Malta Part 1: The First Solo Trip

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Malta is a small island but, certainly has a lot to offer. The beautiful beaches, chic harbour towns, and centuries-old sites are some of the oldest free-standing structures in the world. The best of these sites can be found in Valletta, the UNESCO-listed capital, which was the European Capital of Culture in 2018. It’s also an up and coming new clubbing scene, and has many carnivals and festivals throughout the year.

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Thinking of visiting Malta? Here’s how I spent my 7 days in this beautiful captivating country.

Day 1: Arrived at Malta International Airport at around 16.40pm. The weeks and day’s leading up to the trip were so exciting but I felt apprehensive, the thought of being alone started to fill me with worry. Panicked, flustered and overwhelmed I manage to find the holiday taxis desk to hand in my documents. Half an hour later I’m greeted by a friendly Scottish man who said he was taking me to San Pawl. Now, before I continue, I have a confession to make. Malta is one of those places I’d heard of, but knew very little about. It was a cheap getaway booked with no research so, was unaware most people spoke English. Hearing this familiar accent helped me to relax a little.

The journey was pleasant and took around 20 minutes. The Taxi driver was lovely, he gave me a bit of insight into Malta along with some advice. I remember taking in the surroundings and thinking it was nothing like expected. In fact, I wasn’t really all that keen.

All checked in at my £13 a night room at the San Pawl Hotel, found as a package holiday at Teletext.com and cost £219

San Pawl Hotel is a 3-star hotel situated in the heart of St. Paul’s Bay, about a 10 to 15 minute walk from Malta National Aquarium. It has great access to public transport with a bus stop less than a 2minute walk, the hotel is situated just 500metres away from a variety of shops, bars and restaurants, so there’s plenty of entertainment and options available.

After taking a shower it was now around 18.30pm and still relatively light outside. Still feeling a little reluctant but, decided to take a walk outside to get my bearings and a feel for the place.

Found a restaurant called Pash Cafe just a 2-minutes from the hotel. It’s a healthy food restaurant with vegan, vegetarian and gluten free choices.

My meal choice was the €7 Chlorella pesto dish along with two cans of Cisk a Maltese beer at €1.50 each. Didn’t think much of this dish but the beer was very nice indeed (I return to this restaurant during my stay with a much better review).

One of my biggest dreaded thoughts before coming on this trip was the awkwardness of eating alone. However, the restaurant wasn’t too busy so it was perfectly fine.

At the time of leaving Pash it was almost 8pm and dark out. I decided to quickly go to the supermarket across the road before heading back to the hotel.

It was 8.30pm, feeling exhausted from travelling, I got ready for bed. Didn’t go to sleep right away as a number of things were running through my head. What if someone gets in my room? What will be my escape route? What can I hit them with? I had to calm myself down and convince myself everything was fine. Eventually, I fell asleep.

Day 2: Woke up early around 7am took a shower.

For some reason my internet data roaming would not work here (I needed to change my data APN setting but didn’t know at the time). The hotel unfortunately did not have free Wi-Fi, they offer pay Wi-Fi cards which can get a little expensive.

With no way of researching where to go and how to get there I went down to reception for advice. The manager at reception was very helpful and recommend a few places to visit with leaflets and prices.

One of the places I wanted to visit was Valletta the capital of Malta. There was a hop on and off bus which I believe cost between €15/€20 but, I preferred to explore by myself, plus it was cheaper. After asking questions and finding out where the public bus stop was, I headed to pash where I had been the night before for breakfast.

I opted for the vegetarian full cooked breakfast which was €7.50 and a coffee around €1.50. This time the food was delicious! The portion was huge, it was filling and very satisfying. Maybe be slightly overpriced for breakfast but I’d say it was worth it, nevertheless, they had free Wi-Fi so was able to check bus information.

The bus stop was directly outside Pash. It was a 15- minute wait for the bus and a surprising €1.50 for a half an hour journey. Never known of such cheap bus fares! I was happy to get exploring to get a better feel for the place as St Paul’s Bay didn’t look like the expected holiday destination. It looked fine……but not special in the slightest. If anything, it felt very residential, full of apartments, kiosks, bars, restaurants and a busy road with the oldest cars ever! It was a little disappointing, never imagined I would grow to love the place.

Valletta

Valletta was full of rich sites to see, intriguing historical buildings around every corner, statues, niches and fountains. Narrow side streets were full of tiny quirky shops and cafe’s, while the main streets had larger international shops for fashion, jewellery and music etc.

