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Friday, April 28, 2006

Travelling Maltese style

I have a really busy schedule today so I thought I would take a few minutes early on to write about some of the quirks of travelling in Malta.

Anybody who has been here can testify to the fact that many of the roads have seen better days. I took a service bus into Valletta yesterday and really had my eyes opened.

The buses here are old style single deckers, possibly dating back to the 1960s. The drivers completely dominate the road. As a result we travelled at great speed through narrow terraced chicane-style streets, bouncing over potholes, cutting up other drivers at junctions and roundabouts and even, at one stage, jumping a red light. This is not to denigrate Maltese bus drivers as everybody here drives in the same way.

The other quirk of Maltese life is car parking. Parking spaces are a scarce resource. As a result people leave their cars where they can, even if it means blocking others in.

So as not to be anti-social they all leave their cars unlocked and the keys in the ignition. Thus if you need to get out you simply move the offending vehicle. This has led to situations where drivers have had to move up to a dozen other cars to be able to get out of their parking space. Clearly, car theft is not a problem here. Finding where your car has been moved to after a couple of hours shopping is.
If I remember correctly the buses date back to the 50s Peter. But I'm glad you enjoyed your transdport experience. Was there a shrine in the drivers cab?

The Maltese also joke that their highway code is simple. He who sounds his horn loudest and longest has right of way.
Yes, the buses are owned by a co-operative and each driver tends to stay in the same bus. As a result most of the buses had some personalised religioius symbols incorporated into the driver's cab.

We have been told that as a result of Malta joining the. EU they need to replace all their 1950s buses with modern ones which conform to European standards. It is the end of an era.
No they can't replace those cute buses that is part of the whole Malta experience. Ah well there goes another memory of my childhood. Maltese buses on holiday, snow on or by the beach and daily bombscares on the news. Ah well at least losing one of those things ain't that bad.
Hi Peter I would like to give the right information about the buses in Malta that they are owned by a co-operative. They are not, but they are in an association called P.T.A. (PUBLIC TRANSPORT ASSOCIATIO) and they are all privately owned
Travelling Maltese style
Peter its me again , it is not true that cars in Malta left with the keys so they can moved them . I left Malta 4yrs ago and I can assure you that no one leave the key in the car and about parking is like everywhere else "people leave their cars where they can"
Yes, reading through the entry just now I realised that this was a misconception. In fact it was a reference to what I was told about the car park in front of the Maltese Parliament, which is of course guarded. On our tour we were told that because this car park was so heavily used this was the only way to park there.
I don't live far away from Swansea. 4yrs ago when I arrived here started working on the service buses and after a couple of days working here inspector jumped on my bus and shouted my name " George what are you doing here?" Discovered after he've been in Malta and I drove them arround then he mentioned about when I had to reverse all the way up to a hotel because there was no other access (roadworks) and also cars parked 'ad hoc' .Then all of a sudden I had to stop (here) because of bad parking and I asked him "what about this" then he smiled ... Do you know what the Italians say ( TUTTO L MONDO E UN PAESE) which means ( THE WHOLE WORLD IS ONE COUNTRY)
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