Month in the Maltese skillet

I thought about the upcoming summer holiday in April. The end of thinking put a phone call of a university friend, who lives in Malta for four years. So, she invites me to visit my son for a whole month. House, says I have a spacious, three-story, and for you with my son there is a room. Obluding all airlines and comparing the price level and flight conditions, I stopped at my native Aeroflote: Flight though not very convenient, but the cheapest is only $ 514 there and back for two.

Knowing that my girlfriend is a hospitable man, but very busy, I decided to be her not in a burden, but only in joy. I do not need to think about the hotel, but I have to think about meals and excursions. Even before the departure, armed with benefits, reference books and advertising brochures in Malta. LE PETIT FUTE became the most favorite guidebook. I seemed to not only learned everything about the history of Malta, but also became well acquainted with her modern life – what to see, how to get, where what to buy and how much. Malta appeared to me a country of cheap, littered with vegetables, fruits, fish and fully equipped for tourists.

It remains to check it all.

Of course, I knew that the Maltese Lira, or, as it was called the habit of the remaining since the times of British rule, – Pound, is $ 2.64 US dollars. However, going to the capital Malta La Valletta and having received in the exchange office of St. Luke Airport for $ 100 only 37 lire with trifle, was somewhat puzzled. It is difficult to part with the Moscow habit of getting for the same 100 dollars no less than half a million rubles.

City on terraces

Half of the fifth morning, still very dark, load in "Mercedes" My girlfriend. We are going on prettyny la valette. Against the background of the brightening sky, I was struck by the number of teleconnen on the roofs of houses. Like flocks of giant mosquitoes, and maybe dragonfly, depended in the air over the roofs. Houses of two- and three-story, each owner antenna has its own.

The whole island is broken on the terraces that have been preserved since ancient times, and they still work the peasants, cultivating each of their defense. These terraces are supported by stone fences, erected by the simplest way – just stones on each other are laid and not fastened with nothing. Even amazing how they are not falling apart.

When we turned to the street we needed, already dawned. At home cost close to each other, but everything is completely different in appearance and layout. They go out of facades to the street, and behind – the gardens, who has more, who has smaller. Land plots on this street have all the same. Want to have a big garden – the building is less in depth, you want a bigger house – you have to limit the tiny garden. This type of building is called "Terraces Hauz", And if at home is spacious – this is already villas. Despite the fact that the land and expensive humus have to buy in stores, Maltese decorate their courtyards, roofs, balconies, windows, and even the walls of numerous plants and flowers in the tubs, pots, suspended porridge, wall and floor vases.

Interesting system of drainage in the houses: Flat roofs are preserved along the Arab tradition, on which trees even grow and everything is equipped for recreation, and the drain pipes lead to the basement. There, rainwater accumulates in a special huge, a few hundred tons, repository. It turns out that the house is on a water well.

Each house has its own name – this is either a female name, or the name of the hosts in the plural. It is currently on the plate next to the entrance door. On the left to the wall necessarily attached clay with the icing. Image of Our Lady with the infant Jesus. Under this porcelain icon is placed a vase with flowers and a candle in a special vessel – so that the wind does not bloom.

But the most memorable – bronze handles, knockers most unexpected forms, the most popular – in the form of the sacred Phoenician dolphin with its tail in the form of a trident and a support handle Maltese cross is. How many doors, so many different pens. Then we saw a great number of these to a high gloss polished mallets, bolted to a special board in the souvenir shops and Sliema doors, Valletta, Mdina and other cities and towns, and very I wanted to buy a pen as a gift to his father, that she wore on his cottage. Even the price of 20-30 liras not embarrassed. Here are just a souvenir pen from this very different – they seem to toy. Suddenly, immediately turn green? In general, I did not buy this pen.

On a wild city beach

Most of it, of course, make up the Maltese with their families or simply the young noisy companies. Families with children, starting from infancy. The children sit in a wheelchair under the umbrellas, and the grandmother or great-grandmother look after them. Many mothers are pregnant and still sunbathing, swimming, smoking. Children have smaller than the other, usually three or four, and the fifth in the abdomen.

