About Us

Who are we and what are we doing here? Well, let's see if we can....

 About us  

Grab a Map

A map can be a good place to start when looking for a holiday.. there are other ways too..

 Get started here  

Bucket Lists

Some new ideas of things to do and places to go  to add to yours...

 New ideas here   

Foreign Currency

Some of the best ways to cope with money before you leave and when you arrive

 More info here 

Basic Info

Never traveled before? Then this information will put you on the right road/plane/train

 Start your travels here 

Crucial Numbers

It is always handy to have the number of the local embassy

 We have you covered 

Souvenirs & Gifts

Buying something for youself or a gift for family and friends?

 Here is how to do it 

Malta March 2013

Our first holiday as adults

Bristol Airport. 8th March 2013

Okay is it is raining, but we don’t care!

We dressed in our ‘going away’ clothes, got into the car and drove to Bristol Airport without incident ourselves leaving our every day stresses behind, however, at Congressbury we did pass what appeared to be a 2 car side hit, but it did not appear serious and the emergency authorities were there dealing with it so we just carried on past.

With the rain still coming down we arrived at the Silver Zone Parking, found the disabled area and pulled into a bay almost right next to the reception doorstep.

The staff members in reception were brilliant. We presented our parking receipt; they found our registration, put a label on our keys, gave us a receipt for them and even lent us a staple gun so we could staple the receipt to the print off booking form which we then put into our folder safe for when we got back home.

The airport bus arrived soon after, they run every 20 minutes, and we got on. There is plenty of seating for disabled, lots of space for luggage and plenty of standing room for everyone else.

‘I feel like a Specavers advert’ he commented.

‘Why’s that?’ I queried

‘Well, after having to shave off my beard, it reminds me of the advert of the sheepdog…..and I feel like the sheepdog.’

I found the advert he meant!

The bus arrived at the airport. We got off, went in and headed for the checking in area of Ryan Air. We admit we were a little early, it was now only 06.10 am. Looking across to the checking we saw there was no one there. Glancing around though, we saw a notice which said that if you have only hand luggage and no hold luggage to go straight to departures.


We went towards the lift, however, glancing towards the stairs we had stood at the previous week, we noticed that the escalator was working so we headed towards it.


Getting to the top there was two entrances, and one was marked fast track, so that was the way we went. We got through with no problems, producing our boarding passes and passports, and being shown the way to go to the scanners.


We removed our liquids and pastes, took off watches and bracelets, putting them together with our wallets and coats into a plastic box, we then removed Dinky, the kindle and the tablet from the black rucksack and put these into their own box, the boxes were sent through the conveyor belt scanner together with the bags and we went through the body scanner, which Phil set off. He forgot he had on his belt buckle and was sent back, to remove his shoes as well. Meanwhile my sticks were stripped down and sent through the conveyor belt scanner as well.


Once we had our coats back on we walked through the duty free area, following our noses upstairs to where we could smell coffee in a Restaurant called Dexters. One coffee later we both felt s little more human! Luckily they served decaffe!




The weather stayed horrible. Looking out of the windows as we walked around, we could see a low mist and rain.

Looking through the windows we saw a Ryan Air plane, we later discovered it was ours! We also watched on taking off and it was seconds before it disappeared into the mists.

We wondered around the airport then saw a sign saying ‘assistance this way, so we followed the sign and came to a desk where a lady asked where we were going. We told her Malta, and she said to come back at 9.30.


We went off to find some water, which we found in Superdrug, then went back upstairs to while away the time reading and people watching.

There was a group of ladies all dressed pink with pink wigs on. Apparently it was someone birthday and they were leaving the UK to foreign realms to celebrate.

Suddenly we saw heads turning and people parting, it was like the Virgin advert, as a group came towards us dressed in red and blues and other airline colours.

It wasn’t until they got closer that we realised they were all men dressed up!!
We think they might have been going on a stag party somewhere and wondered if they were going to be on our flight.

The time came for us to wander down to the assistance desk and on the way we brought some boiled sweets. I remembered as a child my mother telling me to suck a boiled sweet as we took off to stop our ears from popping. Putting them into his pocket, Phil and I then moved onto the assistance desk.

If you enjoyed this then why not like and share our:-


Facebook Page




Subscribe to our YouTube channel:-


And don’t forget to bookmark our website too!


Thank you

The flight to Malta 7th March 2013

We arrived at the assistance desk where we were asked to sit with others to wait for our assistance. After 10 minutes or so a lovely gentleman asked everyone their names and then he led us off. There were 6 of us in total, 3 disabled and their carers who in our case and one other couple were the spouse and in the third couple it appeared to be an elderly gentleman and his son. We followed the gentleman through the doors, outside and then into gate 9b, meanwhile the rest of the people were heading for gate 13.


The wait was not long before we saw a square vehicle come and park outside, and then people got out the back onto a stage which was then lowered, then it was our turn, we got onto the lift, it was highered and then we sat in the seats provided and were driven to our plane where the front of the bus connected to the plane and we walked on, straight to the seats which were reserved for the disabled and next to the window.


It was sinking in we were now on board the plane, and as it slowly moved off I took out the video camera and panicked, the battery was now running low!


