Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Remembering Malta: The Likes and the Not So Likes

My week in Malta has been full of things I liked and (unfortunately) some I didn't like so much. 

THE LIKES  
The warm weather: that was a definite plus! I was happy to walk around sweating (yes!), wearing my summer clothes and having dinner al fresco. Genuine happiness.

Walking the streets of La Valletta: up and down I went. All around as well. Discovering the city. Taking umpteen pictures of the colored doors and the lovely balconies!

Sitting on a bench in the Lower Barrakka Garden enjoying the harbor view: I could have done the same trip in 5 days and not 7 but I had planned it that way because I wanted to have enough time to be. The benches in the Lower Barrakka Garden were ideal for it. I sat there, enjoying the sun and the heat, absorbing the view, letting my thoughts flow. Simply being in the moment.

Getting lost in Mdina's narrow streets: I just loved it! It felt like going back in time!

Talking to the elderlies during bus rides: public transport is free for Malta's elderlies and therefore the buses were full of them. I quickly found out that they loved a good conversation (their English was really good)! Charming and cute. And interesting.

Sitting on the cliffs near the Blue Grotto, absorbing the view of the Sea: simply awesome.

The archaeological excavations of Hagar Qim: mystic.

Bus rides: I loved them! Sitting, looking out of the window, enjoying the surroundings and their rather limited color palette. Wonderful.

The food: Oh my. I loved having breakfast on the patio of my Valletta hotel (the breakfast itself was mediocre but the view made up for everything!!! And being able to actually have breakfast sitting outside in my t-shirt was so cool!) but the food I ate for my lunches and dinners? Heavenly. And please don't let me start on the rabbit stew I had in La Valletta on Saturday night :-)

The history and the art: what a jewel this island is! In the middle of the Meditteranean Sea. Where the Romans have come and gone, same for the Ottomans, the Moors, the Italians, the French and last but not least the English (did I mention everybody??). Every one of them has left something behind (here it be the architecture, the art, the food and you still can hear some influences in the language they speak today). A wonderful place. Really. If it weren't for ...

THE NOT SO LIKES
Mass tourism: I will post some thoughts about this topic in a couple of days ... let's just say that (in some places) there were too many tourists. Masses of them. Hordes. Almost frightening.

Some Maltese I met were not so friendly. But hey, I can't blame them. Too many tourists. Answering the same questions every d*** day, asked by too many rude tourists who left their good manners at home (or maybe they don't know anything about good manners - at home or not?). Understandable. I probably wouldn't be friendly all the time either if I were them.

Gozo: I had read about Gozo. Heard about Gozo. Good words. Wonderful words. The green island. The island of Calypso. How quiet it was there. How I was gonna love it.
I absolutely wanted to visit.
Well, fact is ... the place and I didn't click. Maybe it's just that I had too many expectations. Yes, that's probably it. Too many expectations can be deadly...
What I also should have thought of was that the place couldn't possibly be quiet. The simple fact that the ferries connect the islands of Gozo and Malta every 45 minutes and that the round trip costs only EUR 4.65 should have been revealing! It's the perfect day trip for the thousands of tourists that visit Malta!

Well, now let's imagine the cute little towns of Gozo (they are even smaller than the ones of Malta!) being ambushed by all these tourists.
Quiet?
Cute?
Rather not.
While leaving the island on Wednesday I witnessed the crowd coming to Gozo on one of the first ferries of the day. Hundreds of people streaming out of the boat, "assaulting" the public buses and all the other buses that were waiting for them. I counted 7 (yes, seven) coaches leaving shortly after the ferry arrived. And all of them were pretty full of people (and it wasn't even high season).
Now consider that there are only a couple of places / towns to visit in Gozo.
And that all of them are small. Really small.
Now imagine what these few places look like when being assaulted by 7 coaches full of people.
Quiet?
Cute?
Think again.
What a pity! Fortunately for me, I was able to avoid the big mass of tourists during my days in Malta. And well, for Gozo, ... sigh, it's a pity, really. But hey, you can't love them all (meaning, the places you travel to), right?

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