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Trip Report March 1st - March 11th (also Copenhagen)

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Trip Report March 1st - March 11th (also Copenhagen)

Malta and Denmark Trip Report – Carnival, R2D2 and Giants

This is a trip report for a trip my wife and I took to Malta and Copenhagen from March 1st through March 11th 2014. It is a fairly long report, so it is broken into sections. The first section is an overview of the trip and some brief impressions of the places we visited. The next section has (what I think is) some important information about travel to these countries. Finally, I’ll explain in detail what we did there.

If you want to see pictures of this trip, go to www.mathewsweb.net/pictures/malta2014.shtml .

Overview

For reference I am 48, my wife is 50, and we live in NE Ohio. We have three kids ages 16, 18, and almost 20. We travel relatively lightly (backpacks and a piece of checked luggage). In general, we prefer meeting people and understanding cultures more so than sightseeing. The total cost for this trip was approximately $2600 (because we used miles for airline tickets). Copenhagen was just insanely expensive. I’ll try to give specific details below. Note that all costs in this report are in USD and include taxes. We’re both black and experienced no hints of prejudice at all.

We flew United on this trip and had a total of eight segments altogether. Surprisingly they were all on time. Although United was the carrier, the planes were operated by United, Lufthansa, SAS, and Swiss Air. Lufthansa had the nicest planes and Swiss Air the worst, but they were all fine, had good food, and polite flight attendants.

We landed in Malta, picked up our rental car, and drove to the island of Gozo. We stayed there for a total of three days, and went to Carnival in the city of Nadur (words cannot describe this experience). We also met Tony Dyson, the inventor of R2D2. After three days in Gozo we returned to Malta and spent another three days there. After that, we headed to Copenhagen for two days.

Malta (the country) was very enjoyable. Of the two islands we visited (Malta and Gozo), Gozo was more enjoyable to us. It is actually a little funny, as there is some “light animosity” between the two islands. Maltese see Gozitans as uncouth and backwards, whereas Gozitans see Maltese as rude and overbearing. As an outsider, I could see where each side was coming from, but the reality is that Malta (the country) is only about 122 square miles (about half the size of Chicago), so any real differences are minor. Both Gozo and Malta have a very beautiful countryside, hectic cities, sleepy cities, and pretty water. Yes, Malta is a little busier and Gozo is a little slower, but both have their own specific charms. That being said, we both liked Gozo more than Malta (but that is really because of Xlendi).

Copenhagen was fun, but we found it to be a lot like Amsterdam. We jokingly referred to it as Amsterdam’s expensive big brother. It did have one museum that is one of the most amazing I have ever seen: The David Collection. More on this below. The cost in Copenhagen was simply crazy, but their money is too. The coins have holes in them and the paper looks like something out of a board game. And they have a 200 DKK note and a 40 DKK coin (denominations you normally don’t see). With that (and the larger 500 DKK note), 35 DKK for a hot dog doesn’t sound bad until you realize that is about $6.50 USD. But it was a good hot dog!

For costs, we found Malta to be inexpensive. About the cost of a smaller city in America. Our waterfront hotel in Xlendi was approximately $100/night and included breakfast. Shots were between $1.50 and $2. A pizza was about $7 or $8.

Copenhagen, as already mentioned was the reverse. We got a great deal on our hotel, but it was a bare bones (literally) room. A normal hotel there is anywhere from $200-$400/night. Food in a “Friday’s” type restaurant will cost you $40-$50. Drinks are $8-$10. However, just as we got a good deal on the hotel, there are ways to do Copenhagen cheaply. More on this below.

Edited: 16 March 2014, 06:54
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1. Re: Trip Report March 1st - March 11th (also Copenhagen)

Important Information

This is a collection of things I think will be helpful to anyone traveling to these places.

- Copenhagen is chip and pin for credit cards. In the airport, you cannot buy a metro or train ticket with your credit card unless you know your pin (even then, I am unsure if it will work without a chip). However, most other places you were able to swipe your card, but chip and pin is the norm, so be forewarned.

