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Author: captainlarry

Joined: 4/24/2010
Posts: 404
Trips Taken: 10
Traveler Since: 2002

October 14, 2013

While the Costa del Sol is still at the head of the list of possibilities, I have expanded my search a bit. My newest area of interest is Malta.

The climate prospects for the winter months in Malta nearly matches that of the Costa del Sol, with possibly a slightly higher probablilty of precipitation.

I have found no facilities similar to the Apartamentos Bajondillo, but there are a number of all-inclusive resorts on Malta that might fit the bill. One in particular offered a room with a sea-view balcony, use of all the resort facilites, all meals, and all beverages, for about $4,500 for two people for 30 days. Malta is small and has a great public bus system. So the entire island is readily accessible from the resort.

Then I looked at air transportation. Oi vey! While Malaga is hard to get to and harder to get home from, Malta is worse on both counts! And the cost of air transportation to Malta is about 25% more than to Malaga. So the month on Malta would cost about $1,000 more than a similar stay on the Costa del Sol, about half of that in air fare costs.

In 2011 we took the Sicily tour with the Malta extension. For our five days on Malta our base was a hotel in St. Julians. Were I to go for a month I would not stay in St. Julians. I would go to one of the beach resorts on the north end of the island. But it is just a half-hour bus ride from Valletta and the "excitement" of that area.

Like I said, I've just started looking at Malta. As I develop more information, I'll add it to this thread.

Author: pauline

Joined: 3/9/2010
Posts: 970
Trips Taken: 11
Countries Visited:

England, Scotland, Ireland, France, Belgium, Holland, Germany, Italy, Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Finland, Malta, Israel, Australia, New Zealand, China, Mexico, Colombia, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Canada, Russia, Ukraine

Traveler Since: 1999

October 14, 2013

Last year when I was searching for a destination for my son and I to travel to for my birthday, Malta was one of the places up at the top.  At that point, I hadn't looked into flights.  But I did find an apartment that was near, I think, Sliema or Valetta.  Two bedrooms up one flight with a deeded parking space in case my son wanted to rent a car.  We ended up going to Israel, instead, but Malta was on the list because there is so much to see there.

When I went with my friend, it was in 2005 or 2006 and we loved it.  At that time, it was the base trip and Sicily was the post-trip extention.  The pre-trip was London, so we broke it up going.  Coming back, we flew from Sicily back to Malta for one night and then home changing in London.  The hotel was the Golden Tulip Vivaldi, located on a corner across from an all-night outdoor nightclub.  And the noise!!!  But the rooms were nice and the food at breakfast was good, we thought.  And around the corner was a small market that carried cold cuts, produce, and a nice selection of wine.  So if we didn't feel like going out to dinner, we got take-out.  They gave us chits for three local restaurants on the dine-around.

Author: captainlarry

Joined: 4/24/2010
Posts: 404
Trips Taken: 10
Traveler Since: 2002

October 14, 2013

Pauline, we also stayed at the Golden Tulip Vivaldi in St. Julians. The night club across the street was closed for renovation, but I could see how it might have been rather noisy. The Vivaldi was nice but I wouldn't want to stay there for a month, although a long stay in the winter is rather inexpensive. I would prefer to have a kitchenette, but the all-inclusive resort would be a good option as well.

Author: pauline

Joined: 3/9/2010
Posts: 970
Trips Taken: 11
Countries Visited:

England, Scotland, Ireland, France, Belgium, Holland, Germany, Italy, Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Finland, Malta, Israel, Australia, New Zealand, China, Mexico, Colombia, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Canada, Russia, Ukraine

Traveler Since: 1999

October 15, 2013

I agree that for a longer stay, I would want some kind of kitchen facility to make breakfast, at least, and with a frig and microwave if we got take-out.

I just checked on flights, just for the fun of it.  Virgin Atlantic flies from Boston with a stopover in London on the way to Malta, both ways.  And I'm pretty sure that it's the airline we used before on our trip.  The first part has a fairly lengthy layover but Heathrow, especially terminal 5, isn't a bad place to have to wait.

Author: captainlarry

Joined: 4/24/2010
Posts: 404
Trips Taken: 10
Traveler Since: 2002

October 30, 2013

I won't be making the final decision for a few weeks, but I am about 95% sure that we will be going to Malta for the month of February, 2014.

If we go we will be staying at the Seabank All Inclusive Resort in the town of Mellieha. That's on the northern end of the island, almost to where one catches the ferry to Gozo. The hotel offers a room with a sea view balcony, all meals, all beverages, and use of all of the property's considerable amenities for a total cost of about $4,500 for two persons for 30 days. Air transportation is a pain in the butt, but doable. For about $2,100 the two of us can fly from Washington Dulles to Munich, lay over five hours, and then fly on to Malta. On the return we would fly from Malta to Frankfort, spend the night near the airport, and fly the next day on to Dulles. Like I said, awkward but I've had worse itineraries.

