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TravelValue: Malta


Malta


Malta is a Mediterranean island just 60 miles from the Southwestern port of Pozzallo (Sicily, Italy) and of great historical significance with a population of friendly, helpful, English speaking people, excellent and reasonably priced food and accommodation, and a comprehensive public transit system, although not always punctual. Here is a list of must see venues on the island, some with links to reviews and/or websites or SCROLL DOWN FOR FULL REVIEWS:
Hagar Qim Temples
Mnajdra Temples
Fort St Elmo/National War Museum
Ta' Hagrat
National Museum of Archaeology
Skorba Temple
Domus Romana
Gran Castello Historic House
Ghar Dalam
Inquisitors Palace
Malta Maritime Museum
Old Prisons
St Paul's Catacombs
National Museum of Natural History
Malta National Aquarium
Tarxien Temples
Ta' Bistra Catacombs
Fort St Angelo
Grandmaster's Palace State Rooms and Armoury
Popeye Village *
Hal Saflieni Hypogeum **

You can also book tours through travel agents, one (Colour My Travel) offering a FREE 90-Minute Walking Tour of Valletta.

Restaurants

Bugibba

La Stalla

La Sorpressa
The George (British Pub)
House of Spice (Indian)

Valletta

The Submarine (Great, cheap Italian sandwiches)

Rabat

Toffee & Co (Local/Maltese - Inexpensive)


Gozo

Gozo, one of the three Maltese Islands (only two accessible by tourists - Malta and Gozo), also has a vast history and is well worth an extended visit. Here is a list of must see venues on the island:

Gozo Museum of Archaeology
Ggantija Temples
Gozo Nature Museum
Citadel Visitor Centre
Ta' Kola Windmill


Xlendi (Gozo)

The Diamond (British Pub/Food)
Zafiro (Mediterranean)

Gozo Hotel

Want to get away for a couple of days? Go to Gozo and stay at this inexpensive, bay front 3-Star hotel:

San Andrea


Just for grins, here is a post on the cats we saw during our three week stay, called The Maltese Kitten

Most attractions are open year round (hours vary, so check individual websites for details - Heritage Malta), closing only on 24, 25 and 31 December, 1 January and Good Friday in most cases.

* Private attraction
** Entrance limited and reservations recommended well in advance, even in the off-season


Gozo

Gozo, one of the three Maltese Islands (only two accessible by tourists - Malta and Gozo), also has a vast history and is well worth an extended visit. Here is a list of must see venues on the island:

Gozo Museum of Archaeology
Ggantija Temples
Gozo Nature Museum
Citadel Visitor Centre
Ta' Kola Windmill



Ferries

The ferry from Sicily takes only 1.5 hours, but is only recommended if you happen to be in Eastern (Catania) or Southern (Siracusa) Sicily due to the lack of autostrade (freeways) on the Western coast between Palermo/Trapani and Pozzallo. Otherwise, you are better off flying into Malta directly.

Pozzallo (Sicily) to Valletta (Malta)

Under construction


Malta to Gozo

If traveling to the island of Gozo, just 30 minutes from the northern tip of Malta, and I highly recommend you do, the ferry is easily accessible by bus, taxi or car, reasonably priced, and efficient:

Cirkewwara (Malta) to Mgarr (Gozo)

Under construction

Airlines

Ryan Air
AirMalta
Alitalia
EasyJet
British Airways

Buses

Malta

Under construction

Gozo

Under construction

Taxis

The taxi driver who met us at the ferry terminal tried to rip us off, asking €35 for what we knew to be a €20-€25 taxi ride. We then called the main taxi dispatcher and were told "there are no taxis available in Valletta (the Capitol of Malta), so it will be more than an hour wait", so we walked up the hill into town and paid €3 (for both of us), taking the bus to our Airbnb apartment in Bugibba. You are on your own here folks. Although far from perfect, I recommend Malta Public Transport for more efficient and affordable transportation.

Accommodations
Under construction



Restaurant, Hotel, and Attraction Reviews


Valletta


The Saluting Battery (Valletta)
Battery Street, Valletta
Website: salutingbattery.com
Phone: (765) 2122-5277
Prices: €€€€ FREE

Watch this extremely rare Eight Cannon Salute in ancient Valletta, Malta for visiting dignitaries ... Only on CombatCritic's "TravelValue" YouTube Channel.

Normally, they fire one gun at 12PM and 4PM daily, and six for visiting cruise ships upon request, but eight cannon salutes are extremely rare and reserved for only the most important dignitaries (e.g. Queen Elizabeth).
We had just missed the standard 4PM one cannon salute, but I noticed that they were reloading and fusing ALL EIGHT cannons. Knowing a little about gunpowder and fuses and how they react to humidity, I knew they were not loading them for the next day. THe soldiers remained on guard of the loaded cannons, so I asked if there would be a volley. The soldier told me that there would be another in about fifteen minutes.
About fifteen minutes later, a group of visiting dignitaries arrived, took a group photo in front of the eight cannons, and the firing commenced. This rare event was captured on video for you to watch here ... Enjoy!
CombatCritic Gives The Saluting Battery (Valletta) 10 Bombs (No Pun Intended) Out Of 10 And A Spot On My "WALL OF FAME"... More Bombs Are Better!


Ten Bombs Equates To:


Translation for Civilians: 

HOOAH!: "Phonetic spelling of the acronym HUA, which stands for 'Heard Understood Acknowledged.' Originally used by the British in the late 1800's in Afghanistan. More recently adopted by the United States Army to indicate an affirmative or a pleased response." - Urban Dictionary

"The Department of Military Science and Leadership, University of Tennessee claim HOOAH 'refers to or means anything except no' ... Regardless of its meaning ... the term is an expression of high morale, confidence, motivation and spirit." - WarChronicle.com

"The U.S. Air Force stole 'HOOAH' from the Army because we were part of the Army until 1947 and rather than waste a bunch of time coming up with something new and unique like "ROO-YAH" or "HAL-A-LOO-YAH", we said 'screw it, let's go with HOOAH' ... thanks Army ... HOOAH!" - CombatCritic

Background (Wikipedia)
"The Saluting Battery (Maltese: Batterija tas-Salut) is an artillery battery in Valletta, Malta. It was constructed in the 16th century by the Order of Saint John, on or near the site of an Ottoman battery from the Great Siege of Malta. The battery forms the lower tier of St. Peter & Paul Bastion of the Valletta Land Front, located below the Upper Barrakka Gardens and overlooking Fort St. Angelo and the rest of the Grand Harbour.
The Saluting Battery was mainly used for firing ceremonial gun salutes and signals, but it also saw military use during the blockade of 1798–1800 and World War II. The battery remained an active military installation until its guns were removed by the British in 1954. It was restored and opened to the public in the early 21st century, and it is now equipped with eight working replicas of SBBL 32 pounders which fire gun signals daily at 1200 and 1600.
Detail from a map of the Grand Harbour during the Great Siege of Malta in 1565, showing the Order's strongholds of Birgu and Senglea and various Ottoman batteries. The battery at the top left of the image, overlooking Fort St. Angelo and flying a blue standard, stood roughly on the site of the Saluting Battery.
The origins of the Saluting Battery go back to the Great Siege of Malta in 1565. During the siege, Ottoman forces mounted cannon on the Sciberras Peninsula (now occupied by Valletta and Floriana) to bombard the Order of Saint John in Fort St. Angelo. One of the siege batteries was located close to where the Saluting Battery is now, since the area is on high ground and has clear views of St. Angelo and the rest of the Grand Harbour.
In 1566, after the siege was lifted, the city of Valletta was founded. St. Peter & Paul Bastion began to be built in the same year, and was finished in 1570. The bastion has a multi-tiered artillery platform, from which guns could be mounted to command the full length and depth of the Grand Harbour. The Saluting Battery was built on the lower platform, while a loggia and a private garden were built on the upper part in the early 17th century. During the Order's rule in Malta, the battery was used for both military and ceremonial purposes. By the late 18th century, the battery was armed with sixteen 12-pounder bronze cannon that fired stone spherical shots.
During the French occupation of Malta and the siege of Valletta by Maltese insurgents, the armament of the Saluting Battery remained unchanged, but the guns' elevations were increased to be able to bombarded insurgent positions on Corradino Heights across the harbour.
Soon after the British occupied Malta in 1800, the three daily gun signals (at sunrise, noon and sunset) began to be fired from the Saluting Battery instead of Saint James Cavalier, as they had been during the Order's rule. When the battery was undergoing maintenance, the shots were fired from Fort St Angelo on the opposite side of the harbour. In 1803, two 24-pounder carronades and some 24-pounder cannon, which had been captured from the French during the French Revolutionary Wars, were added to the armament of the battery, and these remained in place until 1825.
In 1824, the loggia and garden on the platform above the Saluting Battery were opened to the public as the Upper Barrakka Gardens. By 1848, the battery was armed with four 12-pounder guns. Over the next few years, the armament was significantly increased. By 1852, the battery was armed with ten 24-pounders on the main parapet, four 32-pounders on the right flank, three 8-inch howitzers on the left flank, two 13-inch mortars at the back of the parapet, and two 56-pounder carronades at the salient angles. In 1854, Lascaris Battery was built adjoining St. Peter & Paul Bastion, below the Saluting Battery.
In the 1860s, another 24-pounder was added, bringing the salute guns to eleven. In 1886, howitzers were replaced by RML 64-pounder guns, while the 32-pounders were removed. In the 1890s, all the armament was replaced with eleven 32-pounder Muzzle Loaders, which were used for saluting purposes only. In the early 20th century, the armament consisted of eight SBBL 32 pounders. The gun signals were not fired throughout World War I to conserve gunpowder, and they began to be fired again on Armistice Day in 1918.
During the 1920s, the civilian authorities began pressing the government to cede the Saluting Battery in order to extend the Upper Barrakka. A second entrance to the battery was opened in 1924, linking it to the gardens. That same year, the armament was reduced to one SBBL 32-pounder, and four Ordnance QF 18-pounders. Part of the battery was given up to the public, and the guns were fenced off.
In 1939, just before the beginning of World War II, the guns were all removed to be deployed for coastal defence. A single Bofors 40mm anti-aircraft gun was placed on the right salient of the battery to protect the Malta Dockyard. The battery was manned by the 3rd Light Anti-Aircraft Regiment of the Royal Malta Artillery. The Upper Barrakka and the Saluting Battery were significantly damaged by aerial bombardment. During the war, the Lascaris War Rooms were built in tunnels dug under the battery and gardens.
After the war, the damage to the battery and gardens was repaired. Its armament was briefly replaced by four 25-pounder QF Mk I guns. These were removed a few years later in 1954, when the battery was shut down and transferred to the Royal Navy as part of its complex in Fort Lascaris. In 1965, the part of the battery that was still military property was handed over to the civil government and the whole area was turned into a garden.