- The Copenhagen metro kiosks take bills and coins in the airport. When returning, the kiosks just take coins. Going from the city center to the airport is 36 DKK, so make sure you have a 40 DKK coin (change is given) and not just bills.

- Credit cards are not taken in a lot of places in Malta (the country). This seems to be more prevalent in Gozo where virtually no place outside of hotels took credit cards than Malta, which was 50/50.

- Car rental in Malta might be the cheapest in Europe. While driving is a little stressful (see below), I would recommend getting a car because it really lets you see the island. We paid $180 for an automatic for a week (this is very cheap for Europe).

- Did I mention driving is stressful? Unless you are from England, you will be driving on the “wrong” side of the road. And “road” is used in the most generously possible way. In America you would call Maltese roads alleys and Maltese side streets walking paths. If you don’t believe me look at the pictures links. But what is really bad is the signage. It is as if Maltese are ALLERGIC TO DIRECTIONS. Or, more likely, they like to F with tourists. I say this because you will be driving down this little dirt road and see a nice sign telling you that you are going in the correct direction. This will be the last sign you see on the way to your destination. You will come to a T and there will be no sign for left vs. right. You will drive past the major tourist attraction you want to see because it is set 100ft off the road you are on and there is nothing to tell you to turn. You will see streets that intersect as if designed by M. C. Escher and marvel at how not one has a street sign. And as an extra bonus, you will be introduced to impossibly obtuse traffic signs, like the “one way” sign which is a blue circle with a big red X that most people would think means “don’t enter.” But then you will see the tiny arrow drawn in what looks to be crayon telling you to enter the street.

- If that scared you from driving, then by all means ride their excellent bus system. It is cheap (about $2 to ride all day) and efficient. Oh yeah, it is also extremely crowded, smelly, and I imagine in the summer months stifling. Unless you are a bad driver, rent a car. You will hear about drivers in Malta being “bad,” but really what they are is aggressive. Realize this and drive accordingly (defensively) and you will be fine (but also lost…see the above point about allergies).

- I mentioned above the Malta vs. Gozo thing. In America, this is analogous to North vs. South, with Gozo being the south.

- There are lots of hills in Malta so walking virtually anywhere means going up and down hills. Wear good shoes and break out the Stair Master before your trip.

- Gozo seems to have more rugged and “unspoiled” beauty, whereas Malta has more “planned” beauty. Both are gorgeous, though, and you can’t go wrong with either.

- We saw American Indians in Valetta. This is interesting as American Indians are scarce in America (except for a few states). We also saw them when we traveled to Budapest on a previous trip. In both cases, they were selling music.

- If you go to the “Three Cities” in Malta, note that the Inquisitor Palace starts off very slow but gets much better as you go up. That being said, if pressed for time, this is definitely something that can be missed (unless you like Xmas in which case you have to go as it has an amazing exhibit about Xmas around the world and in Malta specifically). The Maritime museum is pretty good and has lots of excellent ship info and also a lot on engines and naval history.

- In Rabat you can visit St. Paul’s Catacombs, but good luck finding them. The signs lead you to St. Paul’s Grotto and Catacombs. Correct place, right? Wrong. There are three catacombs in Rabat and the one in St. Paul’s Grotto is not St. Paul’s Catacombs, regardless of all of the signs leading you here. Make sense? If you actually make it to the Grotto, keep going around to the left and you will eventually come to St. Paul’s Catacombs. But I recommend you skip them entirely as they are a waste of time.

- In Valetta there is an attraction called the Saluting Battery. Basically a canon fires at noon and 4pm and there is a brief tour telling you some of the history of the cannons there. This has a high rating on Trip Advisor and I don’t get it. Only a single canon fires and it sounds more like a cap gun instead of an 1812 Overture. We looked around the battery area, but did not stay for the tour. While cheap, if all you want to see is the canon firing you do not need to pay and can stand right above the battery for free. Indeed, that area was crowded while there were only a handful of people around us with the canons.

