Weekend Gateway to Malta
A little holiday never hurt anybody...So the marketing girls decided to go to Malta for a long weekend! It was much needed and a perfect way to kick-start the summer! We're currently experiencing a heatwave throughout Europe but Malta was something else: sun all day and 35 degrees. Before our departure date, we had been debating about what to do in Malta. Some of us wanted to visit the country, some of us wanted to relax, in the end we managed to mix both.
We left on Thursday evening with the 8 PM flight leaving from Charleroi Airport. It took us about 3 hours to arrive in Malta where our driver was waiting for us. Since we knew we'd arrive late, we notified our AirBnB contact and he booked us the services of Jesmond, driver extraordinaire. I have rarely seen someone so nice and welcoming, the ride felt so short...Especially since we talked a lot about food! We kept his phone number in case we needed a ride during out time in Malta and we ended up using it a lot!
Day 1 - Exploring Bugibba & Valleta
We spent the night at the apartment to settle in and to be ready to start our weekend rested. We woke up rather early and went out to discover our neighborhood and load up on snacks and water. Our first thought when we exited the building was "Damn the weather is soooo hot!"... Yup we came from Brussels with a poor 25 degrees and were now confronted to 35 degrees, it took us a few hours to get used to this new temperature. Thank God everything was at a walking distance!
Our second escapade of the day was a lunch at Fat Harry's. We didn't really know yet what were the good addresses but this stop was satisfying: a lot of food for a cheap price. After our lunch, we called Jesmond and arranged a trip to Valleta, the capital of Malta. I already visited this city but I just really wanted to go back and see it again, this time during summer. Valleta is classified as Unesco World Heritage and the atmosphere around its street is very relaxed.
3 of us spent the afternoon in Valleta wandering into the Barrakka Gardens, watching the canon ceremony, walking into the city center, looking at stores and enjoying a delicious ice-cream from Amorino... One of us stayed in Bugibba to chill and do some shopping. We met back at the apartment around 7 PM, looking forward to dinner. The next days were already planned and thanks to Jesmond we had a lot of good addresses to try during our stay!
We first decided to go to Luzzu, a restaurant on the sea front but the service was rather bad: the staff simply ignored us. We could wave, call, signal...Nobody showed up to take our order so in the end we left and walked to Surf n' Turf, one of the addresses recommended by Jesmond, located a few hundred meters from the apartment. The service was quite different over there!
Surf 'n' Turf is a small restaurant (€€-€€€) located in Bugibba and serving Maltese food/Fusion. Since it was close to our AirBnB, eating there was really convenient. We ordered some suggestions like the octopus in garlic, the pulled pork croquette, rabbit stew ravioli, lamb shank and more and we loved it all! The bill was a tad expensive but we knew it would be from the beginning. We even met the chef and one of his cooks before leaving. Can't wait to come back!
Day 2 - 3 Bay Cruise with Hera
For our second day, we had booked a boat tour with the company Hera and were planning to go swim in a few bays around Comino. We paid 40€/person with the pick-up included for a full day at sea, open bar (soft, beer and wine) and a lunch. I didn't find a lot of reviews about this specific tour so I wasn't sure what to expect...In the end, it was amazing! A van came to pick-us up around 8:30 AM and brought us to Sliema where our Turkish boat was anchored. We were a lot of people but everyone had their spot and in the end, it didn't feel crowded.
We sailed to a first bay, then Paradise Island and finally the Blue Lagoon in Comino. We sunbathed for hours on the mats provided by Hera and read our books while enjoying fresh drinks. The view was breathtaking and the breeze so refreshing... Out of the 3 bays, I think we can agree that the Blue Lagoon was the absolute favorite: crystalline blue water, grottoes nearby, the island to explore and a 2-hour stop over. We jumped several times in the sea which was at a perfect temperature but we also did some speedboat (Latin music full on!) to the blue grottoes, it was fantastic and only cost 15€/pers. We had a lot of fun with the Hera team as well, they were all lovely and looking out for us, going the extra mile to make our day!
During the cruise you can expect a buffet for lunch (pasta, salad, bread, ham, cheese and more!), fresh water showers, refreshments & music at all time, a caring team and some equipment (life jackets for example) to go into the water for those who can't swim (at all or not so well).
We left Comino at 3:45 PM and sailed back to Sliema. The van was waiting for us already and took us back to Bugibba where we showered and changed before going to dinner. We found a little Indian/Pakistani restaurant called House of Spices that had a lot of good reviews! Since we have an "India Expert" on the team we decided to give this restaurant a try and to give her full decision power on what we'd eat...The result was awesome!
Day 3 - Spending the day at Café del Mar
During our stay we wanted to relax and spend some time at Café del Mar, reputed for its infinity pool. We passed in front of it several times and decided to go on Sunday. We had booked a Gazebo but there was an issues with the phone booking, hopefully we still managed to get that spot we wanted at the VIP corner > a lovely gazebo for 4 persons. It might seem fancy but it's totally worth it: you pay 120€ per day (30€ per person in our case) to enjoy the gazebo from 10 AM until the end of the night, you have a bell to call service and you can access the event of the evening.
I just loved to be out of the crowd, enjoying some quiet time and sun while having access to the infinity pool. The service was kind of poor (managers included) but some waiters did an awesome job and were very pleasant to talk to. Make sure to ask to keep your gazebo also during the night, this way you can enjoy the music, the show and VIP service while having a bunch of space to dance.
A few things to note:
If you make a booking at Café del Mar, arrive between 10 AM and 10:30 AM no later otherwise your reservation will be cancelled.
Don't hesitate to eat lunch at Café del Mar, the food is decent and this way, you don't waste time outside.
Drinks are quite affordable and the GinTo are good (especially the infused basilicum one).
You might need a few tries to get a nice waiter, if you can ask for XXXX.
Don't hesitate to call the pool boys to get some shade if needed.
Use your gazebo during the evening too, it's worth it.
Day 4 - Chill and Return to Brussels
On this last day, we needed to close our suitcases and check-out of the apartment but our flight was planned around 5 PM, we had a lot of time to still enjoy Malta! Two of us stayed at the Airbnb to chill some more and get ready, the other two (me and S.) went for a last walk in Bugibba. We wanted to take in some more views of the harbor and to visit a fortified tower to discover its history. On the way, we also checked a lot of shops and emptied our sun cream tubes.
The day was warm and super sunny and we enjoyed every bit of it! Around lunch time, we had booked a table at Ocean Basket where we heard the sea foods were good. I believe we arrived first and could thus choose our table, half in the sun, half in the shade. There were a lot of interesting choices on the menu but the one that caught our eye was a big platter: mussels, shrimps, fish, fries, rice, and more! We also ordered a village salad, some tzatziki and a lemonade which I totally recommend!
We ate and relaxed on the terrace until 2:45 PM, when Jesmond came to drive us to the airport. Our flight was at 5 PM so even with the dense traffic in Malta, we manage to still arrive on time at the airport and to do some tax-free shopping! The flight back took 2h30 and then we still had to drive from Charleroi to Brussels... A long journey but it was worth it!
PS: if you are looking for a good driver in Malta, don't hesitate to ask me Jesmond's contact details (in PMs).