It’s a strange feeling arriving in a foreign country on the other side of the world, but where there is a familial link.
I certainly didn’t feel any connection with Malta standing in the immigration line with the other non-EU arrivals. But on the other side of the gate Paul Zammit is waiting with a sign bearing my name (for those that don’t know there was another Paul Zammit in New Zealand who was married to Grandma’s sister).
Mr Paul shakes my hand and welcomes us to Malta. He recognises the surname and asks about the connection. “Mamo was the first President of Malta” says Mr Paul. I seem to recall Joanna Mamo having dug up this fact in recent years and of course Grandfather’s middle name is Anthony. Here is a picture of the man himself.
St Julian’s is a great spot. Although it’s popular for tourists, there is a great promenade and many restaurants scattered around the bay. Our duplex apartment is 2 minutes walk to the waterfront and is situated in some quaint little streets (very different to the big hotels frequented by most tourists!)
The following morning we walked to a small supermarket about 10 mins away today to get some supplies so we can cook for ourselves some meals – Stu you would have liked the packets of chunky pancetta and the like for your omelets. It had everything we needed and a lot of familiar products just different packaging.
Mid-arvo we caught the bus into the capital city, Valletta. It is fortified which is quite amazing, but pretty small – a km x 600m. We walked past Fort St Elmo at the end of the small peninsula which is now used for police training. We wandered around and saw a few historic sites/museums which we will go back to. It’s all super close together, so easy to make repeat trips now we have a bus pass.
Alex was disappointed as the hot and smokey old yellow ‘Malta buses’ are gone, replaced with dark green bendy buses. The bendy buses (being the largest buses produced by Mercedes) really are a strange choice for Malta with its small clogged streets. We can’t believe the driving here – they all drive so fast down tiny lanes with cars parked all over the place. Apparently the Maltese are impatient, according to Doreen, which fits as we certainly couldn’t work out why they were in such a hurry.
Tonight we were picked up by Doreen Mangion, her son Benji and his girlfriend Helena to go to dinner. Doreen was married to Allen’s cousin Alex on Emily Mamo’s side who passed away. They were great company and took us to a restaurant (The Chophouse) with the most incredible view of Valletta at twilight and then lit up as it got dark. We will see them again and meet more of that side of the family next week.