- They aren’t kidding when they talk about Danes being tall. I am 6’1” and in a typical crowd 50% of the men were taller than me and 25% of the women were the same height.

- You can visit Copenhagen cheaply. The hotel we stayed at is the Generator. The room was bare – a bed, mirror, and small bar with three hangers – but extremely clean. The bathroom was about 75% the size of the bedroom. But, we only slept there and it was more than adequate for that. Plus, it was only $95/night. The location was about as good as could be – a 5-10min walk to the harbor, and no more than 20min to anything else you would want to see (including Tivoli). If you want to drink, either buy the specials – every bar has something different, but you can essentially get certain beers or shots for $2-3 – or buy an entire bottle. Buying a bottle will set you back between $70 and $90, but you get a mixer with it and it makes the drinks come out to $2-$3 each. For food, many restaurants have huge portions. Splurge a little on the tasty Danishes (you are in the right place after all) and then split a meal. For about $35 my wife and I split a huge chunk of rotisseried pork, a plate of fries, a bowl of potatoes, and a bowl of fried risotto balls. Add in the $20 worth of ice cream and Danishes we ate and we were full for just over $25/pp.

- Lastly, on a slightly funny note, we saw a sign for White Labor Cigars in Copenhagen.

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2. Re: Trip Report March 1st - March 11th (also Copenhagen)

Detailed Information

Below is a detailed description of exactly what we did on our trip. It is long, but hopefully not too boring…

3/2 – Gozo/Xlendi

We landed in Malta and headed to pick up our car from Dollar. This was the most interesting car rental experience I have had. First, you normally have to sign and initial in many places over several pieces of paper. Here there was just one page and one place to sign. We were also told to pull the car around to arrivals and the guy behind the counter would come out and inspect it for damage before we drove off. On the return, the guys washing the cars inspected it. No bar codes scanned or other formal “check in” process. Just a “it looks ok” and a friendly wave and that was it. Again, Dollar, worldwide chain.

I had driven twice before in countries that were left hand drive, so felt comfortable doing it in Malta. We did not get a GPS (big mistake) because we printed out Google maps for everywhere we needed to go. But virtually as soon as we left the airport we realized the 50+ pages of Google maps were useless as there were no street signs anywhere. Luckily, my phone has a GPS and T-Mobile has free data while roaming, so that was used. Still, there was only one brief drive on the whole trip where we didn’t get lost.

While everyone says the island is small (it is) so nothing is far from anything else (it isn’t), that is a slightly misleading statement. You. Will. Get. Lost. People who live there get lost. It is as if God reached down from the heavens, picked up all of the roads on the islands, and tossed them in the air and wherever they landed, that is where they stayed. And if they didn’t connect, no worries as a 5ft wide dirt path (sometimes on a cliff with no rails…seriously) would be your guide.

Since Gozo is its own island, we had to take a ferry to get there. This was only the third time I had taken a car on a ferry, but the process was very easy. Please note that when going from Malta to Gozo you do not pay. When going from Gozo to Malta you do. On the ferry we got our first introduction to the Maltese way of thinking. After parking your car, you have to go upstairs and to do this you go through big sliding doors. How do you open these doors? Naturally, you push a big red button (which any Bugs Bunny aficionado knows, you don’t EVER push the red button). Is there a sign there telling you to push this button? If you think there was, you haven’t been paying attention to what I’ve been saying about signage. And to top it off, after pushing the button, there is a 5-second delay before the door does anything. This gives you just enough time to worry if the button you pushed did something crazy like an emergency shutdown of the engines.

After getting off the ferry we headed to Xlendi and the Hotel San Andrea. We eventually found Xlendi and knew exactly where our hotel should be. Sign on the hotel? No. So we knew our hotel should be one of the buildings we were looking at, but couldn’t tell which one exactly, so we had to get out and ask directions. That actually didn’t help as the directions made no sense. So I got out of the car and walked around until I found it.

