Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Mediterranean 2017 - part seventeen

A webcam on Malta captures Veendam as she passes the Royal Navy’s HMS Monmouth and docks in Valletta. Many thanks for this picture to a good friend in Australia, Richard, who’s been following my voyage on port webcams.

As far as I’m concerned, a country’s progress can be judged by the abundance - or lack of - well-maintained public washrooms. Monuments and art take distant second place to decent toilets. 

So, although Malta is accused of all manner of unpleasant goings-on - including the recent murder of a prominent journalist and government critic - it gets my nod for convenient conveniences. No skulking into McDonald’s or desperate search for a bus or railway station.

A short stroll in one of Valletta’s neighbourhoods reveals an abundance of possibilities. All clean, with soap dispensers and hand driers that actually work.

Not only that, but, in one case, free wifi. Take note Toronto.

I’m disappointed by the closure of this handsome deco-ish gents with stylish curves and grillwork, but …

… just around the corner, yet another haven in a senior’s frequent times of need. 

This reminds me of the late American comedian Alan King’s caution: ‘You do live longer with bran, but you spend the last fifteen years on the toilet’.

Now to one of few surviving examples of the Catholic Inquisition. 

Even on a sunny day, the 16th Century Inquisitor’s Palace in Vittoriosa, across the harbour from Valletta, is suitably gloomy. 

The Inquisition judged those who supposedly had (mis)led the faithful to Satan ... 

... and, unless (with some persuasion) one recanted, assign appropriate punishment. 

I scribble down one previous visitor’s odd review, which suggests the process was about as painful as getting an annual 'flu jab: ‘Little bits of torture were implemented to get to the truth’.

I doubt the poor souls brought here benefited from health & safety warnings.

Peering into the torture chamber, I decide I’d definitely prefer the ‘flu shot.  

A few streets away, surprising in fervently Catholic Malta, I find the sacred and profane. Not how I’d decorate a front yard, but a lot better than chatting with the local inquisitor, two of whom became popes.


Much of the two days here is spent prowling backstreets for old signs that somehow survive. A past visit also turned up a number and I’ll provide a link at the bottom. Such a pleasure to see distinctive local signs that aren’t dreary, mass-produced, I-could-be-anywhere-in-the-world, lookalikes. 


Previous Malta link: