Apartment in Malta, lodge in Seychelles, restaurant in Uruguay

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REPORT FROM MALTA…

For our trip to Malta, Nov. 29-Dec. 9, 2010, we rented an apartment in Valletta which I highly recommend. It is on the second floor of a fully renovated historic building. Best was the balcony overlooking Marsamxett Harbor, where we spent enjoyable hours watching the ships go past.

The one bedroom is relatively small, with a double bed which sleeps two comfortably. All linens are provided. The bathroom has a walk-in shower and the living room a TV. The kitchen is equipped with appliances and utensils and a clothes washer/dryer.

Internet access is available (though WiFi was not working).

One caution — access is by way of a narrow spiral stone staircase with limited light.

All utilities were included in the rental cost. For 10 nights, we paid a winter rate of €700 (near $917); summer rates are higher. The rental was done through the website directly with the owner, Alexander Bianchi (phone, in Malta, +356 7906 9810, www.holidaylettings.co.uk/rentals/valletta/83305).

A 50% deposit was required at booking, with the remainder due four weeks prior to arrival. A security deposit of €200 was collected by the owner on arrival and returned to us at the end of our stay.

— Neil Johnson, San Jose, CA

REPORT FROM SEYCHELLES

I enjoyed my stay very much at La Louise Lodge (La Louise, Mahé Island, Seychelles; phone +248 0 344 349), Oct. 2-3 & 16-30, 2010.

My air-conditioned room, overlooking the pretty suburbs of Victoria, had a double bed, a dresser, a closet with hangers and shelves, two night tables with lamps, a color TV and a small fridge. The en suite, fully tiled bathroom had a bathtub, telephone shower, large sink and shelves for toiletries.

Outside of a lockable, sliding-glass door were a table and chairs plus two cushioned wicker chairs.

I paid €40 (near $52) per night. The usual charge is €50, but for staying 17 nights I got a discount. Breakfast (included) was identical every day: eggs prepared as one wished; papaya and/or small bananas; three pieces of toast with butter and jam, and tea, coffee or milk.

The staff at this family-run guest house was extremely efficient and friendly and the service superb. My room was kept spotless, with towels changed daily. Unlimited WiFi was offered at no charge.

La Louise Lodge is quiet and peaceful. As a writer, I was able to accomplish a great deal of work there, and I recommend it to those who want a no-frills but clean and safe place to hang their hat.

— Jim Hendrickson, Lynden, WA

REPORT FROM URUGUAY…

• The cuisine of Uruguay, like that of neighboring Argentina, revolves around meat, and a few days of dining on the excellent local beef, sausage, etc., will leave you with a serious craving for vegetables. That was our condition when, on Nov. 28, 2010, we happened upon La Vegetariane Rotiseria (Av Yi 1369, Montevideo, Uruguay; phone + 598 2 902 31 78), located just off Av 18 de Julio, near Montevideo’s underrated Museo del Automóvil.

For about $10 per person, this small restaurant (part of a chain) offered a vegetarian buffet lunch that included salads, casseroles, quiches, etc., plus desserts. We weren’t certain what some of the dishes were (no English here), but all were tasty. Drinks (nonalcoholic only) were priced separately.

Open for lunch daily and for dinner (usually beginning at 7:30) nightly except Sunday. MasterCard accepted.

Although we had several fine meals during this trip, we appreciated this one most of all. It wasn’t fine dining, but it was exactly what we needed.

• If you want to be located near Montevideo’s Ciudad Vieja (Old City), the Radisson Montevideo Victoria Plaza (Plaza Independencia 759, Montevideo, Uruguay; phone +598 2 9020111 or, outside Uruguay, 800/967-9033, www.radisson.com/hotels/urumont) is clearly the hotel of choice.

Be forewarned that much of the Ciudad Vieja should be avoided at night, and take care there during the day. The immediate area around the hotel becomes dodgy at night, particularly on weekends.

The hotel’s five-star rating can be questioned. Our double room (with mini-fridge, toiletries and hair dryer) was in dire need of updating; getting our room’s A/C repaired resulted in a lengthy comedy of errors; the free WiFi worked only in one location in the room; the concierge was rarely available; check-in was slow (only one worker was staffing the four stations), and one of the four elevators gave rides that were more exciting than you really would want.

Most disconcerting were the loud cracks and pops emitted by the windows due to wind and heating by the sun. These noises woke us up each morning shortly after sunrise.

Don’t let the above give you the wrong idea. It’s a good hotel, but with a little effort it could be so much better. We would stay there again if we needed to be near the Ciudad Vieja.

An elaborate buffet breakfast was offered in the hotel’s top-floor restaurant. The selection was fairly extensive, but its quality left a little to be desired. It was good, not great. Take your camera for some great photos of the city.

Our room was part of a package tour, but the hotel’s website indicates that our room typically costs about $215 per night (with breakfast).