Once we checked in, all stress from the drive and search disappeared. Our room had a balcony that overlooked the beautiful Xlendi Bay. We quickly unpacked and went out to explore. The bay is tiny – you can walk from one end to the other in about 3min. But one side has a cliff with stairs that eventually lead down into some caves. We explored through there and then came back to the bay proper. All along the bay are restaurants and one bar – Ta Nona.

We decided to eat here as we were not that hungry. Best decision ever. Ta Nona became our spot in Gozo and was adjacent to our hotel. That night we met four people – Steve and Oskar from Sweden, Olga from Ukraine, and Angie from Malta (the island). Steve liked to drink. In fact, he did a Barney from the Simpsons move and snuck behind the bar and drank directly from the tap.

Anyway, we started talking and it turns out they are heading to Nadur for Carnival that night. We had planned on going on Tuesday, but they told us that Sunday would be more fun. The only problem is that while they could give us a ride there, we could not get one back as they had to go back to Malta that night and work on Monday (all four lived on the island). This is the type of adventure we like…people we just met, taking us to a strange town, and no way to get back home. We jumped at the opportunity.

Driving there we got lost (I mentioned before even the natives get lost) and when we parked the car it was a ghost town. They had told us stories that they had been partying since Thursday and only had a few hours of sleep. It was hard to believe. Worse, this was not a place where taxis would be and there were no other cars so we couldn’t hitchhike – we had no way to get home.

We followed Angie and Oskar down a few alleys and all of a sudden we came to a street that was…alive. Picture the wildest rave you can imagine. Then multiply it by 10. That still doesn’t describe the scene we saw. Blasting music, floats, people dancing everywhere, everyone in costumes…and this was “kids” night so there were babies in strollers along with tweens and teens. This isn’t to say there were no adults – there were plenty. And everyone was dancing, laughing, drinking (NO drinking age in Malta), and partying hard.

But this wasn’t everything. There was “performance” art. A group of guys in tight gold short-shorts and nothing else pulled people from the crowd and laid them on a table and covered them with baby powder, another group set up a living room complete with TV in the middle of the street, another group went about smashing computers and other electronics, another group was painting the street, another group set up a grill and had a tailgating party, etc, etc.

This makes it sound chaotic – which it was – but it was also very mellow. Everyone was having fun and no one was bothering anyone else. Everyone was doing their own thing and just having a good time. We ending up staying for a few hours. When we eventually left it was about 2am and the party showed no signs of slowing down. The energy levels were the same as they had been for the past few hours. We couldn’t stop looking at everything.

A little after midnight, Oskar and Angie left (Olga left earlier and Steve was nowhere to be found). We had them walk us down to a “main” street and they told us we would have to call a cab and meet the taxi on that street. They had to do the same as the car was Olga’s and were hoping to be able to catch the next ferry which was about to leave. We said thanks and started to head back to the party. On the way, we passed a taxi that had just dropped off a fare. We told them about the couple at the end of the road and got their card so we could call them when we were ready to go home.

We did call them and on the way back to the hotel we found out two interesting things. First, the taxi driver owned a restaurant called St. George’s Band Club in Kercem and second that horse and donkey are both good, but donkey is more tender. OK, that second item made the first item less appealing. But we ended up going anyway!

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3. Re: Trip Report March 1st - March 11th (also Copenhagen)

3/3 – Gozo/Azure Window and other pretty things

Carnival took its toll on us and by the time we got out of the room it was noon. But the weather was perfect and we were headed to see something amazing: The Azure Window. This is a giant cliff jutting out into the ocean that has a huge hole in the middle of it. There are also some cool rocks off the coast and a very small lake with a cave. The lake is called the Inland Sea, even though you could swim it in about 5min. All of this is very pretty and combined with looking at Xlendi bay from our hotel room, we were pretty impressed with Malta.

