I know a lot of people love Malta and on the face of it, there’s a lot to like. A Capital city that’s just won the European City of Culture 2018, great weather, relatively cheap drinks and only a couple of hours flight from the UK. The Mediterranean region is a sure fire hit with the Brits, with temperatures never dipping below the mid 20’s from Spring through to Autumn and the Island of Malta is well placed to take full advantage of our attempts to blend in our Truckers Tans. But it had to come some time; we’ve been to too many amazing places across Europe like Stuttgart, Ljubljana or Helsinki that I knew it couldn’t last – but Malta don’t take it personally, it’s not you, it’s me.
I’m afraid to say that Malta was just a bit of a disappointment. Not all of it, I hasten to add – once we got out of our resort and into the Maltese capital of Valletta proper then things started picking up but before that, the first package trip I have ever taken turned out to be a bit of a damp squib and there is a couple of very good reasons for that.
There are several things that I discovered on my first trip to Malta. Firstly, even though it’s a tiny country (only 17 miles from coats to coast), it takes bloody ages to get across it – especially if you take the bus. You can hire a car of course, or take a taxi but at the time I was looking the price difference between getting a bus pass for a couple of days (75cents per journey) versus the price of a car (about 60 quid per day) or a few trips in a taxi put the kibosh on that very swiftly. Nothing wrong with being small but perfectly formed of course, just ask Kyle Minogue, and therefore I would suggest that for a weekend away Malta has everything you need. Unfortunately I do get itchy feet and need a bit more to keep me going for more than a couple of days. There were plenty of people there though who were taking full advantage of doing absolutely nothing by the side of a picture perfect pool all day or lazing about under a beech umbrella looking at a sun warmed sea that is their holiday perfection.
This was the first package hotel I’ve ever stayed at and the hotel was fundamentally nice. Nice and clean with plenty of space for The Child to run about and annoy other would-be holiday makers. The food was standard with little going for it but there certainly was plenty of it so that’s a major plus. The nightly buffet tables groaned under the weight of tray baked lasagne and bucketfuls of olives. At breakfast there was more cheese, ham and continental breakfast than you could shake a scrambled eggy stick at.
Secondly, the place is full and I’m talking crammed, hanging from the rafters, Japanese bullet train type jam packed with Brits. And this is perhaps where I’m in danger of doing the Maltese a disservice. I’m more than aware that my choice of journey type, destination and timing this time may well have contributed to the constant English accent we heard at every turn so please don’t let this put you off if you, like us, travel to get away from the local sounds of home. But it is absolutely true that not an hour went by without us hearing the sound of Blightly. From hotel staff, other holiday makers to shop owners, beach bars or market stall traders no matter where we were in the country it was clear that the British loved Malta.
In the desperate attempt to find a Maltese person The Family P. strode out across Valletta away from the bus station and out past St Publius Square. There we discovered a tiny café on a back street with three traffic wardens and an old man sitting outside. Score. I introduced myself and we started chatting, the gents in uniform apologised and made their way back to work but Alex was more than happy to chat. His view on Brexit was as interesting as it was insightful. A supporter of the EU, Alex was also clear that it was broken and needed to be fixed. He understood why Britain had done what it did and he hoped that it would be the catalyst for improvements. Alex had enjoyed what he saw as the benefits of the EU supporting the Maltese and bringing them prosperity as well as a better place in Europe but he also saw that that changes were not all positive. Control of people was not consistent and without a shared vision of what the EU wants to be that is supported, worked on equally by all countries and most importantly changes with the ever faster paced world around it then there will always be fundamental problems at it’s heart.
Wise words Alex, thank you.
The #2MenEUTour Big Brexit Tour journey so far: