Hello there! Time to update you with a new blog, and a competition too! More on that a little later, but as promised, a travelog of Colin’s and my recent trip to Malta. I was very glad that the article all about scary noises you can hear in planes and what they mean, was one I didn’t spot until we’d landed, otherwise I may have spent the entire journey hyperventilating! As it was we had a smooth flight to Gatwick and it was almost as warm there as it had been in Gozo when we’d left some hours earlier. Hard to believe it had been 12 days since we’d left on a grey day, but we had wall to wall sunshine for the entire holiday. As I’d predicted though, so did you!! Shame it didn’t last though, as my washing was left overnight on the line in torrential, far too wet to bring indoors!
Keep reading to enter this fab competition 🙂
For those of you who regularly read the blog, you will know that this was a first time visit to Malta and Gozo for both Colin and I. Thanks to you though, we had plenty of advice and recommendations of where to eat and what to visit, and so we knew we had a lot to look forward to. It was a spectacular arrival after a very smooth flight, because we were greeted with a magnificent firework display over the airport car park!
Asking if there was a special event on, we were told that it was a rehearsal for the weekend’s festivities. Apparently fireworks are often let off during the day too! Driving on the same side of the road was a real bonus as we arrived in the evening, and we’d brought our TomTom with us so we were at the hotel within 20 minutes.
We’d chosen to stay in Malta for our first two nights, and found a lovely hotel right on the beach in St. Julian’s. Golden Beach is one of the only sandy beaches on Malta and with clear water and wonderful waves it was a relaxing way to spend our first day.
We drove into Valetta that night and had a fabulous meal of Maltese Beef Olives – Bracioli – which are delicious, and surprisingly don’t include olives at all! The following day we decided to explore, and as we’d driven past a magnificent walled city set high up on a hill the night before, we were delighted to discovered that it was Mdina – somewhere many of you had recommended we visit. And we were so glad we did.
Unlike a great many places that date back to medieval times and are open to the public, this city is home to 300 people, and their beautiful houses make up a large part of the buildings within the walls. It is known as the Silent City, and although it’s sunny streets were fairly busy there was definitely a sense of peace about the place. Amazing views too – right the way across to the sea from the highest point. The architecture is very Italian, and indeed the City has several Palazzos – Santa Soffia and Vilhena – both incredibly beautiful.
Having gone back to our hotel for our cases we then took the ferry to Gozo. Such an incredibly efficient service – you don’t have to pay on your way out – and there are boats every 45 minutes. This is us thrilled at the prospect of spending the next ten days on an island that felt like home to us from the moment we arrived.
Gozo is one of 21 islands in the Mediterranean Sea that make up the Maltese archipelago, and was formed over 12,000 years ago! It had originally been a bridge between Sicily and Malta before geological changes in the earth changed it. We’d booked into a recently refurbished hotel in the middle of Xaghra – small but very pretty – and from the roof top pool area, you could almost see across the entire island!
We had dinner that evening in a lovely restaurant which was one of many around the main square. This magnificent church is indicative of many of the beautiful places of worship you’ll find all over the island and looks equally pretty at night time too! It was just a short walk from our hotel and so we sampled one of the local wines as well as the traditional rabbit pasta which was very tasty!
We thought we’d explore a little in the morning and had a look around Xlendi (pronounced Shlendi) which was really pretty. A great many beautiful apartments overlooking the bay, and beautiful deep blue sea.
It was an exceptionally hot day, and so we were quite relieved that there was a strong wind which was not only cooling, but made for some crashing great waves on Ramla beach, which is where we then drove to and spent the rest of our Sunday.
The sand is genuinely this orange colour, and very soft. A fair few stones on the left hand side of the beach, but we made our way up to the right, and spent a fabulous afternoon jumping the waves and playing in the surf which was like champagne bubbles. Dinner that evening was in Otters Bistro, right on the front in Marsalforn Bay. We were lucky to find a table because half of the outdoor seats had been moved away from the water’s edge, to save the diners from being drowned! I filmed this as we arrived, and then a little more when we left. It was a little like extreme dining!
The wind hadn’t really dropped at all the next morning, so we set off towards another part of the island just past Qbajjar Bay in Mellieha where there are the most amazing seascapes and the famous Azure Window – Tieqa tad-Dwerja. The waves crash underneath it and then through it, and it’s so famous it’s been featured in many films including Game of Thrones! One of the other guests at the hotel had told us it was a must see!
We parked a little way up the road and walked in the sunshine to where the limestone sea caves had created this natural window. It was possibly the busiest tourist haunt, with hundreds of people, stalls selling souvenirs and postcards showing this famous blow hole. Well, Colin and I walked all the way along the end of the rock and peered down into the ocean and across to the other cliff edge but couldn’t see anything. We both thought that maybe the tide was in and so it was hidden, but found out a little later that it had collapsed just three months earlier following a storm!! It was still a beautiful coastline, and we were glad we’d visited, but we wondered how many more thousands of tourists would continue searching for the long gone window!