We popped our sweets into our mouths and started to suck them as the plane slowly turned, then stopped and we looked at each other as the force pushed us back into the seats.


I leaned back and told Mike to watch out the window. He had never seen the way a plane goes through the clouds and then out the other side and suddenly bright sunshine hits you.


He watched out the window intently, unfortunately the cloud was very thick and we were in the air for 20 minutes before he saw that we were above the cloud line, and did he smile!


His face lit up like a young boys, I thanked my lucky star that I am married to a man who is capable of expressing himself when he is experiencing something for the first time, rather than someone who feels that because they had seen it on the TV they had decided it is nothing to get excited about. We made ourselves comfortable, with Mike taking photos of the cloud formations, and then he played solitaire while I read.


Unfortunately I eventually had to spend a penny and off I went, insisting he sat next to the window while I was gone.


He made to move when I got back but I was not going to spoil his day,(nor mine as I said, l love watching him smile) so I sat in the middle seat and he remained by the window.


I started typing on dinky when he asked me to look down at the snow and asked if I could see the mountains and snow below, I explained that France would have snow inland and I did not think we were over the mountains yet.


20 minutes later I glanced out the window with him, and we both said, ‘the Alps’ and yes there they were!


Ryan Air were selling some lottery tickets so we brought a packet each, and he won 1 new scratch card and I won 2, we exchanged them and I won another one . So now we have 4 tickets to send off for a chance to win a million!! Yeah!!


One hour to go and we are over the Mediterranean, so much cloud but we get the odd glimpse of something. I do hope it is clearer when we come back so Mike can see more land!

He turned to me at one point and told me he had seen a plane below us and it looked like a dinky toy, but smaller!


The clouds are breaking! The Mediterranean Sea looks wonderful, a little turbulence but hey.. The views are magnificent! I wonder if we will see Etna?


We looked out of the window at what we believed was Sicily. Hoorah!! Mount Etna was behaving herself!


Then the Captain announced that we were due to land in 30 minutes, could everyone please return to their seats, fasten their belts and make themselves comfortable.



Mike helped me back into my seat belt, and then we spent the next 20 minutes watching out of the window.


We banked left, then straight, and then on the second banking left we caught our first glimpse of Malta.


The buildings seemed to be made of white and yellow stones. We both felt very emotional – or was that our ears popping as the flaps were lowered as we flew over blue and aquamarine waters.


Then we levelled up as we came in for the approach, with the engines roaring as the plane came into touchdown and then the bouncing and then finally the smooth run up to the buildings.


Then came the scrabble for the hand luggage and the doors, but we just waited patiently as we saw the airport disabled transport lorry come over and connect to the rear door, and, removing our bags and my crutches from the overhead baggage area, made our way to it.


The Maltese assistance were lovely and smiling away as they helped us on board then off we went to the door, the back, with us on it, was lowered down.


We followed the young man to customs where we had to show our passports. We then got our first disappointment. They are not allowed to stamp our passports. The customs man kindly explained that as we are all in the EU, by stamping a passport, this puts a time scale on how long you can remain in a country, and being part of the EU means there is no timescale. He was really nice to us when he saw our disappointment.


Then we went to the entrance where there was a young man with a sheet with our name on, we headed towards him and introduced ourselves. A woman, Ani, came over and told us she would be meeting us in our hotel at 1.15 in the afternoon the next day to confirm our lift back to the hotel and also to confirm about our assistance on the flight home. At this moment in time we did not question it, however, we were a bit disappointed as we hoped to start our holiday in the morning with us only having 6 full days on the Island of Malta .So we then followed the driver to our mini bus with 4 others, got in and buckled up as we were driven through the streets of Malta.


Looking out the windows only confirmed what we had seen from the air. We knew we were somewhere different, exciting, and foreign, yet the young driver spoke excellent English as we weaved our way through the streets to arrival finally out our hotel.


115 The Strand, Sliema, Malta

End of our First Day 7th March 2013


We got out of the mini bus, retrieved our bags from the boot and walked through the entrance to be met by a smiling receptionist.


Speaking excellent English, she gave us some forms to fill in, namely the ones for upgrading our room, we handed back the forms, including the €140 for upgrade and off we went to room 304. We travelled up in the lift which was ok for someone on sticks but I think would have been too narrow for a wheelchair.


The room is clean, smells nice with clean towels. We were surprised to find we were still self-catering and this really pleased us. Also we now had a small kitchen area, a dining room with a small table and 2 dining chairs and a sofa bed and a door through to our bedroom complete with balcony.


We then went to put the lights on, and there was no electric, but on the side table next to the television there was a welcome book to the hotel so while I looked at that Phil rang reception, and just as they answered I found out how to turn the electric on, so he told reception everything was ok and we went back to the apartment door and next to it was a slot, by placing the key holder into the slot the electric came on.


Then it dawned on us, this meant that we could only charge our batteries etc when we were actually in the room! ( we have since discovered that Malta has one of the highest rates in the world) (http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-21722936)


We got unpacked, during which time I gave Phil a present I had brought for him, a sketch pad and some pencils. It was worth it as he went all sentimental on me, we then continued to make sure all our batteries were fully charged, and then popped out for some milk sugar and coffee. (see our hotel, suggestions at this point).


