We picked up a middle-aged Japanese guest from the port at about midnight as he arrived with the catamaran from Sicily. He was not in a good mood as he said he didn’t like the Sicilian attitude. It was the first time I had come across an angry Japanese in my life.
The first thing he said next morning at breakfast was. ‘I have 2 questions. Where is the closest supermarket that sells cat food and where is the cat village?’
The cat village in Spinola road St Julians: https://goo.gl/maps/4XfpeDQmojQ2 is actually on Google maps! It is not a big village where lots of cats hang out but a makeshift corner where a woman called Rosa put some kennels and soft toys and feeds cats every day. However, Rosa is one of many, Maltese women, men and foreigners living in Malta, who feed cats.
There is quite a large number of stray cats on the Maltese islands. Cats can easily survive the winters here as the temperature hardly ever goes below 8 degrees Celsius at night. During the day it is about 14 degrees. In summer the temperature goes up to an average of33 degrees and for a few days it could soar up to 37 and higher – that is when we have a heatwave! Notwithstanding, cats can survive quite happily in the Maltese type of climate.
Another place in St Julians/Sliema where cat colonies thrive as people feed them on a regular basis, is Independence gardens close Balluta bay in https://goo.gl/maps/degxtMMnoCN2
As our homestay (Giljana) is only a few minutes away from this garden in Balluta bay, I went to see what cats do ona hot afternoon in the heat of August. There I found cats sleeping on and under benches. They had food which they hardly ate and they had water, but most of all they had shade and small cat boxes where they could sleep. People sat down next to the cats and some patted them. There was an aura of slumber and peaceful bliss as the afternoon heat seemed to drug the cats into a deep sleep. The cat area of this garden has become a cats’ haven where people can goto. People can feed them, watch them, pat them or just sit by them.
The opening of this year’s cultural capital of Europe was in Valletta on 20th January. Crowds flocked to Valletta to see the start of the festivities which was an evening of spectacles in 4 squares of Valletta – music, digital projections, dance, acrobatics, bands and more.
Four hundred events are going to take place in Valletta and through out Malta and Gozo this year – 2018.
Most probably the best mode of transport in Malta is a scooter. You can easily park a scooter, you can make your way through traffic, it doesn’t rain much so the chances of getting wet are minimal, it doesn’t consume a lot of fuel and although one might argue that it is not safe, most of the time traffic doesn’t move fast and we do not have many highways where cars can go very fast. So if you are adventurous, a scooter is a very good option to get to places where buses don’t go.
Buses in Malta are new, relatively punctual and cheap. The price is €1.50 per trip that is valid for 2 hours. You can also buy a weekly pass for €21 or a €15 pass for 12 trips. The only problem regarding buses is that there never seem to be enough of them! Buses are sometimes full especially at peak hours. Your best bet is to get on the bus at a terminus. An important thing to know is that you should flag a bus down if you want it to stop at a bus stop. Buses don’t stop automatically at every bus stop.
As most know in Malta we drive on the left. This can be a problem to most European drivers especially for the first half hour. lt helps to have a friend or partner acting as your navigator. Moreover roads are not well sign posted, so it is better to get a hired car with a navigator. You will also soon find out that street names are no longer in English but in Maltese.
Cycling is probably the least advisable, unless you are a really fit cyclist. Bicycle lanes are nearly non existent in Malta. Furthermore, Malta and Gozo are very hilly. lt is great to speed down a hill but not so great making your way uphill amidst the traffic and exhaust fumes. The Maltese countryside and Gozo are definitely better for cycling as there is far less traffic.