Host Report by Jane Tullett
We had a fabulous time staying at db Seabank Resort and Spa hotel in Mellieha, Malta. The superb all-inclusive cuisine in the main Coral restaurant exceeded our expectations, both in the choice and quality of dishes, including some very impressive king prawns cooked in a huge paella pan. The hotel also had specialty restaurants, of which we visited the Italian and the Oriental as a group, with some guests booking repeat visits.
As anyone who has been on a refreshers holiday will know, we are a very social group, and the joy of “free” drinks all evening meant that we all met in the bar and lounge areas after evening bridge to informally discuss some interesting hands and enjoy new friendships.
We had the delight of hosting a large group from the Isle of Man who came away with their bridge teacher. It looks like they all had a good time.
The hotel entertainment team kindly provided a guided walk to the nearby Popeye Village. This was originally the film set for the 1990 version of Popeye, starring the late Robin Williams. It has since been rebuilt and is now a theme park visited by locals and tourists. We enjoyed the scenic views from the cliff looking down on the”village”.
Within walking distance of the hotel were the impressive Red Tower built in 1649 by the Knights of St John and the pretty church set on the hill in the village of Mellieha. Several of the guests enjoyed stretching their legs after the interactive seminars to visit these local landmarks and also enjoy the panoramic views. James provided three teaching seminars, which were all very well received and rewarded him with spontaneous applause at the end of each morning session.
The holiday included two excursions provided by a local tour company. Our knowledgeable guides provided a history of Malta as we drove to Valletta on our first outing. A surprise addition to our guided walk round capital city was a visit to the 5D cinema which provided moving seats and blasts of air to accompany the thee dimensional film show explaining the history of Malta and provided a bird’s eye (Maltese falcon) view of the architecture as we soured over the city from the comfort of our seats. Valletta is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, with its wealth of history and elegant architecture. We visited the modern parliament building which is nestled next to the 1633 original city gate and walls. The remains of the Royal Opera House are a sad reminder of the devastation to the island during World War 2. From here we walked through the Upper Barraka gardens with its impressive view over the grand harbour and looked down on the cannon, which sound the saluting battery at noon and 4pm.
We then entered St Paul’s shipwreck church which houses a golden reliquary containing the apostle’s bones and a golden statue of the Saint dating back to 1650s. In our free time several guests took the opportunity to visit St John’s Co-Cathedral, with its impressive Caravaggio paintings and ornate marble floor.
The second excursion took in the beautiful towns of Mosta and Mdina. Mosta is famous for its rotunda church which has the third largest dome in the world. During the Second World War, a 200kg bomb was dropped on the church, fell through the dome and bounced off a painting before landing on the floor without exploding. All 300 people inside survived and because of this it is now know as the miracle church.
Our next stop was the disused RAF base at Ta’ Qali which is now a craft market, famous for its glass blowing and silver filigree jewellery. Several of us were caught purchasing glass items and then enjoying coffee and Maltese cake!
Our final destination of the day was Mdina, the original capital of Malta, now know as the “silent city”. Built on one of the highest hills of Malta, this medieval walled city is well preserved, with its narrow alleys, accessed on foot or horse drawn carriage. It really does fell like you’ve stepped back in time. We enjoyed leisurely exploring the winding streets and squares, with free time for traditional Maltese meats and cheese patter, washed down with some local wine. All in all, a prefect day out and fantastic tour of some of the highlights the island has to offer.