Tag Archives: Valletta

Return to Malta.

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Sliema. 

I actually saw some of Malta this time. It was another story two years ago, my most salient memory then of pissing my pants mid-conversation with a lesbian volleyball player from Berlin. It wasn’t because she was particularly amusing; I just forgot to physically transport myself to the bathroom (ah, those were the glorious melted days). Anyway, I was on a quest to right my wrongs. I didn’t pack nappies but made an executive decision to cut back on the Southern Comfort.

In Malta, buildings are yellow. I don’t know why this is. Regardless, yellow contact lenses will accompany you throughout your stay. You may even listen to ‘Colours’ by Donovan when the time feels appropriate.


More yellow was found on the rooftops. Puffing an e-cig on the hotel roof whilst watching a documentary about the Battle for Malta in WWII is officially my best breakfast yet of 2017. I imagined some wee local ducking under a deckchair as a Stuka dive bomber flew overhead circa 1941, and thanked the heavens I was born in the ’80s.

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Low point:

Listening to a musical troupe of Irish women on a ‘hen’ trip strangling the proverbial Bagpuss each morning with synchronised ‘singing’ was not enjoyable. I meet them once, scowling at the creatures in the hallway on the Friday morning. I hear them, though. A lot. Absolute racket. How and why hotels tolerate such species I will never know. My ears bleed so much my legs begin to get affected. I hop in a taxi to the pub.

 

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A hero taxi driver rescuing me from the ‘singing’. 

Highlight:

The Saturday was vaguely cinematic. I felt like one of those alienated characters in an Antonioni movie as I walked around the island with a bottle of water and a hip flask. I didn’t have a conversation with a single person, and I didn’t mind. I arrived back to the hotel and smoked a cheap cigar on the balcony before napping under the sunset. One of life’s little moments of pretension … punished immediately with mosquito bites. My leg is that of a leper for the next week. Peaks and valleys and all that.

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Malta, apropos of nothing.

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.

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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.

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