Bonswa, kif inti?
We picked Dylan up from school and after a quick change we left for Manchester airport. The traffic was surprisingly quiet for rush hour and we arrived very early making me very popular as the travel planner! Our flight was delayed due to the French air traffic control strikes and we arrived at Luqa approx 3am where we promptly booked a scarily fast taxi to the hotel. We entered our room at the Corinthia Palace to find rose petals on the bed and complimentary wine and fruit.
After our late arrival the night before we slept in and missed breakfast - luckily the plane food had been so good! After getting up we went for an explore and to find a shop to stock up on water and snacks. We made an attempt at finding a local shop, but in the end we bumped into an English guy who frequently visits the area and he kindly pointed us in the direction of the local Scotts supermarket and Santa Lucia cafe with excellent cakes. We got a few essentials from the supermarket as well as some debatable essentials such as a bottle of Cisk. In the cafe we tried our first Maltese food with a tuna ftira that was nice despite including green olives and capers both of which I am not typically a fan. We headed back to the hotel and decided to try out the pool which we found to be not heated and therefore relatively cold with it being September. The pool was refreshing nonetheless and kept us amused before getting ready for the Maltese night at the restaurant. We sampled some of the local cuisine which included Maltese Sausage, Gozo Cheeselets, Galletti, Rabbit Stew and Ricotta Kannoli.
Today we made our first trip on the famous Maltese buses to Freedom Square in the capital Valletta. We headed to St Johns Co-Cathedral and the Palace of the Grand Masters then I sampled a bottle of the national soft drink Kinnie. After a customary look around M&S we headed for a walk around the hardbour taking in Manoel Island, Fort St Elmo, the Siege Bell monument, the Grand Harbour and Barracca gardens.
On Day 4 we decided to go to Sliema and see what was there as it was mapped in the guide books so we assumed it must be worth the trip. After our experience in Paris we did wonder whether things would be closed with it being a Sunday and this turned out to be the case. However I don't believe we missed that much as it was just like walking through the high-street of any English town with all of the usual chain shops. We had a wander around the harbour which was nice, but full of tourist touts. We shortly headed back to the hotel where I sampled a Farsons Hopleaf Pale Ale whilst relaxing by the pool. For lunch we visited the Santa Lucia cafe again where I had a Ricotta Kannoli and Corrina and Dylan fed the strays with a box of cat biscuits from the supermarket. In the bar that evening I sampled a Maltese Coffee which was an Irish Coffee using Anisette rather than Whiskey.
On Monday we headed to Mdina which didn't really have much of a write-up in the guide books, however we were pleasantly surprised by the Greeks gate and the picturesque narrow streets leading to St Pauls Cathedral. We stopped for a brew and another ftira in the Fontanella Tea Rooms. We walked on to the adjoining town of Rabat and past the St Pauls Church and Grotto, St Pauls Catacombs and St Agathas Catacombs. At the restaurant that evening we sampled a very sweet Maltese Wine which became sickly pretty quick.
On Tuesday we decided to visit the Palazzo Parisio at Naxxar which was a venue we had looked at when toying with getting married abroad. Upon visiting the palace we pretty soon realised we had made the right decision as it was not as impressive in person as it appeared in images. The gardens at the palace contained many orange trees, which I learned are actually green and not orange, however they were not a patch on the public gardens available to visit in England. There was little else to see in Naxxar therefore we attempted to catch the bus to St Julians to see what was there. After narrowly missing the bus and then missing it again due to waiting at the wrong stop we decided to head back to our hotel and explore the San Anton gardens which are situated just outside the hotel. In the evening we used our HB allocation in the highly rated Rickshaw restaurant where we sampled steam chicken dumplings for the first time.
When we awoke on the Wednesday we were pleased about making the decision to postpone our visit to the Blue Lagoon until then as the skies were also blue. We caught the bus to Ċirkewwa then the ferry to Comino. We were impressed by the Blue Lagoon despite being crowded with tourists and we swam in the sea and I swam the short journey across the lagoon to Cominotto. Once we had dried off we went for a short walk across the island where we came across a number of lizards on the desert like land and we could see St Mary's Battery in the distance. On the walk back to the hotel we stopped off at Cafe Papillon in Balzan where I sampled a bolgnese Arancini.
On our last day we visited the hotel spa again in the morning where we spent time in the jacuzzi, pool, steam room and sauna. For lunch we made one last trip to the Santa Lucia cafe and to feed the stray cats in the park. Corrina and Dylan went to feed the strays in the San Anton gardens where an over zealous cat clawed Corrina whilst I had one last dip in the outdoor pool. We had a safer trip in the taxi to the airport and made our journey home.
Grazzi & narak iktar tard