Feeling a tad warm, we decided to find a beach and headed for Qala where there is a small stony inlet called Triq ta, that has the most fabulously clear water, and a stiff breeze from the ocean. There are boat trips from there to Camino Bay and the Blue Lagoon, and so we earmarked that for another day
Because Gozo is only 11 miles by nine miles, it never takes long to arrive somewhere new. One day we discovered these fabulous historic salt pans.
Hard to believe but they were actually created by The Romans and were part of the island’s first industry. They are still used to this day, providing rock salt for fine dining or for Spa treatments. Sea water is brought up from Xwenji bay (which is up to 90 metres deep in parts and favoured by deep sea divers) and then dries out in the heat of the sun. The whole area takes up about one kilometre, and the sea is the colour of tanzanite. I could have stayed there for days just watching the ocean.
But, time stands still for no man and over the next week we visited Gozo’s capital Victoria, a busy and colourful town which is watched over by the Cittadella set up on the hill and surrounded by high sandstone walls. It has been inhabited since the Bronze Age, and the first reference to it dates back to 1241! Around that time the island’s inhabitants were required to spend their nights there, but as the population grew so did the village of Rabat which was then surrounded by a moat and huge walls, and the Cittadella in the centre.
Over the centuries there has been a great deal of work carried out but the latest renovations began in 2014 and has included the re-tiling of the many paths, streets and the piazza and a great deal of structural work. A great deal of the building though is still original, and is beautifully kept – very well worth a visit. Somewhere else that marries modern day with ancient architecture is Ta pinu – a National Shrine close to the village of Gharb. This beautiful church is set on the edge of hill in open countryside, and has recently had the most fabulous mosaics built outside it, depicting the story of Christ.
We had wall to wall sunshine every single day, and literally not a cloud in the sky. Apart from the really strong wind at the beginning of the holiday, we were spoiled with cooling breezes that carried on them the smell of wild rosemary and fennel.
The streets are never crowded and the roads are fairly empty, and so it’s a joy to explore. Both Colin and I tanned really well, and I have to tell you that the new Face 30 with the tan activator in it is all I used on my face for the entire holiday! Colin used the Body 30 with the tan activator and didn’t burn at all, so if you’ve never tried these products, make sure you read to the bottom of this page!
We ate beautiful food, sampled locals wines, and even tried the special prickly pear liquor – the cactus grows by the roadside, and has these stunning yellow flowers.
The highlight of the holiday for me though was the boat trip to Camino and the Blue Caves. I have always been fixated by turquoise waters and these more than lived up to my expectations. I will just say though that the boats will drop you at a jetty, as there is no beach there. You have to find a space on the rocks to sit, but boy is it worth it! Just look at this incredible sea. Swimming in it was heaven, and I will never forget how beautifully clean and clear the water was.
On our last day we decided to take a picnic to Wied-il-Mielah to watch the sun set, and discovered a sea window that was still intact! You have to drive down a very narrow track for about a mile to find it, but the coastline there gives you an uninterrupted view of the sun dropping down into in the ocean. It was the perfect way to end what had been a brilliant holiday and the beginning of what I believe is going to be for us, an everlasting love of this stunning island.
It all seems a long time ago now, and although my tan is lasting pretty well thanks to Gatineau’s Tan Accelerator, and the new Tan Activating sun protection from Ultrasun. So impressed was I with the products that when I told Abi Cleve who runs the British arm of the company, she very kindly offered a collection of them for me to give to you as a prize on the blog! What a generous collection! £103 of value in the five full size products – the Body Tan Activator 30, the Glimmer 20, the Sports Spray 50, the Face 30, and the Ultralip 30! Safe tanning with a once only application, and a long lasting tan too!
If you’d like to win this brilliant bundle then all you need do is decide which of the following answers correctly matches this question: Which rays of the sun can cause long-lasting and penetrating damage to the skin?
1) UVA rays
2) UVB rays
3) UVC rays
Just post your answer in the comments below and make sure to leave an email address (don’t worry, this won’t be made public). The competition closes at noon on Wednesday 26th July and a winner will be drawn at random by me, on air. Full terms and conditions can be found here Good luck!
Before that I’ve got some lovely shows to share with you. Three hours of stunning gold jewellery with Jan Springer on Friday the 21st July at 6pm, and then two hours of Diamonique on Sunday the 30th from 8pm. Oh, and Christmas in July on the 25th – of course!
I do hope you’ll be able to join me for some of those, and I wish you the best of luck with the competition. Let me know what you think of the photographs and I’ll look forward to hearing from you soon.
With my love, Ali xx