An overview of my experiences...
Saturday, April 17th
Because my flight is out of Madrid, I have to endure the 6 hour bus ride from Sevilla to Madrid. I board the bus at 10:00 AM, even though my flight does not leave until 11:00 PM that night. (If you recall my story from Dublin--sprinting through the airport... international jet setters shouldn't have to deal with back sweat) So, I want to make sure I can leisurely make my way to the airport and have time to relax once I get there. So I'm sitting on the bus when a group of 3 Americans girls sits behind me. I, of course, listen to their conversation for awhile, only to discover that one of them had their wallet pick pocketed at the bus station. She's really, very upset. I guess who just took like 300 euro out of the ATM and her debit card. (That really fucking sucks, I hate those assholes) After awhile, once she has calmed down from her post pick pocket freak out, I turn around to make the usual study abroad conversation. YadaYadaYada, they begin to talk about the volcanic ash and how they were suppose to fly from Madrid to London, and then a couple days later, London to Italy, but they had to change their flight so it was just from Madrid to Italy and they weren't sure if that would be cancelled too. So they were all kind of a wreck and the one who got pick pocketed was twice as bad. I made good enough friends with them that they invited me to take the Metro with them to the airport. Score. We brave the Metro together, arrive at the airport, approach the departure screen. Frantically, they're scanning the list of out bound flights until they lay their eyes on... Madrid-Rome CANCELLED. How shitty would that be to get your wallet stolen, take a 6 hour bus to Madrid, find out your whole vacation is cancelled, take another 6 hour bus back to Sevilla, and after all of that no Italian vacation, 12 hours spent on a bus, and to top it all off no money. God, I feel so bad for them, especially that girl. They quickly peace out to try and sort out their cancelled flight.
While checking the departures I realize I'm at the wrong terminal. Good thing I took the 10:00 AM bus, I've got HOURS. Oh hey. I stroll through the airport on my way to the bus that travels between the 2 different terminals. Hop on and then off the bus a quick 3 minutes later and I'm in the correct terminal. It was the terminal Heidi (my roommate) and I first explored together when we had an 8 hour lay over in Madrid on our way to Sevilla for the first time, bringing back the memories, it seems like yesterday! Anyways, I walk inside and am bombarded with people everywhere! Everyone was stuck at the airport because of the volcanic ash. Thank god I didn't have to check any bags. I ROLLED (my parents brought me my cute, rolling Betsey Johnson carry on bag just like I wanted to bring in the beginning but I was over ruled and was forced to carry a bulky, stick-out-like-a-sore-thumb American studying abroad backpack.) As I was saying.. I rolled my bag to security, I was the only person in line. Perfect. Made my way past the security guards with WAY more than the allotted amount of liquids and without taking my shoes off, way to patrol. So, I spent countless hours in the empty airport before going to my gate to wait for my flight. As, I'm sitting waiting to board the plane, I look up and spot a decent looking Spaniard (what I think to be a decent looking Spaniard because I didn't have my glasses on and I couldn't really make out his face, maybe I should look into contacts? hah) Everyone on the flight boards a bus that takes us the plane. Weird, but I went with it. I board the plane sit down and to my amusement, the decent Spaniard is sitting across the aisle from me. Coincidence or destiny? I have the row to myself, but the Spaniard is seated next to a young Maltesian man. They make conversation in entertaining English while I listen in, and quickly become buddies. Next thing I know, the Spaniard turns to me and mutters something in Spanish. Totally thought I was Spanish. Oh hey. With a dumbfounded look on my face, he began to speak in English. After a little small talk, I find out that his name is Javier, he's from Madrid and is studying English in Malta. His little Malestian friend was in Madrid for a business trip and was returning home. He tried to advise as to what I should do for the next couple of days, but I had no clue what the hell he was saying. After the small talk is over and the awkward pauses begin, we each indulge in our own activities for the remainder of the flight. As we approach Malta, we resume small talk. I tell them I'm staying in St. Julian's. Javier says he's staying there too and we should split a taxi. I agree, why not? It's not like it's unsafe to share a taxi with a complete stranger, in a foreign town, at 1:00 AM in the morning, right? I use good judgment, don't worry. The Maltesian cuts in and offers us both a ride via this father's BOAT. Javier agrees, but that is where I draw the line. Sounds like a set up for being kidnapped aboard. I'll stick with public transit. I politely decline the invite and reassure the two that I am fine taking a taxi and advise Javier to do whatever he wants. The Maltesian is really persistent to take us to St. Julian's via boat and proceeds to call his father to see if it would be alright once we get off of the plane. Javier and I are at the taxi stand arranging a taxi when we spot the Maltesian with his father who continues to ask if we would like a ride. We both decline. He seems let down and departs with his father. Javier and I are in the taxi making more small talk. He whips out this his mobile and asks for my number. I proceed to give it to him, what the hell.. I don't know anyone here and he seems decent (the kid is a little nerd, he is decked out in white Nike's, tight jeans, and a Victoria sweatshirt from Canada and won't stop talking--totally harmless) We reach the street that my apartments are on, get out of the taxi and OMG. (are you nervous right now?) haha.
