We haven't seen any Maltese falcons yet.

Trip Start Jun 25, 2006
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Trip End Aug 01, 2007


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Flag of Malta  ,
Sunday, August 6, 2006

He Said:

A short flight from Tunis brought us to the small Mediterranean island nation of Malta. Malta was not on our original itinerary, but our tickets allowed us a free stopover here, so we figured we would take advantage of it to see a nation that few Americans ever visit. Surprises were in store for us here.

Before this trip neither of us knew much of anything about Malta other than it was mentioned a few times in high school geography class, there is a popular dog breed called a Maltese, and a falcon statue from here was the subject of a classic Bogart film. So, since I'm assuming your knowledge is about the same, here are a few facts to get you up to speed: it is a small chain of three islands with a population of about 400,000 just south of Sicily in the Mediterranean. Historically, it was once part of the Empire of Carthage (See Tunis entries), it is the home of the Crusades-era Order of the Knights of St. John (whose symbol, the Maltese Cross adorn the nations' flag), was heavily bombed by the Axis in WWII, and was British colony until getting its independence in 1964. Since then, it has developed into a quite a prosperous nation that will soon to be joining the EU. Most people who visit Malta tend to be package tour European beach trippers and passengers on Mediterranean cruises.

A big surprise Malta gave us was the incredible hotel room we ended up getting using frequent guest points. It is the nicest hotel room I have ever stayed in! I'm sure Katie will tell you extensively about it in her entry!!! Next, Malta represented one of the things I love so much about traveling - expanding my reality. Because of my lack of knowledge before coming here, Malta was a non-entity to me; I had hardly any ideas, information or vision of it as a land or its people. Now that we are here, I just find it mind boggling (and a bit shameful) that I never had any concept of what a wonderful place this is. Vibrant and approachable locals, cliff-side promenades, crowded villages, and tons of things to see and do are only the beginning of describing Malta. The nightclub/bar district of Paceville is THE place for nightlife in Malta and is only a few blocks from our hotel. Whenever we have gone down there it had been packed!!! The drinking age in Malta is only 16, so most patrons at these establishments looked like they could be my students (or my kids). It made both of us feel very OLD!!!

Yesterday we visited the capital city of Valetta. It is dramatically situated on a peninsula with huge centuries old protective walls surrounding it. A very touristy promenade went though the middle of the city but there were plenty of atmospheric cobbled lanes with stunning architecture. It looks like a small version of an old-world European capital city.

We are leaving Malta late tonight on a flight to Istanbul. Our plans have changed a bit due to recent event in the Middle East so we are skipping our overland trip through Syria. I was a bit sad about this, having been to Syria before, I thought it was a wonderful place with some of the friendliest locals I have ever encountered. Anyway, we are going occupy our extra few weeks by spend a bit of time in Bulgaria and possibly Macedonia and a few Greek Isles. From Greece or Istanbul we will purchase a one-way ticket to Cairo to meet up with Katie's family for a Nile river cruise. Details will be forthcoming shortly!!!



She Said:

So I'm not exactly sure what happened when we checked into our Westin Resort hotel in Malta, but we completely LUCKED out!!!!! Big time!!! Once we told the woman at the front desk our name, she started being extra nice to us and spent about 10 minutes explaining all the hotel amenities (which was a bit odd because really no one has spoken to us for more than 10 seconds since we left on this trip). She insisted that a bellhop take our bags for us (which we usually don't to since we only have small backpacks, and let's face it, we are being a bit cheap since we are technically unemployed). The woman said that the bellhop would take us to our suite. So, naturally I thought that all the rooms were called "suites" here, and that was just a fancy name for nice hotel room, and besides we used points for this place, so there is no way we would have a real suite. We followed the bellhop through the property, and passed many signs pointing to guestrooms, all of which we walked right by. Finally, we came to a sign that said "Guest Suites," and turned there. Todd and I kept looking at each other over the bellhop's head with puzzled looks. Anyway, we got to our room, opened the door, and it was this AMAZING suite!! We acted very cool in front of the bellhop (like this is the way we always travel), thanked and tipped him. As soon as the door shut, we started running around the suite like a couple of teenagers with out of town parents!!! This place is giant - we have two bathrooms, a completely modern kitchen with a stove and fridge, a Jacuzzi tub, flat panel TVs, and a large private balcony right on the edge of the Mediterranean. Unbelievable!!

For the entire first night that we were here, I kept thinking we were going to get kicked out of this room at any moment. Surely they would realize that they made a mistake and that we were not who they think we are, and move us to a regular room. But that never happened!! In fact, yesterday, someone from the hotel knocked on our door and gave us a free bottle of wine to "apologize" for the inconvenience caused by the early closing of the pool deck. Are you serious??? You can't make this stuff up!! Anyway, we have to leave here in a few hours and I am thinking of staging a sit in - I really don't want to leave!! I LOVE MALTA!!



Our closing comments and observations on Malta:

We used both cabs and busses. No big surprise; cabs were expensive and fast, busses cheap and slow. They drive on the left. The hotel we stayed in we used frequent guest points so we cannot comment on value, but there are tons of accommodations here in all price ranges.

Everyone speaks English so communicating is simple

Since Morocco and Tunisia were so cheap we experienced serious sticker shock upon arriving here, but actually the price level is about the same as home.

Maltese people were universally friendly and helpful. The country is spotless, wealthy, and pretty much crime-free so the hassle factor is very low.

Again like Morocco or Tunisia, we don't understand why so few Americans visit Malta. It is a wonderful place!
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Comments

sweigel
sweigel on

Very cool
I'm glad you guys are having such an awesome trip (except for the food poisoning, bummer). I'm really enjoying the updates! I had to comment on this one being a Starwood employee, I've been wanting to go to Malta and that hotel, it looks fabulous. I'm glad you had such a great experience there! And you've confirmed my wanting to go to Morrocco too and have given some excellent advice.

francorossi_24
francorossi_24 on

Confused by language
I hope I amwriting in the correct section. When booking accomodation to Malta my family had in past years got confused with many details and difficulty in understanding what hotel booking details really had to say. Only recently I came across a new website with for <a href="http://www.malta-vacations.com">hotel booking Malta</a> pages easy translation in many languages. The website is <a href="http://www.malta-vacations.com">malta-vacations.com</a>

maltahomestay on

If you are visiting Malta & you are searching for an accommodation, please visit our web site www.maltahomestay.com. Hope to see you soon in our country :)

Francesco Cassar on

I was wondering if i could share this story on my own Mediterranean Food and Travel blog, http://medfoodandtravel.blogspot.com/ I ran a story about renting upscale self catering holiday apartments in Valleta. Can you please let me know if I can do a brief summary of your story and then create a link to your posting? Many Thanks, Francesco

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