We spent a lot of time here walking around and soaking up the sun and scenery and then had to head to the Ta Pinu basilica. As an aside, getting to the Azure window was our worst driving experience. The roads started off fine and then the road we needed to turn on was closed for repairs. This started an arduous detour that took us along one of those 5ft wide dirt roads on a cliff with no rails. After driving on the island for a while, I did realize that these roads often were the shortest route (which is what my GPS gave me), but not the most sensible route. Usually if you just stuck to the main roads you would eventually loop back around to where you needed to be. But, remember, this was only our second day driving here and there are NO SIGNS.

Ta Pinu was very pretty and from there we headed to the Xwejni salt pans. These are still in use and you can only get so close as to not damage them. Ironically, there is a sign here, but it is to tell you not to wash clothes in the salt pans. The pans are next to Xwejni bay, which is also very pretty. After walking around that for a while, we left to head to Ramla Bay.

If driving to the Azure window was the hardest, getting to Ramla bay was the longest. The GPS would tell you to turn, but there would be no road there. At least not a road to American eyes. It would literally look like a dirt walking path. After an extremely long time we made it to a road from which we could see the bay. But the road was small and made of dirt and winding and as bad as driving down it would be, I had no idea if I could drive back up it. We were too tired to walk at that point so we gave up. We also gave up on the next and last bay we were to see – Dahlet Qorrot.

In looking back, that day was probably our best from a “ohhh look at that” perspective, but at the time we were frazzled from the driving. I don’t like to give up, but I’m old enough not to be stupid. Malta won that day.

But all was not lost. Between us and our hotel in Xlendi was Kercem, home of St. Georges Band Club. We found Kercem pretty easily, meaning we got lost but only a little. Amazingly, for a town with a population of 2000, it had three places called St. Georges. We found the correct one eventually, but it was closed. It was about 6:30pm and it didn’t open for another hour. No worries, the taxi driver had told us to call him and he would come and pick us up. This we did and found there was neither horse nor donkey on the menu. Instead, I had fried rabbit and my wife had pork belly strips. The food was good, but my wife’s appetizer (mushrooms) was the best dish she had while in Malta. We were the only ones eating in the restaurant (there were a bunch of boys sitting at a table hanging out) and afterwards the owner gave us a shot of local liquor and we posed for pictures. At that point, we saw a video of one of the boys at the table from the night before in Nadur. Let’s just say the way he was dressed and composed in the restaurant was a far cry from how he looked on the video.

We said our goodbyes, my wife exchanged Facebook friends with his wife, and he drove us back. We had seen him every day so far but didn’t expect to see him on our third and final day. We were wrong.

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4. Re: Trip Report March 1st - March 11th (also Copenhagen)

3/4 – Gozo/Victoria and Ggantija

This was our last day in Gozo. My main reason for wanting to come to Malta was to see the megalithic temples. I love “old” things and a chance to see something more than 1000 years older than the pyramids was not to be missed.

Malta has several Heritage sites and you can pay a set price - $45 or $50 – and see them all. You simply stop at the first site, buy the ticket, and then you are good. Actually, it covers everything except for the Hypogeum, which is about another $40. We decided to skip the Hypogeum and just see the other temples (plus the various other sites the Heritage pass gets you into).

By now you probably know the routine: we got lost, there were no signs, eventually we found it. Ggantija is essentially in someone’s back yard. So you have houses and shops on one side of the street, and a 5600 year old temple on the other. But try as a might, I just wasn’t impressed with Ggantija. For one thing, in utter disregard of its namesake, it was small. Yes, the stones used to build it were big, but the site itself was pretty small – maybe 30 or 40 feet on a side. Luckily there were other temples to been seen, and these were impressive. So after a quick stay we went to our next destination – Victoria.

We had actually been in Victoria many times. They say all roads lead to Rome, but in reality if you are in Gozo they all lead to Victoria. Literally. It’s like, learn to build a bypass. So, to get from point A to point B you first have to go to point C, Victoria, and drive through the narrow streets filled with traffic. But this time Victoria was our destination, so we headed there to the car park and go out and walked around.