On the way out we stopped at reception, one reason of course being to find out where the nearest shop was the other reasons was to get our wifi (€25 for the week but there are also other different amounts and times) and a key for the safe (we had found this in the wardrobe in the bedroom) €10 deposit, but piece of mind for the week for somewhere for our passports to be hidden.


We were told the shop was not very far away so off we toddled, along The Strand, 1st right, up the hill and there it was, on a small square.


We went in and straight to the deli counter for some Maltese cheese and bread, there was only 1 type of local cheese and they had run out of bread, so we got an ordinary sliced bread and some of the cheese, we also got butter ( it was the cheapest option for a spread), grapes (enormous grapes), and of course the decaffe coffee ( 100gms) sugar and milk. This all came to €14.10 (approx £12.20).


We headed back to the hotel but this time, on the way back, we looked into the restaurants that lined the road. The food smelled tempting, however, doing quick conversions, we both agreed the food seemed somewhat expensive however, we chose one for our first evening on Malta, to which we would return later.


As we entered the hotel to collect our key, (keys must be handed in whenever you exit the hotel) we saw a menu and, for a four course meal, the price was €9 per person, so out the window went the idea of eating out and we made our way to the desk where we made the relevant enquiries to be told that if we booked now, we also got a 10% discount too. So we booked and paid and were given a blue card to give to the staff when we had our meal.


I then remembered our bus tickets that I was going to get us from Arriva so I asked the receptionist where I could get them from and she pointed out the hotel shop to me. Easy! After paying €24 for our weeks bus pass, and carrying the wifi username and password, the safe key, the blue card for our evening meal, our shopping and our hotel room key, we again headed for our room.


We took some photos and then as it was only 17.30pm (Malta time which meant we had now been up for 13 hours) we were feeling a little worn down.


Phil got out Dinky (the mini pc we had brought with us) and tried to get online, so he popped off downstairs to get it sorted and I sat on my bed reading my Kindle and trying not to go to sleep.


18.30pm arrived and we toddled off to the dining room on the 8th floor. Phil mentioned something about students, but them we changed the subject totally as we smelt the food.


We left the lift which opened up into the dining room where we were told it was all self service.


So we started with some lovely home-made carrot cake only we picked up a piece of cake each to eat with it as it was right next door to it and we thought it might be a local bread…but you  know something? Although it tasted like Madeira cake, and probably was, it really tasted very nice with the soup!


Then we both had chicken, vegetables and potatoes and some sort of rice balls.


During the meal we came to the same conclusion. We would eat at the hotel every night as it was not only affordable, but delicious and, through watching others, it appeared you could eat as much as you like!


We asked a young lady if we could wrap up some of the cake to take to our room to have with our coffee and she gave us some clean napkins to use, so we returned to our room where we had the coffee but put the cake to one side.


So it is now 9pm and as Phil is taking photos I am writing in the diary ready to transcribe when I get home.


Oh yes, and did I mention the students? Yes, there are about 14 of them, some are in the room opposite us, and as I write this they are getting to be a little noisy. Hey ho! I will let you know what happens tonight in tomorrow’s write up.


So, good night one and all and sweet dreams.

A stroll in Sliema


We had a fairly good night’s sleep, although the beds were a little hard, but I guess we were just truly pooped after our long day before.


We woke up about 6.30am and I got out to see what the weather was like outside. Big Mistake!! The sun was incredible and we discovered that our room faces east! The curtains were fantastic as I dropped them back in place and we soon re-accustomed to the light of the room


After the yellow walls and sunspots had calmed down, I went and got our breakfast ready in the mini kitchen, 2 slices of toast each, Irish butter, Maltese cheese, mushroom olive and pepper mix in oil, 2 bits of Madera cake, grapes and coffee. I have never seen Phil put away so much for breakfast before! His normal breakfast being 1, possibly 2, slices of toast with peanut butter and a coffee. We then sorted out cameras and batteries etc before leaving the hotel for a little meander at 8.30.


We knew we had to be back for 13.15 to see the rep, so we already felt as though the first day had been ruined as it meant we dare not get on a bus to explore so we decided to just go within our immediate area as walking can sometimes be a pain for me despite the crutches, anyway, surely nothing could happen that would stop us getting back in time for the all important meeting!


We left the hotel and crossed the road, heading for the promenade, when we got jumped on by Greg and Caroline. Now let me explain what I mean by jumped!


All along the sea front are brightly coloured booths where people stand from 9 in the morning till 3 trying to sell tickets for tours of the Islands, both coach and boat, to holiday makers. And two of these people are Greg and Caroline.


Greg started in with the sales pitch, and we must admit he was very good at it, then, when we could, we explained we already had our Arriva tickets and that we were waiting to meet up with the rep. He said to watch out for the rep as all they would do would be to try to sell us the same tours but at astronomical prices, again we thought this was just a ploy but we went along with it.


We then got chatting about where they were from, which was the UK as many ticket touts are apparently! They were a nice couple and very friendly, however, we explained we were not looking for tour tickets right now as we wanted to see what this woman had to say, but, as Greg had promised discounted tickets on the ones they sold, we promised we would be back. We parted company on good terms all laughing and smiling and we meandered on.


