At the beginning of the 1600’s, Malta was still ruled by the Knights of the Order of St John. One of these knights, Fra Giorgio Nibbia, had a chapel erected near the Sacra Infermia, the main hospital in Malta which was used to treat Maltese and foreigners, as well as providing a resting place for those on pilgrimage to Jerusalem.
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.
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.
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.
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.
This is a scruffy sort of a beach, what you might call ‘unspoiled’ if you were feeling generous.
The beach is in the North West of the island, and pretty difficult to get to unless you have your own transport, which means that it is not one of the more crowded beaches on the island.
I get the impression that a lot of beaches in Malta used to look something like this, before the big tourist boom that attracts a million people to the island every year. It’s what I imagine a Maltese beach looked like in the seventies, nothing too fancy, just a couple of take-away joints selling burgers and ice-creams, and seaweed scattered around the sand.
There are water sports available if that’s your thing, otherwise it’s not the worst place to spend a sunny afternoon. As I say, this is one of the more remote beaches in the North of the island so best have your own car if you are planning a trip to Gnejna Bay.
They say that beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and the prettiness or otherwise of ‘Pretty Bay’ in Birzebugga depends on your perspective.
From one vantage point it’s all blue sea and sailboats bobbing gently in the surf…
…but glance over to the right and you are greeted by the site of a working port and gigantic shipping containers.
Still, you shouldn’t let that put you off. Birzebugga is in the south of the island, and a popular place for expats who want to escape the throngs found in more northerly towns like Sliema or Bugibba. It has a nice airy feel, and the beach – although artificially created – is perfectly nice too. The water is less choppy than on the other side of the island, and gets deeper gradually here meaning that it’s a good place to go with the kids.
Plenty of shops and restaurants nearby mean that you won’t starve, and being in the south means less tourists crowding onto the sand. Although our first impressions of the place weren’t great, this beach grew on us, and Pretty Bay seemed like a pretty good description of this beach by the end of the day.
They’ve got plenty of seats outside, and a appropriately dimly lit interior with all the assorted oddments you like to see hanging off walls in pubs.
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.