Bussed Up

September 23, 2011 at 9:53 PM

Yesterday was a fun little day – the first day all to myself in Malta. I decided to visit the capital Valletta on the other side of the island (it’s about as far away on the island as I can get).

As it was cheap, I decided to get the bus, just €2.60. The bus brochure said the journey would take 80 minutes. However, Arriva have just taken over the management of the buses and their interpretation of the brochure is… creative. Both the bus journeys there and back were surreal – if the passengers flagging down the bus looked even slightly hesitant or unsure, he didn’t stop for them. This happened at about 1/3 of all the ‘stops’ that he should have serviced. I found out the reason for this later – at about 1/3 of the other stops, the prospective passengers would ask “Does this bus go to x”, he would say yes/no (usually no), and the bus would continue on its way, delayed by that extra bit. The routes are all new, so no-one yet knows where they go. This pushed the travelling time each way (25km) to 2 hours. Ouch. And, given the rather efficient air conditioning on the bus, bloody cold. So, four hours on a bus…. made my day a bit stressful.

Still, the time I had in Valletta was superb. It was city with a large amount of history and character. No two houses are the same, they’re all built higgledy piggledy and their styling was just fantastic. The main street of Valletta leads to the Cathedral of St. John, a small building as cathedrals go, but decorated with a staggering array of gold, marble, silver… you name it, it’s there. Well worth a visit if you’re in Valletta. I walked around pretty much all of Valletta, from the commercial centre, to a church with a huge dome (bigger than St. Pauls in London I think), to all the residential streets. It felt very safe, and oozed individuality and personality which I’ve not really experienced in a city before. I recommend Valletta. I do not recommend trying to put on your sunglasses, somehow find your head was too big for them despite having worn them for several years, and have one of the arms ping off in the middle of the street. Very strange! I went looking for new cheap sunglasses at a few places in Valletta, but most of the styles were quite feminine, so I didn’t buy them. What do you mean “it would have suited me”? Out! Now! Shoo!