Beach – not Yevpatoria sand and even pebbles Yalta, and the huge limestone blocks of irregular shape, hardened in the sun. On this scorching Maltese pan under the hot sun during the day can not sit for a long time – just burn. But the sea water is warm, clean, and perfectly safe swimming.

Teens Maltese completely covered with gold: the neck, ears, nose, eyebrows, arms, legs – wherever you can and can not be screwed earrings several pieces, wound circuit, numerous medallions hang not only in the breast, but also on the hands and feet. Following the latest fashion, without exception, with colored tattoos of various sizes and the most incredible stories. For tourists are alienated with respect, courtesy and do not stick.

Eaters of sea urchins

Young people 17-18 years old, very similar to a German or an Englishman – a blond, blue-eyed – dived in the edge of the beach with a mask and a knife and has caught a whole grid of sea urchins. They seem to be stone balls stuck with spines, and very long, but not sharp. So, this boy calmly sat down, removed the mask, took out a nor with a long blade and began to cut the heroes in half and enemy. He did it with a big appetite. Beach frozy. Everyone as the fascinated watched on the boy, in public, devouring marine heroes alive. Confidently, not in a hurry and not paying attention to anyone, he cut hedgehog in half, then neatly smelted orange insides and sent them to his mouth. It did not look disgusting, it looked untrue.

I took the camera and asked the permission from the Eater Permission to take a picture of him and the seafood absorbed by him. He agreed, put a mask, took hedgehog in his hands and pretended, as if he had just gotten him from the sea. Then Malthian (he turned out to be Maltese, although he was born in England) dived again and caught a new mesh of heroes. He carefully opened the largest of them, pulled all the orange insides, beautifully served them on his own mask and solemnly presented me, saying that it was very tasty, sweet, like a fish, in one word – Delicates. I appreciated his generosity, but did not know how to refuse the Kushan; I think I muttered something about my sore stomach and allergies for fish. He sympathetically moved away and licked everything to the last piece.

While he ate, no one even bought. Just looked at him and specially looked around to see better. Meanwhile, a typical Maltese family fell on the beach: Mom, Dad, daughter of twenty five and a boy of fourteen. All low growth, but very effective, which is very characteristic of Maltesers. Sat down, spreading Teles under the scorching sun, then slowly plunged into the water. At first, the family was bought, and then also began to catch hedgehogs and caught their whole two grids. Everyone began to have breakfast, and they already ate not only orange part, but everything else, all black. Ate simply – with hands, without any knives there. Smoked, licked, licked fingers. Dad did not have time to attach empty spiny crusts in the garbage, and the boy did not have time to carry hedges from the sea.

The dad was very Galanten: he approached me, I saw the orange organ from hedgehogs with my finger – this is, apparently, the most delicious thing – and reached my finger to me. He probably assumed that I would give him and send a delicacy, but I, hastily moved away, refused. Dad decided that I did not understand something, and the next moment his finger was in front of my nose. I felt a sharp smell of something like a nonstable algae in Sahara. I muddied me, I was recalled and thanked once again, at the same moment thinking that if he now put his finger in my mouth, I would not be surprised. But he unexpectedly shrugged, like – Well, you don’t want, as you want, and I climbed with a savor, and then I saluted my finger.

Whether to follow the councils

But Maltese eating, of course, not alone by sea. So I left Moscow with a solid intention not only to inspect all the sights of Malta, to participate in all holidays, which only will be at this time, but also try all national dishes. (About the preferences of the islanders to the maritime hedgehogs I still did not suspect.) "Eat more fresh fruits and local fish", – Sign up for me experts.

