Marsaxlokk, a Fishing Village

Friday October 14th 2005

We are a bit groggy this morning - what a night! It is difficult to say what the weather will be like; the sky is bright blue with scattered dark grey clouds.

Bus 27 goes from Valletta to the fishing village Marsaxlokk. It takes about half an hour to get to the East coast and costs 20 cents per person. For once the bus is modern and not vintage.

There are many small boats and yachts in Marsaxlokk's harbour, and many of the boats are the traditional Maltese fishing boats, luzzus, painted in strong colours and with the Osiris eye in front to avert evil.

Along the waterfront are souvenir stalls and restaurants with parasols. The weather is brilliant and the overall impression is picturesque and peaceful.

We go for a walk. As soon as you get away from the harbour the village seems rather quiet and dead. A dog in the gutter is quite literally dead. It looks as if it has just lied down; the eyes are open and so is the mouth in a kind of grin, as if it was just kidding. The flies however are not fooled.

 Marsaxlokk's harbour  Marsaxlokk's harbour

 Marsaxlokk's harbour Luzzus in Marsaxlokk House in Marsaxlokk
Click for larger image

Soon it is too hot to walk the back streets and we return to the parasols by the waterfront where we get shade and two Cokes at Café Paris. Later we order a prawn salad.

The waitress says the prawns are frozen, but we can have fresh shrimps if we know how to peel them. Of course we want fresh shrimps!

Removing the small armours is juicy work, and soon the table and our hands and the paper napkins are covered in salty juice from the freshly boiled shrimps. But the taste is heavenly, and 4 Lm for 2 Cokes, 2 glasses of wine and 2 salads with fresh shrimps is indeed cheap!

Fresh shrimp

We're at the bus stop 13.45 where we wait in a strip of shade - it is really hot now. The dead dog has been removed.

Brass Music at the Hotel

Back home we lie down for a well-deserved siesta. After 5 minutes rest a lone trumpet starts to play scales and Lone Ranger tunes. At 4 the trumpet has blown my mind and I ready myself to complain about the maniac.

By the lift I meet a young man in a blue uniform. He carries a huge suitcase, which could be designed for a French horn, and at the same moment I can hear that the loony trumpet on 6th has got company by several tooting horns.

On the way down (I forgot my usually polite self and was first on the button) the guy tells me that they are a Czech toot-orchestra, and I realise that complaining will be a waste of time - such noise must certainly be approved by the management. Sigh, they play ball at night and brass by day!

When I have checked email I return to the room and escort Helle out. The horns are now practicing at full volume, and I pray they will all get tinnitus. When out of hearing range we slow down and walk to St. Julians' marina in Spinola Bay. There is a vacant table outside San Giuliano's, where a friendly black and white cat exposes its belly for a pat. At 18.30 the sun sets.

View from San Giulianos over the harbour Friendly cat Eric Helle Click for larger image

Supper at San Giuliano

Later we move indoors to eat - it is I who find it a bit too cold outside. After an almost meatless week I get some excellent cevapcici, which is the restaurant's speciality, and Helle gets some tasty beef rolls with filling. The wine is a Red Label Delicata.

Most guests are outside on the terrace. A couple (Germans?) get pizza and are visibly discontent about something. The man complains, and his pizza is removed and not replaced.

In solidarity the wife eats but a few morsels while the man in wine red trousers and shoes crosses his arms and signals: "Hier will ich never sitze meine Beine again!".

We finish off with ice dessert and coffee and brandy. The service is excellent and the bill is 20.25 Lm only. Happy and content we walk home. An excellent last evening.

St. Julians' harbour by night

San Giuliano

Spinola Bay, St. Julians
Tel. 21332000

A tourist trap, but the food and service is excellent, and the surroundings in St. Julians' marina are perfect and romantic.
Price level: Medium/expensive by Maltese standards.

At the hotel the bartender watches a Maltese quiz with enthusiasm, but races to the bar when there are customers.

Saturday October 15th

The Last Day in Malta

Up at 8, breakfast, pack suitcases, check out, order a taxi for 5 pm and ask if they can store our luggage until we leave. The small depot is filled to the ceiling with instrument boxes, so our suitcases are left in the lobby; the receptionist will keep an eye.

We get espresso and cappuccino at Tony's Bar and have a look in the Plaza shopping centre, where I find yet another book by Tom Sharpe that I did not know ("The Midden").

By the water front back in our part of town we find a bench in the shade and settle down with our books. A cat chases small lizards, and a very old couple sit immobile in the sun.

The lady gets up and walks a few meters in slow-motion to take a picture of Methuselah sleeping with a firm grip on the handles of his walking aid. Then she shuffles back and wakes up her husband. They leave in slow-motion. Admirable.

We go to Vino Veritas for lunch. The pasta portions are huge. The rest of the time is shared between the bench and The Mariner's Pub until we return to the hotel a bit past 4.

The suitcases are still there and the lobby is teeming with members of a Scottish (?) orchestra wearing kilts and red tartan uniforms, which must be dreadfully hot. They are waiting for a bus and with difficulty we get our suitcases outside past bagpipes, drums, horns and uniformed musicians.

An old English lady sits on the bench outside smoking. The suitcases tell her we are going home and she asks if it is our first time in Malta.

She lives in Dorset and usually goes to Malta in April and October - never less than two weeks, because it takes at least two and a half hour from Dorset to the airport.

The bands are to play at a tattoo in Valletta, and we watch them fill the luggage compartment with instruments and add the last touch to their complicated uniforms. The Czechs in blue are also waiting for a bus, and the lady states with satisfaction that "They are not as handsome as our boys!".

Our taxi arrives a few minutes past five. It is a brand new Mercedes with safety belts, and the chauffeur is a bull like man who handles our suitcases with one hand. The trip to the airport is 8 Lm.

In the check in line we meet Lars again. He made it to the semi finals and is happy. Today he left the hotel for the first time.

Having passed check in and security we spend our last Liri on chocolate and two bottles of Maltese liquor. Imported booze is more expensive here than in Danish shops. Now we can only wait - the holiday is over.