Guess who we saw as soon as we started walking? Yep, the taxi driver/restaurateur was sitting outside of a café with his wife. We exchanged pleasantries and then moved on.

The main attraction in Victoria is the Citadel, which has several smaller attractions inside its walls. Tripadvisor can easily give you all of the details on these, so I will simply say that it was OK. Not bad, but not good. If we never saw it, we wouldn’t have missed anything.

At this point you are probably thinking we had a lousy day and in truth you wouldn’t be half wrong. We had to get up early the next day, so decided to go back to the hotel and turn in early and get some sleep. But we still had to eat, so decided to go back to Ta Nona for a quick bite. Second best meal on Malta there (fish), but that was nothing compared to what happened next.

The first time in Ta Nona it was filled with non-English expats. In addition to our Carnival crew there was a father/son from Holland, and others of various backgrounds. This time it was filled with English expats. We started talking with a few and that turned into us talking to all of them (Ta Nona is very small…just 4 tables and a very tiny bar). One of them comes up to me and tells me I’m the first American he’s ever met. Sure, I’m thinking, but I’m also tired from the day and have had a few drinks, so the BS detection part of my brain isn’t fully working and I say “Really?” At this point, he bursts out laughing and it becomes a running joke among the Brits for a while.

Some time later he tells me he is Tony Dyson – the guy who built R2D2. But now I am no longer tired and the drinks have served (Johnny Fever style) to sharpen my wits, so I immediately call BS. Well, long story short, after lots of quizzes and internet searches I realize I am actually sitting next to Tony Dyson.

The guy has a Forrest Gump background. When he was 17 he did work for Queen by sneaking back stage. In addition to R2D2 he has worked with John Cleese, Steven Spielberg, designed the Face Hugger for Alien, and many more things. The night was turning surreal.

While I was trying to digest all of this his friend walks in who did A&R for Eric Clapton’s record company. He knew Eric well and had done work with Bowie also. Any other time this would have been someone I spent the night talking to, but Star Wars is my favorite movie of all time. And Alien I watch at least once/year.

Suffice it to say that Tony is a great guy and he invited my wife and I back to his apartment with his newly married wife. We had a few drinks, he showed me a face hugger, and we talked for a long time. Then we had to say goodbye. We had to get up early and his wife had just arrived that day so they obviously wanted to spend some time together. We exchanged contact info and if we are ever in Malta again we will definitely hook up.

This is a short amount of space dedicated to someone that, to me, was a pretty F’in cool guy. But the reality is that even now I am trying to digest it. It was such an amazing experience to meet someone like that and listen to all of the stories he had to tell, that I can’t adequately put it in words.

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5. Re: Trip Report March 1st - March 11th (also Copenhagen)

In Summary

Gozo is definitely our favorite part of Malta. The life is slower, the people are friendlier, and the beauty is stunning. I know from the descriptions of driving that it sounds like we didn’t have a good time, but the three days on Gozo were the best part of the trip for us.

3/5 – Malta/Mdina, cool temples and pretty water

We woke up early (which was tough) and got to the ferry just in time to see it leaving. No worries, 45 minutes later we were on the next one and off to “the big island” as Malta is sometimes called. From this point on I will spare the “we got lost…” stuff. Just assume that we did and also assume no signage and you will be fine.

Our first stop was Mdina. Everyone talked about how pretty this town was, and they were right. However, it is also a tourist trap. Every other store sells Mdina glass at “factory prices” and you can’t walk 50 feet without a horse cabby asking you repeatedly if you want a ride. It was disappointing.

Rabat was little better, however the Domus Romana was amazing. It was the only part of the visit that we enjoyed. We also saw St Paul’s Catacombs and it was a complete waste. See the tip above for this.

From here we went to Hagar Qim and Mnajdra. The one signage item I will note here is that while there are no signs for the Hagar Qim temple, there are signs for the Hagar Qim restaurant. After not being able to find the temple, we decided to go and ask at the restaurant. We never found the restaurant, but the temple was where the restaurant sign directed you to.