Remembering friendly tips, decided to start performing a planned program with tasting national dishes. In the city of Sliema, we walked along the embankment, at every step bumping into bars, cafes, restaurants, pizzerias, in front of the entrance to which menu necessarily exhibits. In one menu, read: Fresh fish are served here. Portion cost 7 lire – the price is rather big, but I really wanted to try. Restaurant San Giuliano turned out to be chic – cozy room, white crispy tablecloths on the tables, attentive waiters. It is located on the terrace hanging over the sea, a beautiful view of the bay, boats, part of the street with a stream of cars that are not heard. Brought to the choice of live fish of several species. Not understanding anything in local difts, at random chose two fish painting, they roasted them. At the same time brought salads, potatoes straw and special knives. These knives turned out to be very comfortable, the restaurant is beautiful, the sea is calm, the candle on the table is magical, that’s just the fish tumbled – not tasty, and that’s it! Dry somehow, poorly squeezed inside, and on top they did not remove the scales. Exotic, in one word.

Dinner was not at all cheap – 18 lir for two, but we only enjoyed the view from the terrace: bright moon, stars. Later I learned that there are almost no fish in coastal waters, catch it in Sicily. Therefore expensive that not his fish.

We have had breakfasts usually in small restaurants or cafes, prepare the same dish everywhere – English Breakfast (English breakfast), but the price is everywhere different: from 85 cents to 1.5 lira. Portions are big: glazing of two eggs, sausage, 2 slices of fried bacon, a handful of hot beans, half of fried peasants, oil, several roasted toasts and tea. After such an abundance, I wanted to drink. And drinking in Malta need as much as possible because it is very hot. Water is sold everywhere: both in a cafe and shops, and just in automata from 15 to 25 cents per half-liter plastic bottle. But if you turned out to be far from the tourist trail, on some remote beach or temples ancient in the wilderness, and did not take water with you, then local delaigs can sell the same bottle for 1 liru and more expensive. The most delicious water – Fontana.

In Malta, there are no special vegetable stores. Greens are sold here from cars. These are small trucks with folding sides; All: all: vegetables, and fruits. Citrus here grow in every garden, the strawberry of Maltese, just like watermelons and melons – in local villages, but there are no apples here, and the cherry from Chile will be brought from here and prices are not per kilogram, and for 250 grams. Maltese vendors, apparently, do not even imagine that someone will buy a kilogram of cherry at a price of 85 cents for 250 grams, grapes costs 1.5 lira per kilogram.

Fresh fruits, fish. Yes, it seems from Moscow that everything should be in bulk and task. Here really in bulk, but – expensive.

Tearing a little on Maltese harches, decided to go to the our restaurant – and did not regret. "Friend" and "Lagoon" – Two restaurants under one roof belonging to one owner, our compatriot. Beautiful interior, cozy, waitresses – Beauty-Maltese in red Kokoshniki. Everything seems to be spoken by our. Nevertheless, when the son, without looking at the menu, ordered the cutlets, Maltese restaurant staff came to some confusion. But the owner appeared and everything was settled, explained to the cook, what is the cutlets. The child was happy, but asked for a salad of cucumbers with tomatoes with sour cream. I ate homemade noodles and pancakes with meat. For the entire lunch paid 5 lire. The owner of the restaurant was sitting with us and crushed: everyone is in a hurry, they will run away, the herds will ask the herring, borscht, dumplings. And quickly, and run on. But the visitors of the restaurant are not only our businessmen and tourists, often enter here and Maltese families – a good kitchen, a relaxed atmosphere, air conditioners, which is not typical for the service Malta – what else is needed for a quiet family evening?

Left side – where the shadow

Without a car in Malta, it is difficult to move around, but you can. Of course, there are cars for rent, but the left-sided movement (British heritage) can bring anyone from balance – it seems that you always go against wool and cut it all. And besides, making sure that the car is water in Malta and not to the right, and not to the left, but in the shadow, I finally refused to take the way to rent a car. From public transport there are buses, taxis, roses with horses – for exotic, as well as sea transport connecting all three islands of the Maltese archipelago. Taxi as a means of movement dropped by itself due to implausible high prices. Sea transport We are not transferred to my son, thus there were buses and hiking.