We will miss the camaraderie of the GCT group, but besides my First Mate, I will be accompanied by Marty and Shirley, a couple with whom we have been friends for over 40 years and traveling companions for the past 13 years. In fact, Marty and Shirley accompanied us on the Classic Costa del Sol trip in 2009.

Not yet a done deal, but close enough to get me a bit excited.

Author: pauline

Joined: 3/9/2010
Posts: 970
Trips Taken: 11
Countries Visited:

England, Scotland, Ireland, France, Belgium, Holland, Germany, Italy, Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Finland, Malta, Israel, Australia, New Zealand, China, Mexico, Colombia, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Canada, Russia, Ukraine

Traveler Since: 1999

October 30, 2013

That does sound great.  I'm jealous.

Pauline

Author: oldbog

Joined: 2/6/2011
Posts: 40
Trips Taken: 6
Traveler Since: 1999

October 31, 2013

 The pricing for the Malta stay doesn't sound much worse than what folks from the Northeast would spend to drive and stay in FL for a month!

Author: captainlarry

Joined: 4/24/2010
Posts: 404
Trips Taken: 10
Traveler Since: 2002

October 31, 2013

Oldbog, I actually have a basis for comparison. In January 2008 I went to Naples, Florida for two weeks. The room, efficiency apartment actually, that I rented cost me $2,700. There was nothing else supplied with the apartment. I had to walk two blocks and climb over the dunes to see the Gulf of Mexico. I drove roughly 2,000 miles in the round trip and the considerable driving I did while in Florida. If you take half the cost of the room in Malta ($2,300) and add the air fare ($2,100) I could get the two weeks in Malta for about $4,400. And that includes all meals and beverages. Considering six years inflations the cost for the two weeks in Florida would be a lot more. And I'm getting the second two weeks for only $2,300 more. As bad as the air itinerary for the trip to Malta is, I still prefer it to the drive from Pennsylvania to southern Florida. I'll have to get a hotel room for a night in Frankfort but on the Florida trip I stopped for the night twice going south and once going north.

Author: sealionlady

Joined: 8/1/2010
Posts: 118
Trips Taken: 13
Traveler Since: 2001

November 04, 2013

 Please keep us informed as your plans develop ...... I am most interested!   We've never been to Malta, but I've read nothing but good things about it.  The air arrangements from Los Angeles are not easy ..... 17 hours was the best I could find.  

 

I'm also thinking of Mexico, perhaps Puerto Vallarta, for an extended stay.  Only three hours away ...... so easy!
 

Author: pauline

Joined: 3/9/2010
Posts: 970
Trips Taken: 11
Countries Visited:

England, Scotland, Ireland, France, Belgium, Holland, Germany, Italy, Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Finland, Malta, Israel, Australia, New Zealand, China, Mexico, Colombia, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Canada, Russia, Ukraine

Traveler Since: 1999

November 04, 2013

I loved Malta when we were there!  The main island, Malta, is not a beautiful place.  There's very little, if any, natural water so you won't see gorgeous plantings.  You have to go to Gozo for that.  Although there is a botanical garden.  But there is history, so much.  The excavations are ongoing.  The buildings are made of a very strong limestone, and they last forever.  We were taken to see the museum of the Knights and were given a talk by one of them.  The order still exists and is very active in raising money for hospitals and medical research.  We also had an optional overnight in Gozo and were taken to see Calypso's Cave, if you wanted to go down the path.

The British Naval Historian Ernle Brandford wrote two books about Malta.  One about the siege in 1565 when the Turks tried to conquer the islands, and one about the siege during WWII when the Germans tried.  Malta was such a stragetic location that it was always being invaded.  There's also a movie called the Malta Story that's available on DVD.  The cast is good, but the acting is surprisingly wooden.  It's set there during WWII while they were being bombed constantly.  The islands were awarded a George's Cross for bravery.

Author: captainlarry

Joined: 4/24/2010
Posts: 404
Trips Taken: 10
Traveler Since: 2002

November 05, 2013

Pauline, Malta has it's own kind of beauty. We will be there in the "rainy" season, so if it's every going to be green, it will be while we are there. Gozo is always greener than Malta, but still kind of barren from the viewpoint of us Appalachian forest dwellers. We will plan at least one trip to Gozo, and probably more since we plan to be there for nearly a month.

I was nearly convinced to go to Malta and was trying hard to get the First Mate excited about it. I passed the information I had developed along to our travelling companions, Marty and Shirley. Now, I think, they will go to Malta even if we decide not to go. We will be getting together over dinner in a day or two to discuss the trip in detail.

The hard part is still the air itinerary, especially the return flight. It seems the airport layover between flights is either 15 to 20 hours, or it is 1 to 2 hours. There's nothing in between. Even 2 hours is cutting it close at Frankfort and is practically impossible at Heathrow. And that is true for both our "home" airport of Washington Dulles and for Marty and Shirley's of Philadelphia. Marty has a friend who is a professional travel agent and he is going to see what she can come up with. I'll ask him to have her research Dulles as well as Philly.

