For me, most of travel is rediscovering the ability to take information slow. It relaxes me knowing that there is no real reason to rush. Seeing more is not always seeing more, especially if you see less at each stop.
11 a.m: I started off my day by attending the National Museum of Archaeology. There I saw some brilliant pieces of Neolithic pottery and figurines, with detailed descriptions of Malta’s archaeological past. There was also a traveling display of Damascene metallurgy originating from Spain.
While at the museum, I met a very pleasant Australian family, who are traveling from Malta to Paris on a trip to track their ancestors. Valletta seems to be crawling with Germans, the British and Australians. Also, check out the only U.S. city marked on the world heritage map.
12:30 p.m: I finally stopped at a currency exchange shop to pick up some euros, but barely made it in time. Apparently banks close at 1 p.m.
12:45 p.m: After the visiting the Museum, I stopped in at La Pira again, and ordered a “parmeham” (seems very similar to prosciutto) sandwich. Once I entered, Freddy from last night offered to buy me a drink, which I accepted. This sandwich was better than the last. Covered with local olive oil, Maltese goat cheese, lettuce and olives, I ate a work of art. I also noticed two pictures of Marilyn Monroe hanging in the restaurant. The calm atmosphere, nice owner and good affordable food are so inviting, I’m fighting my urge to eat there for every meal. To add to the atmosphere, a violinist outside the restaurant was playing “Someone Like You” by Adele.
1 p.m: Stuffed, I headed down the street, in no particular direction. I reached the other side of Valletta and followed the coastline. Eventually I hit the National War Museum, and decided to stop in. Inside I learned some interesting history of Malta’s role in WWII.
Continuing the pattern from earlier, I just kept walking. Stopping once to get a water, I eventually hit the Siege Bell, and my first encounter with Americans. I met a very friendly Australian women, who talked about her travels and her annoyance towards American airlines, and their tendency to make you fly to a hub, rather than a direct flight. All in all, she was very funny and was kind enough to take a picture of me.
3 p.m: By three, I was exhausted and followed the coast hoping I would get to my hotel. Luckily, my instincts were on as I arrived at the front door. On the way back, I passed a nice little hidden rock beach, occupied by locals and beautiful Maltese girls. Once back in my hotel room, I took a short fiesta and uploaded some photos.
5 p.m: Hungry again, I headed out with a new restaurant to try in mind. Kantina was the name, and I had remembered their specials looked spectacular. Unfortunately, in my haste to order and craving for vegetables (which have been missing from my meals here), I ordered a Caprese Salad and the local Cisk beer. While I wish I would have ordered from the specials, the Caprese Salad was incredible. Although it looked standard, some kind of citrus dressing was under the salad, with balsamic on top of the lettuce, tomatoes, olives and chunks of mozzarella. The citrus pushed the salad outside of its normal range. Included in dinner was fresh bread, crunchy and tasty. I followed my salad with a “Banoffee Pie”. It was a carmelly, banana, chocolate, cream, crisp, pie. Simply excellent.
An interesting side note, here Budweiser is an import and pricier than the much better and tastier local Cisk beer. Funny how that works, out of all the beers to import, Budweiser is the one. Some things just evade me. Also, American and British music are rampant around every corner, as I got to enjoy Maroon 5’s “Moves like Jagger’ and Kanye West’s “Goldigger”, while eating my dinner.
After eating dinner, I could not get myself to move. I think it is the breeze… It’s intoxicating to the point of paralysis. The warm, calm, Maltese breeze is the most pleasant breeze I could ever imagine.
7 p.m: Walking into the hotel at the same time as me was friend I had made yesterday from Australia. After grabbing my laptop from my room, we met again on the Wi-fi floor and chatted about travels, the U.S., Australia, food, beer, universities and everything. After he left to get dinner, I met a girl who is in the anthropology program I’ll be partaking in starting next week. Her parents and her are from Seattle, and to tell the truth, it was quite nice to hear a recognizable accent not from a group of tourists.
I was getting ready to head up to my room, when Sean returned from dinner and we chatted a bunch more, as apparently the people across the bay were celebrating a feast by shooting fireworks off. While it’s not quite 10 o’ clock, when I wanted to hit the hay, I can say today was a good day. It’s always nice to meet good people while traveling and make some friends.
Lastly, there’s something to this Maltese air. It is so tranquilizing, and the atmosphere of the island is so laid back. Businesses open at 9 and go till 4 p.m., when they head back to their families for the evening. Tomorrow I plan on waking up earlier to do more exploring before shops begin to close.