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The venerable Maltese bus service to be updated
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Posted June 23, 2011 at 4:57PM
The news that Malta is to update their bus fleet is not going down too well with some islanders, including me. Tickets here!
I have visited this historic Mediterranean island on several occasions over the years and have remained fascinated by their ageing transport arrangements. Many of their buses were bought from Britain as our road transport companies modernised and sold off old stock. Some of them dated right back to the early fifties and it was a great pleasure for me to see them busily and efficiently plying their trade every day of the week. Sunday travel demanded, then, a penny extra on all fares for the Church!
I remember our crowd leaving our hotel one time and standing on the pavement waiting for a bus into Valletta - the central hub for the whole bus service. We were joined a few minutes later by a little local fellow carrying a millboard. Asking where we wanted to go, he then told us the fare and asked for the money. I thought this was a con at first, but the bus arrived and he and the conductor spoke to each other. Realising the guy was a sort of 'inspector' I happily paid up the fares and climbed aboard to enjoy a nostalgic trip into town.
As night began to fall we arrived back at the bus terminus and waited for our connection. Another tiny chap arrived and asked our destination. He then spoke to the driver of a bus just arriving who quickly changed his destination board and beckoned us aboard. A comfortable ride back to the hotel for a shower and then a fine dinner with good friends and family.
I couldn't praise the Maltese bus service enough for their friendliness, kindness and efficiency. I hope it remains so today. TC.
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Posted June 24, 2011 at 5:49PM
Thanks for the correction, john bunyan. I see you spent some serious time in that part of the Med. Could it be that Bingalau got into so much trouble in Malta, err, with the ladies perhaps, that he's too nervous of letting things slip! :o) TC.
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Posted June 28, 2011 at 9:52AM
I can go back to when the buses were "colour coded".
Green ones only went to Conspicua, orange to Zurrieq, light blue to Mellehia, red ones to Zabbar, and several others which I've forgotten.
I didn't mind the old ladies crossing themselves at journey's start, it was when the driver did it that I began to wonder!
I lived for three long years in Malta. It was hell but somebody had to do it!
A bottle of "screech" and two of Seven Up - 10p in today's money, and the 7 up was 3p a bottle!
A nicer, more friendly and more hospitable bunch of people I have yet to meet.
My son, at the age of three and four, would go out at about nine or ten in the morning and come back about three o'clock (siesta time) totally honey coloured from head to foot (from local brick dust) having spent the day "helping" on a local building site.
He was rarely hungry having been fully fed and watered by the locals, consuming all that stuff which we Brits were advised not to touch!
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Posted June 28, 2011 at 7:53PM
Yes Bingalau has been to Malta a good few times. First was with a commando unit for about six months before it moved elsewhere. From that period my main memories are of bottles of "blue" at either 7 pence a bottle or was it 9 pence? Down the "Gut" a meal of steak egg and chips was about half a crown. Always with the promise from the local who lured us in to that particular dive that we would be able to have whoopee upstairs afterwards. The whoopee never materialised. Like john bunyan I have also canoed around the island and dived in it's bays. Wonderful days because we were always welcomed by the population, because we behaved ourselves. Being servicemen it was drilled into us that we were ambassadors of Britain. I'm afraid today's ambassadors in the shape of drunken hooligans have probably ruined all that we built up.
My wife and I went back there on holiday a few years ago and we travelled around the island by bus of course. (I didn't hire a car because I still had the memories of the Maltese first rule of the road, which was to drive in the shade). I made a remark to my wife about the vibrations and the rattle and rolling of the bus being a good way to lose weight........she said it obviously hadn't had any effect on the size of the driver who was gynormous.
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