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Got to malta…

It was an odd day…

The flight itself was fine. I’m telling you, Emirates is a great airline. Love the inflight entertainment, and everyone is very professional. Anyway, arrived with no problem. I had been warned to avoid the taxis from the airport, they would charge me around $40 to get me to my place as opposed to using the bus system, which cost around $1.20… I found the bus from the airport to Valetta ( the capital and central bus terminal) and even the bus from Valetta to St. Julian’s where I’m staying. That’s when it got interesting. I realized that I had no idea where to get off of the bus, the markings (when they existed) were terrible. I was looking for a certain street, but there are no street signs. The bus driver seemed to barely understand English, or at least didn’t want to talk to me. I waited until I though we were in St. Juian’s and then I got off. I figured that even if I couldn’t find the place, I was close enough so that a cab wouldn’t cost too much. I stopped into an internet cafe and asked if he knew where the apartments were. he said sure, they were right around the corner. Woot! I managed to get off at the closest bus stop, damn I’m good…:-)

So I started to walk with the directions he gave me and it started to rain. I ducked into a jewelry shop and it started to pour and hail. Hmmm, I wasn’t too worried about my clothes getting wet, but my computer, books, gifts, etc. I wasn’t too keen on destroying… I waited until things had calmed down a bit and then continued on my way. I made the right turn and it turns out that the road was a very short one, probably only 3 blocks long. That should make it easy to find the place… I quickly found the place where Beth and I will be staying, but I couldn’t see my place. I saw some places that looked like them, but there was no signage, so I figured they were residential apartments. I wandered around and around getting more and more frustrated. I asked a guy where this place was, and he pointed to the ones that I thought they were. Looking more closely, I saw a tiny, tiny sign that read “Burlington Apartments”. Gahh, I walked over and the door was locked, one of those restricted entry things. I buzzed the one labeled Burlington Apartments but got no answer. I got no answer when I called them. Now I was getting pissed… After 20 minutes or so I gave up. I wanted a room, I wanted a shower (in a shower, not under the rain), I wanted to put these ^%$#^$@ bags down. So I trudged across the street to the place I have the reservation for when my cousin comes. I figured I could haggle a good price since I would be staying 3 weeks and I’d just get a refund from the other place since they didn’t seem to be there at all…

“Do you have a reservation?” Uh oh, maybe they were all full for CHristmas. “Ummm, well actually I have a reservation across the street but…”
“Oh, we handle the check in for them as well.” Ah Ha! “But unfortunately, we have had to close this reception temporarily, you will have to go to our other place up the street…”

Lucky for me it really was just up the street, my back, arms, and legs were complaining by this time. I was fully prepared for another hassle, but they gave me my keys right away, no paperwork involved… I walked back over and the door was wide open, in fact, that first time has been the only time that I have found it locked… I’m glad that the key was labeled well. I’m in room 602, on the third floor… Errr, ok…

Anyway, the place is fine. It’s a suite, a big bathroom, a kitchen/eating/congragating area, and a big bedroom with a slightly obstructed view to the Med. All for around $22 a night, not too shabby eh? Actually, it is a little shabby, there isn’t a proper shower, just a wand (albeit with good water pressure), the TV doesn’t work, and there were no toiletries at all. But still, I doubt that I could stay in Yorktown or Fairfax for anywhere close to this price, so I think I did OK.

The ceilings in this place must be 15 feet high and there is no heating so it was actually a little chilly last night. Still, I slept well…

Last night, the first thing I wanted to do was to take a shower. Since there was nothing here like soap, shampoo, etc, I had to dash out and find some before everything closed. Did that, had a shower (ahhh) and then it was food time. I found a take out Italian place and bought some lasagna. Yes, it was Italian fast food, it was bland, and not very tasty, but it wasn’t lamb or rotisserie chicken, so I really enjoyed it. With not a lot to do, I decided to go take a walk and check the place out. I’m staying in what is generally considered the tourist area. It’s a lot like beach places anywhere else. There’s a ton of restaurants and shops. There’s also a couple of strip clubs (“Friction” has to be one of the all time great names for a strip bar… gives the whole bump and grind another spin…) and tattoo parlous. I keep hearing about a casino, but I haven’t found it yet. In any case, this is aimed at tourists and lacks the charm that I saw in Valetta and along the way to the hotel.

As I was walking around, I kept thinking that I heard snatches of Christmas carols. Maybe the angels were singing to me? Well, no, turns out that it a loudspeaker on a church, but it created quite the atmosphere with it echoing off of the buildings and across the inlet. I actually went to the Christmas eve service (just like everyone else back in the states, right?:-) at that church, It was quite nice, except I didn’t understand a word, it was all in Maltese. It was all about people named Guisseppe, Maria, and Allah… Maltese is an odd combination of Arabic and Italian, but the priest had a good speaking presence, so I think I knew what was going on…

Later, I went for a walk along the Med while listening to Christmas carols. They had lights in the trees (although they all seem to be that regular yellowish color) and it was around 50 degrees out. Pretty nice way to spend my evening…

Isaac

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