Walking through Valletta with a dear friend to a dinner reservation (at Trabuxu, it's amazing!) we remarked that Valletta could be one of the most beautiful cities in the world, if only it was not neglected so much.
Walls peeling with paint, boarded up buildings, crumbling plaster. It's hard to deny Valletta has seen better days. It's also hard to deny the striking potential and personality of the city.
Undoubtedly it will get there. Nothing happens fast on this island - with a history spanning millennia time has a much different meaning here. But oh to have a crystal ball and gaze at the city Valletta will be in 5, 10 or 20 years.
On the same night my friend and I made this passing comment it was as though the city heard us. And boy, did she put on a show in response.
As the sun set the streets filled with people attending a nearby wine festival, the city's newly completed open-air theatre (designed by Renzo Piano) was hosting a performance, restaurants and cafes had set up al fresco dining on the city's streets (uncommon in Valletta at night) and every street was draped in banners and festooned with garlands and strings of light for a festa. Piles of confetti told us a parade had passed through the city not long ago, and as we rounded a corner we heard the joyous strains of a marching band, passing by as though performing just for us.
It was my friend's last night in the city, the same city we met in. The same city we commuted through each morning on our way to university together. The same city I have watched progress in leaps and bounds over the past five years. The city that is forever a part of my educational and professional story, where I and my classmates progressed in leaps and bounds, too.
I know my friend would love to have a crystal ball right now (as would all of my classmates) to see what the future will hold for us in 5, 10 or 20 years. We have several new degrees under our belts now, but the job search is hard, the future uncertain.
But, just as the city of Valletta will achieve its highest potential in due time, so will we.
So will you friend.