MalTOUR

As you’ll all hopefully remember, part of my bucket list was to go to every EU country. Well I’ve now done it. Malta and Luxembourg ticked off since diagnosis, literally leaving the smallest until last. I thought big and it paid off, inviting a large number of friends and managed to get 20 people on the same holiday to Malta. Staying in a hotel in the heart of St. Julian’s, one of the most touristy areas of Malta. After arriving, tired due to the early start, we met up with one member of the holiday, who was part of his own landing party the day before. We went off to Mdina the old capital city and one of the highest points on the tiny island. This set the attitude for most of the trip. A little bit of sightseeing followed by a pint with a nice view. We went to the Mdina dungeon, which had comical howling manikins as well as enough information to remind us that humans have always found creative ways to be horrible to each other. Therefore a pint was required in the local wine bar.

Friday night was definitely the heaviest of the three. The atmosphere changed with a round of double tequila slammers, then ended up walking down the strip of bars. The first was great with plenty of podiums and fish bowls. The second place was a large club it was packed and I was flagging by then, it’s hard to keep your enthusiasm for a night out when you’re basically sober. So I left about two am. The other boys came in at various times with The Silver Fox being the penultimate finisher, having spent the last hours of the night trying to find our hotel he even tried getting a room at the Hilton, fortunately he was refused. But the “competition” was “won” by a repeat offender. Ending up under a table somewhere in St Julian’s without his phone, wallet, keys, and watch.

The two winners continued the holiday with little sleep, as we had booked speed boats on the Saturday.  Side point, I woke up to find my bath/shower had been vandalised by my older brother who’d emptied his stomach during the night… not only this we both came to the conclusion he’d hit the “do not turn off switch” in the night leaving the shower cold for the best part of the holiday.

The speedboating was amazing, hence why I’ve broken with convention and to my mum’s pleasure finally posted a photo. We got a minibus up to the north part of the main island. A great place to hire a boat, as it’s an entry point to the body of water that surrounds the three islands that make up Malta the country: Malta, Comino and Gozo. Comino is tiny and has the very pretty blue lagoon. With a reasonably quick briefing and some ground rules, we amateurs were able to hire 4 speedboats. Most of which, the boat of all Bristol lads, completely ignored. The afternoon therefore was spent circling Comino and anchoring at the blue lagoon to swim to buy ice creams, and listen to dodgy Maltease radio which seemed to be blaring out of most boats other than our own. On arriving back and taking the EU flag photo, I found out that the company were very generously letting me ride a Jet Ski for free. I never quite worked out what was said, but Dave had a chat with one of the guys, I think he asked why we had an EU flag. Dave explained the story, the guy collecting in our boats he bemoaned the EU… “foreigners coming over here taking our jobs”… he was English. I’ll ignore the hypocrisy, as he kindly organised me using the jet ski. We had to pay for the fuel afterwards, with the more aggressive boat using half of the total.

Saturday night was more subdued, there was whispering that people were “MalTOURed out”, particularly the gentleman who left to go to the police station missing most of the meal, any guesses who that was!? Some of the party found a Scottish pub with most of us preferring some gelato and bed. Sunday we went to Valletta, the current capital city. Albeit the taxi drivers seem to think each different parts of Malta are separate towns and villages, the east side of Malta is in effect one large urban area, weaving itself along the coast with many nice bays. Valletta from the bay’s we saw was probably the most grandiose with the large Grand Harbour just next to it. We went to the war bunker where the top generals of the allied forces organised the invasion of Sicily. This eventually caused Italy to surrender and very much put the axis on the back foot. The tour  was run by a history fanatic, which all of us had trouble understanding. A note on the Maltese language, they all speak their own language, and nearly everyone speaks English all heavily accented. It was a British colony for over one hundred years. They understand us well, but the reverse isn’t true.

By Sunday night people had recovered. Starting with the last group meal of the trip. At least going by the four restaurants we frequented, the food is reasonably expensive but good quality. A mix of Mediterranean and some local specialities which mostly include rabbit. We were keen to put the TOUR back into Malta. Hitting a karaoke pub, stealing the show with “Toto – Africa” amongst other decent renditions, particularly Roy Sin who can actually sing. Not me, my voice makes people cry for the wrong reasons. We woke up on Monday and went home.

Malta is a great place to visit, and it was a fantastic way to finish off the EU, after all I have a good time going to the other 27 too. Malta is a good mixture of pretty coastline, sightseeing, cheap drink and decent nightlife all in a beautiful part of the Mediterranean sea. Cheers to all of you who went. It was a great blend somewhere between a stag do and a more refined pleasant holiday with the couples. Everyone got on very well and new friendships were made.  Next stop GibralTOUR, TOURnisia, TOURinidad and TOURbago….

The last word, when getMaltourting around to finishing the EU and now especially now that both Dave and I completed it, people are first surprised… it is a lot of countries, many not your typical tourist destination. Then they typically list European, not strictly EU, countries “so you’ve been to Estonia?”, “yeah”, “oh and sweden?” “yeah”. Well folks, job done!

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