Like this guy. Who’s he? No idea.
Out the other side of the gardens and I’m at a big square with a big imposing building that might be, like, the town hall or something. I dunno. It’s near a hotel I almost stayed in, and I also know that somewhere around these parts is a craft beer place.
I found the craft beer place, it’s called Beer Cave, and on Mondays it doesn’t open until 6pm. That’s not for, like, ages, so I guess I should keep exploring.
It’s nice to have my bearings though. This is basically the entrance to the city, and the bus station. That might come in handy. But for now I’ll go explore the streets. Some of the shops aren’t M&S, and are cool.
It stays hilly. A bit San Francisco, really, but only in that aspect. Otherwise I’m finding it to be relentlessly English, even after I walk past the independence statue. I guess it basically feels like a more cultured version of Gibraltar. Yeah, that’ll do.
There are tourists everywhere but no touts, no-one screaming for custom or attention. It’s very nice. For some reason I get a big kick out of seeing a group of Buddhist monks in their orange robes all clutching smartphones or big DSLRs.
I’m zigzagging around, alternating between the shopping bit and some open squares. There are statues everywhere, lots of them permanent but also a ton of these white things with dual language signage next to them. What they are, see, are bits of art work all expressing individual phrases that have deep meanings behind them, advice for how to live your life.
As you can see, there is a HIGH RISK OF INJURY if you attempt to mount any of these art works. There are loads of them though. Surely someone’s going to be tempted to mount the winged horse?
I’m heading to a place Google maps has told me to visit, pausing briefly at a place that looks like an English boozer and proudly proclaims that it sells craft beer. The menu isn’t all that though, so I persevere on and it’s only one block to my intended destination, 67 Kapitali. I love their modified Guinness sign, and inside am greeted with “hello mate, what are you after?”. Well, do you have any dark beers? Yes, we have two, a stout and a red ale. I’ll have the stout please. OK, go sit down, I’ll find you.
Ace. So I sit down outside, perching next to a table. My beer - it’s called Fungus Rock - arrives and is delicious. I’m happier than a pig in shit, still wallowing in the smugness of my preposterous and pointless geographical achievements. Y’know what, I’ll have a second beer as well please. It’s nice to people watch. Lots of tourist “buses” go past. I spend some time on facebook messenger telling Helen that we are absolutely coming back here together because Malta is fucking fantastic and why the bloody hell have I left it until last?
A few minutes later over the wall I spot the ferry I’m after, and the weaving roads that will facilitate my steep and slippery descent to shore. There’s a bar called Cockney’s next door to it.
I’ve timed this terribly. It runs half hourly and I just watched one go, so I have a full, like, 27 minutes or so to kill. Mostly this means moving stuff between my two bags to even out the weight a bit.
The ferry comes and I pay for a single. I think I’m the only person paying cash at all. This is, as the sign above suggests, the ferry to Sliema, a town on the other side of the water and apparently a premium shopping and tourism and eating and drinking destination. I could sit up top, and the rain has stopped, but nah, with these bags I think I’ll just stay down the bottom next to the manual bilge pump.
OK. By now it’s around midday. I’ve located the bus stop from which the X2 bus leaves, as is my plan later. And I’ve located a craft beer brewery called “The Brew”. Yes please.
It’s a standard shared lounge. I get a beer and some pastry goods with cheese and peas and sit on a comfy leather sofa. People are streaming in and soon enough there’s virtually no space for newcomers anywhere. A jittery and angry looking man tries to brazenly steal the seat of a man who’s just popped up to get some food and bring it back for his wife who is still sitting right there for gods sake.
The air conditioning is surprisingly strong in this lounge. I’m charging my phone and sitting back, thinking how wonderful the airline Iberia are. Large parts of this trip were kinda funded by them. Earlier in the year they had a ludicrous promotion where you could earn thousands of Avios just by purchasing flights, without even taking them – and it was a flat rate. So I, along with hundreds of other people, loaded up on six cheap €20 one-way flights for next February between two Spanish cities. The Avios I earns was enough for business class single to Larnaca and home from Malta on BA, plus the hotel in Larnaca ‘n all. Thanks, Iberia!
Anyway. The lounge is heaving and most people seem to be British. My flight has shown as rammed full with 9 rows of business class for days and I don’t know why. Lots of people working for gambling companies? Dunno.
The departure board shows “gate open” for my flight before the inbound has even landed. Still ‘n all, I leave in plenty of time. Being non-Schengen I have to go through passports. There are three manned desks: on the left, a queue of about 9 people; in the middle, a queue of 3; and on the right, no-one. So I stroll up and get waved through. Weird.
Gate 11 is immediately next to immigration and there’s loads of people already queueing up. After a few minutes they announced “we’ll be boarding by group number”, only to announce groups 1, 2 and 3 simultaneously. It’s a short walk across the tarmac and I take my seat, 1A. There is a surprising amount of legroom and it’s a wider seat than usual because the table is attached to the bulkhead rather than in the arm.
The sun seems to finally be coming out, about 10 minutes before sunset. Good job, Malta. Before take off I’m handed a hot towel and it smells very mediciney-disinfectanty. Like it’s been doused in Dettol or something.
Everyone’s onboard pretty promptly, listening to the captain deliver his pre-flight speech to the accompaniment of REALLY LOUD FEEDBACK. Menus are handed out for food.