All that aside, here was what I came to Malta to see. The temples are huge, good parts still standing, and magnificent to look at. Best of all you can go inside of them. To walk where others walked 5500 years ago was breathtaking. Note that you first go to Hagar Qim and then walk down a path to go to Mnajdra, which overlooks the sea.

From the temples we went to the Blue Grotto and watched the sunset. Wow. This is something to compete with Gozo. We think Gozo still came out ahead, but the Blue Grotto was very pretty.

We then drove to St. Julian’s and checked into the Hotel Argento. No water view, but only $75/night. We paid for parking (all hills and one way streets so parking on the street is very hard, even if you could find a spot which you can’t) which was another $7/day.

The hotel is in a good spot – a 2 minute walk to the bay, lots of restaurants and bars nearby, and right next to the bus stop. We went out, walked around and grabbed a bite to eat. It had been a very long day for us so we turned in early.

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6. Re: Trip Report March 1st - March 11th (also Copenhagen)

3/6 – Malta/Three Cities and a fishing village that reminds me of Mr Mxyzptlk

Our first destination this day was the Three Cities, although we really only saw one – Vittoriosa – I think. They kind of all blended together. Anyway, there was a very pretty harbor here with lots of boats. Besides walking around we came to see the Maritime museum and the Inquisitor’s Palace. Both of these I described above so will not repeat myself.

From Vittoriosa we went to Marsaxlokk. This was our favorite part of Malta (the island) and the only place we saw that really competed with Gozo. Marsaxlokk is a fishing village that, while somewhat touristy, is still a real fishing villiage. Boats are tied up, locals go out and catch fish, and all is well in the world. There is a long coastline and it is lined with vendors selling trinkets and restaurants. This is what makes it somewhat touristy. But you don’t get that “slimy” tourist vibe here and seeing locals actually fishing helps. We walked around for a while, found someplace to eat, and moved on to our next destination: St. Peter’s Pool.

This was the second scariest drive we had. No cliffs, but the road was so narrow that on one side trees and bushes swept across the doors of the car. The road was long and two-way. It would have been impossible to back up so I don’t know what we would have done if someone came the other way. My wife is convinced that it was someone’s private property. Regardless, we made it and the sights made the drive worth it. The pool was the second prettiest place we saw (behind the Azure Window).

Eventually we headed back to St. Julian’s. We found a local bar and stopped in for a few drinks. It was nice, but just made us want to be back in Ta Nona. After a while we left back for the hotel and went to sleep.

3/7 – Malta/Valetta

Our last day in Malta was saved for the capital. We had heard you should not drive here, so we took the bus. See above for my comments on that.

This entry will be brief. Valetta was not a fun city. There were some amazing sights – St. John’s Co-Cathedral and the Palace Armory were our favorites – but the city itself felt cramped and unlike anything else in Malta. It just had a different vibe. Come here to see the sights and then leave and don’t come back. No need to walk around, unless you want to see trucks expertly maneuvering through the narrow streets.

When we got back to St. Julian’s it was still daylight so we walked around the bay. Coming back we stopped at a bar since it was our last night in Malta. The people there seemed friendlier than in other bars in Malta (the island). By this time we had been in about 4 and all of them made us want Ta Nona. But this, the City of London, was the best of the lot.

Not much more to say about Malta. We went back to the hotel and went to sleep, ready for Copenhagen.

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7. Re: Trip Report March 1st - March 11th (also Copenhagen)

3/8 – Copenhagen

We didn’t get to our hotel until almost 8pm. I’ve already described the hotel and some of the issues with using the metro above, so will not repeat myself.

We explored the area we were in briefly and ended up visiting a few bars. While people were friendly, they mostly stayed in the groups they were in so we didn’t interact much with anyone. Eventually we went back to the room and turned in for the night.

I will make this general comment about Copenhagen: the food was some of the best we have ever had, and the pastries/sweets were the best we have had period. Like the getting lost/signage on Malta, please assume that we ate far more than humans should every day we were here. I would also recommend Torvehallerne and going to Ma Poulet for a duck sandwich. Of course you will be next to Un Mercato which was one of the best meals we’ve ever eaten anywhere so loosen your belts.

