Day 1 in Malta: Sleepless in Air, Confused in Dusseldorf and Lost in Valletta

2:25 p.m: I left Minneapolis on Monday at 2:25 pm on my way to Dusseldorf, Germany, with a two hour layover in Chicago. With an extensive in-flight movie selection to choose from, I watched The Hunger Games for the first time and an episode of the British Sherlock Holmes. After drinking more glasses of wine on the plane than hours slept (I’d hoped the wine would help me sleep, but it did not), I arrived in Dusseldorf at 8:45 am the next day.

8:50 a.m: Finding my way around an airport where the announcements were not in English was an experience in itself. The confusion began with standing in the wrong line for my flight check in. I was the second person in the line for Air Malta check in, but no one was at the counter.

As the line extended, a second line formed. Once the attendant got there, he said something in German and all thirty people in the line I was in shifted two lines to the left, to form a new line. Not understanding a single word he said, I was late in the line shifting and ended up about twenty people back. Turns out, the freshly made line did not have an attendant, so it was also a stationary line for quite a while as we all stood there as the people who got to the airport after us, checked in without delay.

9:45 a.m: Once I received my ticket and arrived at my terminal, I realized I had no Euros and could not find a place to exchange some of my dollars. Finally, I sat down with ninety minutes till departure and finished “Turn Right At Machu Picchu”. (There was a lot of time to read at the three airports I sat in, not to mention the planes). I carefully listened for any mention of my flight number or Malta until 11:20, when I looked at the counter to see a long line of people boarding the plane. One more two hour flight and I’m sitting in Malta.

2:45 p.m: Forget about sitting, as our whole airplane stood for over an hour waiting for our luggage to come onto the carousel. At this point, my lack of sleep was catching up with me fast, but I was running on adrenaline and two cups of coffee.

4 p.m: Catching a bus to Valletta turned out to be quite easy, but fumbling around with Euro coins surely branded me as a tourist. When everyone else decided to exit the bus, that seemed like a good place to get off as well. I met two nice girls from Norway who also had no idea where they were going, and chatted with them until we parted ways. Once in the maze of Valletta, I lugged my suitcase around in a pair of long khakis, a t-shirt and a fedora hat. By the time I asked someone where my hotel was, I was drenched in sweat and exhausted.

After backtracking a couple blocks, carrying my suitcase down 300 feet of stairs, up 300 ft to the right and down 300 ft to the left, I’d arrived at The British Hotel.

4:45 p.m. The man working the front desk was very friendly and gave me free AC, because I was in a two bed room by myself. Unpacked and overheated, a cold shower had never sounded better.

6 p.m: Refreshed and hungry, I headed back to the little deli where I had asked for directions after emailing my family to tell them I was safe and grounded. La Pira, on merchant street is a delightful little deli with outdoor seating. The owner was sitting outside doing his bookwork for the day, while drinking some wine. He quickly made me a ham and cheese baguette with lettuce, cucumbers and homemade balsamic, as he was closing within the hour. I also ordered my first “legal” beer, the local Cisk, which turned out to be bitter, but quite tasty.

The owner, Paul (pronounced Paol) and his friend Freddy, provided great company as we chatted, ate and drank in 68 degree weather. They both game me tips on visiting Malta and Gozo, the “Gem of the Mediterranean”. We talked about European economies, and the U.S. presidential race, and they pointed out a number of places to stop at in Valletta, while here. I was also informed of my strange accent and it giving me away as an American, which made me laugh.

7:30 p.m: I bid them goodnight and returned to my room. By 8:10 p.m., I had fallen asleep with the light still on and clothes covering my bed.

1 a.m: I spring awake, and realize it is 1 a.m. Since I’m awake, although unhappy about it, I decide to finish unpacking before I force myself back to sleep to try to adjust to the time shift. This time travel is killing me!

7:30 a.m: By the time 7:30 a.m. rolls around, I am exhausted again, but hungry. Breakfast is tasty and simple, it includes: fresh bread, cheese, thinly sliced meat, fruit and strong coffee.

My only complaint is that the water from the faucet in my room is never colder than warm, and all I want is cold water to drink.

Today’s goals are to: Explore Valletta; figure out about a phone, adjust to the time zone and to just have a relaxing day (most likely with another early check-out tonight).

10:15 a.m.: It’s 10:15 already!! Well I gotta go for now, but I plan on getting an earlier start tomorrow and maybe taking a bus tour around half of the island.



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