Monday, December 31, 2007

New Year’s Eve Pozzallo, Sicily to Malta

by Saigon Charlie

Travel Summary:

Although it would be very difficult to find out how to find how to take a train/ship trip to Malta from central Europe, it can be done with a bit of effort.

You would need to make your way to Napoli (Naples) first and assuming you came down by train, after arriving at the central station, go out to the tram stop in front of the station and take Tram #1 towards the port. Not that long a ride and actually it could be walked if you are traveling lightly.

This tram will go a few stops, take a turn to the right along the main industrial port frontage and after a few more stops, you will come to an open area on the port side where a large terminal building is and a café. You will also notice a booking/tour service building with the name “Ontano”. Get out at this stop (Colombo) and go to their office.

Here you can book a ticket to the eastern Sicilian port city of ‘Catania’. The ship’s name will be the M/n Partenope which is actually a huge truck ferry with passenger facilities on the 4th and 5th deck. A ticket can be purchased for the 11 hour night passage for 46 Euro with the ship’s departure at 21:00. It is interesting to note after I had a pleasant conversation with one of the ship’s officers that these trucks pay 25 Euro per meter.

It is possible to take a ferry from Catania directly to Malta but during the winter this ferry only runs once a week which is on Saturdays. If you miss that, you need to go further south to Pozzallo.

Unless you wish to pay 170 Euro for for a taxi to take you the remaining 140 kilometers, you need to take a bus. The only service in town that makes it that far south is called “AST” and you will find their ticketing office across the street from the main train station. Two buses supposedly make this journey each day, one at 11AM and another at 1:30 PM. The price is 7.90 Euro and the last bus will get you to the port town at 16:10, 10 minutes after the second ferry leaves for Malta at 16:00 (2 ferries a day, one at 9AM and the last at 4PM). Finding a place to stay in town is no problem and decent places can be had for 40 Euro or so. I stayed at a place called Hotel Ada and find both it and the people to be a very pleasant place to stay.

The ticket for the ‘world’s fastest ferry’ (as it is advertised on their posters) can be purchased in the town of Pozzallo at the Virtu Ferries Office or at the port for 47 Euro. The ship is a large catamaran and the journey takes 1.5 to 2 hours depending on how rough the weather and seas are. Upon arrival, there are no customs or immigration anymore as Malta has now joined the EU.

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