Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Take a Hike...

We were originally supposed to go to southern France this past weekend but the terrorist threats and mass protests there put a Kibosh on that plan. So we did three completely related activities around here instead: Symphony, Haircut and a Hike.


On Friday night we went back to Teatru Manoel and saw the Malta Philharmonic Symphony play their Chopin & Schubert show.  We missed our bus on the way there which made us about 5 minutes late for the show.  Instead of taking our seats in the stalls (floor), we were made to go up to the Gallery, at the very top of the theatre.  I thought it was great to be able to watch the orchestra from above and people watch everyone in the boxes and on the floor below.  J was less than impressed about having to lean out over the railing in a three hundred year old structure to see the orchestra 4 stories below.
While we were up in the Gallery area I noticed a kid across the theatre being a pain to his parents and dangling toys over the railing.  He appeared to be a younger, less annoying version of me and what it must have been like for my parents to take me to these events when I was younger.  Although unlike my “unacceptable” behaviour as a kid on balconies in public theatres, this child did not get his head stuck in between the railings and start yelling at the top of his lungs.

At the intermission we went down to our chairs on the floor and J was much more comfortable for the second half of the show whereas I approached my normal 75 minute mark and couldn’t sit still (I had the strange feeling as if I was sitting on a pile of bread crumbs).


J decided this week that she needed a haircut and took the liberty of booking both of us a haircut on Saturday. Although I was unsure of the need for such services, I probably lost about half a pound of fur in the process.  J was very impressed with her Scottish hair stylist; the two of them spoke hair-ese and discussed what she wanted done with her bangs and the type of layering that she’d like put in.

I engaged in my own hair-ese. I asked to have my hair cut. The stylist asked, “about half off?” and I said, “sure, that sounds right”. The stylist was quite concerned that I did not plan on using hair product, or that I considered shampoo to be hair product.  Either way we both survived our first Maltese haircut and I do not have a euro-mullet…..yet.


When J and I were in Malta in 2008 I went on a few hikes that were organized by the University Residence while J read a book by the pool, or, read a book in the gardens. I heard that they were still organizing hikes at the University Residence so I asked J if she wanted to go on it with me since we could probably meet a few more people and I liked seeing the rural areas the last time I was here and figured she may enjoy it too.
We had to take public transit buses to the university residence.  Yet again, we missed our original bus and showed up 10 minutes after the shuttles were supposed to leave, but we live in Malta so it really meant that we showed up 15 minutes before the shuttles actually left.

"Hikers" attempting to go down steep stairs with their umbrellas up.
View over St. Paul's Bay

Mistra Bay

Ray, the weekend night reception worker at the University Residence and a schoolteacher, was our hike leader. He volunteered to take 75 other (mostly hung-over) international students and 16 of his 14 year-old male students on a 4 hour hike in the rural north of Malta. The hike was supposed to take us from St. Paul’s bay, around Mistra Bay, close to St. Paul’s Islands (where St. Paul is claimed to have shipwrecked on his way to Rome), then to Fort Campbell, ruins of a British fort, and back along the coast through Imgiebah Bay to Mellieha Bay.
Breaching the wall at the fort (Yes, even J did this)

View from Fort Campbell over St Paul's Bay

The weather had been great for the last 7 or 8 days but for some reason it decided that it wanted to periodically rain once we got off the shuttle buses in St. Paul’s Bay at the start of our trek. The hike was fun and we met a lot of people but the rain caused all the rocks to become very slippery. All the usually dry clay/dirt became mud puddles/slides, similar in consistency to Ellie’s excrement that I commented on in my last post, though not as odorous.  J realized how deep the mud puddles were after her shoe went for a dip.

J's shoe needed a rinse after one of the mud puddles attacked it.

Salt pans and St Paul's Island
It ended up taking about 4 hours of walking to get ¾ the way to our targeted pick-up location and then we saw a thunderstorm moving in so we took a shortcut up a (paved!) road to be picked up by the shuttles sooner.  As I said above, we live in Malta, so the shuttle buses were about 25 minutes late picking us up and we stood on top of a hill huddled under umbrellas in a thunderstorm.
Trekking through the Maltese "jungle"

The geography of northern Malta is very rugged and although the hike was only around 5 km, it was 5km of up and down slippery trails and full of “fun obstacles” like steep declines that hung-over students were trying to navigate in flip flops.
Typical "hill" to climb down.
M on the lunar mud hills

handsome! - Jess

Needless to say, my legs as well as J’s were quite sore, wet, scraped and covered in mud and mosquito bites by the end of the hike. We will probably start taking the Maltese approach of treating 4mm of rain as a national emergency in the future and may stick to hiking on sunnier days.

That’s all for now,


  1. That's a "haircut"?? "Half-off"?? I would have went for the brush cut option then!

    Nice shots.

  2. i want to see j's hair!!!
    also, what awful meanies at the church


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