Saturday, 23 June 2012

Malta - Getting Around


Almost the minute you set foot outside you will be subject to the street hawkers intent on selling you tours, timeshares or car hire. On a commission, they will try and get you interested in other hotels and future package holidays with approaches that are ingenious, often seemingly helpful , but never without an ulterior motive. The worst of it is they are all from the UK and not Maltese.


We found the best way to deal with them was to not engage in any kind of conversation at all. With your best dodgy French or Italian accent you can shrug, mutter ‘non comprende’, and smile like the village idiot and they will leave you alone – it works a treat!


Car hire is cheap. However, the buses are even cheaper and extremely reliable despite their age. They cover almost every part of the island. Wherever you are staying, head straight for the nearest bus terminal and get your free Bus Router Map or visit www.atp.com.mt


The Public Transport buses are yellow with an orange stripe, not to be confused with the double decker tour buses that cover the island but which cost a lot more.  They operate a walk on – walk off day ticket service at 14 Euro per day with running commentary and guides.

 


Although the yellow buses are often old and cranky, some of them being over 50 years old, it is of our opinion that there is no better way to see Malta and get around the island. A weekly bus pass for the whole island costs only 14 Euro for unlimited use. This represents incredible value for money for what must be one of the most reliable and frequent bus services in Europe.



Taxis are actually harder to find in Malta. You really need to phone for a pick up or know where the few and far between taxi ranks operate from. They are not cheap either.

Malta is basically a rock rising steeply out of the sea so don’t expect lots of sandy beaches. There are a few – but not many. The water is a beautiful turquoise and crystal clear blue and very clean in most places of the island.

All across Malta you will find solid square fort towers along the coastline, evidence of a more turbulent past. Many of these were built in the 1600’s.

Another common sight are the large cactus plants with threateningly sharp thorns, often grown and used to make enclosures in gardens and rural areas. The fruit from these plants is a delicacy and the Prickly Pear Liquor on sale from off licences is made from this fruit. In the Autumn much of the fruit is lost to passers by who can’t resist the temptation to sample its tasty treasures.

Malta is a mixture of new and old. There are many impressive buildings in Malta and a host of delightful Roman Catholic churches. The architecture is a photographers delight and the sheer scale of some of the old defences in Valetta and Mdina will take your breath away.


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