Smart City claims to be;
SmartCity is the leading developer of knowledge-based business townships. By uniquely creating business clusters with only the finest lifestyle amenities, SmartCity is the next generation of knowledge clusters.
And the Smart City in Malta is the first ever in Europe. Why they chose Malta, I’ll never understand, as it’s not really the best place to see their vision and ethos come to life. More about that later…
How to get to the Smart City Malta (from St Julians)
We live in St Julians and we got the 120 bus. We got off at a stop called “Ispnott” which seems to be down a dark street in the middle of nowhere but you just walk straight for 2 minutes to the seafront then turn left and walk until you reach the Smart City entrance which takes around another 3 minutes.
The bus probably took around 1.5 hours but would have been much quicker if the bus driver changeover didn’t take 15 minutes whilst they chatted and did nothing. AGH!
Smart City Fountain
I’ve wanted to go ever since I started seeing pictures on Instagram pop up showing the beautiful coloured fountain.
I tried to find information on the fountain and it’s displays online but found hardly anything so;
Smart City Malta Fountain Display Times:
- There will be a dynamic show (where the lights and fountains are choreographed with music) every 30 minutes from 12:00 noon to 22:30 at night.
- In between the shows, which last around 5-10 minutes, the fountain will remain lit up, will still go through different moves and there will still be music in the background, but the display wont fit the beat and it’ll be much calmer and more basic.
It was amazing. I loved it. Absolutely worth the uncomfortable, bumpy and long bus journey.
We were really quite lucky, as a dynamic display started the second we arrived and again just moments after we came out of the restaurant after dinner. The water area is huge and circular and you can stand anywhere along the waterfront to watch.
It’s really hard to take pictures in this lighting and the camera gets easily confused so I was leaning the camera on ledges to keep it still and messing around with different settings, trying to get the best capture. Some were awful, some weren’t good but manage to be kind of cool anyway.
If you aren’t in Malta, or you are, but wont get to the Smart City any time soon, I suggest you check out this link. It’s a 24 hour a day webcam located at the Smart City, looking right on to the fountain. Best to check it at night, as the water will be going and lit up beautifully. This website is a new find of mine and they have some really well placed webcams around which are so fun to sit and stare at. Another favourite is this underwater cam where you can see the under sea world going about it’s day to day business. Absolutely fascinating!
Is the Smart City ready yet?
Not really. It’s still got a long way to go, but it’s open to the public, it’s clean, looks amazing, there are fancy lights in the evening, events being held there and a few places to eat, so even though it’s not complete, it’s still worth a visit.
The stairs, especially, are really beautiful. They form the main focus point of the area, apart from the fountain and sit directly behind it (or infront of it, depending on where you are!). They are under lit and look absolutely incredible at night. A perfect place to sit with a coffee after dinner and watch the fountain displays.
But from a consumer point of view, and not as a company who uses the space for their business, I don’t think the Smart City, Malta upholds it’s values of;
- – smartcity.ae
and here’s why…
Smart City Malta Restaurants
We went on a Sunday evening and there were only two places open. The Laguna Walk Restaurant and Chocafe. Chocafe looked cool but, as the name suggests, it’s a cafe, whose food consists of sandwiches, baguettes- that type of thing. We wanted a proper dinner so headed into The Laguna Walk Restaurant.
We walked right in, so clearly wanted a table. We waited at some desk at the entrance where a staff member was. He ignored us. 3 or 4 service staff walked by us and ignored us. 2 service staff just standing around in the restaurant area ignored us. Eventually the chap at the desk finished whatever he was doing and called over someone to seat us.
I ordered the Buffalo Pizza which was supposed to be a basic margarita but with mozzarella di buffala. Joe went for the ribs.
We were brought out 3 small slices of bread, not fresh that day. The bread itself was alright but the crusts were stale. Stale, not crunchy, there is a difference.
My pizza came out and right away I wasn’t impressed. It was a pizza base (burnt crust) with the thinnest layer of tomato puree you could imagine, with many areas uncovered, and 4 or 5 slices of mozzarella just thrown on, so they sat there in lumps. Took a bite and guess what… it wasn’t mozzarella di buffala, but rather the cheapest and plainest mozzarella they could find, no doubt. The pizza was entirely bland and tasteless and I felt cheated. Don’t lie to customers on your menu, it’s disgraceful.
I asked Joe how his ribs were and he shrugged and said ‘fine’. So, not bad I guess, but if you’re running a restaurant where that’s the best reaction your food gets, you have failed. This kind of result in restaurants in Malta is not uncommon, disappointing bland food is disturbingly average here, especially in St Julians, but due to the nature and the aims of the Smart City, we really expected so much better. I do not recommend this restaurant at all.
Afterwards we grabbed a coffee from Chocafe, another mistake. They were in absolute chaos. The place was quite full but I always say, if an establishment cannot cope with every table full, then they’ve got too many (or too few staff). You should not be in a state of obvious disarray and confusion to customers. Drinks were being left on the counter for absolutely ages before being taken to customers, staff were huddled around the cashpoint so customers couldn’t get up there, staff were being openly rude and angry to each other, in front of us. We were ignored for ages as the waitresses snapped at each other, finally we ordered two lattes which were tiny and cost €2.50 each (that’s more than a large, usually in Malta!).
So, from a food and drink perspective, there aren’t really many choices and two of the few should not be visited in my opinion. There are a number of new places popping up within the next few months though and I’ll definitely be going back once The Londoner opens up!
In all, I don’t think the restaurants will ever be great here, not until the overall mindset in Malta changes. Currently most restaurants in popular tourist areas will use the cheapest ingredients possible, pay staff the lowest wages possible, immediately setting up customers for terrible food and service.
I’ll be interested to see how it goes over the next few years and will definitely be back to see the fountain as it’s absolutely worth the visit. But maybe next time we wont go on a Sunday and will try out another place to eat!
For a load more pictures of the Smart City and the fountain, be sure to head on over to my facebook page. I always select the best pictures for the blog then post the whole album over there!