We have visitors!
My parents came over on Sunday for 5 days to see where all our wandering around landed us, and what this Malta thing is all about, and after all the wandering and drifting and all the time they spent worrying about us, it was very important to us that they leave here loving Malta.
Malta is one of those places were you have an initial shock when you arrive. It looks nothing like what you expect and can seem, at first glance, a bit shabby. At least until you get to the marina, sit down, grab a coffee (or a smoothie) and a piece of cake and start enjoying the Malta-peace. After that when you look around suddenly it’s less shabby and more shabby-chic.
So, how do you make someone fall in love with Malta?
Well, our plan was quite simple – sea and see, shop, and eat cake.
We took them on two boat trips – a short one around the main marinas of Malta where we learned a few valuable life lessons – always bring a coat or your child will end up wearing grandma’s jacket, trust that not-so-windy on shore turns real quickly into oh-my-God-this-boat-is-going-down when in open sea. And of course, the view is always better on the other side. Where you are not sitting, but since you always wanted a photo of a fort with someone else’s head in it, you are in luck.
The other cruise was a day-long one to Gozo & Comino, where we also learned that though some people like looking at the sea and the water and the view for hours, we are not those people. The kids got bored after 15 minutes, Yon almost threw up because he spent most of the time trying to play with his action-figure and Hidai almost threw up because he took Yon down the stairs to the toilet so he won’t throw up on the people sitting next to us, only to find out all we had to do was ask the captain for a throw-up bag.
But after we got off the boat, and everyone returned to normal colour (not the green in not a becoming colour), we did get to see Gozo, which is beautiful and we had an hour to walk around, a time most people used to walk up the hill and see the castle, and we used for a much more important cause – we ate lunch. We also took lots of land photos, and bought lots of really important knickknacks, like a glass elephant (but it’s handmade!) and a wooden owl.
Also, there is no maximum for the number of photos you can take because there is nothing better to do on a boat, but there should be. There really should be. Or you end up with 400 like me. And trust me on this one – they all look exactly the same. It’s the sea. But some of them have caves, and we got to drink out of a pineapple and make fun of all the young people trying to take the perfect Instagram photo and swim in 17 degrees celsius. I have never been so glad to be old.
We figured after all this sea we deserve some dry land, so we decided on a tour-bus. An experience that will not be soon forgotten, but made us appreciate seatbelts and a sense of humour that much more. And as an added bonus, we got a cross between a bus and roller coaster, so at least the kids were amused. And because we managed to catch them and put them back in the bag, no hat was lost. But once again, we should have packed coats. And we got to see a horse on a roof, the city of Mdina (also known as the original location of King’s Landing), and where all the things you flush down the toilet goes to. And to think we only waited 40 minutes in the sun and had to fight our way to the top of the bus for it. Totally worth it.
We also went around the marinas, in the old city of Valletta, and saw how the locals live in Gzira. Mostly because I figured exhaustion is good for them. Or they will be too tired not to like it here.
Malta is not known as the shopping capital of the world, and for good reason. When you look at toys and electronics, it’s cheaper to order all of it from Amazon.uk and pay the delivery and exchange rates than to buy locally, and with regards to fashion, while you can find lots of British shops, and the prices are generally not too bad (well, if you compare them to London at least), they are mostly small shops and the variety of what is on offer is quite limited, add to that that lots of the bigger European brands are missing (no H&M, or Primark, or Decathlon) and you get a not-so-satisfying experience. But we are all about the positive, and also they came with a shopping list, so I took them to the main street (Republic St. in Valletta) the high street (the shopping streets around Sliema), and the shopping centre (The Point) just to make sure I covered all my bases, and they ended up taking one extra suitcase home, so success for everyone.
Always trust cake to seal the deal, right? I was counting on the combination of Costa, Italian food and local pastries to revive them enough after each adventure and help them remember that they actually do love me and are happy to be here. It worked, if you don’t count that Yon hit his lip with a juice bottle on the first day and we had to relive it every time we went into a cafe, that the cakes in Cinnabon made them feel bad, that my vegetarian dish came topped with lots of chicken, that it took them 30 minutes to prepare our McDonalds order, and that they ran out of orange-mocha-latte in one of the Costa branches. Luckily, we’ve been to more than one Costa, Hidai always order a second vegetarian dish so we can share, you can’t say no to pizza, and cake is always the answer.
And after all that, all it took for them to fall in love with Malta was sitting down in our living room with a cup of coffee and some biscuits, looking outside at our view of the marina.