Buses in Malta legendary – these are old English cars of the 60s. They painted in different colors: Yellow – Lower, Orange – Middle, Blue – Roof. Everything is completely the same. As soon as you enter, it is obliged to pay for the passage – 11 cents per person, if within one zone (Malta Island is divided into three zones). The most expensive ticket – to the other end of the island – should cost 16 cents, but. Who is lucky, he announces the price, they took 30 cents with us. It must be said that bus drivers are the most unpleasant people in Malta, they write about it even in local newspapers. For them, special courses for training in polite access with passengers are arranged, but nothing helps.

By the way, they never have delivery, and if there is a surrender, then at least at the cent, they deceive the passenger – it’s like a rite of some. The driver himself receives money for travel, he also gives tickets. While you pay, nobody enters the bus, everyone is waiting outside. No doors, there is only a doorway with two steps and only ahead. Driver’s cabin is open, you can even sit on the left of it, almost near. Above the steering wheel is necessarily hanging the image of Christ in a terns, or Madonna, or just a crucifixion.

Month in the Maltese skillet

Malta – the country is very religious, Catholic, if the elderly includes, they must be baptized on the image hanging on the bus. Stop short, but it does not mean that the bus will stop at each of them. If you need to go out, you have to pull for one of the two cords that pass on the ceiling and ends with a call above the driver. There is a rather loud and sharp call, as in the old alarm clock, and the bus will stop, but not immediately, but at the next stop. The cabin bus is very low, not all high people can straighten up. And for some reason, it is not customary to give way to the elderly, and there are a lot of cars in buses.

So, by bus, we got to one of the most wonderful Maltese cities – singles. The city, built in the XVI century, during World War II was almost completely destroyed by bombing, but long ago restored in pristine beauty. Almost the main attraction of singles turkey "Leads" – one of the characters of Malta. This stone turret-gazebo with a ball hanging over the sea, on each of her facets of the image: then a huge ear, there is a temper eye with an eyebrow, then a bird, similar to the flamingo, on the duck and on Pelican. In fact, there are no birds in Malta. Shoot them all local hunters. Even no money – everyone was killed and ate. The custom of this wild – killing birds – has been preserved until now. And as soon as some kind of stupid bird flies, shots immediately thunder.

We have long wandered along the embankments, in the city – fascinate narrow streets, unexpected turns and steps, tightly closed windows and balconies – Siesta, nobody on the streets, all sleep.

However, the church gathered the people – for a wedding. I was struck by one of the guests: in a very elegant black suit, and on the legs – sandals on boss leg. The rest of the guests looked very solemn. I was terribly wanted to see the bride, but I needed a bus. We sit so peacefully on the parapet, the bus drives up, we slowly get up and go to him, and he didn’t think to stop. First, we were not sitting on the Moscow habit on the side of the street, and secondly, the bus must be caught, lifting the hands, attention to yourself.

With the fortress wall of singles, there is a beautiful look, and on the right in a small bay there are two black, rusty, lonely ship, one of them – "Dmitry Semiyan" Under the Zhovto Blisal Prapor – older. For a year already arrested for non-payment of mooring. The team is starving on the vessel, and the our colony feeds them.

ours in Malta

Our compatriots, our semi-immigrants, in Malta four thousand people, which is one percent of the population. Everyone who does not work in the embassy or consulate is called here "Our businessmen". Most have their own homes or even villas. Children, depending on family wealth, learn in a prestigious American school "Verdala", Where the school year costs 4.000 lir, and more often in local Maltese schools or at our embassy. Many families live here for more than 6 years and it turns out that our kids do not know what snow is, metro, electric train. Native language kids know only in colloquial volume – they write with difficulty, not familiar with the literature at all. Muscovites try to keep together, regardless of the thickness of the wallet.

It is difficult to find a job, the average salary is $ 600 per month, but you have to pay for the apartment or pay a loan for the house. The limit of desires is to get a tour operator and engage in our tourists. Most have their own business in Malta or earns money in Russia, and the family constantly lives on the island. Malta is a big village where everything is like on the palm: who passed with whom he lives, who meets with whom. The sea, the sun, the beaches – everything is very quickly comicing, bored and, it turns out what to do, in general, nothing.

