What can I say. The family run restaurant. Its tucked away up a backstreet, behind the information centre and the executioners museum. It a tiny little, two storied building g with a massive commercial kitchen , seating for 29 downstairs and up a winding limestone staircase another 20 upstairs with a public toilet with bath, toothbrushes and shampoos. No menu. You eat what they have out of the garden that day and fresh local produce. Entree of 10 antipasti, no choice of wine apart from red or white, hard or soft, then a main which this night was quail and pork done the Maltese way. Dessert and coffee. All paced well, described by a knowledgeable waiter and very civilized. I would rate it as the second best meal we have had in the last few months only bettered by the octopus an rabbit we had in Italy. Just too much rich food, not enough freedom to choose, and very, very expensive.
Verdict. The food is there if you go looking for it. Avoid tourista menus, avoid any menu in English, try the local foods, dont rely on flashy tables or decor.
Imagine if you like. You awake, mid night, bladder bursting. Pale street light shows you the way to the bathroom but you need lights to ensure you dont spray the floor and wall with male pheremones. As you, still half asleep contemplate that fava bean puree and mixed barley and orange antipasto you see a scuttling to you right in the base of the shower stall. No! Must be my imagination. No! There it goes again. Eyes finally focus. Its the biggest beetle you have ever seen. Looks like one of those dung beetles. In my bathroom! I am a spider and bug phobic and have stood on chairs while Alison tracked down and killed spiders, cockroaches in New Orleans, scorpions in New Mexico, hunter spiders in Australia. I quietly close the shower door and scuttle back to bed where I lie wondering how the thing got there, I go back an hour later and its gone but my shower this morning was not a relaxing affair.
Another odd thing explained. Whenever we sit at our local Cafe du Brazil there is this constant background of distinctive whistles. I just discovered what they are as my favourite Nonna brings me a boiled sweet to go with my 1800hr wine. Its like the old party line telephone. Ours was two longs and a short telling you that the number being rung was yours. The whistling is a code. Hi its Nonna here. I want to talk to you Maria. Maria whistles back from the other side of the house. No, im busy. Maybe next ten minutes or variations. Could make an interesting anthropological PhD thesis.
We rode the ferries and the buses today. Explore Maltas three harbours then a blue bus to look at the interior and the south coast.
The harbour tour reminds one of the great maritime traditions of Malta which are still evident from the shipyards, the extensive dry docking facilities and the large working port. Also apparent is the navy presence which the tour guide was at length to point out was for fiheries defence, search and rescue and illegal immigration. Yeah right, as HMS Daring puts to sea, after losing a crewman to bad Maltese driving or drunken pedestrian behaviour. She is a class destroyer at present on patrol in the Persian Gulf and fighting ISIS. . The ports are also home to numerous marinas full of yachts ranging from the frugal to the super. Many overwinter here and leave skeleton crews who spend their day washing and polishing, washing and ppolishingthen probably sending text attachment to their owners across the world.
The trip inland showed us a different face to Malta aside from MDina (the walled city). Very intensive agriculture, rich looking cities, olives, lemons , tomatoes, peppers, potatoes .
We finish off the day by missing our ferry but share a water taxi (a gondola with an outboard and a skipper with attitude)with a Frenchwoman who has been living and working in Malta for ten years. “ the cost of living goes up and wages stay the same”. Sounds familiar and our waitress at du Brazil confirms the minimum wage is €4.6 and she doesn’t even get that. I tip her €2.
Just had my second gelato and iced coffees at the little gellatario off the top of the wharf lit in Valletta. Superb after a couple of hours of people watching and grading fellow travellers on degrees of awfulness. Top, must be the Asians who are either asleep or taking selfies and holding everyone up. Second, the Germans, who talk loudly and forget they almost bombed this island senseless. Third, the English who still think they run the island and don’t realise that with their funny teeth and white skin or terrible sunburn they are just a laughing stock. The other night at the restaurant our fellow diners ( British ) informed us proudly they had just become French citizens after Brexit. Some loyalty. FFourthly Americans )see the British) overweight or stick thin, loud, brash”back home we havem this much bigger, brighter, and at half the price”.
Sitting here, watching humanity drift by is like a continuous Ralph Steadman series of drawing’s. Grotesque body types, carnivorous features, lizard movements. The Malta sun is baking my brain. A procession of people stop to pay and photograph a mangy cat. If she had a begging bowl she could make a fortune. The Malta gunbattery fires its midday gun. The pigeons flee. Thencat rolls over. A few hours to myself she dreams.
So its goodbye to Malta. A pat on the shoulder, a kind word, a place that will stay in my heart.