My trip to Malta is verily the most unproductive of my pitifully frivolous quest to be bequeathed the ‘World’s Worst Tourist’. Perhaps it was the stupor-inducing sun, the leisurely pace to everyday proceedings, or the wicked temptations and pernicious effects of bargain booze. Or maybe it’s that the dingy pub interior and human chat has always been more arresting to me than landmarks. The slobbishly adopted modus operandi of dying in bed until 3:00 p.m. probably doesn’t help; seeing the Eiffel Tower for the second time in 1999 as a drowsy 13-year-old on a Havana cigar set the tone. Deducing that the nearest pub was more aesthetically pleasing than an 1889-established structure was an opinion I was entirely comfortable with.
Sometimes the hostelling experience offers too much, the cracking hard-to-believe stories from strikingly peculiar strangers enough to make me pronounce: “Sack the sights, I’m just here for the craic.”
A 20-minute bus ride from Sliema to Valletta and back for a restaurant meal was the most geographically adventurous achievement in five days of decadence. Additionally, I thought I
glanced a shark fin in the Sliema sea en route to that chicken breast in Valletta. This was a rare exotic highlight. As it turns out, there was no shark, but then I was no Quint.
The travel script was well established after day one: a brief stroll around the seafront, a hunt for sustenance (compulsory can of tuna), the acquisition of spirits, a saunter back to the hostel, drinks, an exit at darkness to the local bars. And repeat. To be a walking cliche is not something to which I aspire, but I did it anyway. I can express with conviction, though, that the bars were lovely, and the people warm and welcoming.
And in summation, what did I do and what did I see? There was a car crash (not mine), a seagull taking a shit on a drunk woman (not my fault), a blocked bar toilet (not my fault), and a bloke outside a newsagent reciting Phil Collins’ ‘Sussudio’ (excellent choice, pal).
And to the charming Helena Bonham Carter doppelgänger who refused to let me pay for the damages of four dropped bottles of beer on your off-licence floor, you’re awesome.
In the lifted words of Douglas MacArthur: “I shall return.” Only this time I’ll pay my respects more and at least invade the Popeye Village with a hip flask.
Anyway, time for a nap.