— Stephen O. Addison, Jr., Charlotte, NC

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REPORT FROM MALTA…

For our trip to Malta, Nov. 29-Dec. 9, 2010, we rented an apartment in Valletta which I highly recommend. It is on the second floor of a fully renovated historic building. Best was the balcony overlooking Marsamxett Harbor, where we spent enjoyable hours watching the ships go past.

The one bedroom is relatively small, with a double bed which sleeps two comfortably. All linens are provided. The bathroom has a walk-in shower and the living room a TV. The kitchen is equipped with appliances and utensils and a clothes washer/dryer.

Internet access is available (though WiFi was not working).

One caution — access is by way of a narrow spiral stone staircase with limited light.

All utilities were included in the rental cost. For 10 nights, we paid a winter rate of €700 (near $917); summer rates are higher. The rental was done through the website directly with the owner, Alexander Bianchi (phone, in Malta, +356 7906 9810, www.holidaylettings.co.uk/rentals/valletta/83305).

A 50% deposit was required at booking, with the remainder due four weeks prior to arrival. A security deposit of €200 was collected by the owner on arrival and returned to us at the end of our stay.

— Neil Johnson, San Jose, CA

REPORT FROM SEYCHELLES

I enjoyed my stay very much at La Louise Lodge (La Louise, Mahé Island, Seychelles; phone +248 0 344 349), Oct. 2-3 & 16-30, 2010.

My air-conditioned room, overlooking the pretty suburbs of Victoria, had a double bed, a dresser, a closet with hangers and shelves, two night tables with lamps, a color TV and a small fridge. The en suite, fully tiled bathroom had a bathtub, telephone shower, large sink and shelves for toiletries.

Outside of a lockable, sliding-glass door were a table and chairs plus two cushioned wicker chairs.

I paid €40 (near $52) per night. The usual charge is €50, but for staying 17 nights I got a discount. Breakfast (included) was identical every day: eggs prepared as one wished; papaya and/or small bananas; three pieces of toast with butter and jam, and tea, coffee or milk.

The staff at this family-run guest house was extremely efficient and friendly and the service superb. My room was kept spotless, with towels changed daily. Unlimited WiFi was offered at no charge.

La Louise Lodge is quiet and peaceful. As a writer, I was able to accomplish a great deal of work there, and I recommend it to those who want a no-frills but clean and safe place to hang their hat.

— Jim Hendrickson, Lynden, WA

REPORT FROM URUGUAY…

• The cuisine of Uruguay, like that of neighboring Argentina, revolves around meat, and a few days of dining on the excellent local beef, sausage, etc., will leave you with a serious craving for vegetables. That was our condition when, on Nov. 28, 2010, we happened upon La Vegetariane Rotiseria (Av Yi 1369, Montevideo, Uruguay; phone + 598 2 902 31 78), located just off Av 18 de Julio, near Montevideo’s underrated Museo del Automóvil.

For about $10 per person, this small restaurant (part of a chain) offered a vegetarian buffet lunch that included salads, casseroles, quiches, etc., plus desserts. We weren’t certain what some of the dishes were (no English here), but all were tasty. Drinks (nonalcoholic only) were priced separately.

Open for lunch daily and for dinner (usually beginning at 7:30) nightly except Sunday. MasterCard accepted.

Although we had several fine meals during this trip, we appreciated this one most of all. It wasn’t fine dining, but it was exactly what we needed.

• If you want to be located near Montevideo’s Ciudad Vieja (Old City), the Radisson Montevideo Victoria Plaza (Plaza Independencia 759, Montevideo, Uruguay; phone +598 2 9020111 or, outside Uruguay, 800/967-9033, www.radisson.com/hotels/urumont) is clearly the hotel of choice.

Be forewarned that much of the Ciudad Vieja should be avoided at night, and take care there during the day. The immediate area around the hotel becomes dodgy at night, particularly on weekends.

The hotel’s five-star rating can be questioned. Our double room (with mini-fridge, toiletries and hair dryer) was in dire need of updating; getting our room’s A/C repaired resulted in a lengthy comedy of errors; the free WiFi worked only in one location in the room; the concierge was rarely available; check-in was slow (only one worker was staffing the four stations), and one of the four elevators gave rides that were more exciting than you really would want.

Most disconcerting were the loud cracks and pops emitted by the windows due to wind and heating by the sun. These noises woke us up each morning shortly after sunrise.

Don’t let the above give you the wrong idea. It’s a good hotel, but with a little effort it could be so much better. We would stay there again if we needed to be near the Ciudad Vieja.

An elaborate buffet breakfast was offered in the hotel’s top-floor restaurant. The selection was fairly extensive, but its quality left a little to be desired. It was good, not great. Take your camera for some great photos of the city.

Our room was part of a package tour, but the hotel’s website indicates that our room typically costs about $215 per night (with breakfast).

— Stephen O. Addison, Jr., Charlotte, NC