International FAM trip to Malta!

Last week IELS had the pleasure of hosting an international FAM trip with 32 participants who came to our sunny Mediterranean islands from 17 countries to learn about IELS while enjoying the rich culture of Malta and Gozo.

On the first day members of IELS staff joined the group on an intensive, but enjoyable programme. First on the agenda was a visit to IELS main school in Sliema followed by the beautiful boutique 4-star hotel Rocca Nettuno right next door, and the school-owned newly refurbished Day’s Inn Hotel & Residence which is proving to be the most modern and popular 3-star hotel in Sliema area. We continued with a visit to another popular accommodation option amongst IELS students - Bayview Hotel & Apartments which  is used for adult students in winter and serves as our Centre Residence for teenage students in summer months.

After such an intensive morning the group enjoyed a relaxing lunch, together with our staff members,  in the medieval city of Mdina, at Trattoria AD 500, belonging to the luxurious boutique  5-star Xara Palace Hotel.

The programme continued with a guided tour through the charming streets and allies of Mdina, leading to a magnificent panorama of the island from the city bastions.

Inspired by medieval architecture and charms of the old capital the group proceeded to the glorious city of Valletta, the capital city of Malta. Our walking encyclopaedia (guide Neville) managed to take the agents to the most iconic places in the city and cover the full history of Malta, Valletta and the Maltese people within just one hour or so.

Overwhelmed with information, architecture, history and the hot Maltese weather  the group felt it was time to go shopping and pick up some souvenirs.  From undisclosed  sources we also learned that a number of participants went for a swim and even invested in new pricey swimwear J

In the evening, the whole procession made its way to some  local wine-tasting and a traditional Maltese dinner in Birgu, the fortified city which withheld massive bombings both during the Great Siege of 1565 and the Second World War. Delicious local wine, Maltese goat's cheese and  sausages, bigilla and artichoke hearts, various dips ,traditional bakes and sweets stemming from medieval times , together with fantastic company made this evening unforgettable for both our guests and the IELS staff.

 The second day was dedicated to Malta’s sister island of Gozo where IELS has a beautiful boutique school for adults, ideal for “get-away” study holidays, and the exquisite Migiarro residence, located just above the same building.

 In order to manage these visits and get a glimpse of Gozo’s most famous attractions we made an early start and went straight to Malta’s most northern point Cirkewwa, where the group boarded the Gozo ferry. 

As always IELS Gozo’s staff  was very welcoming. The agents loved the spacious and well lit classrooms, comfy apartments and  the general laid-back and tranquil atmosphere. A photo on the roof-top with amazing views on the background was a must.

Then it was time for leisure and gastronomic pleasures again! First our  guide took us to the famous Azzure window  (a natural window in the cliffs) and the nearby  inland sea where some of us took the opportunity to enjoy a boat ride along the magnificent caves and grottos, while others explored the area with camera in hand or just relaxed with a cold pint of beer.

The next stop was Calypso Cave, which according to ancient legend was the very cave where the famous Greek warrior Ulysses met and fell in love with the  goddess Calypso . Unfortunately, the entrance into the cave was blocked due to natural reasons, however, it still provided a magnificent view over the red-sandy Ramla Bay,  well-known for having some of the best diving spots on the planet.

It was soon lunch time again and all of us enjoyed a delicious meal at the one of the Marsalforn’s seafront restaurants.  The home-made parmiggiana left everyone speechless and focused on their plates.

After lunch it was time to return to Malta and recharge our batteries for the evening.

Dinner was set up in a beautiful restaurant at the very centre of Valletta – the Palace square, boasting an amazing atmosphere with the historical surroundings, colorful fountains and live Jazz music, enjoyed by everyone indeed. Perfect ending to a perfect day!

 It was a real pleasure to host this group! We would like to thank all the participants of the FAM trip – we hope to see you again very soon and welcome many more of your students to our sunny islands!