MALTA (2014)

This was perhaps one of the most spontaneous trips and travel decisions we have ever taken so far: with my husband joining us in Cluj-Napoca, on a day of Wednesday we were looking for a travel destination where we could get away just a couple of days later, on Friday.

We choose the island country of Malta, one of the world's smallest countries, an island country comprising an archipelago of seven islands in the Mediterranean Sea, and we decided for The Palace, a 5 star hotel in Sliema, a town considered "a center for shopping, restaurants, and cafe life".

Highlights of this trip:
- visiting La Valletta, the pint-size capital of Malta, a historical city having a population of less than 7,000 people (the entire country has slightly over 400,000 people);

- visiting Mdina, the old capital of Malta, a medieval walled town situated on a hill in the center of the island;

- dining at Aziamendi 100, a restaurant with a 3 Michelin Star chef (the Spanish Eneko Atxa), present in the city of Valletta in the form of a very original concept - a pop up restaurant opened for only 100 days (the number in the name of the restaurant reflects the number of days the restaurant was present in the city).
We went for the "Ultimate Experience", a 9 course set menu + wine pairing, and we had very unique dishes and, indeed, a memorable experience.

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The Hotel & The Surroundings

The rooftop infinity pool at The Palace, the hotel were we stayed.

I started each day with about an hour swimming, it was so perfect to begin the day with a good dose of swim and sun in the pool overlooking the city.



The rooftop pool at The Palace - one of the relaxing areas.

By the way, 
The Palace was a very nice hotel, but quite a few very surprising and notable service flaws happened exactly at the outdoor pool (I am not going to point them out here though ...)

In front of our hotel, The Palace, on our first night in Malta - encountering a marching band during a fiesta.

Around 60 fiestas (religious and of other nature) happen in Malta throughout a year, and most of them take place during the summer!

Marching band during a fiesta

Malta has a long Christian legacy, and Catholicism is the official religion in Malta.

We attended the Sunday mass at Stella Maris (Our Lady Star of the Sea) Catholic Church that was located just across our hotel. 

The mass was in Maltese, a very interesting language - it sounds like a mix of Italian and Arabic, and, by the way, Maltese is the only Semitic language written in the Latin script.


At night, from our balcony, we enjoyed a very nice view of the Stella Maris church 

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La Valletta, the capital of Malta

La Valletta.
To get to La Valletta we took a 5 minute ferry ride, the ferry being just a 5 minutes walk from our hotel in Sliema.

We loved this tiny capital, and we went there three times during our stay in Malta. 

La Valletta.

La Valletta.

La Valletta.

A delightful encounter with a local art shop - the artist was enthusiastically singing a very famous Italian Opera aria while working outdoor, in front of his shop, on a wood sculpture

La Valletta.

The courtyard at the Grandmaster's Palace.


La Valletta.

The courtyard at the Grandmaster's Palace.

La Valletta.

The Grandmaster's Palace.


La Valletta.

The Grandmaster's Palace.

La Valletta.

Cordina Cafe, a very central cafe, we stopped here several times for refreshing drinks and homemade ice-creams

La Valletta.

La Valletta

La Valletta

La Valletta

La Valletta
An unusual site that made us smile: a (real) cock majestically watching over a garage

I've never had the chance of relaxing on a pink velvet sofa placed outdoor on a terrace on a very narrow street!
So when we passed by this full of personality place (Tico Tico bar) I had to stop and enjoy ... what a lovely alternative to the typical (and boring) terrace chairs ... and by the way we preferred the pink sofa over the burgundy one next to it ...

La Valletta - Tico Tico Bar


La Valletta

La Valletta


La Valletta


La Valletta

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A Memorable Dining Experience: Aziamendi 100 

Eneko Atxa is Spain’s youngest ever 3 Michelin Star Chef and has recently been voted the No. 26 Chef in the world by San Pellegrino.

We had the great chance of tasting his dishes at Aziamendi 100 in La Valleta.
It was a perfect timing for us since the restaurant was part of a unique concept: it was open for only 100 days, with special menus each month.
By the way, we dined on the 52nd day since opening, as the excellently trained staff mentioned to us while they were seating us.

As I said on the beginning on my post, we went for the "Aziamendi Ultimate Experience" (a 9 course set menu) + wine pairing, and it was indeed a wonderful food (and wine) offering, fantastic food presentation, flawless service.

And a detail worth mentioning: the way they accommodated our young daughter creating a special pasta dish suitable for a child's taste, and the fact that we haven't been charged for her food.

La Valletta - In the lounge area at Aziamendi 100a restaurant having a 3 Michelin star chef, the Spanish Eneko Atxa 

The Menu at Aziamendi 100 



The memorable 9 course set menu that we had at Aziamendi 100  

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To keep it in the same area, food and dining, apart from the one-of-a-kind night at Aziamendi, we had several other very nice dinners at Ta'Kris and TemptAsian.

Ta'Kris is a small, hidden place located on a very narrow street, and it serves traditional Maltese food.
We tried pumpkin and melon soup, risotto, lamb shank, and rabbit stew (when in Malta you hear about rabbit stew everywhere, rabbit is the most popular dish in this island country).
Relaxed atmosphere, and everything was delicious.


Ta'Kris in La Valletta, Malta

Ta'Kris in La Valletta, Malta


TemptAsian was one of the restaurants in our hotel, the restaurant was located on the roof top and therefore benefiting from a great view, and having a blend of tropical and Asian theme setting.
Here we immersed in the Asian cuisine, and again, very nice everything - from food to service (both in the lounge area and in the restaurant).


TemptAsian at The Place Hotel in Sliema, Malta

TemptAsian at The Place Hotel in Sliema, Malta

TemptAsian at The Place Hotel in Sliema, Malta

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Mdina, old capital of Malta - so much history in a oasis of tranquility, time has stopped here centuries ago


Mdina, the old capital of Malta, is a medieval walled town situated on a hill in the center of the island

Mdina

Mdina

Mdina

Mdina
The courtyard at Palazzo Falson in Mdina, a beautiful limestone building, historic house, and a very nice glimpse into the history of Malta 

The Maltese are the oldest Christian people in the world, and there are over 360 churches and chapels scattered throughout the island, many of these buildings are veritable works of art.

We spent quiet moments in several of these beautiful churches. 
Here at St. Paul's Cathedral in Mdina.
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For a whole day we embarked on a cruise around the Maltese islands ... very unique sites ... 
... we sailed so close to the cliffs, we felt like we could touch them by stretching the hand, .... 
... we went on a speed boat ride, and we entered famous caves where many movies have been shot, ... 
... we set foot on the Comino island, an island noted for its isolation, having a permanent population of only four residents, or, where according to a crew member "there are only rabbits, stones, and bushes" (and our own observations confirmed his words).


Cruise around the Maltese islands


Cruise around the Maltese islands

Cruise around the Maltese islands

Cruise around the Maltese islands

Cruise around the Maltese islands

Cruise around the Maltese islands

Cruise around the Maltese islands


Cruise around the Maltese islands

Cruise around the Maltese islands

Cruise around the Maltese islands - here the isolated Comino island

Cruise around the Maltese islands - here the isolated Comino island

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These have been only a few, special places and moments, that we experienced in Malta.

Visit this country if you have a chance ... Good-bye for now ...



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