Thursday, 8 January 2009


A week's not long, but at least we managed to be away for the really cold snap. Last night's dinner at Tal Maltija turned out to be a triumph - finally a restaurant with good local food, efficient service and no cockroaches.

The journey home was a breeze, too. Leaving aside the inflight movie (Garfield) and the food (god knows), we arrived 30 minutes early and Heathrow was actually ready for us. We'd even collected our bags 10 minutes before the flight was scheduled to arrive. Consequently, we were home by 8, greeted by dinner cooked by Tash and Andy. I could get used to this.

Impressions of Malta ten years on - notwithstanding the appalling exchange rate (£1 = 1 Euro): I still love the colour of the traditional stone buildings, Mdina especially, and the fact that there is so much history crammed into such a tiny space. On the downside, though, the roads are truly awful - not just the surface but the fact that the only road signs are at the junctions, so you have to make snap decisions which invariably turn out to be wrong. Luckily the island is so small you can't go far out of your way. The restaurants are generally disappointing - mediocre food (too much pizza and pasta), haphazard service and inflated prices. And too many of the heritage sites are either neglected, closed indefinitely for refurbishment or undergoing "restoration" which will ultimately destroy their aesthetic appeal.

I read that somebody has created a happiness index for countries and that Malta tops the league. Maybe they're just too damn contented to pay attention to the things that drive foreigners mad. But to me Malta feels like a missed opportunity - it has massive potential but just doesn't work hard enough on refining and showcasing its assets.

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