"Only Jesus can Save you" - text on a Maltese bus
Harbour cruise in Sliema and Valletta
If one were energetic one would go on a hot trip to Mdina, Gozo or somewhere else worth seeing. But one is not. The energy is just sufficient for a harbour cruise and a cool breeze on the sea.
After an espresso at Tony's Bar we go to the harbour. There are many salesmen here who want to lure you on a harbour cruise or some other cruise. They try to put brochures into your hand.
I tell the man that we want to walk a bit before we decide, and instantly he has an offer before the prey escapes: it will be children's price if we buy now. He probably uses that trick frequently, but none the less we save 3.5 and pay 'only' 10.5 £M.
Luzzu Tours leave in an hour, at 10:30, but we don't want to wait that long if others leave earlier. Captain Morgan starts at 10, and that suits us better.
Captain Morgan's boat is bigger than the one we were on last year. A defeated competitor from Luzzu Tours or Alliance Cruises shouts that we should take care that they really go to all the creeks promised in the brochure.
All passengers settle on the upper deck. The boat is so big that the swing is moderate as we pass into open sea between Sliema's harbour and Valletta's Grand Harbour.
When you see the natural harbour and think of Malta's position on a map you understand, why the island has been so strategically important. From the sea you also get a better feeling of how unapproachable and fortress-like Valletta really is.
The harbour is still an artery with a wharf, commerce, cruise ships and yachts. The guide speaks in English and German, and before the trip ends we are told in both languages that it is possible to leave a tip.
Just as we get off the boat in Sliema, raindrops start to fall. The clouds look unfriendly and we could be in for some heavy rain. We seek shelter at Tony's Bar.
Click to enlarge
Lunch at Tony's Bar
"Two Pints?" - "Yes please!".
Helle has a Spanish omelette and I try a tuna salad. Many Brits have English breakfast for lunch at Tony's Bar. Most of them carefully avoid the salad and the grilled fresh tomatoes. We feel lazy and get on a bus home for siesta.
Afternoon in Sliema
After siesta and a shower we relax on the balcony. From here we can watch the street life and the sea and read our books. Later we drift to the pavement café across the street. Two women speak Russian and drink beer at one table, while two other women speak Maltese and drink tea at another.
On this stretch of Tower Road and around the point there has been a constant and pleasant breeze. If you walk to The Strand or further towards St. Julians there is little wind and a good deal hotter. We haven't seen or felt a single mosquito and that may be ascribed to the wind. For Helle in particular this is a big bonus.
At half past five we walk to the local supermarket. Just a few metres from the busy Tower Road there is a quiet village atmosphere. Some house wives stand close together around a van selling fruit and vegetables.
At the supermarket the air condition is running at full speed. We select a piece of Grana and Parmesan that seem in need of a good home. The girl behind the deli-counter wears a spotless apron, a hat and plastic gloves. The cheese isn't exactly cheap, but it kind of tastes better when purchased by the Mediterranean.
We walk to The Mariner's Pub. I order Pernod and am just about to add: "with ice and a bit of water" when the young girl proudly completes the sentence. She obviously remembered. She didn't seem too bright, so I am positively surprised.
Dinner at Ta Kolina
After dark we return towards the hotel. It is misty and humid. There are many guests at Ta Kolina, and we get a table for two in a corner. The air cooler is very efficient.
We order fish soup, braised beef in wine sauce for Helle and Bragjoli for me. We wait at least half an hour before the soup is served. It is tasty. There are many bones in my portion, but that is a culinary hazard with fish.
Helle's braised beef is tender and tasty. My Bragjoli is dry and dull, and the stuffing is full of bone splinters that could work as tyre spikes. On top of this the potatoes are (s)boiled almost to a mash. I taste a few morsels and leave the rest.
When the waiter finally arrives I complain about the bone pieces and splinters. After a detour into the kitchen he offers a weak apology and a drink on the house. I would have preferred an edible meal, and as Helle doesn't want anymore to drink we leave.
It says on a sign outside that the place is popular among tourists. As you can read above, our impression of the food quality was mixed. The service was not exactly impolite, but very slow and seemed indifferent. We'll not return.
Price level: medium as listed, but high for the inedible stuff.
Back home the room is extremely hot and humid. The air condition doesn't work at all, and we are in for a bad night.
"Thank God" - sign in a Maltese bus
Friday September 15th
The last day in Malta
The last day in Malta. After breakfast we check the Danish newspapers on the Internet and find out that Sterling and the cabin crew reached an agreement at four this morning - one hour before the strike. So much for a prolonged holiday!
We pack, check out and walk to the small park on Tower Road. There is time to kill until the afternoon, and here are some benches and shadow. It is the hottest day so far, and at last it gets too hot in the shadow too. We collect our stuff and take a bus to The Strand.
The waiter at Tony's Bar asks by raising two fingers. I shake my head and signals one big and one small. The beer arrives and we order omelettes. The squarely cut gentleman with a grey moustache and eagles beak for a nose is here again. I think he eats here every day. People arrive in various stages of disintegration, with shiny skin and wet spots on their backs.
The omelettes with fries are as good as ever. At Tony's Bar too the salt gets moist and blocks the holes. We finish off with espresso and water to postpone going out into the heat, and then we go to the shopping centre, Plaza, where there is a working air condition and a café.
Back at the hotel the transfer bus arrives half an hour late, but there is plenty of time, and we land on schedule in Aalborg late evening. The holiday is over.