Fondazzjoni Wirt Artna, the Malta Heritage Trust, acquired the battery in 2004 and began to restore it to its late 19th century configuration. It now has working cannon, artillery stores, a gunpowder magazine, a collection of historic ordinance and a small museum.
After restoration, the battery was initially equipped with eight original 24-pounder Blomefield cannon made between 1790 and 1810, but these were transferred to a museum and replaced with eight working replicas of SBBL 32 pounders in 2011. During restoration works in 2011, about a hundred stone cannonballs were found at the site. 
The battery is now open daily, and guided tours are available. Gun salutes are fired every day at 1200 and 1600, and cruise liners visiting the Grand Harbour can also commission six-gun salutes."
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Title: Valletta, Malta: CombatCritic Gives "10 Bombs" To Valletta Rare 8-Cannon Salute

Key Words: Valletta, Malta, Saluting Battery, cannon, cannons, battery, volley, cannonball, weapon, salute, saluting, eight, 8, CombatCritic, TravelValue, travel, value, attraction, review, Tripadvisor


References


"Saluting Battery (Valetta): https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Saluting_Battery_(Valletta). Retrieved 11 December 2017.


Copyright 2017 - 3rd Wave Media Group, LLC and CombatCritic - All Rights Reserved




The Submarine
Italian, Fast Food, Mediterranean
Triq II Merkanti, 42B (aka 42B Merchant Street)
Valletta, Malta 1173
Phone: +356 7706 4944
Facebook Page
Prices: €€€€

TripAdvisor has this little place listed about four blocks East (toward the fort) on Merkanti, so we had to call to find out exactly where they were. The owners have been begging TripAdvisor to fix the map issue for months, but have been ignored. That is one of the reasons why I resigned as a Top Contributor on TripAdvisor, because they do not respond to customers (merchants or reviewers - aka the people that pay their bills) and because they selectively publish reviews, a practice I found deceiving and dishonest.



The Submarine is run by a very nice Italian couple from Bologna and boy do they make great sandwiches and at reasonable prices. Fresh breads (ciabatta, baguette, ftira and others) and fillings of your choice (salami, prosciutto, mortadella ... you name it ... and dozens of cheeses, toppings and sauces ... all for just €3.50 ... MAMMA MIA ... CHE BUONO ... HOOAH!
If the map is wrong, which like most addresses in Malta is very likely, ask a local where 42B Merkanti Street is. I can guarantee you it is worth the effort.
Salami, Gouda, Mushroom and Tomato with Olive Oil and Balsamic Vinaigrette on Ciabatta

Half of a Finocchiona, Provolone, Olive and Pesto on Toasted Ftira
It is a tiny place, but the sandwiches are big and scrummy. I had a salami, gouda, mushroom and tomato sandwich with an olive oil and balsamic vinaigrette, toasted on ciabatta and YUUUUUUUUM, it was delicious. My wife's finocchiona (a Tuscan salami), provolone, olive and pesto on toasted ftira (Maltese bread) was equally as good. Include a cold pint of beer and an ice tea, and we were satiated and happy as larks for just €13 total. What more can you ask for?

CombatCritic Gives The Submarine 10 Bombs Out Of 10 ... More Bombs Are Better!


Ten Bombs Equates To:


HOOAH!: "Phonetic spelling of the acronym HUA, which stands for 'Heard Understood Acknowledged.' Originally used by the British in the late 1800's in Afghanistan. More recently adopted by the United States Army to indicate an affirmative or a pleased response." - Urban Dictionary

"The Department of Military Science and Leadership, University of Tennessee claim HOOAH 'refers to or means anything except no' ... Regardless of its meaning ... the term is an expression of high morale, confidence, motivation and spirit." - WarChronicle.com

"The U.S. Air Force stole 'HOOAH' from the Army because we were part of the Army until 1947 and rather than waste a bunch of time coming up with something new and unique like "ROO-YAH" or "HAL-A-LOO-YAH", we said 'screw it, let's go with HOOAH' ... thanks Army ... HOOAH!" - CombatCritic

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Title: Valletta, Malta: "Sunk" My Teeth Into This "Submarine" And Boy Was I Glad I Did

Key Words: Valletta, Malta, The Submarine, the, submarine, 42, Merkanti, Merchant, street, sandwiches, sandwich, shop, fast, food, CombatCritic, TravelValue, travel, value, restaurant, menu, review, Yelp, Zomato

Copyright 2017/2018 - 3rd Wave Media Group, LLC and CombatCritic - All Rights Reserved



Colour My Travel
Tour Company - Valletta City Gate
Valletta, Malta
Phone: +356 9980 0215
Jennifer (Left)
Hey, there is a FREE 90-MINUTE WALKING TOUR of Valletta that you WILL NOT FIND ON TripAdvisor ... surprise, surprise ... offered by Colour My Travel. TripAdvisor is all about profit and does not care about merchants or reviewers (based on personal experience), so why would they advertise a free tour? I had to go to the company's website to find out about this tour, so do your "due diligence" (or read my blog) if you want to find real TravelValue. Here is more information about the free tour ...

My wife and I took the 90+ minute free Valletta tour last night with Jennifer, a very knowledgable, personable, and friendly tour guide and experienced history teacher. We met at the appointed time and place, a diverse group of tourists from countries around the globe, and were on our way around the tiny, beautiful capitol city of Valletta.





We started in front of the parliament building, making our way past ancient churches, the prime minister's office, beautiful gardens, scenic panoramas, historic statues, the former "red light" district, ending the tour in the square in front of the Palace of the Grand Master of the Knights of St John. Jennifer's energetic and detailed history and accounts along the way were both entertaining and educational.










For a free tour, it was very comprehensive, fun, and I highly recommend this tour for those visiting Malta. We will probably take another tour with Colour My Travel before we leave, probably the Mdina Ghost Tour. Finally, you may want to consider amending your name to "Color" My Travel for your American customers so we can find you on the web ... just kidding, just some "Yank" humour, I mean humor.








