Last Easter in Venice’s Guggenheim Museum, my daughter Deia, then aged 13, announced she’d had enough culture for one morning, was fed up with my ‘selfishness’ and wasn’t prepared to do what I wanted a minute longer.
‘I want to go shopping,’ she insisted mutinously. So we trudged to a grimy area near the station in search of Sephora, the cosmetics outlet.
The Venice trip was disastrous, so I planned another mother-daughter foray with trepidation. We eventually went for Malta — not too far, nice and warm — and decided that instead of stretching the budget over a week, I would splash out on a fancy hotel for three nights.
CHECKING OUT THE HOTEL
The hotel that Charlotte and daughter Deia stayed in was the new Cugo Gran Macina Hotel, on the Grand Harbour in Valletta, pictured
Mother: The new Cugo Gran Macina Hotel, on the Grand Harbour across from Valletta, did not disappoint. It’s hewn from, and designed around, the monumentally thick 16th-century fortress walls, full of light and soaring vaulted limestone ceilings, with a rooftop pool and bar.
In our suite with harbour views, Deia hummed as she unpacked. She was thrilled to be in such a ‘lush’ establishment and happily swapped her hoodie and tracksuit bottoms for a dress to dine in Hammett’s Macina, the hotel’s swish new restaurant.
Daughter: When I went with Mum to Venice, we stayed in a grotty hotel with barely room to breathe. It wasn’t really my ideal girl getaway trip, if I’m honest. But I was thrilled we didn’t have a small, stuffy room in Malta. From that moment on I was excited.
TIME FOR SIGHTSEEING…
Mother: Forget the outdated notion of strolling the streets, map in hand. That’s so last-century and will lead inexorably to a confrontational declaration of boredom.
Instead, we went sightseeing in Rolling Geeks, electric buggies unique to Malta, kitted out with sat-nav routes and a running commentary.
Later we visited the walled medieval city of Mdina, known as the Silent City. There’s a museum where you can watch clips of all the movies and TV series — such as Game Of Thrones — that have featured Mdina.
I was surprised how Deia admired both the churches and the restored knights’ residences.
Historic: A bright performance in the walled city of Mdina. There’s a museum where you can watch clips of all the movies and TV series — such as Game Of Thrones — that have featured Mdina
We carried on up to Malta’s highest point for a Segway tour of the countryside. Once I overcame my fear, I enjoyed doing something that I’d probably never have done with someone my own age.
Daughter: The Rolling Geeks were definitely a highlight. You could take selfies from the control panel. We saw nearly all of Malta and it was certainly better than dragging ourselves around all day by foot like Mum made me do in Venice.
The Segway trip was by far my favourite activity. I was good at it and it was such a fun way to see all the amazing views. Mum struggled a bit and had to be led by the guide.
… AND SHOPPING
Fun break: Charlotte and daughter Deia. One thing they agreed on – Malta isn’t the place to go if you want to shop
Mother: Teenagers want to shop, so first I took Deia to a flea market, but it was a fiasco. So we headed for the Apple store in Valletta. It was shut, so we visited a dismal mall instead and both agreed that if you want to shop, Malta isn’t the place.
Daughter: Imagine my disappointment when we arrived at the flea market — in a dirty car park with old Barbies and car parts lying on the ground.
I was hoping to find some edgy Malta-styled clothes, not packets of old lip gloss and creepy dolls. Mum was a little stressed, but we bonded over how awful it was.
EATING OUT TO AVOID ROWS
Mother: Malta is really good at food. Restaurants range from traditional family-run places to hip bars. At the fishing village of Marsaxlokk we ate lunch in the sunshine at The Three Sisters, served by the ladies themselves.
‘My husband caught the octopus this morning,’ announced Lily, the youngest of the trio, plonking down a platter.
We also tried the hotel’s sister restaurant, Hammett’s Gastro Bar in bustling Sliema, all industrial chic with cement floors and petrol-blue velvet banquettes.
For lunch, the pair ate at a restaurant in the pretty fishing village of Marsaxlokk, pictured
On our last night we went to Tal-Petut, a tiny restaurant hidden away down an alley. Deia put aside her mobile and we cheerfully discussed usually taboo subjects, culminating in her giving me a lecture on dating.
Daughter: Usually Mum is ruthless and drags me around museums, churches and galleries endlessly, so I was so relieved when we stopped at a chocolate place called Sunday In Scotland. It was literally melted chocolate in a mug. I quite liked the visit to MUZA (the new art gallery) as the sculpture was fantastic. I didn’t even mind spending ages in St John’s Co-Cathedral. It was pretty spectacular with all the gold.
Mother: Stay somewhere snazzy, snack regularly and find inventive ways to sightsee, then even the most monosyllabic teenager is capable of relinquishing their phone and becoming a delightful travel companion.
Daughter: Mum tried really hard to make the trip fun, so I didn’t mind too much when we had to do all the sightseeing.
We ate some fantastic food, I loved learning to ride on a Segway and I got some great Instagram photos. In the end we actually got on really well. We hardly argued at all.