When we left them we walked up along the front, and, as Greg had said, nearly all the ticket touts where English with some Scottish ones thrown in as well. Finally we crossed the road and, coming to a little piazza, we decided to be brave and ventured into the interior.


The street was fairly narrow and all the houses and shops were built of the same yellow sandstone bricks, not small ones mind, quite large, and all about 3 to 5 storeys high, cutting out the sun, but it was still warm to us.

Up we went and then we turned left, following our noses we found a very small food vender sunk into the wall. The seller was an Eastender (from the east end of London of course) who sold a Maltese delicacy of Spinach and Anchovy pasty. We popped one into our bag to eat for lunch later.


We continued with our walk up the street and then turned right, and looking down the street we saw the sea again and realised we were now on the other sea front at the top end of Sliema. As we walked along we saw some old buildings now in ruins.


Once on the promenade we took a time check and decided that we still had plenty of time for a longer walk, and as we were not pushing it, I was feeling happy to go along with that.


The sea was a lovely blue colour, the sky was clear and we were nice and warm, not too hot, but just right, as we wandered along, looking into the small cafes on the sea front and surprised that although there were plenty of hotels along this area, there were no ticket touts.


And so admiring the view, breathing in the lovely salt air, before we know it, we had been ‘kidnapped’. Well that’s what it is called by those in the know!




Louis approached us. He seemed yet another nice English guy so we said ‘hello’. He asked us who we had flown out with and we told him Ryan Air, to which he responded, in a very excited way, ‘thats the people who I work for!’ then proceeded to ask how the flight went and where were we staying to. At this point we saw no reason not to say so we told him and he then offered us two lucky draw tickets, no catch.


Phil noticed the sleight of hand as Louis took a ticket from the top, which he handed to me, and one from the bottom, which he handed to Phil.  Louis then got me to open mine first which said I had won a bottle of wine. We explained we do not drink alcohols per se and he immediately handed me a small box in which was a lovely little gold coloured Maltese cross on a chain. We noticed he took this out of a leather ‘tout’ bag.


He then asked Phil to open his. Phil’s said he had won £300 worth of holiday vouchers, a free voucher for bus tours, and it was then that Louis got all excited and said it had never happened to him; someone winning this prize from his tickets. He then said to claim them we would need to go into the hotel across the road so he could sign for them, it was then that the idea that there was more to this than meets the eye hit in, so we looked at each other, and Phil nodded at me.


Phil then asked if this was a timeshare scam, to which Louis replied that Timeshare is illegal on Malta, except for the Gold Bay complex which had somehow overcome this by saying the rockbed where they were building was on Gozo, and getting a Gozo postcode. He, that is Louis, was not going to try to sell us timeshare, however, if we would just pop across the road and give about an hour of our time all this would be explained to us. Having nothing better to do, and also with Phil having been a national sales manager at one time and very curious about others worked, and there was a free cup of tea as well!! We decided to go for it. All in the name of research of course!!


We followed Louis across the road and into the PreLuna hotel. On the way Louis explained we were going to be shown around the new hotel which had been built adjacent to this one, but which we had to access through the PreLuna. He was quite insistent that the PreLuna had nothing to do with the new hotel next door at all. We looked at each other as Louis went off to arrange for us to sign for our vouchers and also our free cup of tea.


We looked around and could not see any signs of building work, it was definitely a nice hotel and we also discussed the fact that what appeared to be the ‘building next door’ was accessible through a rather nice, permanent looking archway. We discussed the idea of this being some sort of a scam and, as we are both naturally inquisitive people, were looking forward to when Louis would return, which he soon did.


Leading us through the archway he now declared we were in the ‘new hotel’ and that it was only accessible by lift, so in we got.


At the third floor we all got out and, just to the right of us, in a corner were a desk and some chairs, Louis asked us to sit on the chairs while he went to get Pauline. Pauline arrived and the first thing she did was to sign Louis’s books. He was really excited now, going on about the fact he had not only got €30 but a paid day off as well! He then handed us the vouchers which he had taken a note of the numbers of as had Pauline, and then he was off.


Pauline then proceeded to ask us to show her the tour ticket and the cross which she then pulled over to her side and covered with some papers saying we would get them back after the interview. She then went on to describe what would happen next, that is, we would be taken into the room next door for a cup of tea and a chat with Paul regarding the hotel and its unique offer and reiterated again that this is not timeshare as this is illegal on Malta.


Then she got up, picked up all the papers including our freebies and went off.

We were then joined by Paul, a middle to late 50’s who was from Scotland and had come to live on Malta, I mean, he said,  who wouldn’t want to its a wonderful place.

He started off telling us about the ‘new’ wonderful hotel we were sitting in and how it was not quite finished yet and how he had such an amazing offer. Then he asked Phil what he did for a living to which the reply was a trader and event organiser. Pauls immediate response was that ‘people who do that always have lots of residue money’.

Phil listened as Paul went on about the hotel and then stopped him.

Paul asked him why he was stopped and Phil explained that he had been one of the top national salesmen in a very large retail company with many outlets, and that what he was hearing was a sales pitch.

Paul asked us if we thought he was going to ask for money and if so how much, Phil said probably more than the €300 we had just won to which Paul said yes.

Paul asked us why we were there and Phil explained we had been somewhat railroaded and that as this was NOT timeshare we became intrigued, however, as he had followed Pauls speech he became convinced it probably was.

