And we’re off…

Setting up the new printer was fairly straighforward. Apart from when the message appeared: We’re sorry, something went wrong. Nothing had gone wrong, the printer works perfectly. Liesel and I can now print directly from our laptops and phones. And that concludes this week’s tech news.

We didn’t stay up to watch the New Year’s fireworks from London, but we did enjoy some very loud bangs from the local displays in Northenden. Not so loud that they drowned out the noise of torrential rain battering the windows. Yes, we were quite glad we hadn’t made the effort to go out somewhere to watch a display.

Northenden fireworks

I think it rained continuously for over 48 hours in the end, during which time, sadly, we took very limited exercise. One day, I took some rubbish out and checked for mail. But not to worry, we were soon off to sunnier climes where we hoped to walk for miles and miles.

Getting up at 3.30am is a rare occurrence for us, but it happens sometimes. The taxi took us to the airport, we checked in, we breezed through security having bribed them a fiver to fast-track. It would have been faster if my trays hadn’t been pulled aside. Not because there was anything suspicious, but because their machines hadn’t scanned properly.

The flight was uneventful, apart from some minor turbulence as we flew over the Alps.

The Alps

I read my book, I did some puzzles and I even forked out for a cup of coffee. Liesel read for a while and also did some crocheting. When we landed, it was cloudy but warm. And as we descended the stairs from the Boeing 737-800, the Sun came out and said, welcome to Malta, Mick and Liesel.

We were in Malta three years ago, returning to the UK just in time for the first Covid lockdown. Masks seem to be optional now, although we kept ours on all the way from Manchester Airport to getting off the bus just round the corner from our b&b in Sliema.

Two doors

We knew the public transport system here was good, so we bought our bus tickets at the airport. The first bus took us into Floriana, the little independent town just outside Valletta. We ignored the Christmas market stalls as we walked towards the bus stop for a second bus. Except for the stall selling pastizzi. We yielded to temptation. Liesel chose the cheese filling while I opted for the peas. Delicious. But suddenly, 20,000 volts went through one of my teeth. I had tooth-ache for the rest of the day. I’m still not sure if the puff pastry was to blame, or I just bit down in an unorthodox manner, but boy was I miserable after this. I don’t want to have to see a dentist in a foreign country. I took painkillers and tried to play down the discomfort, but I’m sure Liesel will tell a different story. Ouch.

Our host met us at the b&b, showed us around and made us welcome. It’s a nice apartment, and we only have to climb 26 stairs to get there, not as many as in Yorkshire a couple of weeks ago.

In fact, the whole neighbourhood is picturesque, and so far at least, not a lot of noise. We made ourselves comfortable before embarking on the first of many long walks.

The streets are quite narrow so we were walking in the shade whichever side we chose to walk on. I told Liesel that as soon as we reached a sunny stretch, I would hold my arms out like a demented cormorant. It felt so good.

It’s only a 5 minute stroll to the sea and we walked along the promenade, breathing the sea air in deeply.

Daphne Caruana Galizia

I was quite moved to see this memorial plaque, particularly as I had recently listened to a podcast serial, Who Killed Daphne?  There’s some horrible corruption in Malta amongst the natural, and man-made, beauty.

On our first full day here, we walked to Valletta. It was warm and yet many people were still dressed in their thick Winter coats. As if they look at the calendar rather than the thermometer before deciding what to wear.

Phone box library

My God, it’s full of books. That’s what David Bowman would have said if he were looking into this old telephone box rather than a massive monolith orbiting Jupiter.

Laughing

Some of the graffiti is quite profound. This caught my eye because it might, in some way, be related to my radio show next week. You’ll just have to tune in and see.

Tall ship

Look how blue the sky, how calm the water, and what a beautiful ship. There were hundreds of boats, of all sizes in the harbour, and in all states of repair.

Valletta

We followed the path along the waterside, and eventually we saw Valletta way over there. That was our target for the day. And see that gap, I asked Liesel? Yes? That’s the Caribbean, I said. Don’t be so silly, she replied. And, as luck would have it, a hundred yards further on, we saw this vessel:

Black Pearl

The Black Pearl, straight out of Pirates of the Caribbean. This might not be Captain Jack Sparrow’s actual ship, I wouldn’t want to mislead you.

Plank

Yes, it’s very sad to see that capital punishment still exists in Malta. If you’re convicted of a nautical crime, they still make you take a long walk off a short plank.

St Joseph’s Church, Msida

This Catholic church isn’t really leaning over, that’s just side effect of a panoramic picture taken in haste on a busy road. It was almost glowing in the sunshine. Various church bells were ringing as we made our way to the Maltese capital, and we realised they were probably to mark the funeral of Pope Benedict taking place over the water in The Vatican.

Dumpster

Liesel sprayed her initials on this rubbish bin and couldn’t walk away fast enough. On the other hand, a bit later on, as we were walking across an area of grassland, a man in front kept turning around and looking at us. So we slowed down. And we stopped to ‘admire the view’. I think he’s got the hots for you, Liesel, I suggested. Make sure your phone’s not on display, said Liesel. We managed to lose him, or maybe he lost interest in us, and we found ourselves back in the Floriana Christmas market. No pastizzi today, thank you very much, and, since you ask, my teeth felt much better today. No painkillers required.

We entered Valletta and found somewhere  decent, Kantina, to have a very welcome, late lunch. Welcome because we were hungry but also, it was nice to sit down for a while.

Road train

This train came along the road as we dined, but we were quite happy to stay put, with a coffee before continuing our perambulation.

Pope John Paul II

Liesel went into a shop and while I loiterd outside, I found this celebration of Pope John Paul II’s first visit to Malta in 1990. It seems he was especially fond of Maltese people, right up until his death.

I’d forgotten that Valletta is quite hilly. So as we walked up and down, eventually heading back to the bus station, you can imagine how seeing this took ones breath away:

Stairway

We didn’t walk up this street, but one parallel to it, closer to the sea. The Sun was low in the sky, and Fort Ricasoli was really looking for attention over there.

Grand Harbour entrance

In a couple of places, we could see where the Sun would set, so we tried to get to a good vantage point. So did very many other people and try as we might, it was very hard not to ruin other people’s photo opps. But our patience paid off, and I think this is a pretty cool picture.

The Sun sets on our first full day

We wandered down to the bus stop and of course we missed a bus by 10 seconds. Back at the b&b, we ate and turned on the TV, something we rarely do when away from home, and watched a jolly good escapist movie, Glass Onion.

Unfortunately, I think we consumed too much caffeine so sleep was quite elusive. So much so, I managed to finish my first book of the year, in the middle of the night.

Also, my dreams that night, when I did eventually fall asleep, were ridiculous. For instance, if in real life, I’d asked my Mum to check that I’d left my mobile phone at home, she wouldn’t have a clue. And if I’d said I needed it to book an Uber, well. It was a different world thirty years ago.

Before we left home, I pre-recorded two radio shows, the first of which is now available. It’s on the subject of Weights and Measures. First on Wythenshawe Radio and now, here on Mixcloud.

As hinted at earlier, next week’s show is in the can and might have something to do with Laughter Therapy. Wythenshawe Radio, Friday 2pm, 97.2 FM, online, TuneIn app, smart speaker.

Much more Malta coming soon, stayed tuned!

Author: mickandlieselsantics

We are a married couple, one American, one Brit, one male, one female, neither of us as fit as we would like to be, well over 100 years old altogether.

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