Valletta, Malta's Capital
Monday October 10th 2005.
Today there are no bacon and eggs for breakfast. It is a Sunday treat only, unless you pay extra.
At 10 we walk to the bus stop on Tower Road to catch a bus to Valletta. However most buses are full and don't stop, and if they do they don't go to Valletta.
At last we are lucky - a no. 170 I think. Very appropriately there's a sign saying "Thank God" in the front window next to the chauffeur. The old Bedford roars and detours its way to Valletta.
We have arrived a bit late - the city's artery, Republic Street, is teeming with tourists. Many shops, restaurants and bars are closed Mondays, so in a way Monday is a dull day.
We explore the small city with the many stairs - you seem always to walk up or down. The old houses are picturesque and from another age, however we postpone our visit to the grandmaster's palace (now the presidential palace) because the queue is rather long - better return early some other day.
Click for larger image
After a nondescript baguette on the square in front of the library we stroll to the ferry berth in order to sail back to Sliema. However the ferry is cancelled. "Too choppy" a woman says.
The descendant of the Vikings looks at the calm waters and reckons he could create higher waves by throwing a stone; but saying so would not change anything, so we climb the steep hill and work up a heat before we reach the bus station by the Triton Fountain outside the city gate.
Evening and Supper at Piccolo Padre
After the siesta we leave the hotel at about six. As mentioned many restaurants are closed Mondays; Vino Veritas is not, but we continue towards St. Julians. Piccolo Padre is open and we find a café nearby, Il Bocconcino, where we get two expensive and thin Pernods.
As soon as our drinks are served the staff begins to close the establishment. There are some pubs a bit further out, but their slot machines and beer signs do not appeal. The wind has risen, and heavy waves beat the wharf sending foam into the air.
We are the first guests at Piccolo Padre and order bruschette and linguini ai frutti di mare - thin spaghetti with fruit of the sea (mussels, shrimps and squid). Along with this a white Maltese, Marsovin Sauvignon Blanc, made in Malta from grapes harvested in Italy.
The linguini is very good, but again we cannot eat it all. Most of the sea fruits are squid arms with small suckers, but they are tender - no rubber arms here! We finish off with espresso and the waiter recommends a Montenegro to go along. The Montenegro turns out to be a bitter/sweet thing, probably designed for digestive purposes. We are charged 17.15 Lm.
Back in the hotel bar John awaits with more tales. This time about his time in Namibia, where he did not take the job as a safari bodyguard for the fat white woman who drank whisky like water.
We'll probably never know what he did instead or what happened to the whisky-happy woman, because we cannot stand the electric organ, and John leaves tomorrow.