Paul said it was definitely was NOT timeshare as this is illegal on Malta, again. So Phil asked him bluntly what was it and how much.

Timeshare on Malta is now called ‘holiday club’ and it will cost you £15000 and as he said this so Phil said that we had wasted enough of his time and we were leaving as we were not interested in either, so Paul gathered up his papers, asked if we knew where the lift was and left the room.

We had been with them for nearly an hour now and still no cup of tea.

We got into a lift where there was a couple already there, from the 7th floor, we asked how the building was going on and they looked at us as though we were really weird and explained they had been coming to the hotel since it was first built and that it was finished back then!

We left the hotel the way we came in and had a really good look around. There was definitely no building going on……anyway either outside or in! (We have since discovered that it was finished back in 2007!)

We decided we must have had ‘mug’ on our foreheads as we walked further along the seafront, to suddenly realise we both stuck out like sore thumbs.

Everyone was wrapped up like it was the middle of winter, we, and other tourists and holiday makers, were dressed for summer! DOH! In the word of Homer Simpson.

Dr Fish


After leaving the hotel we both felt as though we had a bitter taste in our mouths. We mulled it over and then the sea on the beautiful yellow rocks caught our attention, so we promenaded.


The sun was shining the wind was balmy and we could smell anchovy and spinach pasty as it wafted from the backpack so, at 10 o’clock, we sat on the sea front and, retrieving the now squashed pasty, we eat it. It was delicious. It filled the whole nicely thank you.


We decided to stroll back the way we had come and Phil decided he was going to confront Louis.


Only once again we got distracted!


Bubbles!! What a lovely name we thought, then had a peek in to discover it was one of those places where there are fish to ‘nibble’ your feet!


We checked the time and saw it was only 10.10 so, in for a penny in for a euro and in we went


Caroline met us straight away and she is a very bubbly person herself. We were there only two in there so she talked is through it. We removed our socks and shoes, sat on a stool and she washed our feet to remove dirt that may be there, also to make sure we did not have any fake tan on or any sort of chemicals, then she placed blue plastic foot cover on, you know, like the ones they wear on a crime scene, and we then walked over to where we had to sit for the ‘doctor’ fish to do their stuff.


Caroline removed Phil’s covers first and he gently lowered his feet into the water and soon the fish were swarming over then, then she helped me to turn 90 degrees, took my covers off and I slowly lowered my feet into the water and the fish were soon around them, the only thing is I am really really ticklish, and trying to keep my feet in the water was almost, but not quite, impossible.


And then we both relaxed as the initial ticklish then started to wear off.

Caroline brought us both a cup of tea, decaffe!! And we all sat around chatting as once again, Caroline told us she was another ex-pat!


Then a family came in, 2 young girls and their parents. The youngest girl really wanted to try it so she, her older sister and her mum all had their feet washed, covers put on and helped to sit on the seats over the aquariums. The mother was fine, the oldest daughter was fine, but the youngest was very nervous. But Caroline understood and told us, quietly, that that is always the way. She was very patient. The girl removed her feet and then sat talking to her father.


The family were from France and so, with their good English, and our limited but understandable French, we all sat and talked about life in general.


Then the young girl wanted to try again and so Caroline helped her to put her feet back into the water and then, as the timers went off, she left her there while she helped her older sister and her mother to dry their feet and get off the chairs.


They only had a 15 minutes session and we had a 30 minutes and soon our timer went off as well. We had been watching the fish all this time. There was about 50 or so in each tank and sometimes they would be half round one foot then half round the other, and then they would all suddenly go to one foot and concentrate on that one then all suddenly shift to the other foot. It was really funny to watch.


Phil dried his feet, put on his socks and sandals then came round to dry my feet and help me back on with my sandals, we said goodbye to the family, goodbye to Caroline and, feeling like we were walking on air, we headed back to the Preluna.

The Tour Operator


We decided to meander back to the hotel, but about 10yds down the road there was Louis, so Phil decided that he was not happy about me having lost the Maltese cross and him losing the bus tour after being told we had won them fair and square, so he went up to Louise and asked if he would pop in and get them.


Louis went into the hotel and retuned about 10 – 12 minutes later, saying that if we were to lie… yes LIE about what we earned and then sat and listened to a one hour lecture, oh yes as remember this is not timeshare, then sign something we will get them back.


It was at this point we decided that we were right, it is timeshare but hidden under a new name, holiday club. And left in the direction of the hotel.


We came out onto out part of the harbour walk again and just pottered along as we still had some time to go until the meeting with the tour operator.


Then I saw some strawberries. Now being a Devon girl I have a terrible sweet tooth for these luscious fruit, and these were luscious. Locally grown and picked, not forced and right in the middle of the Maltese strawberry season, how could we resist! We couldn’t. So we brought a punnet, no, we brought  a large punnet and now all we needed was some real bread from a real bakers, so I asked the fruit man where we could find such a place. He told us to go up the road on his left, our right, take the second left and follow our noses. And yes he was right, that’s all we had to do!


Now up to this point we has asked several people, namely English, where we could buy some real Maltese food, and they all kept pointing to the local restaurants, so we had all but given up anyone understanding what we meant, and when we turned left, we know that the fruit man had really understood what we said, probably because he was Maltese.


