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Malta – The Trip Was Fantastic! The Tour Bus – A Disaster!
We went on holiday to the beautiful island of Malta. Stayed in a lovely hotel and wanted to see as much of the capital city of Valletta and its surroundings. So we decided to book a tour bus. It turned out to be a tour bus disaster!
Excited for our first holiday with our son (then six months old), we figured we would make use of the hop on hop off tour bus we had seen offered in the brochures.
In the hotel reception, we asked what the procedure was for getting ticket for the tour bus.The concierge was kind enough to explain the two routes offered by the tour bus company, as well as the areas the tour bus would cover.
Lucky for us, one of the stops on the tour bus route was approximately 200 meters away from the hotel.
Let’s Begin The Day – Tour Bus Into The City
We had a wonderful buffet breakfast and headed outside to wait on the tour bus.
At the station, we were met by two people. The lady, the tour bus company representative, the man, the bus driver. There were not a lot of people getting onto the bus at the time which was perfect as we had an easy choice for seats plus space for a baby buggy.
The day has started off pretty well. This was about to change
The tour bus set off and headed into town from St Julian’s Bay to Valetta.
We had to wait for 30 minutes in Valetta before the driver started with the actual bus route. Should have seen this as early warning signs of what was to come, but we were optimistic!
The tour bus finally moved 50 minutes later! We were finally headed in the direction of Mdina.
The first place we wanted to visit.
Our plan was to spend about 2 hours in the town Mdina, then on the bus ride back, hop off at three or four stops before heading back to the hotel. Big mistake.
Our Tour Bus Finally Arrives In Mdina!
We arrived in Mdina and were able to see a lot of the city. It was absolutely stunning and we took lots of pictures in the city a well as in the churches. A will share the experience with you in a different post.
The Disastrous Journey Heading Back
Everything pretty much went south from here. The bus did not arrive at its scheduled time. The line of people waiting for the bus to pick them up was getting longer by the minute.
After about a 45-minute wait, the bus had still not arrived. It was hot – and getting hotter.
Three times, the other sightseeing bus from the island passed by to see if there were any of its passengers waiting to be picked up.
Of course, if you did not have a ticket for that bus line/company – it was tough luck you could not get on.
Understandable yet annoying nonetheless, as those buses were not even half way full!
FINALLY – After 1 hour and 25 minutes a tour bus approached the car park with a sign in the front with the name of the bus company?
This was the bus???? What happened to the nice one we took in the morning?
The pictures that the bus tour company uses are of nice new buses. These are only for the morning, to suck you in.
In the afternoon you get the buses from 1985 – so basically the same age as me!
The Rush And The Madness On The Tour Bus
People started pushing in other in the line, cutting to the front, fighting their way because they so desperately wanted to get on the bus.
They were like mice who had finally found some cheese after days of searching. Merciless!
I was stunned! What about us? We had been waiting here longer, we had a tiny baby in our hands. A baby bag and buggy to carry. Does anyone care? Nope!
Not a chance! In fact, we were going to have to fight our way to get on this bus as well. Which we did – successfully!
It Only Got Worse……
We made it on the bus and were trying to find a place to sit. Meanwhile, people are pushing each other to move further down in the bus so they can find seats too. Some people were using this time to be choosy about their seats!
Good grief! You clearly must have only been waiting for no more than 5 minutes out there, otherwise, you would have more sense than this!
Found seats but where in the world do we put the baby buggy? People had tossed their bags and rucksacks on the spaces made available for travel bags.
A lovely gracious older gentleman saw that we were not going to get anywhere with these wildebeests fighting for space so he carried our buggy to the front and folded it away right on top of all the other crap and baggage that was there.
One kind soul. Thank goodness.
The Tour Bus Ride Was Never-ending!
Where was the tour bus driver while all this is happening? Happily sitting in his seat drinking water, waiting for everyone to settle down. He had not a care in the world. We figured he must be used to this, since he did not react for even a second. He was immune!
Did I mention to you that this particular tour bus was old? Seats were torn, some with no backs? Sharp metal edges sticking out?
Of course, the audio commentary did not work. The bus was filthy.
The maximum capacity of the bus was roughly 45 people.
On this bus, there were about 40 sitting, plus another 35 standing! It was packed full.
We were like tuna in a can. God forbid we expected any air conditioning!
From start to finish, if you don’t Hop On or Off the tour is meant to take 2 hours. Notice I said meant to?
We drove for over 3,5 hours with the bus driver not once announcing any of the stops!
Of course, with people standing on the bus and not being able to see the front of the bus, you could only look out the windows in the hope of seeing a place you recognized.
For those who wanted to get off this illegal tour bus after two hours of this disastrous bus ride, all they could do was yell, “PLEASE STOP HERE”.
The driver would then park…. (more like slow down the bus) to let them jump out. YES, I said it it…jump out!
At times the tour bus would go uphill, a struggle for the outdated bus carrying the weight of three times the maximum capacity! Other times, we would see a place we had passed by 30 minutes before.
Now We Could Only Pray That We Would Be Let Off Soon
Were we lost? Did this guy even know where he was going? Was he driving around aimlessly?
Would this disaster that is called Malta Sightseeing ever end?
There were no more sights! And quite frankly I wasn’t seeing anything!
We were sweating like pigs. My hubby’s hands were hurting from carrying the baby who had managed to fall asleep – quite the miracle on a ride like this. Must have been the heat.
Forget about family or friendliness or care for people with disabilities!'Look for the blessing in all situations!'Click To Tweet
The Blessing Of The day – Getting Off The Tour bus!
A real highlight!
I was so excited to see the town of St. Julian and to make it off this horror ride.
We had missed out on seeing so many sites, but getting off the tour bus was so freeing.
So exhilarating! I was so delighted! We made it, we made it! Alive and FREE!!!!!!!!!!!
I should have read these reviews before booking this tour bus. My mistake.
The Hop On – Hop Off bus tour service is one we have used in many cities in Europe on past vacations, and until Malta, it has been a good way to orientate ourselves to the various sights.
This, however, was the ride from hell! A huge waste of the 34 Euros. It was like taking that money and just flushing it down the toilet. Even that would have been less stressful and painful.
My advice to you? Save your money. Travel by the normal city buses. They cost €1.50, are fairly new, air-conditioned and frequent. Learned this at the Airport when heading home.
If I had to rate this service from 1 to 5? With 1 being the worst? In my honest opinion, I would rate it a great fat ZERO!
Do not make the mistake we did. Five hours of your precious life you will NOT get back!
Rant Over, Moving Along! Malta Is A Beautiful Place To Visit
This was the one and only negative part about being in Malta. This tour bus experience is not meant to ruin your perception about Malta or the Maltese people.
Malta is a beautiful place and a fantastic place for history and architecture. The ports are lovely with boats to be seen everywhere. I will be writing my post on the rest of the trip soon – to give you the other side of this wonderful place!
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Have you had a bad experience with a tour bus? Share your stories with me in the comments section below.
I would love to hear them!