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20 Awesome Malta Insights – Part 1

So this time I wanted to do something different I wanted to share my experiences and subjective thinkings about Malta and me staying in Malta. The difficulty was to decide where to start but I finally chose to start with the annoying facts and finish with all the nice and good things that came to my notice. But don’t get me wrong – I enjoy my time here a lot and most of the things are rather funny or a bit weird than actually disappointing but sometimes a German has to do what a German has to do: Complaining.


10 annoying facts about Malta

 

1. Waiting for busses

There is one thing everyone who lives here for more than three days and without a car will have to go through: waiting for busses.
As most interns are placed all over the island going around by bus is the only option. 
So if you are really lucky you find a bus that appears twice or some even three times an hour! Which of course doesn’t mean they indeed appear. Depending on the time of the day they are 
 
  a) too early ( when the traffic is not that bad like at an unpopular place on a Sunday morning or late at night ) so you still miss them because you were not there on time.
 
  b) too late ( most of the time but especially on busy weekday mornings and after work ) which means you wait for them an average 10-20 minutes.
 
  c) not coming at all ( big surprise it can always happen to you ) and you will be busy finding out if you just missed it or if another bus is about to come soon – anyways you have to wait for a long time.
 
Bus – Selfie
But lucky us the fun doesn’t end when your bus is coming – each timetable at the bus stop also points out the average time you need to get to your destination. Let’s choose my work placement as an example. The displayed time to my stop (Msida) is 25 minutes. The first day I went there – the bus was driving for 20 minutes and even started earlier from my bus stop in Naxxar. Good, next time I came earlier so I wouldn’t miss the bus. This time it was 10 minutes late and was stuck in the traffic for 45 minutes. You never know – but I started to bring a book with me just in case 🙂
 
UPDATE: d) The desired bus appears but is completely full and simply doesn’t stop…
 

2. Expenses

 
Public Transport – AGAIN
 
At first glance I thought living in Malta is quite cheap and all the websites I found agreed with me. And maybe it’s just because I am still far from being a local and simply don’t know where to go but the daily business stuff is quite expensive from a Berlin point of view. Public transport is 2 € per ride which of course is way too much for everyday (driving at least 2 times a day but mostly 4 times), the other options are either weekly tickets (21 € for as many rides as you want) or 12 rides for 15 €. I started with the 15€ card but I fastly recognized I had to think about every ride and stopped doing things to save rides. So 21 € each week makes 84 € a month (even more as a month has more than 28 days). There is a much cheaper way of travelling but to apply for the necessary card – it takes up to 4 weeks which is why none of us did that.
 
Food
 
I like going to supermarkets especially when I am travelling but it’s also connected to my big urge to try all kinds of shit (my favourites so far: blue cheese cream, maltesers hot chocolate, angel delight powder…) and this stuff is not inexpensive. But the biggest problem for me so far is eating healthy or maybe even close to healthy. I go to the supermarket – buy stuff – go back home and recognize I bought nothing I could actually make a proper meal of and I end up eating pizza, burger, fish ’n chips or white bread with blue cheese cream. Most people here buy their fruits and vegetables at the small market stalls on the streets. But still they are quite expensive and the choice is not really big. One day we thought – ‚oh let’s go to the kebab store to eat something fast and cheap‘ – so we went there and ended up choosing something else because spending 8 € on a simple kebab would break my heart.
 
The one and only time I bought vegetables
Daily Expenses
 
However, the most difficult part is: you are on a holiday island so you want to try stuff, visit places, eat ice cream, go for some drinks and so on and so on. Not to forget about my desire for shopping…
 

3. Men

 
Maybe for some people it would rather be on the positive side but I started to be pretty annoyed by (mainly) older men that say ‚Hi‘ while they are passing you on the street or they blow the horn driving next to you. In the beginning I thought it’s actually not too bad because it usually stops after that so it’s more harmless than in many other places I have been. But when you are having a bad day and are already bugged by all other kinds of things the pure frequency of this happening to you makes you see red.
 

4. Salty Water

 
Ok – I have to admit that I don’t have so much experience with other salty oceans or at least not with swimming in them every second day but the water here is so salty and sticky and after swimming my need for hand cream grows ad infinitum. Also diving is not really an option – because it burns your eyes off 🙂
 

5. Incredibly hot Summer

 
When I arrived in late August it was still very hot and incredibly humid but everyone kept saying that it is already so much better than some weeks ago. But the first week I really suffered. Sleeping without an air conditioning was nearly impossible – and we don’t have one. This is why at night you start to think about a way to withstand the heat and what from your sleeping clothes you could still remove without confusing your flatmates 😉 But being in Malta in September is pretty much the perfect time. It’s still hot but less humid and colder in the evenings – perfect for my nightly run-around.

 

6. Destroyed dream of hiking and biking

 
Before I came to Malta I was thinking about what to do there. I pictured myself hiking around every other day. When I arrived I quickly realised that this was a sheer impossibility except for the south of Malta, maybe.  This country is so densely populated that there often is no free space between cities and furthermore many times there are no sidewalks on the roads connecting cities ( I once tried to walk to Naxxar from another place close by and it felt a bit like russian roulette ). I also wanted to go biking but same thing. Streets are so narrow and I still am completely confused by the left-hand-driving here. But it might be a good idea in Gozo as the streets are a lot less busy.
This is all the space left for cars – bikers and pedestrians

7. Where are the parks?

 
Of course I know that it is too hot and that there simply is no free space for parks but still – sometimes I really miss to see a green spot or even sit in one. But on the other hand – wherever you look you can reach the sea within 20 minutes no matter where you are.
Density

 

8. Air Conditioning

I have to admit the first minute in a fully air conditioned bus is quite nice but after that it usually starts to be killing you. As the average time I sit in a bus is 30-40 minutes per ride I already started to have a scarf with me ( outside temperature 30° ) and am really glad that at work I have the power over the remote control for our rooms aircon. 
 

9. Kinnie

 
Ok, now all the Maltese readers ( in case there is any: Merħba ) will get completely mad at me but – honestly – how can you like that drink? Kinnie is the local refreshment drink or whatsoever. I bought it because I thought it was their own kind of coke and maybe this is why it made the whole experience worse. Expecting the sweet coke style taste – Kinnie is your worst nightmare. The bottle itself states ‚Bitter sweet soft drink made from oranges and aromatic herbs‘ – the bitter part is so completely true but no idea where the sweet taste was. The Maltese I talked to were quite aware of the fact that people either hate it or love it so I think it is mainly like that: Maltese like it – tourists hate it. 
 

10. Tourists

 
This island is so lovely and sometimes I can figure out – it must be a bit tiring for the locals to deal with the huge amount of tourists that come and go and even don’t stop coming in winter. Especially the main attractions sometimes are so crowded that even tourists start to be annoyed by tourists. At some places the only stores you can find are souvenir shops and you see the same faces at different places as everyone goes to the main places like Valletta, Sliema, St.Johns, Gozo and Comino. Hopefully the locals are not to tired of seeing new, completely sunburned faces every week flocking to always the same attractions – but that might be the disadvantage of living in such a nice little country.
 
 
Some tourists at the blue lagoon..
Tourists everywhere.
 
 
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