard to know when and where to get out and the roads are so narrow and unsuitable for buses that we kept getting hit by tree branches etc while on the top deck. Don’t bother!

 

When to visit:

We have visited in August and twice in January. August was waaaaaay too hot for our liking, so I wouldn’t recommend that. Probably the perfect time to visit would be in shoulder season – e.g. April/May or September/October. But we’ve always had a great time visiting in January. Sure, the weather’s not perfect as it’s still technically winter there, but it’s a damn sight better than the winter in Holland or the UK!

Golden Bay, Malta

Golden Bay in January 2018

 

So there you have it: my personal tips for Malta… now if you don’t mind me I’m off to torture myself by looking at flights to Luqa on Skyscanner.

Have you been to Malta? What was your favourite thing to do / eat / drink / see?

Hayley x