And what a bakers! Open fire oven, hot and smelling of fresh bread. We got ourselves a Maltese loaf and also 2 hot cross buns and started talking to one of the locals.


She was a lovely lady and we walked back along the small street together, talking about the up and coming elections.


With our faith restored we carried on back to the hotel for our meeting.


We got there at the same time as Ani, who then started to tell us about the tours we could do with her. We sat at a table and she went through the book with us, pointing out that the bus routes were circuitous; there was the north circle and the south circle. Then she explained that the Arriva tickets we had were not worth it as it would take hours to get anywhere as these were local buses and we would have to travel with the local people so on and so forth. In fact, painting a not very nice sounding picture of the bus services on Malta.


She asked if we had any idea of where we wanted to go and we both said that one of the places was, of course, Gozo. ‘Ah’ says Ani, ‘no problem, you can do this for €55 each, this includes the bus there, the journey across on the ferry, and then half an hour here, and half an hour then and then there is lunch and then back on the bus to continue the tour.’


We listened with interest as she told us about other tours, ones that Gregg had told us about at more affordable prices.


During this time we did try our best to explain that we were not interested, but it fell on deaf ears as she went from one tour to another, and at least buy the tickets for the tour buses.


In the end she ran out of steam and we said we would think about it. I think she understood as she gave us her card to make sure we called her when we knew what we wanted to do, so we could book. Then she turned to leave.


‘Er, excuse me, but did you not say this meeting was important as it was related to our return flight?’ asked Phil.


‘You have booked that haven’t you, as I see you have also booked a pick up for 4 am on the day you go home, so unless there is something you want to ask me there is nothing else.’


‘So this meeting was not about our flight home?’ I asked.


It was at this point that she said she was in a hurry and had to go as she was running late.


And so she left

End of a long day

After the ‘tour operator’ left we went back upstairs for a lovely lunch of Maltese bread, ham, a little left over cheese and mushrooms, fresh strawberries and grapes. Again Phil eating so much!


After lunch I felt tired so I went for a lie down, seeing me, Phil covered me with a blanket and went outside to chat to Greg and Caroline.


Suddenly my sleep was interrupted by shouting and car horns.


I went over to the balcony and saw 2 pink open top (tour) buses going up the main street full of, what can only be described as, screaming youths.


Looking across to the stands I saw Phil and he looked up, seeing me he waved and came back to the hotel to join me.


He asked if the noise had woke me as he had also closed the windows so I could sleep, I explained that they had and then he proceeded to tell me what he had heard from Greg and Caroline.


“We have come at a really exciting time for the Maltese, according to Greg and Caroline. It is Election Day tomorrow (Sunday) and it appears that the Labour party have hired all the tourists’ buses for Monday. The results are due on Sunday and what is happening is that Sliema is a very heavy NP area and so the buses are full of Labour supporters. However, there is a possibility that on Monday the tour buses will be being used by the Labour party to ferry around their supporters, putting a tour out of the question, in fact we will probably be safer staying in on Monday as things may or may not be good, again depending on who wins., there will be lots of noise and possibly fighting”


After telling me this he then told me about the deal he had struck with Greg, so we went online to transfer some money across to our holiday account. Only we could not get online.


We went downstairs in the hope of getting a better signal and whilst I was transferring the money Phil had been looking around and came back with some information regarding car hire.


We looked at each other as we did the maths. The tour buses were going to come to €120 for four days (remember there are none on Monday!) if we wanted to do something every day, then there was the entry fees as well as the time limit as the first tour bus left at 10am and the last at 3am, thereby limiting our day. Then we looked again at the bus routes. There was something missing, in fact several something’s missing. There was no stop for MDina, Dingli, Popeye Village, the Red Tower or Roscali Fort and the Med Studios! All places we had planned to see!


We looked again at the car hire; it was going to work out at €115 for five days, plus some fuel, and no doubt a returnable deposit. Things started to look up. After all, On Malta they drive on the same side of the road as in the UK! What could possibly go wrong?


Phil went to the desk and they kindly phoned the company for us. He explained that the car would not be needed on Monday as we had no intentions of leaving the hotel and, well what can I say! The said that provided he parked the car up in a safe place in the back streets and they are fully aware of the situation, and that we were doing the right thing, we could pay for 4 days instead! So now the hire would only be €92! Result! And they would send a vehicle to pick us up at 09.30 in the morning from the hotel.


Feeling a lot happier we walked up the road to where there was an HSBC bank and tried to withdraw the money, nothing, so I made sure I was using the correct card with the correct PIN number, yes, I was. We tried again. It would let me get into the account but not withdraw the money. Now we were really worried so we went back to the hotel.


I was close to tears at this point, wondering what else could go wrong, so we brought a phone ticket from the receptionist, went to the phones at the back and called the number on the back of the card.


It was at this point I got confused and the man on the phone said he refused to answer any of my questions as it was obviously NOT my account as I could NOT answer the security questions!


I was now in tears and Phil gave me a lovely hug. Then I took a deep breath and realised I had been answering the questions using the wrong account information, so I took a deep breath and called again. This time I got someone different, and I sailed through the questions. I then asked why I could not take any money out, so he asked how much I was taking, I said €250. ‘aahh’ came the reply ‘that’s the problem! You’re only allowed to take £200 per day!’


