Chaos to Cosmos
The path from chaos to cosmos was discovered by telling one's life story

Sunday, 22 September 2019

The Worst of Malta

No balcony and the 'view' from the window

Everywhere is a building site: this one cropped up in the road alongside the hotel

Everywhere is dirty, broken and littered

Narrow roads, even narrower pavements and trash everywhere.

Now I fully appreciate that a country with so much history and old buildings, not to mention the topography, isn't going to be a particularly disabled-friendly destination. What I didn't bargain for was how overcrowding and a generally uncaring and uncompassionate attitude would also make the modern infrastructure a huge no-go area for anyone with difficulties.

  • Overcrowding: It shouldn't be a surprise in such a small island country, but there is no way to describe how bad and how uncomfortable this is. There were queues for everything, everywhere, day and night. As I suffer with severe symptoms of orthostatic intolerance, this made so much inaccessible to me, but it is hardly pleasant even for someone not disabled. I would have taken the ferry from Sliema to Valletta, but never saw a queue shorter than at least 100 yards long. Join the end of that and you might get on the next-but-two ferry in over an hour's time. Trying to get a bus, it will probably be about the third one that finally allows you to get on. Then don't dare sit down (forget seats for the old and infirm, here they make no allowances for anyone), because it will be near impossible to get out again through the crush when you reach your stop. Journeys that look like 5 minutes on the map take 45 minutes in the traffic. One time I was so jostled in the crush that I arrived at my destination bruised and with my bra undone!
  • Terrible food: Maybe Malta has some good cuisine, but I didn't get to experience any of it. The hotel breakfast was the worst I've ever encountered with the cheapest ingredients and no options for the lactose intolerant like soya milk, nor gluten free (I doubt the country does). Everywhere else, every single restaurant had long queues for tables, or no tables free that day, so I actually never managed to sit down to a full meal in the entire 10 days I was on the island, existing instead mostly on takeaway kebabs and snacks from the corner shop that I ate in my [dismal] room. 
  • Dreadful hotel: The hotel wasn't cheap either, but it was decidedly run down and shabby. One of the two lifts was out of order all the time I was there and they'd put me on the top floor, meaning a wait every time. The room had been refurbished, but it was all done on the cheap, very basic and hardly functioning, with a loo that mostly didn't flush and infrequent hot water. There was also no balcony and only a dreadful view of the tenements behind. The jacuzzi was empty and out of operation the whole time and the pool ladders rickety and unusable. The restaurant looked like it had once been grand, but now only served the worst hotel breakfast in the world. If there had been any other places nearby, I'd have gone out for breakfast elsewhere it was so bad. The surrounding area was sleazy with online gaming companies and euphemistic massage parlours.
  • Building site: The island is already overcrowded and the cities tightly packed, but the government are allowing foreign investors to build higher and higher, so the landscape is full of cranes with the noise and dirt of building everywhere - and it needs a special mention for the archaic attitudes as I was subjected to catcalls from building workers.
  • Dirty, run down and inaccessible: There were cars on the pavement, with sacks of rubbish everywhere, every day (i.e. this is not just 'bin day'.) With narrow roads and even narrower pavements and the traffic is so heavy and so unaccommodating that you CAN'T step out into the road to go around these obstacles, lest you'd be mown down, you have to cross over constantly and you have to wait for a gap in the traffic to do so, which might take ages. Heaven knows how a wheelchair user would ever cope there! 

And, believe it or not, this really is only the tip of an enormous iceberg.

One day I began to feel unwell while looking round in Valletta and I HAD to sit down to prevent becoming worse, so I sat on the steps of the building (to the side, not in anyone's way.) If I'd done that in a civilised country, or even in Britain, someone might ask if I needed help or medical attention. Not in Malta. Instead, I was barked at, threatened and made to move. Way to treat guests, eh?

It will come as no surprise that this trip was a complete disaster. I didn't feel safe in Malta and indeed, I wasn't, because I was attacked, not once, but twice in 10 days. (The details of which I won't go into for legal reasons.) In fact, I was booked for two weeks, but after that experience, got an early flight home.