Review of "General: Malta"
"Why?" You rightly ask, should the Pope go there again. Therein lies the tale of the, (slightly), hair raising, Mini Bus excursion Driver, who told us, whilst driving along the only, very small, section of finished, metalled road that we had seen all day, "This was laid down especially for the Pope's visit to the Island, to visit St. Paul's grotto during May 2001. We're thinking of inviting him back but this time we will choose another route".The roads in Malta are abysmal. Driving along them, particularly in the public transport buses, is bone-shaking, not the least so because these buses are at least 30 years of age and in fact some of them are reconstructed from vehicles left behind by the allies in the 1939-45 War.
Herein however, lies some of the charm of the Maltese Islands. The attitude of the Maltese populace is, in the main; Not broken, don't fix it. When it is broken fix it again and again and again. The roads are in a poor state because the government says that it cannot afford to repair or replace them, there is just not enough money in the kitty. The buses are as they are for the earlier reason.Practically all, if not every bit, of the economy is based on tourism. The only, locally grown, product that is exported is potatoes. The country badly needs to get into Europe in order that it can get a financial, "Fix-it" from the European Government. Some of you may think that if you don't put anything into the coffers then you shouldn't expect to take anything out.
To this very narrow minded view I would say - Go to Malta, visit even a small part of it and decide - Is not the History, going way back beyond the Pharoahs, worth preserving? Are not the many beautiful villages worth giving a helping hand? - they certainly help themselves as much as they can. If we in the West can extend the hand of financial help to Third World Countries can we not help a Mediteranean Island that won the George Cross for bravery when the rest of Europe was helping themselves?I have only been to Malta once - this year in fact, for a week's holiday, to discover if we liked it well enough to come back and stay for longer. We usually go to Spain and just fancied something different.
It was different and pleasantly so. We have found in Spain, France and Italy that the outside of buildings usually look as if they could do with updating or at least repairing, pointing or even re-building. The insides of course resemble palaces. Malta is no exception and, when we initially visited Valetta, I thought that we had come to another version of Torremolinos or worse. When we began to see beyond the facade of buildings we realised that it really was old and very historic and that it was the lack of finance that meant that buildings were in need of re-furbishment.Because the population is composed of mainly agricultural workers, (apart from the many involved in the tourist industry), you tend to think of the Maltese as a collection of poor people. Not so. If they are not all financially rich they make do with what they have as we used to when it was necessary. Some of us remember the privations of the years before, during and just after the second World War. The Maltese are just taking longer than us to overcome those years.
The Maltese are a proud people who work hard and exist in the most beautiful collection of Islands in the Western World.
They are staunchily Roman Catholic in their religious belief but do not thrust it down the throat of those of us who are not - that is if you ignore the very many festa days when the, very large, amount of very loud fireworks used is enough to worry the more faint hearted among us.
From the very young to the very old there is something on offer in the Maltese Islands for you. Most of the coastline is rocky although there are some lovely beaches in the North of Malta, Golden Sands and the larger bay of Melliha are just two that we visited - beautiful natural sands with plenty of space, at least in late May. Remember also, unlike our shores, there is no tide to wash away the kid's sand-castles.
There are real castles to visit for those that love them as well as Cathedrals and 364 churches - repeat 364; (Our guide told us that at Paulo there is a Mosque for Leap years - they have a rich sense of humour).
An old, British, Airfield's Nissen huts have been requisitioned for use by the Craft Village where you can see, Pottery, Glass-blowing, Silver Filligree making, weaving, knitting, leathermaking etc., etc., and you can purchase many of the items. The prices are very reasonable - they do not try to rip off the tourists here, even if you are in fact a captive audience arriving by coach.
Will we be going there again, you can bet on it. Hope that the Pope makes it too. Hope to see you there, enjoy your holiday.
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Listed on Ciao since: 01/07/2000