Author: nanaandpapa

Joined: 3/30/2011
Posts: 490
Trips Taken: 15
Countries Visited:

Aruba, Austria, Australia, Bermuda, Belgium, Botswana, Canada, China, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Dominican Rep., Egypt, England, Fiji, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hong Kong, Hungary, Iceland, India, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, Jordan, Luxembourg, Mexico, Namibia, Nepal, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal, Puerto Rico, Russia, South Africa, Spain, St. Marten (fr), St. Martin (nd), Sweden, Switzerland, Thailand, Turkey, Ukraine, USA, Vatican, Zimbabwe

Traveler Since: 2002

November 05, 2013

 There are plenty of interesting connecting cities on this itinerary, London, Paris, Munich, Vienna and Zurich. Consider turning either one or both of your 1 to 2 hour or 15 to 20 hour layovers to 2 to 4 day pretrip and post-trip extensions.

Author: franniepat

Joined: 3/11/2010
Posts: 50
Trips Taken: 10
Countries Visited:

Ireland, France, Spain, Italy, Germany, Austria, Portugal, Costa Rica, Peru, Bolivia, Columbia, Mexico, Alaska, Canada, Western US parks.

Traveler Since: 2008

November 07, 2013

Just did Malta extension with Sicily in September. Malta is a neat place, so enjoy your stay there!

Author: captainlarry

Joined: 4/24/2010
Posts: 404
Trips Taken: 10
Traveler Since: 2002

November 20, 2013

OK. All booked and about half paid for. We will be spending January 30 - February 26, 2014 at the Seabank All-Inclusive Resort in Mellieha, Malta. It's on a "pay-as-you-stay" basis, so no actual investment in the room as yet. The airline ticket is a different story. We've already paid the full fare for the round-trip tickets. I've also purchased the travel insurance policy.

I can't tell you much about it just yet, but I will have my iPad with me and will try to post periodic, probably less than day by day, reviews as the month goes by.

I can tell you this: the total cost for two for airfare, room for 27 nights, all meals and beverages for 27 days, airport transfers, and use of all resort facilities except some spa treatments, is just over $6,000. The only additional cost will be touring and souvenirs, and meals outside the resort. I'll tell you about those costs when we get back.

Author: pauline

Joined: 3/9/2010
Posts: 970
Trips Taken: 11
Countries Visited:

England, Scotland, Ireland, France, Belgium, Holland, Germany, Italy, Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Finland, Malta, Israel, Australia, New Zealand, China, Mexico, Colombia, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Canada, Russia, Ukraine

Traveler Since: 1999

November 20, 2013

We found Maltese food very good when we were there.  It seemed to be a mixture of Italian, Greek and some other things.  An emphasis on meats like rabbit, good rich soups, and fresh fish.  I remember our home-hosted lunch as being one of the best we had on any trip.

I hope you'll be able to get over to Gozo.  I still have a few things I bought when we were there.  Our optional included a stayover at a garden hotel.  They took us to a lace place, and while other people were buying dresser scarves and antimacassers, I found a top that seemed to be tatted that I still wear.  Plus a couple of pieces of glass at a glass place.  And we went to where Calypso's cave is supposed to be.  If you wanted, you could walk down a path to the cave.

I'm so jealous!

Pauline

Author: captainlarry

Joined: 4/24/2010
Posts: 404
Trips Taken: 10
Traveler Since: 2002

November 21, 2013

Sorry, it's been almost 50 years since I taught high school math, and my addition skills have eroded a bit. The total cost of my month in Malta is just over $7,000 and not just over $6,000. Still, $260 a day, including round-trip air, is not that bad. Remember, that's the total of two of us.

Author: esther

Joined: 10/8/2012
Posts: 10
Trips Taken: 14
Traveler Since: 2009

November 24, 2013

 Your trip to Malta sounds wonderful and brought back lots of memories   I visited Malta for (only) a week, but it left me wanting more.  I arranged private guiding with Cloe Mifsud, owner of Goddess Tours To Malta. She is American (father was Maltese) and she has lived there for over 25 years. She is an excellent guide with specialities in history, archaeology and culture.    Her email is  cloe@goddesstourstomalta.com  and website www.goddesstourstomalta.com

 I hope you will post about your adventures when you return!

Author: captainlarry

Joined: 4/24/2010
Posts: 404
Trips Taken: 10
Traveler Since: 2002

November 24, 2013

Esther, thanks for the link and the recommendation. You can be sure that I will post after I return, and probably on a regular basis while I am there.

Author: pauline

Joined: 3/9/2010
Posts: 970
Trips Taken: 11
Countries Visited:

England, Scotland, Ireland, France, Belgium, Holland, Germany, Italy, Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Finland, Malta, Israel, Australia, New Zealand, China, Mexico, Colombia, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Canada, Russia, Ukraine

Traveler Since: 1999

November 24, 2013

Yes, please do.  I'm still hoping to take my son, who is a real history buff, there.  I can kind of whet his appetite for it with your reports.

And if you haven't read Ernle Bradford's books about Malta, you should.  They're fascinating.  Also Montserrat's book.

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