CombatCritic Gives Colour My Travel's Free Valletta Tour And Jennifer 10 Bombs Out Of 10 ... More Bombs Are Better!
Ten Bombs Equates To:


HOOAH!: "Phonetic spelling of the acronym HUA, which stands for 'Heard Understood Acknowledged.' Originally used by the British in the late 1800's in Afghanistan. More recently adopted by the United States Army to indicate an affirmative or a pleased response." - Urban Dictionary

"The Department of Military Science and Leadership, University of Tennessee claim HOOAH 'refers to or means anything except no' ... Regardless of its meaning ... the term is an expression of high morale, confidence, motivation and spirit." - WarChronicle.com

"The U.S. Air Force stole 'HOOAH' from the Army because we were part of the Army until 1947 and rather than waste a bunch of time coming up with something new and unique like "ROO-YAH" or "HAL-A-LOO-YAH", we said 'screw it, let's go with HOOAH' ... thanks Army ... HOOAH!" - CombatCritic

Read Reviews By CombatCritic:

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Tabelog Reviewer CombatCriticView my food journey on Zomato!

Title: Valletta, Malta: Free Valletta Tour Well Worth Price Of Admission ... And More!

Key Words: Valletta, Malta, Colour My Travel, colour, my, travel, tour, tours, Jennifer, downtown, capitol, excursions, free, ghost, color, CombatCritic, TravelValue, travel, value, review, Yelp

Copyright 2017/2018 - 3rd Wave Media Group, LLC and CombatCritic - All Rights Reserved




National Museum of Archeology
Auberge de Provence, Republic Street
Valletta, Malta VLT 1112
Phone: +356 21 221 623
Website:
Prices: €€€€

The National Museum of Archeology in Valletta is one of two important museums of this kind in Malta, the other being inside the Cittadella, in Victoria, on the island of Gozo. Situated on the main street of the Capital of Valletta, Republic Street, it is housed in what used to be the Auberge de Provence, a fine Baroque building dating back to 1571 where the Knights of the Order of St. John, those originating from Provence, used to live.


The entrance houses the ticket office and a (very small) gift shop, but offers a beautiful view of the decorated ceiling with beautiful, hundreds of years old, frescoes. The museum consists of two floors and is overall rather small. 

On the ground floor (first floor for you Yanks), one can see artifacts dating back to Malta’s Neolithic period (5,000 BC), including tools and representations of human and animal figures. The highlights on this floor are the original stones with reliefs from the temples of Hagar Qim and Tarxien, as well as the famous “Sleeping Lady” (from the Hal Saflieni Hypogeum) and the “Venus of Malta” (from the Hagar Qim Temple).



The exhibition is enriched by several informative boards and pictures throughout this floor (and the museum), showing the discovery and the excavations of the temples at the beginning of the twentieth-century.

The second floor (or third floor for you Yanks) houses the impressive Grand Salon, with painted ceilings walls and wooden beamed ceilings, but you can only get a glimpse of it from the doorway, directly in front of you as you reach the second floor landing, due to renovation work going on.

The rest of the second floor contains two halls: the Bronze Age Hall and the Phoenician Period Hall. The Bronze Age Hall shows several artifacts, such as pottery, weaving tools, and jewelry. You can also see a reproduction of the cart ruts surrounding the temples of Hagar Qim and Mnajdra in Qrenda as well as many other places on the island.


The Phoenician (or Punic) Hall also contains some interesting objects, including decorated pottery, a shawl in Tyre purple (a dye extracted from the murex shellfish for which the Phoenicians were famously secretive of the process), and an anthropomorphic sarcophagus.






We were extremely disappointed, however, in finding out that one of the Cippi of Melqart was missing from the Punic collection because it was on-loan to another museum during our visit. The two Cippi were unearthed in Malta in the 17th Century and date back to the 2nd Century BC. They are two extremely important artifacts because they contain votive offerings to the god Melgart inscribed in both Ancient Greek and Phoenician, providing a key to deciphering the Phoenician language in 1764. In that way, they are considered the Rosetta Stone of the Phoenician language. One is on display at the Louvre and the second one was supposed to be in this museum, but its absence was not advertised on their website. We happened to ask a staff member who did not even know to which museum the artifact had been loaned.
Cippi of Melqart
Apart from the burning disappointment of not being able to see the famous Cippi of Melquart, the museum was overall an interesting stop and certainly offered several other objects that were worth seeing. Works are currently in progress in the Punic Hall, so we hope to come back one day and see more about these fascinating and mysterious ancient people, as well as the renovated Grand Salon.

At just €8.50 for two, the entrance is very reasonable, even though the museum is rather small with relatively few artifacts, considering the vast history of the Island of Malta and numerous archeological sites around the islands.

CombatCritic Gives The Malta's National Museum Of Archeology 7 Bombs Out Of 10 ... More Bombs Are Better!



Seven Bombs Equates To:

Translation for Civilians: "Shits & Grins"

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Hours

January and February
Monday to Sunday: 09.00 - 17.00hrs
Last admission: 16.30hrs

March - December
Monday to Sunday: 09.00 - 18.00hrs
Last admission: 17.30hrs

Closed on 24, 25 & 31 December, 1 January & Good Friday

Tickets

Adults (18 - 59 years): €5.00
Youths (12 - 17 years) and Seniors (60+), Students: €3.50
Children (6 -11 years): €2.50
Infants (1 -5 years): Free

Title: Valletta, Malta: National Archeological Museum - Slightly Disappointing, But Worth A Visit

Key Words: Valletta, Malta, National Archeological Museum, national, archeological, museum, Venus, Venus of Malta, Cippi of Melquart, CombatCritic, TravelValue, travel, value, attraction, museum, review, TripAdvisor


Copyright 2017 - 3rd Wave Media Group, LLC and CombatCritic - All Rights Reserved




Birgu (The Three Cities)


The Holy Land to Malta: In The Footsteps of the Order of St John
Fort San Angelo
Xatt l-Assedju l-Kbir 1565,
Birgu Waterfront, Il-Birgu, Malta
Telephone: +356 2540-1800
Facebook Page
Website: HeritageMalta.org/Fort-St-Angelo
Normal Prices: €€€€

What an outstanding experience! The volunteer reenactors were realistic and superb and in such a uniquely appropriate environment such as Fort San Angelo, it was even more impressive.









Our Guide
Our (3PM Sunday) guide was extremely knowledgable and the actors not only credible, but knowledgable. The highlight of the event was the closing siege where many muskets were fired and the final battle dramatically took place. My eardrums will never be the same.




I learned so much about the Order of St John's and the history of Malta during our stay, but especially during the 90+ minute tour of medieval life and death at Fort St Angelo. I look forward to learning much more and possibly becoming involved myself at some point if practical.




The fort itself is nothing special on the inside, having been renovated using some fairly modern techniques and materials. However, the outside of the fort and views of Valletta across the harbor from the fort were in-fact quite spectacular.







Entrance was free the day we were there, but prices are normally a bit high (€5 - €8), in my opinion, for just the fort itself. It was the reenactment that was the highlight of the visit.

CombatCritic Gives From Fort San Angelo and "The Holy Land to Malta: In The Footsteps of the Order of St John" 9 Bombs Out Of 10 ... More Bombs Are Better!

Nine Bombs Equates To:

Translation for Civilians: "U.S. Marine Response To A Verbal Greeting Or As An Expression Of Enthusiasm"

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Summer Hours
April 1 - September 30
Monday - Sunday: 09.00 – 18.00
Last admission: 17.30

Winter Hours
October 1 - March 31
Monday - Sunday: 09.00 – 17.00
Last admission at 16.30

Closed on 24, 25 & 31 December, 1 January & Good Friday

Tickets
Adults (18 – 59): €8.00
Youths (12 – 17), Senior Citizens (60+), and Students: €5.00
Children (6 – 11): €3.00
Infants (1 – 5): Free

Title: Birgu, Malta: Fort San Angelo And "The Holy Land to Malta: In The Footsteps of the Order of St John"

Key Words: Birgu, Malta, Fort San Angelo, Holy Land, Order of St John, saint, John, fort, San Angelo, Angelo, CombatCritic, TravelValue, travel, value, museum, event, review, TripAdvisor, Google, Facebook


Copyright 2018 - 3rd Wave Media Group, LLC and CombatCritic - All Rights Reserved


Millieha

Popeye Village
Triq Tal-Prajjet, Il-Mellieħa
Website: popeyemalta.com
Phone: +356 2152 4782
Prices: $$$$

The leftover film set from the Popeye movie, filmed in 1980 starring newcomer Robin Williams, is now a Malta tourist attraction and theme park minus the rides. 
If you have a couple hours, at most, to kill, it is a charming diversion for film buffs and children of all ages.




