|Get yourselves up to date in Malta
Published in 'The Islander'
(April 2016 Issue)Andrew Azzopardi
Ever since my article in the February issue tackling the issue of wintering in Malta, I have been asked a number of times what the crew can get up to on such a small island during the winter season.
At first thought, I would suggest looking into the history of the island and getting oneself enrolled in guided tours who can explain the rich island history. Then I thought to myself that this island is so varied and unique that you really need to venture out as far as possible without any plans. I mean rent a car and simply get lost. Where else could you just drive around and get enjoyably lost?
Though, I do have a few suggestions whilst wandering around on this picturesque island midway between Europe and Africa. Make sure to stop at one of the little eateries selling the traditional Maltese ‘Pastizzi’ for breakfast - ‘Pastizzi’ are a traditional savoury pastry usually filled with either ricotta or mushy peas. Wash this down with Kinnie, the local bitter-sweet soft drink, or cup of tea usually served in a glass.
Only once you get your fill of ‘pastizzi’, make sure to drive to the capital city of Valletta for a walk around of the city for gentlemen, built by gentlemen. Admire the new parliament building which deeply contrasts the old limestone buildings and colourful balconies in the backdrop.
Enter the inconspicuous St John’s Cathedral, only to be bewildered with the beautiful paintings and golden vaults, then make your way to the upper Barrakka gardens for a beautiful view of the three cities and of course take a peek at your superyacht comfortably berthed and well looked after at the Grand Harbour Vittoriosa marina.
Obviously it’s time to find one of the local restaurants where you must indulge in the fusion of Mediterranean and Arabic cuisine, washed down with a lovely glass of local wine. In the afternoon, it might be time to set off to the shops in downtown the area of Sliema or simply stop at one of the local bustling cafeterias for a hot chocolate and something sweet.
After such a busy day, do take some time to rest before the evening sets in and you’re ready to party. The local party scene never stops, but you may need to ask the locals where the new place in town may be, otherwise simply take a taxi to Paceville, in St Julian’s where an array of lights, music nightclubs, bars and discotheques are all tightly knit together in just a few square metres - it’s a party paradise.
If you’re lucky not to be on shift the next morning, there is a fantastic way to ridding your hangover. Drive to Gozo, the neighbouring island, and…. get lost again! This place is a gem! It’s the sleepier version of Malta where everything is in go-slow-mode. Stop for a light lunch consisting of fresh crusty Maltese bread, juicy tomatoes, local olive oil and olives and capers and of course a glass of wine, unless you’re still feeling rather groggy from the night before. The fortified city, more commonly referred to as the ‘citadella’ is the perfect spot to do so.
After lunch, you can visit one of the oldest free standing building in the world ‘Ggantija’ ( This UNESCO world heritage site was built around 3600BC) situated at the top of Xaghra hill with amazing views of Comino and Malta in the distance.
I’m pretty sure that after visiting such inspiring temples, you’ll need to stop by Gleneagles Bar, a place where time stands still, for a Gin & Tonic on the way back to Malta …just be sure not to miss the boat back.
There is however one last little secret for crew wintering in Malta - It’s the perfect place to update your yachting CV. If you still need to refresh your STCW certification, which according to new regulations need to be updated by end December 2016, the International Safety Training College are well equipped to get you and the whole crew totally refreshed and ready for the new season.
Obviously after a hard day firefighting and safety training, nothing beats winding down the day with a glass of wine, so it might pay you and your mates to get your internationally recognized WSET (Wine & Spirits Education Trust) certificate with international fine wine provisoners No 12 Fine wines and Provisions, located just across the Grand Harbour Marina in Valletta.
No wonder captain has already booked next year’s berth in Malta !