We have just returned from an enjoyable week house-hunting in Malta. This time we made a break with tradition and stayed at a different hotel than usual, the Radisson overlooking Golden Bay in the Northwest of the island.
The rooms were very well-appointed (I have to admit, superior to those in the Phoenicia) and, to our surprise, included a small kitchen. We took advantage of this by doing a bit of self-catering with benefit both to the wallet and the waistline! We only partook of the hotel breakfast a couple of times but I have to say it is one of the best breakfasts I’ve experienced in any hotel, anywhere in the world.
We had great weather during our stay, mostly sunny and mostly 17°C during the day. Since we had been warned that “February is the worst month of the year” in Malta, we felt rather encouraged. If it rarely gets worse than this we will have no complaints. (Mind you, it’s looking a bit windy in the Grand Harbour today – 19th Feb 2010.)
We looked at a good number of properties, mainly villas in the area of Mellieha in the North. Most of the villas were attractive, all with swimming pools and some with sea views. All would have been acceptable but none particularly stood out for us. We looked at a couple of apartments on the seafront in Sliema (one had a jacuzzi in the living room!) but they weren’t to our taste.
One place we had considered was the ancient citadel of Mdina situated “on the top of Malta” at one of the highest inland points in the Island.
There are magnificent town houses in Mdina, some dating back to the 15th Century, but as we have a town house here in England we were looking for something completely different in Malta. We were persuaded to look at an apartment in Rabat, the village adjoining Mdina. On entering the front door of the apartment, Jaqui and I shared a brief moment of eye contact. This was it! We cancelled all our other appointments and arranged to sign the contract the following day.
The apartment in the grandly-named Verdala Mansions is large, more than twice the floor space of our house in England. It has spectacular views extending over half the island with the sea in the distance. The decor and furniture are very much to our taste. There are communal gardens and a communal swimming pool. Although the rent is a little more than some of the villas we saw, the running costs in terms of heating, A/C, garden and pool maintenance will be less. Also it is safe and easy to lock up should we need to return to England for a time.
The owner is a delightful lady with whom we hit it off straight away. She and her husband are both very prominent Maltese citizens and we are looking forward to getting to know them. We are very pleased to be living in Rabat. Although we are only a 10-minute stroll from the Mdina city gate (see here for some good photos), we are well away from the tourist area and very much in a local Maltese community.
We hired a car for the remainder of our week and went exploring some of the more out-of-the-way places on the island. Although the main roads are much improved in recent years the others can be very rough indeed!
Finding a place to live was great fun. But some of the other tasks involved in moving country can be quite trying. The worst so far has been the issue of the car. After much research we have decided to ship our own car to Malta. This will involve paying a yet-to-be-decided registration fee in the range of 5000 Euros, performing emission tests and the completion of much paperwork, all of which must be finished within a few days of the vehicle’s arrival.
We have booked our one-way flight for April 1st. No it’s not a joke!