We were met by Giullia at the park entrance, a lovely and kind Sicilian from Palermo who greeted us warmly (even giving us a ride into town after her shift) at the ornate ticket booth on the end of the peninsula. Tickets are €10.50 for adults and €8.50 for kids (3-12) as well as seniors (60+), not a bad deal compared to Disneyland's $124/head during peak season, but this ain't Disneyland.







The buildings are original and the park charming, sitting on the cliffs overlooking the beautiful and scenic Anchor Bay. There is a small cast of characters that will pose for photo ops and put on a performance, filming a short version of the movie several times a day with guests as cast members. You can buy the DVD later if you wish.



The inside of some the buildings are furnished with a mish mash of furniture and props, some possibly from the film others are now souvenir shops, snack bars and even a small theatre where you can see how the film set came to be. There are play areas for kids, but the one at the top of the village seemed to be closed when we were there. One area of the park has a Christmas theme (we were there just before Christmas, but it seems to be there year round) with slightly animated elves, reindeer, and other holiday characters in the buildings.















As I said, it is an interesting diversion and a place to spend a couple of hours, but as theme parks go, this one is somewhat lacking. It is a gorgeous location, a small picturesque bay on the Northwest corner of the small Mediterranean island, and that alone may be worth the price of admission.






CombatCritic Gives Popeye Village 6 Bombs Out Of 10 ... More Bombs Are Better!

Six Bombs Equates To:

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Mi Famiglia Wood Oven Pizzeria Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato


Title: Popeye Village, Malta: I Yam What I Yam ... An Old Film Set Turned Low Budget Theme Park

Key Words: Popeye Village, Malta, I, yam, film set, theme, park, Popeye, village, movie IMDB, Robin Williams, Robin, Williams, CombatCritic, TravelValue, travel, value, , review, Yelp, Zomato

Translation for Civilians: G2G = "Good To Go"

Copyright 2017/2018 - 3rd Wave Media Group, LLC and CombatCritic - All Rights Reserved



Bugibba

There are three restaurants on Turisti Street in Bugibba just a stone's throw from the other - La Sorpresa, La Stalla and Ta Pawla - all with reasonably priced, three-course Set Menus, inexpensive wines, great service and excellent food.

La Sorpresa
Triq it-Turisti, San Pawl il-Baħar
Bugibba, Malta
Prices: $$$$
A great find! The food was delicious, the portions hearty, and the prices very reasonable. My wife and I had multi-course dinners with wine and mineral water for about €40.

The place is charmingly simple snd the service impeccable. Our server Gabriele was there when needed, but otherwise not hovering.

I thought I needed a starter and the Cheesy Bruschetta (€3.50) sounded good, so I went for it. There were four slices of fresh, soft Maltese bread with sesame seeds topped with fresh tomatoes, herbs, olive oil, and mozzarella cheese, then broiled to a toasty consistency. It was delicious and far more food than I expected or needed. 
For my entree, I had the Bragioli (€13), a Maltese dish very similar to my family's recipe but in a brown wine sauce instead of marinara, coming with wonderful roasted potatoes and salad. The two large bragioli consisted of thinly sliced beef rolled around homemade Maltese sausage and topped with the delcious sauce.



My wife's steak (€14 - Fixed Price) was also tasty, but obviously an inexpensive cut (likely hanger steak) and a tad too chewy. It came with mushroom gravy, with nary a mushroom, a starter (a delicious potato celery soup - spaghetti Bolognese also an option) as well as roasted potatoes (or fries), veggies (or salad), and choice of dessert. Even though the steak was disappointing, at just €14 how can you possibly complain. She should have ordered the Chicken Cordon Bleu.


I doubt you will find a better value in Bugibba or anywhere else on Malta for that matter. Other than the steak, I cannot find a single flaw with this family run restaurant. We left stuffed to the gills and happy as the larks we saw at the Malta Bird Park the following day.


CombatCritic Gives La Sorpressa 9 Bombs Out Of 10 With The Sole Deduction For The Slightly Tough Steak ... More Bombs Are Better!

Nine Bombs Equates To:


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Title: Buggabi, MaltaL A Big "Sorpresa", This Little Place Was Quite The Find

Key Words: Ristorante Pizzeria La Sorpresa, ristorante, pizzeria, La Sorpesa, la sorpresa, Bugibba, Malta, CombatCritic, TravelValue, travel, value, restaurant, menu, Triq, Turisti, San Pawl, il-Baħar, review, Yelp, Zomato

Translation for Civilians: OOH-RAH = "U.S. Marine Response To A Verbal Greeting Or As An Expression Of Enthusiasm"


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The George
Tourist Street Qawra
San Pawl il-Baħar (Bugibba) Malta
Facebook Page: @thegeorgepubmalta
Phone: +356 2734 9002
Prices: €€€€

We stop by The George nearly every night for a pint on our way back to our apartment from the Bugibba Bus Terminus, but tonight was the first time we actually had something to eat.



I saw someone eating the mussels last week and they looked incredible. We stopped by last Tuesday for dinner, only to find that the kitchen is closed on Tuesdays ... DRAT! The kitchen was open tonight, fortunately, and we had a very enjoyable dinner (or is it "pudding"?).


Being a retired Air Force airman, I had a couple pints of Bombardier, getting us off to a good start, then it was on to the Bangers and Mash for the wife €8 and the Mussels, of course, for me. The bangers and mash were quite savory and tasty, three scrummy sausages on top of mashed potatoes topped with brown gravy and a pork rind ... very nice. My mussels (€16), a kilo no less, were in a stout, cream and horseradish sauce that was quite spicy and delectable. The accompanying crusty bread was fresh, soft and perfect for dipping in the tasty sauce. I had to add a side of chips (€3) because that is the way the French do it and we all know that the French do it better than the Brits ... I'm winding you up, so don't get your knickers in a twist!



The food and service, thanks to Julie, were spot-on, but the prices are just a tad high compared to other places on Malta we have frequented, so that is one reason for the small deduction in rating. The other being the fact that the first time we heard about The George was from a gent on the corner across from the bus terminal advertising free music and £1 pints that night, but when I ordered a pint of Bombardier later that evening, I was charged €3.50 (£3.09), more than three times the advertised price. Finally, a €10 to €14 burger should also come with a side of chips, but that is just this reporter's opinion.


My blog is called "TravelValue", so I must be honest when it comes to little things like "value", bang-for-the-buck if you will. For example, €4 for a pint of John Smiths last night seemed a tad high, the bangers and mash (with no side/salad) would be better priced in the €7 to €7.50 range, and at €16 the mussels might come with a side of chips (fries) as has been the case in most places I have had mussels in the past. Otherwise, I can find no faults with The George and we shall return after a week's closing for maintenance on the 11th.

Cheers big ears!

CombatCritic Gives The George 8 Bombs Out Of 10 ... More Bombs Are Better Mate!


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Title: Bugibba, Malta: By "George", This Little Pub Was Quite The Find

Key Words: Bugibba, Malta, The George, pub, the, George, mussels, moules, frites, chips, Qawra, San Pawl, il-Baħar, CombatCritic, TravelValue, travel, value, restaurant, review, Yelp

Translation for Civilians: WTFO! = "What-The-Fuck ... Over!"


Copyright 2017/2018 - 3rd Wave Media Group, LLC and CombatCritic - All Rights Reserved



Bird Park Malta
Triq l-Imdawra, Burmarrad, San Pawl il-Baħar
Bugibba, Malta
Phone: +356 9986 8608
Website: birdparkmalta.com
Prices: €€€€



At the Bird Park of Malta in Bugibba, you can caress Giotto, the friendliest raven you have ever seen, chat with Ricky the gabby cockatoo (and Giotto's buddy), or pet Elsa the owl.


Giotto
Ricky
Elsa
Elsa



Elsa
Before you even pay to enter the park proper, you are greeted by a menagerie of cats, chickens and peacocks strutting the grounds freely as well as an assortment of caged birds, including the friendly and entertaining Giotto and Ricky. Elsa will greet you as you pass through the gate (after paying) and she loves to be caressed, but be sure to approach her cautiously at first, after all she is a wild animal. You can also pet her darker friend just down the path as you start your journey.



Throughout your unguided tour you will meet birds of many species, some very rare from exotic locations and others more well known and common. Some are curious and friendly like the Ibis below with his spiky hairdoo and colorful plumage or not so friendly and potentially harmful as his grumpy companion with the massive beak below.


