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Leaving Malta

When we told people we were leaving Malta, they said ‘You’ll be back’… and they are probably right.

But for now we are changing location, moving on to pastures new.  In fact, and in the interest of full disclosure, by the time you are reading this we have already left, although I write this just before our move.

We’ve had a memorable 4+ years living on this little rock, lots of highs, some lows too along the way.  We got sick of Sliema, but on our return after 6 months overseas we grew very fond of St Paul’s Bay and Bugibba.  It is sad to be leaving – I feel like I know Malta better than I know my own country at this stage – but there are career opportunities elsewhere that we would be silly to ignore.

I’ve enjoyed (well, mostly enjoyed) writing this blog.  (Sorry for banging on about English breakfasts all the time).  I hope people have gotten some useful information if nothing else, as I started this because I wanted to write down the things that would’ve helped us out when we first arrived.  Anyway thanks for reading, and thanks to all those who commented and emailed.

The site will stay up, and if you are reading this and would like to add an article of your own then email me at howtomalta@hotmail.com and I will be glad to publish your piece here.

That’s it for now…  Grazzi hafna Malta!

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Driving in Malta

So as a visitor to Malta, should you rent a car, or should you rely on the Maltese transport system?

This is sort of like asking whether you would prefer to be clattered over the head by a saucepan or a flowerpot.  Neither option is wonderful.

However I think that most people would choose to avoid the infamous buses, especially during peak season when they are crowded to bursting, and when your journey may involve a lot of standing at bus stops waving feebly at packed buses as they zip past.

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Goldie’s Cafe, Msida

Looking for a full English breakfast?  No problem friend, you will find them all over the island.

Burger and chips? As far as the eye can see.

If you fancy something a little more local, then there is a pastizzeria just around the corner.

Healthy option you say?  Ehhhh…..

Well Goldie’s Cafe in Msida manages the tricky combination of healthy and delicious.  A rarity indeed, especially away from the Euro-hub of Sliema/St Julians.

It is a very nicely appointed little cafe, with artistic flourishes on the walls and in the preparation of the food.  Lots of variations on wraps and salads, and the menu specials change to reflect the fresh ingredients delivered that day.

One example of this was this very delicious wrap.

 

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On a return visit I tried the orange and red cabbage juice – in suitably hipster-ish container- which was advertised as a way to ‘completely protect yourself from cancer development’.  I feel this may be something of an exaggeration, but it was tasty and most probably very healthy too.

 

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I also went for this Tower Sandwich filled with salmon, crab, onion, tuna, egg, mayo and topped with pineapple.  It was amazing, up there with Leaning of Pisa and Bridge as one of the best Towers I have encountered.

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Goldies cafe is one of the best on the island although it is tricky to find so check out their website for more info.  I just wish I had stumbled across it before now.

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New Arrival in Malta: Getting Sorted

Another installment from Ali, new arrival to Malta from the UK.  Some frustrations along the way, but she’s getting there!:

I now have the Social Security number and I now have a Tax Code, but the next step is the ID card. You need it for virtually everything in Malta. For example, getting internet installed at our new apartment: if you don’t have an ID card you have to put down a 70 euro deposit, if you have one, no deposit necessary! Although Melita did say that once my ID card arrives I can present it at their shop and the 70 euros will then be credited to my bill. But still, it would be nice not to have to fork out the 70 to start off with. Anyway…

This time it’s a trip to Valletta proper, but the opposite end to the bus station – it’s quite a walk down to the Evans Building. And when you get there, opposite the Malta Experience, there is no sign, to say it’s the Evans building, but there is a sign pointing you around to the left for the ID card. So I walk around, and I can’t see another sign, or a door, but yet again there is a friendly old man sat on a stool in the shade. He points me further down the road and to the right and I see a sign saying Evans Building. So I head in the door, go down a flight of stairs and there is a small riot/queue. I join the back and realise that I could have come in the door I saw in the first place.

Anyway, join the middle queue for the desk right in front of you. I got there at just gone 8.30am and waited for 30 minutes to get to the front. I was given the paperwork to fill in. I had all the relevant photocopies EXCEPT the passport pictures. Grrr. So off I went, with my papers and found a place to get my passport picture taken. It was too hot, so I headed home again and decided to hand the papers in another day.

Take Two – I have everything and please note, the pictures do not need to be notarised to say they are you unless you’re asking someone else to put the application in for you. I was doing it myself, so no need to jump that hurdle. Though I did need to find some glue to stick the picture to the form, as it states not to staple it. I don’t have any glue and certainly not a stapler, but I found glue, so it was all good.
This time I didn’t make it down to the Evans building until 9am and I waited for nearly an hour to get to the front of the queue. The lesson here folks is: get there early! They open at 7.30am. It’s nice and cool that time of day. It makes sense.

I get to the front, hand in the papers, they give me a slip to confirm I have all the papers and the lady tells me they will write to me in six weeks to ask me to come and collect it.

That was the 2nd July, I know this because it’s written on the slip. It’s now the 18th August and for the last week I have been checking the mailbox hoping it’ll arrive and finally yesterday, a letter did arrive. Now riddle me this…

The letter is dated 30th July and tells me that when I submitted my papers on the 24th July (!) I didn’t include my employment contract. No! I did, I’m sure I did, I question myself. I’m as certain that the sun will rise that I included it with my application. In the envelope are the documents I submitted. I check and lo and behold my employment contract IS in there. Seriously?!

The paperwork was checked when I handed it in. Everything was there. It’s taken 22 days to look at the papers and another eight days for them to write a response. And get this… it arrived yesterday, the 17th August. It took 18 days to even make it to the post box!

Frustrated doesn’t even come close. But I’ll be getting up early tomorrow and heading down there, again, and making darn sure they have everything they need. I don’t have glue, or a stapler, but I do have a highlighter pen, so I’ll highlight my name and the words “employment contract” this time to make sure it’s not sent back a second time.

I’ll update you, hopefully in October as to what happens next!

 

Check out the previous installment from Ali here.

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Ice Cream for Breakfast

This has been a particularly hot summer in Malta, so why not do as our neighbours in Sicily do, and try ice cream for breakfast!

Sicily is less than 100km away, and so a lot of Sicilians have moved South to set up shop in Malta.  As with immigrants the world over, the most natural way to start a new business is by importing some of your local cuisine.  Hence in Bugibba alone you can find three or four Sicilian gelaterias, and we tried one of the best for our icy breakfast, in the shape of the Congusto cafe.

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Dan went for a Mango sorbet over a fruit salad, which looked pretty delicious, even at ten o’clock in the morning.

 

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I decided to try the real Sicilian experience though:  a brioche filled with ricotta based ice cream.   This is pretty much the opposite of a British or Irish breakfasting experience, where the only sweet things you are liable to find on the table will be jam or marmalade.   However our continental neighbours often enjoy chocolate as part of their morning meal, so ice cream is not all that much of a stretch.

 

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And on another morning where the temperature is up past 30 degrees by nine o’clock, this makes for a refreshing breakfast option.  I know for sure that my six-year-old self would have approved.

The ricotta ice cream is not too sweet, and goes well with the soft brioche to make for a nice snack.  Not something you’d wake up to every morning, but the little kid in you will enjoy the experience!