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Sunny Malta. Note idiotic camera operator who didn't set the date!The Flight to Malta

December 10, 1999

A Bumpy Start...

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!

Alan poking an eye outThere 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 her away!

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". 

That Evening

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....

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2000 William Geoffrey Shotts. Last update: Saturday, November 02, 2002