You will see everything from chickens to flamingos to several varieties of owls as well as many other species along the way. The tour can take as little as 30 minutes if in a rush or you can spend several hours if you wish, enjoying the beautiful creatures and peaceful environment. They even have a restaurant, snack bar and gift shop where you can pay for entry or relax before or after your tour.















My sole concern is the rather small cages some of the birds are kept in as the website does not explain why the birds are in captivity. If it is because they were injured in the wild and are recuperating during treatment or were pets no longer wanted and unable to be released back into the wild, the cages make sense. The cages are bigger than you would find in any home and similar to those you find in zoos, but caging wild animals for profit's sake is not something I condone and the park's motivations should be better described on their website.
CombatCritic Gives Bird Park Malta 9 Bombs Out Of 10 ... More Bombs Are Better!


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SUMMER OPENING HOURS 
(FROM JULY 1st)

Tuesdays            10:00am – 3:00pm
Wednesdays        10:00am – 3:00pm
Thursdays           10:00am – 3:00pm
Fridays               10:00am – 3:00pm   
Saturdays            10:00am – 3:00pm   
Sundays              10:00am – 3.00pm

WINTER OPENING HOURS

Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays  from 10:00am to 3:00pm

Saturdays, Sundays and Public Holidays from 10:00am to 5:00pm

Prices

Children under 3 - Free
Children under 12 - €5
13 and up - €8
(Senior Discount of €1 for 60+)

Title: Bugibba, Malta: Caress Giotto The Raven, Chat With Ricky The Cockatoo, Or Pet Elsa The Owl

Key Words: Bird Park Malta, bird, park, refuge, research, Bugibba, Malta, Giotto, raven, Ricky, cockatoo, Elsa, owl, parrots, CombatCritic, TravelValue, travel, value, review, Yelp

Translation for Civilians: OOH-RAH = "U.S. Marine Response To A Verbal Greeting Or As An Expression Of Enthusiasm"


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House of Spice Restaurant Malta
48, Triq il Halel
Bugibba, Malta
@houseofspicemalta On Facebook
Phone: +356 2733 3281
Prices: €€€€

I spent four months in India (2015) and have been enjoying Indian food for years, and this was some of the most delicious Indian food I have had.


We were greeted warmly, the restaurant was clean and modern, the service impeccable, and the food authentic and superb. From the papadum and relish tray, to the veggie samosas (€3.95), my wife's Saag Paneer (€8.50), my Beef Vindaloo (€8.50), and Pulao Rice, everything was spot-on. We also had a very nice bottle of Syrah for around €10 ... HOOAH!



The portions were perfect for the price and the food prepared with care and precision. A little over $50 for a meal like that, including a bottle of wine and tip, is a terrific value. The only negative is the lack of a website, just a Facebook page, needed to allow people to see the menu and present a more professional image. A simple website is cheap (or free), easy to set-up, and a necessity in today's tech-based society. Otherwise, we will be back very soon Hanif!

CombatCritic Gives House of Spice Malta 9 Bombs Out Of 10 ... More Bombs Are Better!

Nine Bombs Equates To:

"U.S. Marine Response To A Verbal Greeting Or As An Expression Of Enthusiasm"

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Title: Bugibba, Malta: House Of Spice IS IN THE HOUSE!

Key Words: House of Spice Malta, House of Spice, house, of, spice, HOS, Malta, Bugibba, India, Indian, curry, CombatCritic, TravelValue, travel, value, restaurant, menu, review, Yelp, Zomato


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La Stalla Pub, Restaurant, and Pizzeria
Triq-It-Turisti, Tourist Street
Bugibba, St Paul's Bay
Phone: +356 2157-1368
Website: None
Facebook Page
Prices: €€€€

Just two blocks SW of the Bugibba Bay Bus Terminus on Turisti Street is La Stalla (literally "The Stall"), a rather large restaurant with a bar, pizza, and a complete menu including a wonderful €14 Set (Fixed Price) Menu.
We had walked by numerous times and even though it looked inviting, there was always an absence of customers. Most places along the street are bustling, but La Stalla almost always had very few customers even though their reviews on Facebook and TripAdvisor (which I do not trust) are almost unanimously very positive. One of the turn-offs for us was the horse meat steaks on the menu, making sense because of the name of the restaurant, but not something most Americans or Brits likely eat. With just two more days in Malta, we decided to give them a chance and walked inside, the only customers in the place at 7:30PM on a Tuesday were us. 
We started with a bottle of sparkling mineral water (€3) and local red, Cittadella, wine, a tremendous bargain at just €7. The server also brought out complimentary fresh, local bread and butter as well as the traditional Maltese broad bean pate (kinda like cold refried beans) with savory biscuits (crackers to you Yanks). Off to a great start!


My wife ordered a pizza (€8) with prosciutto crudo, rucola (which the English and La Stalla call "rocket") and grana padana, clarifying "with no tomatoes, olive oil instead" due to her sensitivity to the acidic fruit. I ordered the Set Menu (€14), asking for the stuffed mushroom appetizer (soup of the day, shrimp cocktail, spaghetti Bolognese, or eggs mayonnaise, which I believe we Yanks call "deviled eggs", are the other options), grilled rib eye steak with mushroom gravy (roast chicken, lamb shanks, choice of omelette, and fish & chips were the other choices).

My wife's pizza arrived about 10-15 minutes after my mushrooms (more on that later) and, unfortunately, they had prepared it with tomato sauce. Good thing I caught the error before my wife started eating. The server apologized profusely, as she should have for bringing someone something they specified they were "allergic" to, taking the pizza back and starting a new one sans tomato. By the way, a pizza with prosciutto crudo, rucola, and grana padana would NEVER come with tomato sauce in Italy, only a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil (EVO) if anything.

A few pieces of burnt crust from the oven attached to the bottom of my wife's pizza
My mushrooms, stuffed with ham, cheese, spinach and local sausage in a cream sauce, were absolutely delicious. My rib eye was also cooked to perfection and, unlike the restaurant across the street, tender and easy to cut/chew. It came on top of steamed veggies (cauliflower and carrots) with fresh, hot, crispy French fries ("chips" to you Limeys, I mean Brits) and a salad on the side. I also had a choice of dessert afterward, picking the chocolate gateau (that's cake for you Yanks and Brits - the Frogs know what I'm talking about). For just €14, it was quite a lovely meal!






I would have awarded La Stalla the full 10 Bombs Out Of 10 and a spot on my "Wall of Fame" if it were not for the pizza mix-up (giving my wife something they were told she was allergic to) and the burnt pizza dough attached to the bottom of my wife's pizza. They were obviously sorry, with both servers and the owner/manager stopping by to apologize, but a proper apology for such a huge mistake would have been an offer for a free dessert for my wife or a local after dinner drink like Bajtra (said to be the favorite of the Knights of St John – made by distilling the juice of the prickly pear). Otherwise, the meal was excellent and the value ... TERRIFIC. Now that is TravelValue!

CombatCritic Gives La Stalla 8 Bombs Out Of 10 ... More Bombs Are Better!


Eight Bombs Equates To:

Translation for Civilians: "What-The-Fuck ... Over!"

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Title: Bugibba, Malta: No "Horsing" Around, This "Stall" Has A Great €14 Set Menu Dinner ... HOOAH!

Key Words: La Stalla, la, stalla, stall, Turisti, Tourist, street, Bugibba, Malta, set, menu, fixed, pizza, CombatCritic, TravelValue, travel, value, restaurant, menu, review, TripAdvisor

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Ta' Pawla Restaurant  
320 Triq it-Turisti
San Pawl il-Baħar, Malta
Phone: +356 9949-2049
Website: None
Facebook Page
Prices: €€€€

There are three restaurants on Turisti Street in Bugibba just a stone's throw from the other - La SorpresaLa Stalla and now ... Ta Pawla - all with reasonably priced, three-course Set Menus, inexpensive wines, great service and excellent food.
La Sopresa and La Stalla both have €14 set menus, including starter (soup, pasta, stuffed mushrooms, etc.), main course (rib eye steak with mushroom gravy, bragiolini, chicken cordon bleu, etc.), and choice of dessert. A bottle of sparkling (or still) water is €3 (.75L) and a nice Maltese bottle of wine in the €7 to €12 range (and up).


Ta Pawla is pretty much identical, very good food, same basic menu, equal drink prices, nice environment, and good service, except they charge €16.90 for their set menu, nearly €3 more than the other two nearby restaurants.