I hung up; breathing a sigh of relief I turned and explained to Phil what I had done. Another DOH! moment!


As it was now 6.45 we went straight up for the evening meal.


Choosing soup again we made sure we had it with bread this time, and again it was homemade and delicious! We followed this with a small amount of beef stew, Brussels and potatoes. When we had finished it, Phil then went back for some more! And a spoonful of pasta! I had some salad with a slice of cold omelette, an Italian potato dish, cheese, tomatoes and homemade potato salad.


Then Phil really surprised me. The dessert was a chocolate mousse, and, before I knew it, he had gone back for seconds and then sat there, grinning, like a naught schoolboy! Anyone who knows Phil will understand why I sat there in shock, not only at him eating so much but grinning like that.


The dining room staff are really pleasant and were laughing when they asked if I wanted another one, but then laughed even more when Phil said no but they saw me helping myself to his though, all done in fun of course!


After dinner we went back to the bank and got out the money. On the way back we popped into the hotel shop for a look. I left Phil browsing while I went to get the room key.


He then joined me at the lift, showing me something he had brought. It was a small bottle of carob and orange liquor and a small bottle of an aniseed liquor to have in our coffee that night. I may have mentioned we do not drink alcohol as a rule, and this would be about the 3rd time in 10 years we would do


Our coffee was delicious and to cap it all, I did not have an allergic reaction, which meant that there was no ‘extras’ in the liquor!


Contented, well fed and comfortable Phil sat on the balcony taking photos of the passing traffic, whilst I sat and wrote about today’s adventures. And then we both went outside to take some pictures.


Finally at about 11 o clock we both climbed into bed and were soon asleep, looking forward to the car hire people picking us up in the morning.


So good night one and all and sweet dreams.

On the way to Popeye’s Village


The sun once again was glorious! Before leaving the UK we had done research into the weather and is said it was going to rain or be very cloudy every day, yet so far the rain or clouds had not put in an appearance and yet another day seemed to be avoiding the meteorologists plans.


On opening the curtains and seeing the sun we very carefully peeled back the curtains to confirm the sun was there and then left them slightly ajar as we got up, dressed and then dined on Maltese hot X buns, grapes and strawberries.


Then, somewhat excitedly, we packed our day bag with cameras, covered ourselves in factor 50 to go downstairs and wait for the car rental people to pick us up.


When we got down there, 15 minutes early of course, there was a, well normally I would say gentleman, but this guy was not being gentle in any way at all, he was swearing and having a go at Pauline


It appeared that the, er, person in question was with a group of artists who had booked to come over from either Germany or Holland or somewhere like that going by his accent, and that he was not happy with the rooms as they looked over the courtyard and lift shafts. And artists MUST have a view!


We sat there and listened as he raved on and on, what made it worse is that he was well over 6ft tall, in fact Phil who is 6’ 2” would have had to look up to him, and he seemed to be taken great pleasure in telling Pauline, about 5’ 3” and petit, that the rooms where sh** and there was no view and this is not what he was expecting.


We looked at each other and later confirmed we had both been thinking the same thing. When he paid €3.50 per night person with the company he booked with, did he not question as to why the rooms were so cheap? Obviously not! He made some comments about how this would not have happened to him back in his country, artists would have been given rooms with views, and yes, they may have done, but not for that price!


Pauline, bless her, kept her cool and offered to upgrade anyone who came down with their bags in the next half an hour. Only 2 turned up.


The guy stormed off and we asked Pauline if she was ok. She said that she is used to it. It suddenly dawned on us and one of us asked the question. ‘we take it that these people are happy to pay the price of the cheap room, but when they get here and find no view etc as they have done no research, they take it out on you and your staff not the tour operator?’


‘That’s right.’ Was the reply.


We felt sorry for the staff then, and realised how lucky we were we had looked up the information about where we were staying and then upgraded before coming out. Don’t get me wrong. The hotel is lovely and there is nothing wrong with any of the rooms, however, if you pay €3.50 for a room then there is a good chance there is no view! So don’t complain!


It was at that moment an elderly gentleman came in and asked for us so off we went to get our vehicle.


He drove through Sliema and off towards Paceville, Phil asking him questions about driving on Malta. Seemed pretty straight forward to me! Then the driver pulled off the road onto a small street and parked up. He pointed to the shop across the road where we went to finish signing for the vehicle, then we were asked about insurance, fully comp being €60. Again we decided this was best and was now well within our growing allowance.


All signed up, we went to get into our little car, poor Phil poured his long legs in and immediately moved the seat back. Then he was comfortable.


I got out the map and we came to the decision that as we were heading North, we would keep the sea to our right and nothing can go wrong.


It really was a lovely drive. We followed the road out of the towns and into the country. The walls were all dry stone and reminded me of Devon. The sea was an amazing colour and the houses were all flat roofed.


Then we hit our first roundabout.


Now let me explain the difference between the UK roundabout and the Maltese roundabout.


