European Cuba?

Malta, my first day.

It’s not what I expected at all. Mind you I hand no idea what to expect. Sunshine, palm trees and friendly people, Lots of British influence maybe.

Well… Rental car arrived. A Chevrolet something. in Blue. Something like Top Gear use as their reasonably priced car.  The British influence is very obvious here, the steering is on the right. It’s been about 12 years since I drove a ”right hooker” so the first few gear changes saw the electric window go up and down instead.  Driving on the left was ok though, just go with the flow.

First job was to get a Vodafone centre to pick up a Maltese SIM card for the  iPhone.  The first adventure for me and the Chevy.  Jane from TomTom helped us but didn’t tell me the roads were even worse than back home in Belgium! Luckily the Chevy knew that and it’s suitable American suspension wobbled through the bumps and slid round the polished bits of tarmac.

Vodafone centre in target I abandoned the Chevy in true Maltese style.  I’m already blending in. 10 mins later I’m hooked up with a Maltese phone account and 3gb of data traffic for just €30 Hello?? €30 for one month phone and 3GB! Proximus pay attention please, you bandits!

Ok, we’re sorted. Phone, car, half a tank of unleaded. What’s first? Well, I was almost at Valletta so thought that’ll be an ideal first visit. I’d been warned by a few of the Little Britain cast that it was a 10 min visit. Ok, I thought, I’ll have a look.

Valletta.

I arrived at 11.30, parked up in the huge out of town car park and wandered in. YUK. A main street packed with tourists. Ok… I took the first street left and found myself in a wonderland. The best way to describe what I found in the next 6 hours was a mix of Cuba and Beirut, with a British and Mediterranean twist.  The place was built in umpteen twenty eleven or whatever and was never finished. Even the bits that people have tried to rebuild aren’t finished. The bits that did get finished are falling down again. It’s truly bizarre, yet mysteriously attractive. It’s sad to see so many places boarded up but they in themselves caused me huge fascination.

The city is spread over some huge elevation changes, roads shoot up into the sky and others drop down into the sea. I met some of the friendliest local people during my wanders,  all had tales to tell and shared part of their local knowledge.  One in particular was a shop owner, reputed to be the oldest shop in Valletta. I’ll have to write up his story later as I’m supposed to be here seeing stuff, not writing too much 🙂

Great food, here so far, all all cheap compared to ”back home” I had Sea Bream for lunch and it was amazing. A full writeup on that will come too.

Anyway, I filled up a day in Valletta and could do another day there to explore some more. Today though,  I’m off to explore some other parts. With TomTom-Jane and the Chevy.

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