My wife had the Maltese Platter for her starter with plenty of soft, local Pecorino, olives, cucumber, carrots, bell pepper, lettuce, rucola (minus the tomato - she is allergic). I liked their pasta choice better than the other two which offer only spaghetti Bolognese. Their pasta was a local variety and prepared in the Maltese way with local sausage, cheese and sauteed onion with tomato.



My wife had the polpette, meatloaf in the shape of a thick hamburger patty topped with brown gravy and accompanied by fries (chips) and salad. Both were as good as any we had tried elsewhere.


My bragiolini ("olives" or involtini - thinly sliced beef rolled around sausage and/or ham, cheese, egg, olives, and/or spices) were also very good, accompanied by nicely roasted potatoes and vegetables.

Dessert was either coffee or a Maltese tart filled with fig and topped with either chocolate or vanilla ice cream, whipped cream, and drizzled with chocolate sauce. We went with the sweets rather than stay awake all night (coffee at 10PM?) and we were glad we did ... YUM!

The food was very good, the environment rustic and warm, and the service excellent, but honestly, I am not sure it was worth the extra €3 compared to the two previously mentioned neighbors.


Eight Bombs Equates To:

Translation for Civilians: "What-The-Fuck ... Over!"

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Title: Bugibba, Malta: Another Excellent Bugibba Set Menu Meal At Rustic "Ta Pawla"

Key Words: Bugibba, Malta, Set Menu, rustic, Ta Pawla, ta, pawla, pawl, Triq it-Turisti, San Pawl il-Baħar, Turisti, CombatCritic, TravelValue, travel, value, restaurant, menu, review, Facebook, TripAdvisor


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The Island of Gozo


Jubilee Cafe  
Pjazza l-Indipendenza
Ir-Rabat Għawdex, Malta
Phone: +356 2155 8921
Website: jubileecafe.com
Facebook Page
Prices: €€€€
We went to this charming little cafe with our new Maltese friends for a meal before the Christmas kick-off concert and tree lighting ceremony just across the street in the plaza.


Looking more like a British pub, the place was quaint and rather small with just a handful of tables and too many people to utilize them during the holiday rush. The four of us managed to get a four-top after waiting 10 minutes or so at at table for two.
We had a nice bottle of local Maltese (Gozo) red wine, Ulysses, a Shiraz (Syrah in French) by Gozo vintner Marsovin that was excellent, particularly at just €11 ($13). It was dark and robust with fruity overtones, a perfect accompaniment to the local, savory chicken and rabbit dishes we ordered.
"Produced entirely from hand picked grapes harvested in family owned vineyards in Gozo, this full bodied ruby red wine is very delicate on the palate, with soft tannins and soft fruity aromas reminiscent of raspberries and plums. Ageing:  2 - 3 years (depending on vintage)" - www.Marsovin.com




I had the chopped chicken breast in a mushroom and gorgonzola cheese sauce with fries (chips) and a side salad. The sauce was savory with mild hints of gorgonzola as the cheese can be quite overwhelming if not prepared properly. The fries were hot and crispy and the side salad more of a garnish than anything.
Chicken and Mushrooms in a Mild Gorgonzola Sauce - €12.50

My wife's Montecristo was untraditional and underwhelming, but at just €5.95, we could not complain. Served on local ftira bread instead of the traditional egg-battered, fried bread sprinkled with powdered sugar, the local bread was toasted, adding chicken and pecorino (goat) cheese to the somewhat more traditional Parma ham and mozzarella cheese. Accompanied by a smattering of potato chips (crisps), my wife was not overly impressed and the bite I had was nothing special.

Montecristo - Parma Ham, Grilled Chicken, Mozzarella and Pecorino on Ftira - €5.95
Henry, our Maltese host for our weekend in Gozo, had the traditional local favorite, rabbit in a brown, wine-based gravy and served with roasted potatoes. I did not taste it, but it looked delicious and Henry, an expert on rabbit, said that it was "very good".
Gozo Rabbit in Wine Gravy with Roasted Potatoes - €12.95
Henry (Right) and CombatCritic
We then walked across the street to the main plaza for Gozo's Christmas Season opening musical performance with a number of performers singing Christmas carols followed by a flip of a switch, turning on the city's Christmas tree lights as well as the lights decorating the streets of Victoria.
At just over €60 for dinner for four and a nice bottle of wine, Jubilee was quite delightful and an excellent value. The environment was warm and welcoming as was the service we received. Considering the mad rush of concert goers, including part of the orchestra, instruments and all, they handled the crowd and the food very efficiently ... BRAVO!

CombatCritic Gives Jubilee Cafe 8 Bombs Out Of 10 ... More Bombs Are Better!






Eight Bombs Equates To:

Translation for Civilians: "What-The-Fuck ... Over!"

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Hours

Mon-Thurs:  8AM–1AM
Fri-Sat: 8AM–2AM
Sun: Closed



Title: Victoria, Malta (Gozo): A "Jubilee", One For Christmas And Another In My Mouth

Key Words: Jubilee Cafe, jubilee, cafe, Gozo, Victoria, Malta, Pjazza l-Indipendenza, Ir-Rabat Għawdex, island, CombatCritic, TravelValue, travel, value, restaurant, menu, review, Yelp, Zomato, independence, cittadella


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The Diamond
16 Triq Sant Andrija Xlendi
Xlendi, Island of Gozo, Malta
Phone: +356 7904 1812
Website:  https://www.thediamondxlendi.co.uk/
Prices: €€€€

With unusually rough Mediterranean seas during our stay in Xlendi due to high winds, The Diamond was a calming influence. A simple, yet efficient little pub/restaurant not visible to the eye from the main square of Xlendi, you must head down the street to your right (looking toward the bay from the plaza), turn to your right at the end of the block and look to your right. There you will see The Diamond, if you look hard, with the black and white sign and barely wider than the double doors in the front.
Inside it gets a tad wider, but not much, toward the back. There are only about six tables, so hope it is not a busy night. The owner, Robin, is from Newcastle upon Tyne, is a friendly lad, and efficient as well. He runs the front and Diane, who may be his spouse, runs the kitchen.

There is no draught beer, so you will have to settle for a bottle or can and a glass. I had a John Smith's (€3.50) and a local pale ale called Hopleaf (€2.50) and we shared a bottle of sparkling water (€3). 
The menu is simple (see below) with typical pub fare, including and Quiche Lorraine (€6.50) and Fish and Chips (€10), which my wife and I ordered. They also have steak and Guinness pie (among others), jacket potatoes, burgers, sandwiches and other very reasonably priced menu items with my fish and chips being the most expensive item on the menu.
My wife's cheese and onion quiche was a bit on the tiny side, but quite savory and tasty, coming with a small side of chips (fries to you Yanks) and an equally small side salad. Not bad for the price actually.
My fish and chips were delicious with fresh, flaky cod (I think) and a light, crispy batter. In fact, both the fish and the batter were so light and flaky that it was difficult to eat with a fork. It came with hot, crisp chips, mushy peas, a small portion of tartar sauce, and a slice of white bread and butter. The only downside was the size of the portion of fish, being much smaller than you would find at any "chippy" in the U.K., but not a bad value for the price.

It was a nice, light meal after some rather robust Maltese feasts we had had lately and at €25.50 plus tip, one of the cheaper meals we had in Malta and a great value.

CombatCritic Gives The Diamond 8 Bombs Out Of 10 ... More Bombs Are Better!

Eight Bombs Equates To:

Translation for Civilians: "What-The-Fuck ... Over!"

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Title: Xlendi, Gozo (Malta): A "Diamond" In The Rough Waters Of Xlendi Bay

Key Words: Xlendi, Gozo, Malta, The Diamond, the, diamond, pub, fish and chips, fish, chips, beer, ale, CombatCritic, TravelValue, travel, value, restaurant, menu, review, Yelp

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San Andrea Hotel
Xlendi Promenade
Xlendi, Island of Gozo, Malta
Phone: (+356) 2156 5555
Prices: €€€€

OK, so we paid $72 for a double seafront room with breakfast included. I should be jumping up and down, right? Well I am not and here is why ...




I found the place through Booking.com for $72 per night, but the guy at the front desk said to book it through him and we would get a better deal because they have to pay commissions to Booking.com, but the price he quoted (€60) translates to $71.61, a whopping savings of 39 cents ... WHOOPEE! We were there, so I booked the room through him, but after paying the €120 for two nights, we were told that we would have to pay an additional "environmental charge" of €2 at check out. No biggy, so we went to the room.



