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Malta on my Mind…

Everywhere I turn, people are asking me… ‘where would you go for a breakaway?’ and, so far, my answer has been ‘It has got to be Malta!’ – Sharon Jordan shares her experience of Malta.

Top of the List for that Winning Break Away

Late last year a friend (Roisin Carbery, Tropical Sky) and I undertook a whistle-stop girlie breakaway to Malta. While Roisin had been there 26 years previously, it was my first time and boy was I excited!

We met at Dublin Airport, where once through security and the obligatory browse through duty-free, we dutifully ordered two glasses of bubbling Prosecco and toasted the next 3 days! Roisin and I make for great travelling companions. We both like to laze by the pool or on the beach but also enjoy the cultural aspects to a destination. Effectively, we get the best of both with Malta and it’s a match made in heaven. Although admittedly, I’m more for the lazing these days.  

We arrived at the 5 Star Malta Marriott Hotel & Spa, St. Julian

After taking in the breathtaking view over Balluta Beach from our balcony, we hightailed it out to find somewhere to eat and have a late drink.  We didn’t have to look far. Before we knew it, we were seated right at the edge of the water sipping on cold beverages and nibbling on some local delicacies. The perfect start to the breakaway.

On Friday morning we rose bright and early to take advantage of the hotel’s buffet breakfast and ensure we got the best seats out by the hotel’s rooftop pool and bar. There are incredible views of St. Julian and the surrounding areas. It really sets the scene for what I essentially believe Malta resembles – and that is a set of a movie.

Friday was our rest day. We lunched and relaxed by the pool all day. Our wonderful concierge provided precious tips on the best places to eat and see. Later on that evening, on his recommendation, we dined at a wonderful restaurant, Acqua Terra E Mare in the marina of Portomaso. We savoured local dishes, people watched and soaked up the Mediterranean vibes of this area. Afterwards, in search of something a little livelier, we followed another recommendation –  the Paceville area of Julian’s for pubs and clubs. Beware – this area is not for those over a certain age but when in Paceville – do as the locals (or tourists do) and just dance!

Saturday’s itinerary promised culture in abundance!

Saturday morning we met our guide Darrell Azzopardi. This man is no stranger to Irish tourists (and incidentally he’s now a movie star, as he was in the new Jurrasic Park movie which was recently filmed there). We started with a walking tour of Valletta, the capital city of Malta. This was a treat in itself given the incredible picturesque streets and stunning views around every corner. We visited many of the sites from the first season of Game of Thrones but it was definitely the Upper Barrakka lift area that took our breath away. This links the Grand Harbour to the Upper Barrakka Gardens and Valletta city centre. St Johns Co-Cathedral is also definitely worth a visit. Originally the church of the Order of Malta, the Beheading of St. John, Caravaggio’s masterpiece lies in the Oratory and is worth the journey.

Traditional Maltese Boat Trips & Three Cities by Electric Car

Afterwards, we took a leisurely journey on a traditional Maltese boat (Dghajsa’s) out to the three cities. Running our fingers through the water as we sailed, it was truly like stepping back in time. Once we docked, we were thrilled to get to enjoy a Rolling Geeks Tour. This is something I would highly recommend you do when in Malta. It combines pure belly laughs with real culture and allows you to view the three cities by electric car. The owners of this tour bring an added sparkle of fun to the adventure.

Ancient Walled City of Mdina & Casa Rocco Piccola

After lunch, we visited the Mdina, an ancient walled city and the old capital of Malta. Once it was no longer designated the capital it became known as the Silent City as it became like a ghost town once commerce moved out. After a short stop at Casa Rocco Piccola, a 16th Century Palace of a Maltese Noble, we made our way back to the Palazzo Parisio Hotel for Afternoon Tea. If it’s a special occasion, this is a must-do! We mingled among football stars and wedding guests, then ate the most delicate of sandwiches and cakes. Think of the Merrion Hotel in the sunshine!

It was time to get back to the pool and rest before our dinner later that night. The previous day some guests at our hotel had recommended a sushi restaurant in Valetta called Aki. We were excited to try it out and boy, oh boy, it didn’t disappoint! This is highly trendy and has a mixologist on site to pair your food and cocktails. It is definitely high on my recommendation list.

Early checkout allowed for a quick breakfast before we said a fond farewell to Malta. This is an island I have definitely been left wanting to visit again. I would recommend it to anyone who likes sun, sea, culture, sophistication and cocktails! If we had more time we would have definitely taken a trip out to Gozo. 

Malta has 3,000 hours of yearly sunshine with sunny summers and mild winters making it a year-round destination. Fly Ryanair direct from Dublin to Malta every Monday, Wednesday and Friday, from January to November. Flight time is just 3 hours 40 minutes.  

TOP TIP: 

Pre book dining – popular restaurants as very high in demand, especially at weekends.

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