Today seemed a bit overcast - but still hot and humid.
We decided on another bus ride, this time to a fishing village called Marsaxlokk. It is an a bay in the SE called Pretty Bay. More later.
We walked over to the bus station and looked for the 81 bus bay. There were already a few people there but we were close to the front. It was quite a wait. Gradually more people arrived. Then an bus arrived with no destination. The driver got out. Clearly a pit stop.
After a little while a no. 81 bus arrived and stopped 2 bays away. That’s when the stampede occurred! J and C were bringing up the rear. All the seats were taken, apart from the tropical downpour seats that no one wanted. So we all hung on and the journey to hell began. J observed that either the driver was hopeless, or the bus was in poor condition with regard to brakes, accelerator, and gear change, or both. While I nestled safely, J and C had a good upper and lower body workout as they were flung violently from side to side and back to front. This torture went on for over half an hour. But lack of manners or lack of awareness (or both) meant that some older people ( older than J and C!) and a man on crutches stood while young and not so young tourists sat.
Eventually the bus jerked to a stop and we were disgorged at the waterfront. J and C, with jellylike legs, spied a Costa coffee place and headed there to recover with a large flat white. The cafe was in a scenic little street with an impressive church opposite. Being slightly away from all the waterfront restaurants, it was slightly less crowded and more relaxing. Plus it had aircon!
After recovery, we strolled along the foreshore watching fishermen inspecting and cleaning their nets, and looking at the unique and colourful fishing boats with their beady eyes! Many seemed to have a piece of cloth draped across the bow, and J wondered if it was to cover the eyes for some reason. Must investigate this. The water was clear enough to see hundreds of small fish searching for food. But it wasn’t crystal clear and there was quite a lot of rubbish floating about - a product of tourism. Unfortunately, adjacent to the town, there were large port facilities and cranes on one side, and a power station on the other. So the bay was really Prettyish Bay!
There were many tourist stalls selling lace, trinkets, glass, and jewellery.
After a couple of passes up and down, and many photos, we decided we should eat before the mad rush. We had seen a number of tour buses in the background.
We only wanted a light lunch but that concept seemed absent. So we had what was on offer -C had omelette with chips and salad. J had pan fried octopus with chips, salad, and a plate of roasted vegetables. Oh well, no tea tonight. Given these places are providing for tourists, it was surprisingly good. J counted at least 26 tentacles, so that makes how many octopus’? The atmosphere changed with cloud filtering the sun, and finally a very light drizzle - just enough to pump up the humidity again! After another promenade, the decision was to return to Valetta.
We returned to the stop where we arrived and with a handful of others, waited. A gaggle of young girls arrived and went straight to the front of the “queue”. But they were unsure, and one was sent to find a local to ask. He returned and indicated they should go “ up that way” with a bit of gesticulating. So they did. 10 minutes later the bus arrived and we all jumped on. J and C got a dry seat this time, in the back half.
Off we went - 2 stops late a few blocks inland, we stopped, and there were the girls. One recognised J and she didn’t look too pleased! They had to stand all the way to Valetta, but that’s OK, they were young enough.
The ride back was more comfortable, although still a bit jerky. We noticed a huge area that looked like the ruins of something ancient. A stage was being erected, so presumably a concert was planned. Wikipedia explains that Publius Square was initially constructed by the Grand Master Marino de Redin during 1657 and 1660 so that grain could be stored underground. What we thought were the bases of columns from some long lost building, are in fact stone caps covering the entrances to underground silos or granaries for storing wheat and other grain. The idea was to have food stored in case of siege.
Minutes later we arrived at Valetta and J remembered his hat this time. We walked back and passed the modern parliament building - it must be sitting as there were barricades all around it.
Home for a siesta. We met the owner Patrick, his wife and daughter and chatted for a while. Then a nap, and out at 7 for a snack. We went down st Paul’s Street, and decided to stop at a busy little restaurant on the steps leading down from the St Paul’s at St Lucias’ street. Tables and chairs delicately balanced precariously on the stone steps. We ordered some drinks and pursued the menu to the strains of Phil Collins live. We ordered a cheese platter to share - more than enough. The young waitress was gruff, with never a smile. J and C decided not to linger, as there were people hovering and hoping for a table. So they left, still a grumpy waitress. J surmised that there must indeed be something in the air tonight!
Up to the food halll for some essentials, including some prickly pear liqueur . Home to rest....
Did I mention the lift? When friends were here in 2014 there was no lift. Just a stone staircase winding its way up 5 levels to the roof. Now there is a small lift. In order to provide a platform to exit onto, the staircase at each floor is covered over with a steel plate, part of which is hinged. In the event of an emergency ( eg fire) when the lift can’t be used, you simply raise the floor, fold back the railings, and climb down the stairs. All very clever.