The room had a fantastic view of Xlendi Bay, a gorgeous inlet in a cute little town on the Southwest coast of Gozo, but two people could barely fit on the small balcony overlooking the bay. The room was extremely small, big enough for the king size bed (two singles pushed together) with a nightstand on each side, that was it. There was barely enough room to move around the room on the three sides of the bed without scraping the wall. The bathroom was decent size.







The weather was chilly by Gozo standards and the sea very rough because of the high Westerly winds blowing directly into the bay. Our room was FREEZING! I like a cool room, especially when I sleep, but this was ridiculous. I set the thermostat on high, grabbed a big comforter out of the closet and snuggled up on the bed, dosing off for about an hour. When I awoke, the room was even colder and I was shivering like a leaf, so we dressed and went down for dinner in their restaurant. I told the front desk clerk, a nice woman from Milan, about the problem with the heat and she said they were on top of it. There were three other people there and we were told that we were not the only ones with the problem, but it was Sunday night and their maintenance man was doing what he could.
We went to the restaurant for dinner, €16 each (hotel guest price - €21 for others) for a fixed price menu. My wife had the vegetable soup, meatloaf, and coconut tart with vanilla ice cream. I had the spaghetti Bolognese, pan fried chicken breast with tomato sauce and melted cheese, and apple pie with vanilla ice cream. Our server, Merriam from Belgium, could not have been nicer or more attentive, she was the highlight of the meal.

My wife's pureed veggie soup was bland and what can you say about meatloaf (polpettone) other than it was meatloaf and OK. The grilled veggies and roasted potatoes accompanying our meals were pretty good and her coconut tart was tasty.



My Bolognese was lukewarm and the sauce way too sweet. My chicken had the same sweet tomato sauce on top and was also not very warm. The apple pie was decent, but not as good as most you would find stateside. At €16 ($19) a pop, I guess we could not complain too much, it was a decent deal even with all of the flaws.

That night and the next morning our room was still freezing, so we went to breakfast. The same guy who checked us in was at the desk, so I asked him if our heat was going to be fixed that day and he assured me it would, but added "I don't know why your room was the only one with no heat when the hotel has central heating". Well, our room was NOT the only one without heat as confirmed the night before, so I said "why don't you tell me then" and we went to breakfast. Not only did we not receive an apology, he acted like we were nuts. Give me a break!

Breakfast was actually pretty good with eggs over medium, English-style (undercooked) bacon, and pork and beans. They also had fresh, local bread, salami, ham and cheese as well as yogurts, cereals, and two types of cake. You had to get your own coffee out of an automatic coffee machine, but it was decent. The only drawback being some rather large eggshells in the scrambled eggs on our final day that my wife nearly choked on. Anyway, we left immediately afterward for a day full of sightseeing and when we returned that night, the heat was finally working ... BRAVO!

The hotel is nice for a 3-star and $73+ for a seafront room ain't a bad deal, but here is why I am deducting stars (Bombs):

1. He should have given us a better price for booking directly through the hotel and he did not.

2. We froze our asses off and not only did we not get an apology (or a comped dinner or discount on our room), we got a smartass remark.

3. The room and balcony were tiny.

4. Dinner was a bargain, but was poorly done with bland, cold food.

5. Eggshells in the scrambled eggs ... unprofessional and unsavory, even dangerous

With all that being said, I can only give them an average rating, even with the excellent price ...

CombatCritic Gives Hotel San Andrea 6 Bombs Out Of 10 ... More Bombs Are Better!


Six Bombs Equates To:


Translation for Civilians: "Good To Go"

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Title: Xlendi, Gozo (Malta): Decent Deal On Oceanfront Room, But Froze Our Buns Off Without As Much As An Apology

Key Words: Xlendi, bay, Gozo, Malta, oceanfront room, hotel, hotels, Booking.com, 3-star, accommodation, CombatCritic, TravelValue, travel, value, restaurant, menu, review, Yelp, Zomato


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Zafiro Ristorante
Xlendi Promenade
Xlendi, Island of Gozo, Malta
Phone: (+356) 2156 5555
Prices: €€€€

OK, so we paid $72 for a double seafront room with breakfast included. I should be jumping up and down, right? Well I am not and here is why ..


I found the hotel through Booking.com for $72 per night, including breakfast, at their restaurant Zafiro where we also had dinner ... the first night.
The room had a fantastic view of Xlendi Bay, a gorgeous inlet in a cute little town on the Southwest coast of Gozo, but two people could barely fit on the small balcony overlooking the bay.
We went to the restaurant, Zafiro, for dinner, €16 each (hotel guest price - €21 for others) for a fixed price menu. My wife had the vegetable soup, meatloaf, and coconut tart with vanilla ice cream. I had the spaghetti Bolognese, pan fried chicken breast with tomato sauce and melted cheese, and apple pie with vanilla ice cream. Our server, Merriam from Belgium, could not have been nicer or more attentive, she was the highlight of the meal.

My wife's pureed veggie soup was bland and what can you say about meatloaf (polpettone) other than it was meatloaf and OK. The grilled veggies and roasted potatoes accompanying our meals were pretty good and her coconut tart was tasty.



My Bolognese was lukewarm and the sauce way too sweet. My chicken had the same sweet tomato sauce on top and was also not very warm. The apple pie was decent, but not as good as most you would find stateside. At €16 ($19) a pop, I guess we could not complain too much, it was a decent deal even with all of the flaws.

Breakfast was actually pretty good with eggs over medium, English-style (undercooked) bacon, and pork and beans. They also had fresh, local bread, salami, ham and cheese as well as yogurts, cereals, and two types of cake. You had to get your own coffee out of an automatic coffee machine, but it was decent. The only drawback being some rather large eggshells in the scrambled eggs on our final day that my wife nearly choked on.



The hotel is nice for a 3-star and $73+ for a seafront room ain't a bad deal, but here is why I am deducting stars (Bombs) for Zafiro:

1. Dinner was a bargain, but was poorly done with bland, cold food.

2. Eggshells in the scrambled eggs ... unprofessional and unsavory, even dangerous

With all that being said, I can only give them a below average rating, even with the excellent prices ...

CombatCritic Gives Zafiro Ristorante 4 Bombs Out Of 10 ... More Bombs Are Better!


Four Bombs Equates To:
Translation for Civilians: "Bend Over, Here It Comes Again"

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Title: Xlendi, Gozo (Malta): Good Price, Poor Execution Led To Sub-Par Meals

Key Words: Xlendi, bay, Gozo, Malta, oceanfront room, hotel, hotels, Zafiro, ristorante, San Andrea Hotel, san, Andrea, CombatCritic, TravelValue, travel, value, restaurant, menu, review, Yelp


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Rabat

Toffee & Co
34 St Augustine Street
Rabat, Malta
Phone: +356 2145 1996
Website: None
Prices: €€€€

Visiting Rabat for the third time (on our way back from the Tarxien and Ħaġar Qim Temples), it was Immaculate Conception Day in Malta and the second day of Rabat's four day Christmas Festival (6-10 December 2017). The streets were packed with vendor stalls selling Christmas foods and wares and people milling, very slowly, about.
We saw a sign on the main street pointing down a side alley toward Toffee and Co, claiming reasonable prices and €2 mulled wine, so we took the detour. 
The entire menu was posted on a chalkboard out in front of this small bar with a few tables outside, one in the entry and six more up the narrow wrought iron spiral staircase to the second floor. Toffee and Co is a cute little place in a historic building, but lacked charm with simple mix & match tables and chairs and a couple modern prints adorning the walls. We decided to have a look around for a more substantial menu, but quickly returned after becoming overwhelmed by the throngs of wall-to-wall people in the streets.


