First order of the day is the Post Office, to send some items from New Zealand over to Britain.

Don't ask.

The second stop is to check funds have arrived from Holland to pad out my overdrawn UK account.

Still don't ask.

Happily, both missions are successful and I can proceed with my scheduled holiday unsupported by the know-nothing tourist misinformation (today they know nothing about the walking tour shown on their own free maps).

St. John's Co-Cathedral (the whatnow?) is my opening stop of the day. At six of your Earth Euros, it's cheaper than the Grandmaster's gaff, and with the richness and variety of rooms and art on show, feels like much better value. The body of the church is richly decorated with oil-painted ceiling and relentless series of fine paintings lining the chapels around the nave.

Other sights include ornamented choral plainsong books and fantastic ornate reliquaries. The St. John's Warriors were clearly quite religious too.

After the Co-Cathedral, I wander down to the War Museum at St. Elmo's Bastian at the tip of the peninsula. I'm hoping to find a good source of information about modern Maltese history and so it proves to be. While the Maltese Experience treats Malta relatively equally from pre-history to the 21st century, the War Museum is dominated by World War II. Interestingly, most of the other tourists in the museum right now are German. I don't mention the war.

It's getting towards the end of my time in Valletta and I feel the need to sample the beery delights of the straightforwardly named "The Pub" before I leave. It's something of a forbidden pleasure feeling as I enter a space filled exclusively by British accents for the first time since March. I revel in my insularity by ordering a Proper British Pint of Bombardier.

So, Maltese beer. The local brewer is Cisk, which tastes mostly of generic lager. Their premium brew is Hopleaf, which tastes of hoppy generic lager. The Pub's Bombardier tastes of session ale which has travelled a little further than it wanted to. But at least it's cheap.

I've done pretty much all I wanted to by now, so it's time to collect the rest of my luggage and find some information about buses. It boils down to "That one. It'll leave when it's full", which it does. Britons should note that taking a full non-airconditioned bus halfway across Malta in the summer heat is still more comfortable than Jeddah and stop complaining about it.

I identify my destination by spotting the dive shop from the bus, and dislodge a few passengers to make my escape. After signing up at the dive shop for my course, the shop kindly offer me a lift to the San Pawl Hotel, which turns out to be a nasty little resort hotel with a Welcome Event and Evening Entertainment.

The room is cementy and lacks aircon and any charm. The bathroom is good enough for drying dive stuff, which makes it just about acceptable. I stop for long enough to drop my bags before getting out to discover the delights of St. Paul's Bay.

Turns out there aren't any.

Seriously. There's nothing here but tourist bars and tourist shops. Don't come here. There isn't even a beach.

After dinner in the hotel restaurant, the full horror of the entertainment strikes. It's loud and clear in all the rooms around the pool, including ones where the occupant is trying to sleep ahead of an early start for diving.

Add a comment