Well, here we are after over one year of living in Malta. How has the first year been, you ask? Interesting, I say. In Part Three of Trials & Tribulations I talked about getting all our documents and things sorted out fairly quickly. That is always the first thing we do when moving to a new country: get the basic paperwork and legal stuff out of the way. Then you can concentrate on the everyday living issues.
What has been happening to us in a year? Many things. Lots of new experiences. Some good and some not so good. Let’s deal with the “not so good” first and get that out of the way.
We survived our first winter. For us it was hard not having central heating. The apartment is very cold and damp. Our bedroom ceiling turned black. So we bleached it, bought a dehumidifier and continue to battle the humidity. The windows are opened, when it’s not blowing a gale, to air the place out. Then I have to get my hot water bottle and put on several layers of clothes to keep warm. Sometimes we even go for a drive in the car with the heater up high to get warm! The gas fire does not heat the apartment and causes more humidity. It only provides warmth if you’re standing right in front of it. The cost of electricity is a bit too high for us to use the heat on the air conditioners. So we are now into our second winter and, to be honest, I’m not looking forward to it. Going out for a walk at midday helps if it’s sunny.
Of course when you go for a walk, you have to look down most of the time. Why, you ask? Dog poop, trash and lumps of wet limestone dust. We always have a wet rag to wipe our feet when coming in from outside and change into bare feet, or slippers when it’s cold.
Our first experience of living in an apartment – well, it’s really a duplex penthouse – is taking much time to get used to. I’m not sure if we ever will get used to it. There is no privacy, with windows closed or open, every little sound transfers and echoes throughout. Moving of furniture. Rattling of pots, pans and cutlery. Kids squeaking and running up and down stairs. Dog barking. Not to mention the bathroom noises. Well, we won’t go there.
Then there is the new building. Six months after we moved in to the apartment they started the hammer drill digging a big hole, right opposite, for a new block of apartments. That went on for nearly three months, and then it was the tower cranes starting at around six-thirty or seven in the morning. Dust and noise. So the search is on for quieter living quarters.
Six months of searching has paid off. This new (well, not “new”, eight years old) penthouse was meant for us. Our estate agent told us it had come on the market the previous day – would we like to take a look? We both knew as soon as we walked in! Beautiful views from both the front and back balconies. Sea, hills, St Paul’s Island, Gozo, sunrise and sunsets. Comfortable furniture, ceiling fans in bedrooms, fly screens, double glazing, easy to keep warm and cool, lift, garage to name but a few of the features. So much more quiet and peaceful as well; we plan to stay here a while.
Right, now to why we love it and intend to stay, at least for the time being. Who knows what the future may bring?
Summer was great. We love the heat. Did not find it too hot or humid. Enjoyed long walks and the other half spent lots of time sailing his little Sunfish sailing boat. Lots of swimming and beach picnics. Winter or summer, the theatre, concerts, fiestas and fireworks are wonderful. We enjoyed many. Some were “free” with a little donation, others you pay (but most will give a senior discount).
There is so much to do and see. If anyone says they are bored, I think they must be boring! Many a time on our walks we have turned a corner and seen something of interest, different or strange.
One time I saw a huge pig in the road. His master was calming him as he had leaped out of the back of the truck. Along comes a fork-lift from a nearby construction site and up goes piggy back into the truck!
We can be sitting on the balcony watching the world go by and here comes a man taking a little pony for a walk. Or driving around the coast and there’s a horse in the sea taking a bath. A lady is on the phone across several allotments, pacing backwards and forwards, waving her hands and talking so loudly that if we understood Maltese, we would have heard every word.
We have heard others say that they find the Maltese rude and unfriendly. We have not had that experience with any Maltese. Yes, they like to talk loudly and many have no concept of personal body space (like standing really close and pushing to get on the bus… but the tourists are the worst for shoving you aside to get on a bus!). No, we love the Maltese people and the Islands. I think I can say that pretty well all of our experiences have been positive; they put themselves out to be helpful, kind, with a smile and always a little word of advice. I’m sure it comes down to attitude and how one presents one’s self to the people of your host country. Because we are guests in someone’s home!