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Some Thoughts on Malta

Friday, April 7th, 2006

We’ve added a few photos. We’ve only been able to upload one camera so far, not that there are many more pics on the other.

A few random thoughts about Malta:

Traffic is crazy. Everyone here drives, and they don’t necessarily obey the traffic laws (or rather, suggestions). The good thing is that there are a lot of cross walks, at least in the busier pedestrian areas, many marked by stop lights. Also, many vehicles here don’t appear to have mufflers (at least not effective ones) – it is very loud here, and we are getting weary of not being able to hear each other and having to repeat.

There is a LOT of Catholic iconography (is that the right word?) – many homes and doorways are adorned with small colourful images of Mary, and there are churches on every block (all of whom seem to ring their bells at least every hour – the one just down the street from the guesthouse rings every 15 minutes, even through the night, though it’s not bothersome enough to keep us from sleeping). Although the exterior of the buildings are very plain stone, the inside of the one cathedral that we visited today (St. Paul’s, in Mdina) was very colourful, and very ornate. The artwork was quite stunning, in one dome it was done in 3d – there appeared to be some mobiles or something similar hanging from the top of the dome, that blended in with the painting, that made it appear 3 dimensional. Quite unique.

The whole country seems to be under renovations. There are cranes and large trucks everywhere, and again on almost every block, there are one or more buildings that have either been demolished, or appear bombed out, that are being rebuilt. It’s neat to see very old buildings, nearby rather new buildings, with a bombed out shell in between them. I didn’t get a picture of it, but right near the gates of Valetta, there is a building that appears to have been almost totally bombed to the ground, only partial exterior walls remaining, that has been converted to a parking lot. Why rebuild it when you can use it for parking? On that note, it appears there are no rules for parking, except that if you park in some of these lots, don’t expect to get out until the end the day – many vehicles are quite literally blocked in.


The Day of the Living Dead

Wednesday, April 5th, 2006

Our flights to London were long and relatively uneventful. Our seats wouldn’t recline properly and we found it almost impossible to sleep on the transatlantic leg, so by the time we got to London, we were already feeling kind of tired and irritable…and that was only 11:30pm Edmonton time.

Not ones to let that stop us, we did head into the city all the same to try to see some of the sites. Wait, not quite yet. First we had the drama of storing our bags. Our onward flight to Malta left from Terminal 4 and our flight from Toronto had arrived in Terminal 3. So you’d think, no problem, we’ll just store our bags in Terminal 4 so we don’t have so much mucking about to do later in the day. Two hours later, we were on the tube to the city centre.

I don’t know as anything we did in the city really qualifies as being of much interest. We stopped by Geoff’s hostel – a friend of Kathy’s who is staying in London for the next year or so after arriving on the same flight as us – to drop off his bags and then tour the city. We did get to see parliament and Big Ben, and then tried to walk from there to London Bridge. We didn’t quite make it that far, and ended up abondoning our quest in favour of getting lunch at an English pub. We didn’t do too badly in finding a pub, and ended up with excellent fish and chips at a not completely outrageous price at a place that looked quite fancy and upscale in Southwark. (I cannot remember the name, it had the words old and arms in it, but I can’t remember what was in the middle)

Over lunch, though, we crashed. There was an incident where I spent about 10 minutes trying to find my sunglasses, after failing to notice them in the first place that I looked (being my pocket). So we returned to the airport several hours earlier than planned.

Luckily, they allowed us to check in for our 8:30 flight at 3:30, and we were told of a quiet sitting area where we’d be able to sleep once we got through security. I was able to sleep quite soundly for about an hour, though Kathy didn’t do nearly as well, before having to leave because that room was extremely cold.

Somehow we muddled our way through the last few hours until our flight finally left, half an hour late. The Air Malta plane was very cramped with no entertainment, but they did serve up a very good dinner, and that, combined with no longer being able to stay awake made the flight go reasonably quickly. Until the kids (and there was an unusually large number of them sitting close to us) all started crying for the last 45 minutes of the flight.

We finally checked in at our guesthouse, where we were the only guests last night, at 2am, and promptly fell soundly asleep.

– Neil