The street is SOOOO packed with people and the music from the discos is bumping! I knew I was staying in the nightlife town, but holy hell, this was crazy. My apartment was literally right above all of the discos. The 7 sign on the top right of the picture is the entrance to my apartment building and that may be a gentleman's club right next door... hah. Sweet, little Jav walks me to my apartment and we make plans to meet up at a later date.
I walk inside of the apartment building and am shown to the apartment by the nice reception lady. (I'll explain how this apartment/hostel works. So there are apartments and you can rent a bed in the apartments. In my apartment there were 2 bedrooms, each with 2 beds and a kitchen/dinning room area, and private bathroom. The apartments weren't anything special, but the way it worked by having your own shared apartment was really nice.) So it's around 1:30 AM, my roommate wasn't there and the other bedroom door was closed. I peak around at my roommates belongings to try and get a feel for what kind of person she is. Oh no.. baggy, over-sized man jeans, short and wide V-neck sweaters, and ugly skater shoes from the 90's. WHO IS THIS PERSON? hahah. I put my belongings in the corner, fall asleep and hope for the best in the morning when I wake up to find out just who this person is.
I'm peacefully dreaming when suddenly the lights are flipped on and I hear two Spaniards chatting up a storm. I half way roll over to look at them, it was awkward. It's a little guy, the kind I could put in my pocket, and a stout, tom-boyish girl. What a pair.. who the hell are these characters? I roll back over and face opposite them. The lights stay on for like 15 minutes. WHAT IS GOING ON? I fall back and asleep.What an exciting day.
Sunday, April 18th
I wake up at like 10:30 AM, quickly prepare for the day and try to ditch out of that room before I wake the sleeping giant. Damnit...she wakes up, mutters a hello, I introduce myself and ask her her name, to which she replies "Elena". I uncomfortably extend my hand for an awkward handshake. She goes to the bathroom. I run out of the apartment.
That day I took the two story tourist bus around the island. It was a nice, informative ride. AND.....I SAW THE POPE. He was in Malta regarding some little boy scandal, what a surprise, and performing his Pope like duties. Everyone had a boner over the Pope, or as the Spaniards would say El Papa, being there. His picture was hanging from almost every balcony with cheesy garland and other decorations surrounding it.For a dunch/linner, I indulged in a little pizza.The pizza was SO huge and SO cheap--1.75 euro!
So later that day, I go back to the apartment. It's empty. Thank goodness. I decide to utilize the free WiFi, 2o minutes later I hear the door open. Oh no. Who could this be? I peak into the hallway from the end of my bed, it's a Chinese girl. She sees me and approaches my room. I say hello, she replies 你好. This is going to be interesting. She runs into her room and pulls out a Chinese to English translator. After a silent conversation of translation, I find out that her name is Zhang, she's just got to Malta today, she will be here for 3 weeks learning English, she is 29 years old (I honestly thought she was 19), and she has a boyfriend. Midway through our converslation (fusing conversation + translation), someone else walks in the apartment. China jumps up to see who it is and I hear ENGLISH coming from the other person. So relieved. I run out there to find another woman who is China's roommate. Her name is Cristina, she is 30 years old, she is from Madrid, she's been in Malta for a week and is studying English there for 3 weeks. She is very nice and very 90's. Cristina and I have a laugh over our communication difficulties with China. I tell her about my incident last night with Elena and friend. Some 30 minutes later, another woman walks into the apartment followed by a small man. Now, this my roommate and her little friend. I find out that Elena is from a small town in Southern Spain and teaches sailing there. She traveled to Malta alone and was going to be there for like 2 weeks. Her little friend's name is Raul and they had just met a couple of days ago. Soon we all found ourselves collected at the kitchen table conversing in a Spanish/English/translator. It was incredibly entertaining!! Later that night we all went out together minus China because she was chatting with her boyfriend. We stepped outside the apartment and met up with Cristina's man friend who lives in the apartment too and is also studying in Malta for 3 weeks. He was like 50 years old. Not creepy, just old and awkwardly trying to be young. Now picture this please, us 5 going to some bar with a bunch of people in their early 20's. I had to remove myself from the situation to think about just how fucking ridiculous my life is. Imagine this group...Me (the normal one), Cristina (30 year old in 90's get up, awkwardly half dancing to the music), Elena (who I think is a lesbian, dressed in baggy man jeans and tennis shoes), Baby Raul (who I think is gay), and 50 year old (who is old and side stepping back and forth slowly and off beat). It was a scene. I go to bed at 2:00 AM because this is too crazy. What an experience. Wow.
