Nov 21, 2016

Malta - the perfect destination

Many things about Malta surprised me. First of all I was surprised to learn that it was one of the most intensely bombed places during WW II.  It makes sense now that I think about it.  The Islands' strategic location in the Mediterranean made it a key stronghold from which the Allies could continue their North African campaign and from which they could launch their
attack on mainland Italy. The Axis power vowed to bomb it into submission. The German and Italian air forces flew over 3000 bombing raids in a two year period trying to gain control of the island.  After the war reconstruction remained true to the Maltese architecture.  John said that it looks biblical and to date they have managed to keep glassy skyscrapers from being built.  

Because Malta has retained its architectural integrity and has some
unique geological formations the island has been used in many movies such as “Troy,” “Conan,” “13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi, Captain Phillips, “By the Sea,” and Popeye.  One of the places we visited was the site that was used in the Pitt-Jolie movie, “By the Sea.”  It was a
beautiful secluded place to swim. The set was on the cliff above the inlet but was torn down when the movie was finished.  Most movie sets, even though they cost millions of dollars, are taken down at the end of production.  However, there is one movie set on Malta that was not. Popeye’s village of Sweethaven is now a popular theme park where they now have a variety of activities. People can even star in their own film, record it, and take it home as unique souvenir. 

I was also surprised that Malta does not get more coverage as a
must-do destination in Europe.  Malta is safe, they speak English, there are many historical sites all within close proximity of one another, and they are blessed with a Mediterranean climate. There are plenty of beaches. The main and biggest island is about 17 miles long by nine miles wide.  Malta is home to three UNESCO World Heritage sites with several others in consideration for inclusion. I don’t know what took us so long to visit Malta. 

It is always hard to pick a hotel and so far we have been lucky.  We stayed for several days at Ramla Beach Resort which is located on the coast plus they have their own private beach.  A lot of the hotels are located across the road from a public beach.  And, as an added benefit they offer complimentary airport transfers. Nothing is worse, in my opinion, than to fly for hours, arrive at a destination tired and have to hassle with a taxi driver especially when we are not familiar with how far away the hotel is and the local currency. 

Ramla Bay worked out great. It was in a quiet area with a great view of Gozo and Comino islands – two of the other islands in the Malta archipelago. Besides having its own private beach, the hotel had two outdoor pools and one indoor pool.  Our room had a balcony with a great view.  After a long plane ride we like to spend our first day relaxing and enjoying the hotel. There was plenty to do.  I had a spa treatment, went in all three pools, and Chef Christian showed me how to make a Maltese favorite – pan-seared octopus.