Thankfully, we woke to a bright, sunny morning after yesterday’s heavy rain and strong winds so after breakfast in our hotel we caught a bus to the large resort of Sliema situated in the north east of the island. Buses are frequent but don’t expect to arrive at your destination very quickly as roads are narrow and congested so it takes quite a long time to get around the island. Bus 212 takes the shortest time into Sliema and travels along the coast road so I would recommend this option.
The bus terminated along the seafront so we decided to firstly take a morning stroll along the palm tree lined promenade. Sliema is the largest resort on the island with many hotels overlooking its sweeping bay. Like Valletta, it is built on a promontory with water on both sides. Pleasure boat trips can be taken from the sheltered harbour and a regular ferry taking 10 minutes runs across the bay to the capital city of Valletta where its golden sandstone domes can been seen from here gleaming brightly in the sunlight. We strolled the length of the coastal path, probably around 2 km as far as the Msida marina where we enjoyed taking a look at boats of differing shapes and sizes bobbing up and down in the water.
Sliema still bustles with activity during the winter months and we found the resort to be much more stylish than Bugibba where we are based with a good range of higher quality shops and cafes. We chose Bugibba primarily because of the hotel and its excellent public transport links but apart from the first afternoon, and post dinner strolls, we haven’t spent much time in the resort itself preferring to explore further afield.
Along the seafront we came across a branch of the British retailer Marks & Spencer so being curious to see if they stocked similar goods as at home, we stepped inside. The store is quite small but vertical and on the top (4th) floor we found a pleasant cafe, known simply as ‘The Kitchen’ which had some outdoor balcony seating overlooking the harbour – a perfect location for our mid morning cups of coffee with possibly the best views in town.
Heading up the hill from here we found lots more stores, many of which were also British such as Dorothy Perkins and Next then nearby we came to the far side of the bay known as the Tower Road waterfront with its high rise hotels overlooking the Mediterranean. These hotels were constructed during the boom in mass tourism when concrete was king and when there were few, if any concerns on spoiling the natural beauty of the area. As there are so many hotels and holiday apartments here, the resort is likely to be crowded in high season. There isn’t a sandy beach but sandstone rock slabs bordering the sea act as a beach during the warmer months providing access into the warm water.
Returning to our hotel mid afternoon we were just in time for sandwiches and cakes before a relaxing dip in the indoor pool (the outdoor one being much too cold at this time of year).
This evening we had reserved a table in the fine dining restaurant attached to the hotel. Guests can eat there one evening during their stay so we thought we would try it out. My starter of Carpaccio of Beef with shaved Parmesan was extremely good, then it was a large steak for my main course and a trio of white, milk and dark chocolate desserts to complete the meal.
Our meal was delicious and service attentive. The main hotel restaurant where we eat breakfast and most evening meals is buffet style, the food there also being of a good standard but the eating area is extremely large with tables in rows lacking intimacy.