There's a thing I have with travelling to Malta. So little time and so many places to visit, so much food to try and so many people to meet. It normally means that blogging is kept to a bare minimum - or to none at all by the standards of my last visit. I try to keep mental notes about all the things I have seen and would have loved to blog about. In the end the mental unpacking is unsatisfactory to say the least. It's just as bad as unpacking a suitcase - I am never that good at it. As I type there are still the little remnants of my last unpacking venture spread on my spare bed. They are disassembled there - bits of wires and chargers, packets of twistees, magazines, t-shirts and other odd flotsam and jetsam that washed off the edge of the jam-packed suitcase and onto my bed. Anyways. Here is a little mental run-through of all that I remember (more or less).
#1 the Wet Toothbrush
A useful item never to be forgotten. The toothbrush is normally packed last since it HAS to be used before the 10 hour journey back home. The only problem is that it stays humid wrapped in its plastic bag till you unpack it to its designated place in your bathroom. In a way it reminds me of Air Malta. Notwithstanding all the criticisms aimed at travelling in and out of Malta, the national carrier remains the most economic way of getting to the island, even if this means leaving Luxembourg six hours before take off. I was pleasantly surprised by the new inflight movie. We got to see "Cheaper by the Dozen" - not normally my choice of flick but still kills off part of the three hour trip. For the price you pay you still get an inflight meal and free-flowing Kinnie. The efficiency of the staff, the quick check-in (Flypass helps) and the drink lead to what always turns out to be a positive flight experience. In my book all that Air Malta needs is to concentrate on what it can do well and free the space for all the rest that is unreachable due to a variety of considerations. Government backed protectivism should not be so tight and if it cannot reach areas like Central Europe (read Luxembourg) it should allow other airlines - like Ryanair - to fill the gap (read Frankfurt Hahn). Otherwise thumbs up for the carrier with the Maltese Cross.
#2 Alka Seltzer
Always in my suitcase. Always first out and back into the Medicine Box. The best remedy for a good night out. Which is what the Notte Bianca promised to be. I could not get there from the start since I had a wedding to go to before. When I did arrive in Valletta around one in in the morning I parked at MCP and walked into the City. There was an interesting buzz in the air. The psychedelically lit gate was ok, the terramaxka playing away under the gate was promising. Throngs of people walked all along Republic Street with no apparent direction. Something was definitely happening at the Opera House since some bloke on the tannoy kept warning people that there was too much crowding and pushing. That is all I saw. I only made it to McDonalds before I was assailed by a negroni aftershock. My fifth one had been too much and I was damned if I would walk any more. So my report has to rely on word of mouth. Such as my parent's account on the goings-on till around 11.30 pm. It seems that the shops that were closed at 1am were also closed earlier on. The long queue outside Castille was also a permanent fixture on the night. Restaurants failed to join the fun and stopped serving food quite early in the night. You get the impression that everyone was just out there to see if it would really happen. Yes people did go to Valletta. Yes people were willing to stay up all night. Only the commercial part of the deal fell through since the businessmen did not feel it necessary to take any risks. Which is a pity. Going to Valletta was like chasing the White Rabbit down some hole.... Better luck next time.
#3 Gluten Free Food
Always part of my suitcase in case I get stuck in some hell hole and some genius decides that everyone can eat sandwiches to make up for the delay. Food is always important and I was looking forward to taking Melanie to the Blue Elephant - supposedly a sans pareil of Thai Cuisine. It's a lovely restaurant. Hat's off to the decorator. You practically have to stop the friendly staff from giving you a free massage as soon as you enter, such is their eagerness to please. Their entrées are an undescribable feast of taste - from the satays to the dim sim to the prawns in rice crackers. Not your run of the mill entry stuff. The mains though? They're good. Just plain good. Nothing extraordinary. A prawn curry will get you six miserly prawns the size of your pinky (I asked and was told that the Chef's orders are a military six per portion). I will not even discuss the duck on a bed of seaweed. Or maybe I will. The duck was passable, the seaweed drowned in a common take-awayish sauce and the accompanying rice was pitiable. Blue Elephant indeed. It may be good to impress, but when I am eating my stomach tends to be more interested in the contents of my plate than in the flora and fauna of the immediate surroundings. Really, if the management at the Blue Elephant want to see what eating good Oriental is like then I would gladly host them to a night out in Luxembourg at the exquisite TAKOBO. Honest. And once we are on the subject of food - whoever thought that sushi is a good take away item should think again. Unless eaten fresh sushi is not sushi. It becomes a rubbery thingy that is only acceptable if drowned in copious amounts of Soy Sauce. Never, ever be tempted to buy those thingys packed in fridges at your supermarket... do you hear me Arkadia and Marks & Sparks?
That's all for now... unpacking is taking its toll on my work rate - maybe more later if I am in the mood.