Virginia, our German-born server, could not have been nicer or more inviting, but the service was quite slow due to the large demands on her time from passers-by wanting inexpensive drinks and the limited staff on-hand. Normally, I would dock them a Bomb (Star) or two, but Virginia was one of the highlights of the visit and had no control over the throngs requiring her presence downstairs.
We started with the Mulled Wine (€2 - two glasses each), a 50 cl bottle of Natural Water (€1), and the Maltese Appetizer Platter (€12) that we saw at a table next to us, having looked divine. The mulled wine was warm, strong and spicy, just the way it should be and less than half the price of the stalls selling it in the streets. 
The Maltese platter was delicious, a large rectangular plate with goat cheese, local olives, tomatoes and lettuce, tuna dip (that did not taste like tuna - a good thing), Bigilla (a Maltese broad bean dip), sweet and sour eggplant (melanzane agrodolce), fava (broad) beans, cherry and sun-dried tomatoes, slices of Maltese sausage, and thick, crunchy Maltese crackers. There were not enough crackers (7) to eat all of the food on the plate, so we asked for some bread, a normal accompaniment to any Maltese meal. We were apparently later charged €1.50 for the bread because we never saw an itemized bill and the final total was €1.50 more (€36.50) than the total of the other items (€35).
I did not want the lasagna (€7) because it had probably been made earlier in the day and would likely be reheated in the microwave behind the bar, so the only other options were one of two salads (chicken Caesar or tuna and mixed beans), a pulled pork sandwich (€7 - boring), penne in a pesto sauce (€7 - probably pesto out of a jar), or penne with mushrooms and bacon in a cream sauce (€7), so the only obvious freshly made, desireable option was the pasta with mushrooms and bacon. 

The serving of pasta was decent for the price and the penne cooked perfectly al dente, but there was barely enough cream (panna) sauce to coat the pasta and not a lot of bacon or mushrooms. My wife, who is Sicilian, pointed out that the pasta needed salt because it was rather flavorless. I had asked for shaved parmesan (parmigiano) on mine, so it was a bit more flavorful than my wife's, but still somewhat bland.
Toffee and Co averages 4.5/5 stars on TripAdvisor, which I refuse to use unless absolutely necessary - it is the only option in Malta with Yelp and Zomato not yet on the scene, with 77% of reviewers giving them 5/5 Stars. Unfortunately, I cannot in good conscience give Toffee & Co 5 stars (9-10 Bombs) because, comparatively speaking, we have had much, much better €35-€40 meals on Malta, including a bottle of wine. I told you I would not deduct for slow service and I will not, but charging us €1.50 for bread without first informing us (1 Bomb deduction) was off-putting as was the lady (likely the owner) behind the counter who was abrupt and unfriendly (another 1 Bomb deduction). The bland pasta accounts for the final 1 Bomb deduction, so ...

CombatCritic Gives Toffee & Co 7 Bombs Out Of 10 ... More Bombs Are Better! 


Seven Bombs Equates To:

Translation for Civilians: "Shits & Grins"

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Title: Rabat, Malta: No "Rabbit" At This Rabat Cafe, Just Decent Food And Bread That Cost Us Two "Bucks"

Key Words: Toffee & Co, Toffee and Company, toffee, &, co, company, pasta, Rabat, Mdina, Malta, Portland, Oregon, CombatCritic, TravelValue, travel, value, restaurant, menu, review, Yelp


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The South

Għar Dalam Cave And Museum
Għar Dalam Road
Birżebbuġa, BBG, Malta 9014
Phone: +(356) 2165 7419
Prices: €€€€

If bussing it, take bus number 80, 82 toward Birzebbugia or 85 toward Marsaxlokk), all from Valletta Bus Terminus, and get off at the "Dalam" stop just a klick (that is a km or .6 mile for you civilians) or so before Birzebbuggia. If driving, there is a large unmarked car park (parking lot Yanks) just north of the museum, so I assume you can park there. It was empty the day we were there.

Ghar Dalam is an interesting site, but the cave has no prehistoric bones as advertised on their website and only a couple stalactites or stalagmites. The museum is small with many fragments of prehistoric elephant and rhino bones as well as some historic displays. Plan on spending 15 minutes in the cave (it is a five minute walk down several flights of stairs) and another 15 in the museum unless you like dark, damp places and small bones. 


If you happen to be in the area, it might be worth a visit (€5/adults, €3.50 seniors), but I would not make a special trip there if you have a reasonably long journey.





The cave itself measures 144 meters according to postings, but you are only allowed a little more than halfway down the path and there is not much to see, honestly, except the initials ("GD" above) of a 19th Century explorer.

The nearby fishing village of Marsaxlokk makes a nice stop for lunch or dinner and the harbor is full of typical, colorful Maltese fishing boats, making for a splendid view. If you are headed to Marsaxlokk, then Ghar Dalam might be worth a stop.

CombatCritic Gives Ghar Dalam 6 Bombs Out Of 10 ... More Bombs Are Better!

Six Bombs Equates To:


Translation for Civilians: "Good To Go"

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Title: Buzzibiga, Malta: Gharsh Dalam, This Cave And Museum Was Just "OK"

Key Words: dalam, ghar, Ghar Dalam, Marsaxlokk, cave, Birżebbuġa, prehistoric, bones, stalactites, stalagmites, CombatCritic, TravelValue, travel, value, museum, review, TripAdvisor


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Hours

Monday to Sunday: 0900 - 1700
Last admission at 1630
Closed on 24, 25 and 31 December, 1 January and Good Friday

Tickets

Adults (18 - 59 years): €5.00
Youths (12 - 17 years), Senior Citizens (60+), Students: €3.50
Children (6 - 11): €2.50

Infants (1 - 5): Free



Transportation

Malta Public Transport
Mdina Road,
Qormi, Malta
Phone: +356 2122 2000
Website: MaltaPublicTransport.com
Email: enquiries@publictransport.com.mt
Malta is a rather small island with a sizeable network of buses, but the buses rarely run on time and when they finally arrive, they are normally packed to the gills with people and with nowhere to sit, even for the disabled. There are usually three disabled seats, but they are normally occupied by young, lazy people who never offer their seat to those who may need it more than they do.

Their website and app look great on the surface, but they either do not work, are impossible to navigate, and/or have incorrect information.

When we arrived on the island, we called for a taxi from the port to our Airbnb apartment about 25 minutes (6-7 miles) away, but we were told "there are no taxis available, maybe in an hour", so we walked 30 minutes into downtown Valletta and finally found a bus. It was crammed full of people and with our two backpacks and a suitcase, were forced to stand for the hour long journey with a rude driver who flew around the very windy road, throwing us from side to side and re-injuring our already painful shoulders, three out of four with torn rotator cuffs.

I sent them the following email:
"You need to update the timetables on your website because they are wrong and do not coincide with those posted at bus stops. Your Journey Planner does not work at all, either on your website or your app, so how do you expect tourists to navigate Malta with so little and such poor information.
I am a disabled veteran and we waited for the scheduled 1638 (4:38PM) #45 (Valletta-Bugibba) bus in Mosta last night for over an hour, well past the scheduled arrival of the next #45 bus at 1708 (5:08PM). We finally took another bus to the bus terminal in Bugibba and walked 20 minutes to our apartment rather than wait for the #45 bus that might never show up.
You should be ashamed of the terrible state of your website and the schedule inconsistencies of your transportation services. As a retired US Air Force transportation officer, I would be fired immediately if such discrepancies occurred on my watch and under my command.
You can read my review of Malta Public Transport on my popular travel blog: http://www.CombatCritic.com.
Sincerely, 
CombatCritic"
We waited again to get home this evening in Mdina for well over 45 minutes for a bus that was scheduled to arrive at 1645 (4:45PM). We saw the bus arrive before its scheduled departure time across the street from the bus stop where we were waiting, but the posted departure at our stop had mysteriously changed to 1715 (5:15PM) even though the bus sat empty across the street. We finally went and asked the driver if his was the bus for Bugibba and he confirmed that it was, graciously allowing us to board even though it was at the arrival stop, not the departure stop.




Some simple fixes could improve customer service immensely. I will not detail them here, but the poorly functioning website and app would be a great place to start. There is also something known as "GPS" that could be installed on buses to give customers real time information on location and arrival times, allowing customers to do something productive while they wait rather than standing there waiting for a bus that may or may not show up.

CombatCritic Gives Malta Public Transport 3 Bombs Out Of 10 ... BOOAH! ... More Bombs Are Better!


Three Bombs Equates To:
Translation for Civilians: "Situation Normal, All Fucked Up"

PS - Malta Public Transport never did reply to my online submission, not surprising based on the state of their website/app and questionable customer service (they are civil servants after all - "good enough for government work"). We also had several more delays of an hour or more where buses either skipped a route entirely (admitted by a driver), were stuck in traffic, or for some other sad excuse. Our experience on the Island of Gozo was much better though with buses running like clockwork, so there is room for efficiency elsewhere in the system.

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Title: Letter Of Complaint To Malta Public Transport

Key Words: Malta Public Transport, Malta, public, transport, transportation, schedule, disruption, bus, busses, Yelp, YouTube, CombatCritic, TravelValue, travel, value, Wall of Shame

Translation for Civilians: FUBAR = "F***ed Up Beyond All Repair"


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