There are many here those who come to study English – groups and one for a couple of weeks and for all summer. The majority of arriving learning language do not know him at all, never studied! The instructive meeting happened at the very end of our journey: in the cafe of the boy, twenty years, our compatriot, could not order lunch. I had to save from hungry death. He arrived to learn the language of Already from Baikal. Wides in Malta for two months, it is to live in the Maltese family, but it’s worth all the pleasure of $ 3.500. But for him paid some kind of Siberian enterprise. In naivety, the boy suggests that in two months will own English free. To the question why he did not find an English student and did not find a response.

"If Malthian shook your hand – recalculate your fingers", says local proverb. In her right, I was convinced more than once.

La Valletta. Palace of the Grand Master. Surprised the modesty of halls where medieval weapons and knightly armor are exhibited, as well as the only hazardous carriage. Here absolutely everything requires a serious restoration. When we rose to the second floor and paid another LIRA (total 2 lira), I even came with beauty – admired everything: the marble floor, decorated with mosaic, the walls hung with portraits of the Great Master of the Order of St. John, and between the beams of the ceiling were boiled battle scenes from heroic Stories Malta. At the entrance to each hall there were knights, or rather, their armor. We slowly moved from the hall to the hall, shocked by the splendor of the palace. Suddenly some small group appeared, and her head began to unexpectedly unsubscribe closed doors and for some reason invited us. He told him very short (probably it is impossible to go to these halls). When the locked rooms ran out, the guide suddenly, there was a man’s hand and all of us, a person seven, began to put money there. I had to pay 2 more lira.

Volunteers wishing for a moderate (and sometimes unlimited) fee to introduce tourists with the culture of their country, literally pursued us. You will not have time to stay before the building you are interested in or a figurine of Saint, how the guide will suit you immediately and on your own initiative will tell the story of the subject of your curiosity. The accuracy of history requires verification. Do not be surprised if at the end of the lecture the amateur guide will ask you to pay for its services. Rehend to this with humor and pay.

Sunday is not the best day for tourists: closed shops, banks and changed offices. Well, if you took care of your Maltese cash in advance, and if not? You can change money in an ATM. Everything is very simple – you put a banknotes or banknotes into the slot, press the button with the name of the currency, then "End" and get your money back, but already in Maltese lies. We did everything as it was accounted for according to the instructions and the first twenty dollars were instantly changed by 7.38 lira, then I put another $ 50 in a crack, and here it all started: the echidal essence of this typewriter was completely revealed – she devoured a bill and The inscription flashed calmly "does not work". Fifteen minutes of fruitless tapping and pressing on all buttons in a row, as well as the peeks in the window of issuing money did not lead to anything. Had to capitulate before the soulless apparatus.

Month in Malta! Not so bad, but I also want to get rid of Sicily. No sooner said than done. Friends presented me by the royal gift: a weekly journey on a yacht on Sicily, with an occasion of the tormers and several other Italian ports. All swimming is remembered vaguely – we got into a six-party storm. Yacht flowed so that even the electric pump did not cope with water in the hold. Gas stove did not work from the very beginning, and there was no water in the toilets. But before the shores of Italy, we somehow met the miracle.

The quiet Italian night was standing, the sea was easier, and I could not even believe that I was still a day Stormilo and I, saying goodbye to life, in a semi-conscious state lay on the upper deck, abundantly fired by bitter and salty Mediterranean water.

So, Italy, night, calm. Our tiny flowing yacht with exhausted crew stands, moored next to a huge super-modern liner, equipped with the latest technology. Liner wears a flirty Italian name, which in our sounds like "Kiss".

I wake up from the broken unclear from where the Argentine music of the 50s. With difficulty, climbed away from the bed, leaned into the upper porthole of my cabins, and my sleep was removed from my hand: on the sparkling deck of liner – dancing. Fifty-year-old gray-haired, but strong and elegant men in black costumes dancing with slender women in long evening dresses. And they dance the Argentine dance. I stood, hit by harmony of people, ships, music, waiters, long narrow glasses on silver trays and summer Italian night. The smell of truly gorgeous life swept over my wretched yacht.

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