Monday, April 19th
I wake up and decide to walk along the coastline down to Sliemma to explore and shop. I walk for forever, it was nice outside and I enjoyed it. Shopping in Malta is horrible. There were all cheap, ugly clothes. I found a nice restaurant overlooking the water and had lunch. It was a delicious asparagus, butternut squash, lettuce, pine nut, goat cheese salad. I walked all the way back home checked my email and found out that my flight to Italy the next day was cancelled. This sucks. What do I do now? So I had to extend my Malta stay until Thursday because that's when the next, reasonably priced flight was. Later that night I decide to text Javier to see what he's doing because I couldn't handle another night with Odd Squad. After some back and forth texts, he meets me outside my apartment. I open the door and there he is..white Nike's, tight Khaki's this time, and now a London sweatshirt.. hahahhaha. We get a beer and he chats my head off about how he's the best English speaker in his class, how he loves Spain, hates Spanish stereotypes, and is confused as to why on spring break in Cancun people thought he was Mexican just because he was speaking Spanish (he lectured about the different accents (Spanish vs. Mexican) and how Mexicans are brown with black hair and he is white with brown hair--he just didn't understand why American's thought he was Mexican because there's an obvious difference). Throughout our conversation (or should I say the conversation he had with himself?), I did a lot of smiling and laughing because witty jokes and sarcasm don't translate well. I don't know how much longer I can take this, and then his mother called and he left go to have a 10 minutes conversation with her. During the duration of the call, I thought about getting up and running the 20 yards back to my apartment because this night was going nowhere quickly, that or chugging 3 beers while he was tawking to mommie. I decided that I would probably get caught in the midst of my run and that chugging 3 beers would probably make me sick, so both ideas were ruled out. So after 10 minutes of baby talk with mommie, he reappears and proceeds to tell me that he told his mother that he went out for a drink with me and that his mother was asking if we were together. He quickly mumbled a short conversation between him and his mother about me, I couldn't really understand it (by the way everything is in English, no Spanish), nor did I want to understand what he was saying and got weirded out. We finish our beers, he suggests to check out another bar he likes. We walk past it, nothing much going on. Now we come to my apartment entrance, I make a quick get away by saying, Thanks for the beer, I owe you one. See you later! I run up to my apartment where I recap the strange events of that night to myself. Now this is where the story gets odder...like 5 minutes after I bounced from that agonizing, I don't even know what to call it.. meeting?, I receive a text from him..."Do u want to come to sleep with me?" WHAAAAAAAAT? Hold the phone...where the hell did this come from!?!? I, of course, rejected the invitation with a polite, "No thank you." Crazy European men. What an experience. Wow.
Tuesday, April 20th
YAY. I leave for Italy today. Not. So, instead I decide to brave the public transit system. On the plane over, I was warned by Maltesian and Javier that the bus drivers are complete assholes. With that in mind, I say..Bring It On! I walk over to the bus stop which is swarmed with like 50 people and of course guess who is standing there... Javier! I see him, he doesn't see me, I immediately turn around and walk in the other direction. Crazy, just crazy! Eventually, I find a bus stop that is Javier free and wait for a bus to Valletta, the capital. The buses in Malta are absolutely ancient. It's like they're a joke. Bus #45 pulls up to the stop and the doors open, I look up at the bus driver and think here goes nothing! The driver is a burly man whose only form of communication is grunts. The fare for the bus is .47 cents, I place .50 cents in his stubby, troll hand. He hands me a receipt ticket with no change. I quickly find a spot to sit in a rickety, old vinyl seat. The bus is shaking and rattling so bad down the street that I think I'm on an amusement ride, this can't be real. The bus goes to a huge, half circle bus terminal with like 35 other buses. I get off, walk down the pedestrian street and around the town a bit, and decide I want to go to Golden Bay which is a popular, sandy beach in the northern part of the island. Before the ride, I get thirsty and decide to buy something to drink. I spot "Kinnie" a local drink made in Malta and buy it. Board the bus, break the seal of the bottle and take a large sip. GROSS. It tasted like ass. It's suppose to be like orangey tasting, but it has the flavor of burnt ass and an orange twist. 30 minutes later I find myself in Golden Bay. I grab a little something to eat and hit the beach. I'm totally not prepared for the beach though, I'm wearing jeans, flats, with my swimming suit underneath (after I sneaked into a fancy restaurant to change into it), and I don't have a towel. This will be interesting. To my surprise you could pay 5 euro and receive a towel and a chair for the day. Sold. I sat there for awhile, but it was windy. I ventured back to the apartment around 5:00. At this point, I'm kind of pro at taking the bus, no problems. I arrive 'home' safely, take a shower, and stay in for the night updating my blog. Tonight was Elena's last night in Malta before traveling to Gozo for 6 days which is a short ferry ride away. We said our good byes and that was it.