The architecture through the city was just captivating, I kept finding myself wondering down the side back streets.

Valletta is a remarkably romantic city, characterized by its bright coloured balconies and religious statues around the city and carved into street corners.

After getting caught up and lost in this beautiful city, it was now 14.30pm and hunger was kicking in. I found a cute little cafe called Dolci peccati. It’s a friendly cafe with good service and reasonable prices, €4.50 for a toastie and coffee.

After fueling myself, I’m ready for more exploring. I walk and walk then start to see blue water in the distance. I’m intrigued and can’t wait to get there!

I suddenly get to this place. It was absolutely stunning! In fact, the pictures do it no justice

I stood here for a good while admiring these beautiful views

After walking around some more and doing a spot of shopping it was now 5pm. A little exhausted I head towards the bus station which was packed with tourists. When the bus come it was a hustle and bustle job of getting on it. Everybody barged their way through, it was as if there was never going to be another bus ever again. I would learn as time goes by, buses were mostly always full and people did this to make sure they got on.

The journey was much longer coming back then it was going, it was a busy bus route and it was rush hour.

Returned to St Paul’s Bay within the hour around 6pm. Tired, exhausted and not having the energy to figure out where to eat. I went to a pastizzi place and got a Maltese pea pastizzi (I’m soon addicted to these) their 30c each! So cheap! Then I got a salad and a bottle of wine from the supermarket down the street. The wine was a Maltese wine recommend to me by the shop assistant, it cost €3 and was a good quality bottle.

Back at the hotel I showered then caught up with family whilst watching Netflix.

My night was done, it was time to sleep and with no fears of the night before, I fall asleep.

Day 3: I did nothing! Seriously! One of the best things about travelling solo, you can do whatever you want with no one to please.

To be honest, it was throwing it down outside, couldn’t be bothered and Still exhausted from yesterday I decided to have a Netflix day. Also, caught up with family/friends and just lazed around all day. The only time I left my room was to order food at the bar in the restaurant. It was a nice day doing absolutely nothing.

Day 4: It’s 7am and it’s raining! Nonetheless, I get up to take a quick shower and go down to the hotel restaurant. I was dreading going in case it was busy but, to my surprise there were very few people and a couple were eating alone. The breakfast was buffet style with a good variety of hot food, cereals, fresh fruit, fruit juices and hot drinks costing €7.50. It wasn’t too bad for a buffet breakfast, especially since I left with fresh fruit to put in my room for later.

It’s now 9.30am the weather was shocking absolutely throwing it down! It was going to rain for most of the day therefore, thought it would be a good day to explore the local area of St Paul’s Bay.

An impromptu walking tour brought me to Gillieru Harbour (In St Paul’s Bay). It’s one of the most popular tourist spots visited by thousands a year.

St Paul’s Shipwrecked Church

Walking along the long stretch of water in the rain with hardly anyone around was quite enjoyable! There were many bars, restaurants on the other side of the beach, I hadn’t realised all this was behind San Pawl Hotel. I continue on and arrive in Bugibba a village neighboring St Pauls Bay sharing the same promenade. Although Bugibba didn’t have anything to offer in terms of culture and history, it looked more like the holiday destination for tourists. With its sandy beach, tourist shops, bars, restaurants and well -connected bus routes it definitely felt like a holiday destination. So it was possible to combine my holiday with holiday comfort, exploring and staying amongst the locals in the residential area and get the best of both worlds.

Its now 3.45pm back at the hotel room I’m, exhausted! But chuffed with my adventurous and courageous walk in a foreign country by myself. At this point I’m really beginning to feel comfortable being here

After waking from a much need nap that happened to turn in to two and a half hours. Feeling quite ravenous yet still nervous to eat in the hotel restaurant it’s another trip to the pastizzi place for the pea pastizzi (its one of my five a day right!). It was accompanied by another salad from the supermarket and the fruit snook out from the restaurant this morning.

It’s now around 6pm the indoor pool closes at 8pm I decided to go tale a dip. On arriving there were still a few people around. It felt a little strange walking in alone, especially as they all watched me enter through the doors. Although wanting to leave, I carry on with the plan to avoid looking weird, find a corner to change and get in the pool. It felt rather strange just standing in the pool not being able to swim so, I decided to try to learn how to tread water. It went terribly wrong! But this was a blessing as it broke the ice with the four remaining people. They were all laughing at me as I screamed and laughed! I just had to have an embarrassing moment or it wouldn’t have been me! After this we all got talking, exchanging stories and places we had been to.