I started getting nervous last night as I always do before travelling. I was flying home to Scotland the next day and the things start niggling away at me. First of all there was food. I actually don’t tend to eat much when I am travelling so this is a bit of puzzle logically but I like to make sure I have more than enough to eat when I am on the move. I reckon it is about uncertainty. Will there be food available at the other end? What happens if I get stranded without money or cards? You would think I was travelling somewhere remote away from human contact but no, I went to Malta and now I am travelling home; at least in Malta I had the excuse that the shops don’t open on Sunday (mostly).
When I look back on it though, there is always uncertainty about what I do, where I go, and more importantly what happens to me. Perhaps travelling is the most difficult thing, perhaps. I drove in Malta and because it was a hire car, I am far more away of the implication of some other car hitting me, or me making a mistake and hitting them of course. It is nonsense really since I wouldn’t exactly be happy if I hit, or another car hit me in the UK; it would all cost a significant amount of money. I guess the added strain in being in a foreign country is not knowing how people will react; do I really leave a car where it is in the way and wait for the police to arrive? Thankfully I didn’t need to find out.
Yesterday we drove to the ferry terminal to Gozo from Malta. Well, I actually drove past and parked on the side of the main road because that is what people seem to do when the small carparks are full. We went over to Gozo as foot passengers (5 euro return) and relied on our 12 carne bus ticket to get around the island (there were 3 of us and six tickets left). I think there were three buses at the terminus outside the ferry building, one went to the main town Victoria, one went to Marsalforn on the north coast and the last went somewhere else which I didn’t see because we got on the middle bus. It was nice to be sitting on the bus even though few people go on because my concern about missing the bus disappeared. Most people went to Victoria and that bus quickly filled up and left people behind (eeks).
Gozo is a much less populated island, only a tenth of the population of the Malta group lives there but it has a quarter of the land mass of the main island so there is many more green fields and development seems to be confined to a few coastal resorts (like Marsalforn) though not in the same colossal scale as Malta. The towns are built on the hill tops or on the ridges of escapements, there are few tall buildings and from a distance the church in each town centre, towers above the houses. It feels like an authentic part of Malta (who am I to judge?) and I liked it very much. We had a lovely walk from Marsalforn to Victoria via Xaghra on a blue sunny day with a cooling light breeze for those rather steep bits up to Xaghra in particular.
Getting the bus back from the capital was less relaxing. A mass of people waited for one bus and I was resigned that we were not going to get on (would the next bus reach the ferry in time?). Again there is no problem really because the ferries run 24 hours a day, 45 minutes apart during the day but you know, when does that stop me worrying? I noticed people were getting on the bus quicker if they went alongside the bus so I decided to do a blocking manoeuvre (much to the annoyance of an old woman who still got a seat) so that the lines more perpendicular to the door could get on. Amazingly enough everybody got on, though mostly squeezed in and standing and we even picked up another guy and a suitcase at the next stop. I saw no sign of a standing limit on the bus and I suspected this wouldn’t have happened in the UK.
There were a lot more people heading back to Malta compared to numbers on the outward journey but the journey was smooth and I tried to ease my tired legs by snoozing a bit. The buses on the Malta side were even more strained and I was glad we had the car to nip back to Melliha. We went to the supermarket and got some food. I tried to choose Maltese specific food but I think only the rolls were which a filling of pecorino cheese from Italy and chorizo from Spain.
Driving back to the airport this morning my main concern was getting petrol for the car. I was supposed to return the car with a full tank which is easier said than done when the filling stations work on the principal of paying before fuel is put in the tank. I put in 10 euros, the tank did not fill up completely but the guage said it was full so I crossed my fingers that it would be okay. What is the worst that can happen? I get a punitive charge I guess, it would be nice to know how much. I drove in a fuel conserving manner (i.e not in a Maltese way) to the airport and missed my turnoff, so much for being careful. A short detour and I was back in the rental carpark and my anxiety was over. Well apart form being charged for scraps etc, but since no more had happened that I knew of I should be fine. I took pictures of the car anyway, headed to the terminal building and gave the keys back.
Time for breakfast and pills. Should I go through passport control first though?