3/9 – Copenhagen/Museums

I love museums so was looking forward to this day. We had three museums to see in total. Our first stop, The David Collection, made us forget the rest. It has an Islamic collection that isn’t just the best Islamic collection in the world, it is the best religious collection in the world. The items on display are staggering and range from textiles to pottery to jewelry to money to weapons to burial artifacts to manuscripts to just about anything you can think of that is remotely related to Islam. Additionally, the display is arranged so as you move from room to room you move chronologically through the history of Islam and each period has text describing in great detail what was going on in the world with Islam for those dates.

If that wasn’t enough there are kiosks scattered throughout that will give you in depth information about virtually any Islamic topic and they are arranged in ways to guide you easily through the information.

Lastly you are given an iPad that you stick under each display and it tells you all about what you are seeing.

Like the Carnival in Nadur, this is one of those things that you need to see and experience for yourself. Tripadvisor rates this as the number one attraction in Copenhagen and they are 100% correct. Best of all it is free.

The second museum we went to was the National Museum. It was very nice and had displays covering Danish pre-history through to current times, along with special exhibits (one on Toys was there when we went). If we had seen this museum first, we would have been impressed. But coming from the David Collection, it was hard to concentrate on what we were seeing here. We ended up seeing about 25% of the museum and then left.

The last museum was the Glyptotek. It just wasn’t fair at all. We were so tired by this point that we walked around the displays of statues (Greek and Egyptian) and then left.

We turned in early.

3/10 – Copenhagen/Tea and shopping

Last day of vacation. We planned to spend it shopping along the Stroget and having High Tea at A. C. Perch’s. The tea was for my wife…that type of thing isn’t my cup of tea (hehe). I will admit it was fun and let me eat petit fours for the first time in my life.

The shopping was mostly of the window variety (lots of designer shops), but it was fun nonetheless.

We headed back to our hotel to check out the bar for our last night of vacation. It seems like we didn’t do that much in Copenhagen compared to Malta, but that is because we spent so much time eating here. It was sickening…but fun.

At the hotel bar we ordered a bottle of Vodka and almost finished it all. My wife was very drunk. It was a good way to end things.

3/11 – Home

Uneventful trip home. Welcome back to reality.

In Summary

Hmmm…the report is really long enough as it is so I won't add much more. I will just reiterate that we really liked Malta and loved the food in Copenhagen.

If you are still reading at this point, please stop. The report is over!

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8. Re: Trip Report March 1st - March 11th (also Copenhagen)

Phew - I think that is one of the longest trip reports I have read on TA ! Well done.

The one tip that I would highlight from the Malta/Gozo part of your holiday is BUY A PAPER MAP. They are inexpensive, invaluable and easy to come by in the tourist shops. The better ones give you a much better idea of which roads will be suitable than maps on a SatNav / phone ever will (although sadly they will not tell you the condition of them !).

With regards to the noon day gun firing at the battery, it is not the firing of the gun that people go for, but the miltary pagentry before it. OK it only takes a few minutes but it is another link with the British Empire that interests / amuses people.

P-t-B

Edited: 16 March 2014, 10:40
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9. Re: Trip Report March 1st - March 11th (also Copenhagen)

Wow... This is an incredibly detailed und well-written trip report; brilliant.

It is great to hear that you had a wonderful time und I appreciate how the various sections you have the trip report written in - i.e., information regarding prices, etc. und dann your actual itinerary und thoughts about Malta und Copenhagen.

I prefer spending more time on the island of Malta, however Gozo is absolutely beautiful und is serene in many places.

Und lol, I love your description of driving in Malta. :-) The buses und the bus drivers hold a very fond place in my heart, however! :-) :D

Thank you/Grazzi für the detailed trip report und take care. Cheers!

10. Re: Trip Report March 1st - March 11th (also Copenhagen)

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