Wednesday, April 21st
I woke up, ate my daily fruit and yogurt from the euro saver menu at McDonalds (I ate like 2 of those everyday) and was off to Mellilha Bay for some more beach time. The forecast today, 70 with no wind, sounds perfect to me. I had a bit of a fiasco getting there, I waited for a bus for like 30 minutes and then got off like 2 stops too early. But I finally made it there and bought a chair on the beach again, this time for 4 euro. Oh hey. I sat in the sun and even went swimming in the Mediterranean! It was wonderful! Hours later at like 5, everyone got kicked off the chairs because they were closing, so I left then. On my way home from the bus stop I picked up a Cisk tall boy, the local Maltesian beer. It was a good beer. At the apartment I enjoyed the WiFi and took a shower. Because there was no outlet in the bathroom, I plugged my curling iron in, in the common area and was going to curl some hairs using my camera on my computer as a mirror. From across the table, China saw me struggling with this task. We played a quick game of charades and by her putting her finger on her nose, pointing to me and then doing a curling action in her hair, I figured out she wanted to curl my hair for me. So I let her of course! What a scene! My Chinese roommate who speaks no English curling my hair in Malta. Randomness at its finest. So that night, me, Cristina, and 50 year old went to dinner and then to the usual bar from the first night. Because it was my last night, I had to bring out my cool outfit, black blazer, casual white crew neck, sequence skirt, black tights, and blue suede heels. I was ballin. Dinner was good, I had ravioli. We hit the bar...same old crowd and me, with the same old (literally) people. haha. We hang out their, I find random people to chat with, it was fun. I bet you all are wondering what my strange friends look like, well we got our picture taken together at the bar...My feet hurt like a bitch because of the blue suede heels and I'm home by 2:00 AM.
Thursday, April 22nd
I leave today! My flight is at 12:30 PM. I get to the airport at 10:45 AM. The night before RyanAir sent an email that said if you only had carry on luggage you could go straight to the gate and wouldn't have to have your boarding pass stamped at the check-in desk. So I bypassed a long line of people and thought wow that sucks to have to stand in that line and made my way to security. From there I was turned away because RyanAir messed up and each passenger needed an actual boarding pass, so I jynxed myself and had to be one of those people standing in the huge line. How annoying. I wait in line for 30 minutes, finally get my boarding pass, go through security, check the departures and Malta to Madrid isn't up yet. I grab something to eat and watch the departure screen from the table. I'm almost finished eating and check the screen again, Malta to Madrid: DELAYED. Seriously?? I wait around for like 45 minutes wandering the terminal to find out that the flight is delayed until 4:30 PM. I spend my extra time writing this blog, it passes quickly, but that just means I won't get back to Sevilla until later. So, 4:30 rolls around I board the plane and somehow make it past the crazy flight attendants with my huge bag and enjoy a 2.5 hour flight back to Spain. On the flight I had a cup of tomato soup, it was really delicious and I bought a scratch off ticket--I didn't win anything. (Check out this story--> http://www.flightglobal.com/blogs/flight-international/2010/03/ryanair-passenger-eats-winning.html). I didn't get anything stolen on the Metro in Madrid and didn't get lost. Good. I get to the bus station around 9:00 PM and the next bus to Sevilla is at 11:00 PM. I wait around in the bus station playing Mancala and eating a sandwich from Rodilla. I board the bus and see a group of 3 ladies who had been on the same flight as me from Malta. It was funny. I make it through the 6 hour long bus ride and am finally in bed at Fina's house at 5:30 Am! What a long day!
Yet another experience, thank you Malta!!