Home' Journeys : Jun Jul 2015 Contents S ince first seeing The Malta Story,
that epic war movie starring Alec
Guinness, I have been intrigued by Malta
and its people. My husband and I are
both interested in history and Malta has
a rich past, mostly troubled by conflict,
resulting in amazing stories of human
endeavour and achievement during each
period of invasion and occupation. Its
strategic position in the Mediterranean
made it indispensable to anyone wanting
to control a vast area – and the island’s
geological make-up (it’s basically a rock)
made the many tunnels and forts built over
the centuries impregnable. Ama zingly,
although Malta is only 27 kilometres
long and 15 kilometres wide, it has the
infamous record for being the most
intensely bombed place in the world.
Having decided on a Mediterranean Cruise
holiday, we couldn’t resist a side-trip to
Malta to explore this diminutive island.
Our Malta Story
Christine Benbow, RACT Travel Sales Manager
There were prehistoric people here and a
must-see are the Hagar Qim and Mnajdra
temples. These megalithic structures built
between 3600 and 2500 BC in the most
windswept clifftop setting are magnificent.
The Phoenicians and Romans also left their
marks and St Paul was shipwrecked here,
bringing Christianity to the islands. Arabs
took control until the Knights of St John
held Malta until Napoleon’s troops arrived.
St John’s massive co-cathedral and the
Grand Masters Palace built by the Knights
in the capital Valetta are most impressive
buildings with modest facades and interior
treasure troves of colourful opulence.
Malta eventually became a British Crown
Colony until its independence in 1964.
This melting pot of people over time has
created a highly tolerant society with
an interesting language and colourful
culture. The food is wonderful. Swordfish
and rabbit are popular dishes, North
African and Middle Eastern influences
and Southern European styles blend with
British staples – you will always find a
bowl of chips on the menu!
As the island is so small, local transport by
bus is affordable and frequent. The tourist
hop-on, hop-off bus criss-crosses the
whole island and is a great way to explore.
We also hired a car, which was convenient,
giving us freedom to visit the gorgeous
northern beaches at our own pace. The
downside is that the locals do not seem
to observe road rules and the driving
is chaotic and sometimes unnerving.
Fortunately, due to the British influence,
they do drive on the same side as us, ironic
in a country using Euro currency.
The towns and cities are small and each
is unique. Valetta is a modern city in a
medieval setting. It hosts many attractions,
shops and restaurants and the views of the
Grand Harbour from the Upper Barrakka
Gardens are glorious. The walled city of
Mdina is an architectural feast. Hidden
lanes, beautiful churches and amazing
crypts and catacombs all worth exploring.
There is an air of style and pride in the
way the people go about their business in
Malta. You feel safe and comfortable in a
climate that from spring to autumn lends
itself to outdoor living. There are some
great party and nightlife areas particularly
in Sliema and Paceville, where water sports
and shopping keep you busy during the
day and eating and dancing never ceases
at night. Malta is a destination for everyone
who loves good food, good fun, good
shopping, eventful history, interesting
archaeology, cultural festivals – and of
course, the sea and all it has to offer. We
had a great holiday in Malta and now have
our own ‘Malta Stor y’ to tell.
*Conditions apply. Prices are per person, based on twin share accommodation. Prices are accurate as at 20 Apr 15 and subject to change without notice. Taste of Malta 3D/2N - Marina Hotel Corinthia Beach is valid for sale and travel until 31 Oct 15. Advertised
price is valid for departures from 01 – 19 Oct 15. Highlights of Malta 6D/5N - Bayview Hotel is valid for sale until 25 Oct 15 and travel on Sundays from 07 Jun – 25 Oct 15. Advertised price is based on departures on 07, 14 & 21 Jun & 04, 11, 18 & 25 Oct 15 and is
based on accommodation in an Inland Room. Offers valid for new bookings only and not combinable with any other offers. All international airfares are excluded. Seasonal surcharges and blackout dates may apply depending on date of travel. A non-refundable deposit of $150 per
person is required within 7 days of making a booking. Final payment is due 45 days prior to departure ex Australia or New Zealand. Deals and offers are subject to availability and are not combinable with any other offer. Price shown is for a cash payment – credit card fees of up
to 2% will apply. For new bookings only. For additional travel arrangements outside this offer service fees may apply. Ask us for details. RACT Travel Pty Ltd ATAS No. A11470 ABN 45 144 538 803.
Taste of Malta
3 days – departs Malta
from $256 per person, twin share*
Includes 2 nights accommodation,
2 breakfasts, Private arrival transfer,
24 hour City Sightseeing Hop-on
DISCOVER BEAUTIFUL MALTA
Highlights of Malta
6 days – departs Malta
from $578 per person, twin share*
Includes 5 nights accommodation,
5 breakfasts & 2 lunches, Private
arrival transfer, Tours of Valletta,
Gozo, Blue Grotto and Marsaxlokk.
June / July 2015 65
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