First you know it is there, is says so on the map. Then you are on it. Unlike the UK there are no warning signs, there are no signs indicating how many turnoffs there are. There are no signs say where the turnoffs go. In the UK you get warnings, you  know how many turnoffs because it says so on the signs, and you know where the turnoffs go, it says so on the signs.


There are no white markings on the ground; these have all been worn away over the years.


So the breaks are applied, as in the UK, to give way to traffic on the right, and that’s when the first horns sounded. Apparently you do NOT stop, you carry on and put your foot down, then as you go round the roundabout, if you’re lucky the first time, you will see the sign on the turn off for where you want to go, apply pressure to the accelerator and take that turning, not hitting any of the other moving traffic on the road if you can help it.


That was our first altercation. Adrenaline running high, Phil ‘asked’ me why I had not been watching for the signs. ‘What bloody signs?’ I responded.


We calmed down and carried on. Next roundabout. Same as above.


We were not sure now if there was a pattern to this so we just went with the flow. Yes we took a couple of wrong turnings, safer that way; however, the sea was always there on the right.


We went through a couple more towns and everywhere seemed quiet, except for large groups of people standing around. We then remembered it was polling day and these groups appeared to be waiting to go and vote at the polling stations.


We also now know that the roads were quiet too.


One of the lovely sites we saw was a man in the water with his horse. It seemed like they were swimming together. We also passed two or three trotting carts on the road as well. A little like Ireland we thought.


We drove out of St Juliens, past Pemboke and along the coast to Il-Mellieha where again we turned off the main road and ended up going through a lovely town.


We had at that point realised we could not go too wrong so carried on through and met the main road out the other side.


Then we saw the first sign that meant anything to us. ‘Popeye’s Village’. So turning off we followed the road.




We saw no more signs, so kept following the little red car in front, even when it went passed signs that pointed to the right, implying we had to drive on the wrong side of the road, but the car went left………and so did we.


The road we were now on was lovely. No potholes, something the rest of the roads seemed prolific in, and so we carried on. The red car turned off left onto a track. And it was at this point we realised something. No one else was on the road. It was as wide as a dual carriageway. There were no lines. It was new. How funny if we turned the next bend to find ….OMG they ARE!! Still building the  road! No wonder no one else was on it!

Phil did one of the quickest U-turns I have ever witnessed as I did a quick ‘click’ with the camera, for posterity of course!


And then we drove back down the hill and approached the area where we were meant to have turned off, only to see a sign saying ‘Popeye’s Village’ facing us, but none facing the way we had originally come!


We turned off down the road, happily bouncing on the cars amazing springs to see clear blue water ahead and a small parking area with a cabin announcing we had arrived! And still on one piece to boot!


At the hotel I had noticed some two for one entry tickets so, armed with this, in I went and brought our entry which was now €10 for two, although they did have a special that day which was 10% off all entry, but I got the better deal.


We carried on through the cabin, down the steps and turned right.

The sun was shining, there was a lovely warm breeze coming straight off North Africa, which I am sure we could see in the distance, or perhaps that was Lampedusa? Anyway, we rounded the corner and suddenly saw all the familiar houses as we took our first look at Popeye’s Village aka Sweetheaven.


Popeye’s Village


Popeye’s village is fantastic!


There is a lot to see and do, and believe or not but Popeye, Olive Oyle and Bluto, and even the postman pops out to see everyone.


The entertainment is fantastic and the Animators, who play the parts, are full of energy and life, they sound like their characters and get everyone to stomp and clap along, and in some cases join with their dancing.


I must admit we never thought we would see Popeye, Olive and Bluto doing Gangham!



There is even the wedding of Popeye and Olive, to which we were all invited.


If you are not young at heart, then this may be difficult for you, but if you are, it’s great. You do not need children to enjoy the village! Just memories of the film.


The food is fabulous and there is even a silversmith working the intricate Maltese filigree in his shop.

One little story, when we arrived a cat came out, looked at us and disappeared, and we never gave it another thought.


Until lunch time.


Off into the Seafarers rest for the most beautiful chicken and bacon cabonara. Whilst we were waiting for it, with the sun and the breeze, the magnificent views and the ambiance, we were joined by, the cat and his mate. One sat on one side of Phil and the other sat on the other side, facing me.


We did not think much of it at the time, except it did cross our mind that other people had received their orders and the cats stayed next to us. And so we waited. The four of us, with Phil and I taking photos and videos of the scene and everything it had to offer. And boy, were those cats patient!


Our food turned up and the smell, the look in fact everything about it was just gorgeous.

And the cats had sat there for 15 minutes, not looking at anyone else’s food, just sitting there.


We thought we would try something, after all we had a huge amount of food on our plates, so we each passed the cats down a piece of pasta, thinking, well cats don’t each pasta and they will go away. Did they ‘eck. They sat there happily loading up on everything we gave them.


We have both had cats and never in our lives had we ever thought of giving them pasta to eat!


Other people seemed to be eating the obligatory burger and chips so we can only presume that the cats did not like ‘foreign’ food and preferred local food which is a mixture of Italian and Arabic.


By the time we left we had spent nearly 4 hours there, wandering around the village, talking to the Animators, in fact Bluto brought down his pet rabbit for us to see as well!


We really did not want to leave, but we said we would return.


So onward and upwards to the Red Tower we went having takes lots of photos and lots of video.

Subscribe here