Wow! Alan and I had arrived in Malta via Frankfurt, Germany. The landing
was rather bumpy, which should have been my first warning of things to come that day!
We were there on business: Alan works at my former employer, and was responsible for
the training we were doing, and I was along as a software consultant. We were
bringing along some replacement computers and equipment for the trip, as well.
Well, the first problem we ran into that day was that Customs wouldn't pass our
computers! The company we were visiting was supposed to have cleared it with them,
blast it all! Apparently there are protective tariffs or some such to keep the
native computer companies in business, and why weren't we buying from them, blah, blah.
There was a lot of running around by the customs people: we were taken into their
offices while we filled out a bunch of paperwork. (Alan told me later that he was on
the verge of asking the Customs official if there was a "fee" involved, hint
hint). We finally got the computer through anyway, while the Customs official kept
saying that they had to "protect the local companies", or some such. After
an hour of nonsense, I wanted to deck him.
It's a good thing I kept my laptop in the bag, or we would have had to go through all
of that again!
Catching a cab from the airport, we got our ride to our hotel, the Radisson Bay Point
Resort, St. George's Bay. (By the way, the cab ride, and public transportation in
general, was very cheap). Nice little touristy hotel. It being Friday
afternoon and we weren't going into work until Monday, we did a little exploring.
Malta is basically a rocky outcrop in the middle of the Mediterranean, and felt like
it, too. We walked around the local town (St.
Julians) looking at the buildings. Just about everything is built from native
sandstone, giving all the buildings an orange-pink color. It wears like sandstone,
too: lots of erosion everywhere, and new walls always going up.
In fact, there was a lot of construction in
general: Malta seems to be rebuilding itself into a standard resort town: there was a new
casino open down the bay, and there were lots of new hotels going up. I hope they
don't end up destroying all the old stuff instead!
There are a lot of little bays, and a lot of fishing going on. A lot of
the boats have eyes painted on the bow (the meaning of which escapes me at the
moment). We watched some guys haul a fishing
boat out of the water using waxed logs to cut down on friction.
Alan (who had been there before) was telling me stuff about the houses. I don't
know how they deliver the mail: most houses had
nameplates instead of numbers (although a great many had those, too). Most of
them had little icons by the door (mostly of the
Virgin Mary). Some had very interesting visual
illusions. There were also a lot of little
potted plants. Apparently, certain kinds of plants (basil, maybe) indicate that
there is a woman of marriageable age in the house, and would someone please come and take
Looking around at the people, there was a definite Italian influence (the island of
Sicily is a ferry-ride away): just about everyone was wearing black, usually leather, and
there were a lot of those platform shoes about. There were also cats everywhere:
there's even a little "Cat Hotel" run
by a little old lady on one of the side streets (I would get to see that later).
We stopped for a snack at the local bar: the bars there sell candy & foodstuffs,
and are built mostly for the quick "stop and go".
People apparently eat late on Malta, and nightlife doesn't start until 8:00 or 9:00
p.m. We went hunting for a local restaurant and found a nice little place not too
far away. We thought there was another group there, but it turned out that they were
friends of the owner, and that we were the only ones! This was to happen a lot on
our trip, possibly because it was not the tourist season.
Interesting note about the restaurant: it had a little "Dumbwaiter" to bring
up food from the kitchen, which was downstairs.
Back to the hotel. God, my feet are *killing* me....