A tour of the coastal town of Sliema on the island of Malta
Sliema is a very popular and somewhat fashionable town on the central East Coast of Malta. (To talk about an East and West coast in Malta sounds strange as the island is so small, but it's worth mentioning...) Sliema is best known for mainly English speaking Maltese families, cafe culture, shopping culture (especially clothes shopping) and for generally being an expensive and sought after piece of national real estate. It's the "Fancy schmancy" part of Malta - or at least one of the better known ones.
It's a very popular place with visitors to the island. Neighbouring St Julians ( just along the coast via the seafront promenade) has a reputation for being more of a touristic hub, although its all about clubs and bars and noise in contrast to Sliema's more shopping-and-cafes centred character.
"Sliema Strand" (Also know as "Sliema Ferries")
Sliema Strand is an area of Sliema which faces the capital City of Valletta across Marsamxett Harbour. It's also known as "The Ferries" because of the array of tourist ferries which are moored here and leave regularly on trips around the Harbours and further afield to the neghbouring islands of Comino and Gozo. There's always a bit of a feeling of hustle and bustle at the ferries with sales people trying to lure passers-by onto their particular boat for what will undoubtedly be a most scenic of tours. At night it offers a really beautiful view of Valletta with its defensive walls built by the Knights of Malta lit up like huge blocks of gold. It's a very pretty sight. You can walk all the way from St Julians, through Sliema ferries to neighbouring Gzira and onwards via the seafront promenade, although there's a bit of an interuption as you pass through Sliema as it diverts through the shopping area before resuming at the Strand Area.
Sliema Strand Shopping
There are quite a few shops here, although the Plaza shopping centre (nearby) and the much large "Tigne Point" (Pronounce "Tinye Point") shopping mall have taken a lot of the brand names off the main street and into their defined centres. Both the point and the Plaza are within 4 minutes walking distance of the Strand, so there's no accessability problem in that regard. What the Strand does have is quite a few cafes, so when you're finished with the shops, there are plenty of places to get some tea, coffee or other refreshing beverage and kick back for a spot of people watching (a popular pass time in Sliema).
Restaurants in the Strand
Between the Ferries and Tigne Point, there are several cafes and a few restaurants which are actually fairly good. Due to the town's popularity, these can be quite crowded a lot of the time, but they're also prepared for the numbers, so getting a table is usually easy, and if you have to wait a while for a table, there's enough to see and do that it's not the worst of situations. Further on, at Tigne Point itself, there are also a few decent restaurants, although you may want to make bookings for these if it's a busy weekend evening, as Maltese people don't like to walk very much, so if they're going somewhere they've generally booked beforehand so as not to waste a trip. You may turn up and find all of the tables reserved, so pick up the phone or internet if you're looking for a table during the weekend or during most summer nights.
This is a very small area of Sliema, but it's been quite the hotspot with developers in recent years. "The Point" shopping mall (shopping centre) is located here featuring a lot of top international clothing brands. It's a bit of a soul-less place but then again shopping centres rarely scream "humanity". Around the shopping mall are a number of restaurants, and a central piazza which although quite bleak is popular with the residents of the many luxury apartment developments which have sprung up in Tigne. Designated as an SDAs (Special Designated Area) these apartments are basically a way for the best connected Maltese businessmen to allow third country nationals to buy as much property as they want in Malta, but only in these specially designated areas. As Tigne Point is one of these SDAs, huge luxury apartment developments have sprung up with apartments changing hands at a furious pace in their own little housing bubble. It's a strange phenomenon which has given rise to a particular style of architecture. It's a bit impersonal, but highly sought after as a prestigious asset class, and everything seems to be reaching for the exclusive market. In all fairness, the apartments are well finished, the non EU nationals are happy to have somewhere in Malta they can buy, the local shopping centres have an abundance of new