Friday, 10 October 2008

Mooching around Malta

My parents (Chrisso & Scotty) and my Aunt & Uncle (Robyn & Paul) are hardcore aussie sightseers, given that 3 out of the 4 of them are 60 or over (my mother being the exception at mid-50s) they saw and did HEAPS In their 4 week holiday in the UK/Europe that the time I spent with them - the first week and the last week of their epic journey - I was bloody knackered.

Dad would sometimes sit a day out - with back and knee complaints (he's the oldest and unfittest), or else Dad and I would slope off to the pub for a sit down and a pint if it all got too much - almost every afternoon of their final week of touring which we spent in Malta with Dad's little brother Jim. Us three would leave the other three to it.

Malta was a most interesting island. There is a lot of history to take in given it's small size; it contains ruins from 5000 years ago right up to the present day. It is overcrowded, chaotic and the roads are appalling. We loved it. The people are friendly and chilled out, you don't have to worry about your wallet getting nicked or other irritations that occur on mainland Europe. It seems to be in a bubble - almost a time warp. They even - get this - LIKE the English!! Again, very different to mainland Europe.

I arrived in Malta a day before the quartet of intrepid travellers. It was cloudy, but still warm, so Uncle Jim and I went for a wander around the local area. We stopped for coffee at a restaurant near Espinola Bay when it started to pour with rain. An old Maltese man who was fishing nearby came to shelter under our table's umbrella. He lit up a smoke and started up a conversation, explaining he had to keep fishing as he'd only caught one little fish for his dinner. He said he really had to go back and catch another one for his wife.

He told us about the big storm that came through the island a few years previous where all the boats moored in the bay came loose and battered against each other and/or sank in the rough waters. The old fisherman said that his boat ended up in one of the restaurants around the bay - a wave sent it smashing through the glass and it sat proudly in the middle of the dining area! He explained that the waves are worse nowadays because the natural rocks that used to surround the bay broke up the waves, but they are gone now, and the smooth cement man-made sea walls create no buffer at all so the waves smash into the walls at full force, creating havoc in the little bay and spraying mightily up onto the street.

But that day the rain stopped and the colourful wooden fishing boats bobbed happily in the deep blue water, and the old man went back to catch a fish for his wife's supper. Because he sure wasn't sharing his.

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