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Malta Residential, 14-21 Feb 2006 - Page 1

Click here to read the newspaper the Times of Malta

Image: Title strip


Episode 1 - which means Tuesday!

Arrived at Calverley Street at 5:50 (impressive or what?) to find Godson's coach already there. Within half an hour nearly everyone had arrived and by 6:40 we were away. Some light rain turned heavy by thetime we were over Windy Hill and running down in to Lancashire. Heavy, heavy traffic and a long crawl to the airport, but the two-hour planned journey proved its worth and we were there at 8:30. Even the sun was beginning to show.

The Air Malta Airbus took off 25 minutes late but arrived at Luqa five minutes early (must be because it's downhill). The daylight approach (our groups have usually had to take night flights) meant a good view of the islands for those sat on the right-hand side ... Gozo and Comino, then on Malta itself could be seen in turn Bugibba, St Julians Bay and Portomaso, then Sliema and Valletta between Grand Harbour and Marsamxett Harbour. The long turn in over the container depot at Kalafrana revealed also Marsascala where we will be lunching on Thursday. Landing was easy, and within under an hour our next coach was on its way to Bugibba. A lot of money has been invested in a new road acros the island and it showed its worth.

So ... 40 people settled in to the hotel with great hospitality from the staff ... dinner in the Ta Piju Restaurant, and a small amount of socialising will probably give way early to collapsing in small heaps ...

Image: Flying to Malta

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Image: Tourism guides and guests

Episode 2 - Wednesday - with more photos - scroll down!

Everyone up bright and early (well, early anyway)walking to the bus station. 40 passengers all looking for the number 49 to Valletta stimulated the usual discussion between bus inspector and drivers and an extra bus was arranged. There seem to be fewer old third-hand, ex-Australian buses (which might say 'Kalgoorlie' or 'New South Wales' on the back). The mobile museum of Malta is fading fast: newer vehicles are taking their places, most with doors! Ours was still rattly, but the driver smiled and was cheerful, so maybe they traded in some of the terminally unhappy older ones, too.

At City Gate we unloaded and dodged the criss-crossing buses and horse drawn 'karrozin' that give tourist rides. There by City Gate - which is not all that attractive as an entrance - were the Malta Institute of Tourism Studies students with Vincent Zammitt, their lecturer (and frequent star of photos on these pages). It turned out that the ITS students had been in the city since 8:00am walking the route and reciting to themselves what they would say. These people are becoming real professionals, reaching the end of a three-year full time course. And they get paid for being students, unlike our home-grown varieties. There was a large group of them, so the Leeds Met people were divided into twos and threes and set off for their guided tours.

For the next hour Louise Hung and myself as Leeds tutors joined Vincent in high-level conference in the heart of Valletta, comparing methods, modules and motivations over cappuccinos at the Cafe Cordina. Well, its a tough job and someone has to do it. Actually, a lot came out of the discussions, including the pattern of some of the lectures to be given the Leeds Tourists on Friday and some extra elements to tomorrow's itinerary.

We also called in to the National Museum of Archaeology which has been upgraded in terms of visitor interpretation, as a result of which the Malta story, which is of world-wide significance but little known, is beginning to look a lot more attractive and easier to understand. It was also possible to arrange for a small group of us to visit the Hypogeum in Paola on Monday. It's a two-storey structure carved into the living rock in pre-historic times. It had importance in rituals for the early inhabitants and several unusual figurines were discovered there which are now on show in the Museum. Numbers at this tourist attraction are limited for conservation purposes to 10 visitors per hour, with a guide, so booking is compulsory.

We all met up again at 1:30 and legged it to the Malta Experience, a 45-minute audio-visual show on the story of Malta, the English commentary (chosen on headsets provided out of several languages) being by Derek Jacobi. Its an amazingly varied tale which brings home the fate of this little set of islands in the middle of the Mediterranean as being ruled by somebody else for centuries, and having to endure seiges and invasions. The world war II story of withstanding the heaviest bombing that any community has had to suffer is deeply moving, especially the episode where food finally gets through to a starving populace in the face of German and Italian bombing.

After the show and a brief recap on activities - and a preview of tomorrow's tour of the southern part of Malta - the time was the students' to explore or return to the hotel. Dinner as usual at 6:00pm and a free evening.

The agreed highlight was the excellence of the Maltese students, who knew their stuff (even those younger than our crew) and were able to put it over with confidence and some style. Most had been walking and talking the route from 8:00am, ready for our visit. Whether it was the AV show, the Museum display, the guided tours or some of the guide books purchased, visitor interpretation has helped bring our British visitors closer to the lives of the people of Malta.

Image: Guides and guests - and archaeology

Photos above are of
Malta students with
Leeds students just
before setting off
on their tours: plus
the Malta National
Museum of Achaeology

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One of the best days we have had in Malta - but not without it's problems! - the bus was poorly all day long and our helpful driver had to nurse it along.

Below are shown - scenes in Sliema and Marsamxett Harbour; Marsaxlokk and Mdina.

Image: Sliema, Malta - transport

Image: Marsaxlokk

Image: Marsaxlokk lunch people

Image: Marsaxlokk lunch people 2

Image: Marsaxlokk boats and bus

Image: Marsaxlokk to Mdina - time and dates

Image: Mdina, Malta

Image: Conservation in Mdina

Image: Mdina - panoramic view

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A glorious day - but lectures indoors the whole of the morning: Tania Sultana, Alan Vella (both the Malta Tourism Authority) and Vincent Zammit (Institute of Tourism Studies).

Afternoon - a tour of the stupendous new Radisson SAS Golden Sands Resort Hotel overlloking one of the best bay-and-beach combo in Malta. Students had to be prised away with crowbars .... FOR PHOTOS OF TODAY SEE THE NEW PAGE 2 LISTED TO THE LEFT

Reports from the next days will also be on page 2.

Click here to see page 2 photos and reports

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