Sunday, June 24, 2007

Visitors, finale

Saturday was a busy day. They finally came to see the house - rather than chance them getting so horribly lost trying to find our town, I went to the hotel and they followed me home. Dad could be a bit better about sticking with the car in the lead, but we did manage to make it all in one piece. After touring our complete mess of a house (we are in the process of unpacking, everything arrived on Tuesday and they arrived on Wednesday so understandably much of the unpacking has been delayed) we wandered over to the San Anton Gardens. It is easy to see that things are going to much less pretty come deep summer, many of the flowers and plants are already wilting and dying off. The Gardens will always have the trees and some of the shrubbery, though, and it is largely shaded so the walk was pleasant.

We were hungry and in need of cold water after the stroll, so we headed to the Corinthian across the street. I had heard good things about the restaurant Rickshaw - pan-Asian - and it was the only thing open so we ended up there by default. I can honestly say it was the best Asian food we have had yet in Malta, with the exception of Emperor of India. My dish was the weakest but everyone else's was quite tasty. Even better, the prices were much more reasonable than I had expected and they deliver to Attard and Balzan so when baby comes, we may have Rickshaw dinner more often than anything else!

Comfortable and sated, we piled into dad's air conditioned car and set out for Qormi, as the nearest of the weekend's festas. We had heard fireworks generally begin around 10pm at the festas and at 9:45 they had already started. We could see them from the highway as we drove in. Finding the center of town was easy enough, finding parking was much more difficult. We were pretty sure we would never find the car once we'd left it, and Terry and I worked hard to remember routes and landmarks so that we would in fact find the car before flights out the next evening. Dad had thought that by remembering the name of the street where the car was parked we would be assured of finding our way back. You'd think that after 3 days in the country he would know better :-)

Fireworks continued nearly continuously as we wandered into the center of town, where there was not much going on other than all the food and "stuff" stands. We all got sweet treats and walked the length of the festa area. There had been bands playing earlier but they were long gone now. We watched the fireworks for a while - it was essentially what everyone was doing - and noted a whole series of firework displays set up in the center of town. They looked like they would be quite a finale, and were told they would go off around 11:30pm. Dad and Yvonne had to pack, and we still needed to find the car and find our way out of Qormi, so we regretfully decided not to wait. Around 11pm we set out back home. Miraculously, we did find the car without getting lost. However, it took us 3 tries and a very roundabout route to get out of Qormi (" can check out any time you like, but you can never leave..."). At 11:30pm, when we were finally back on the main road, we could still see the fireworks. Two hours of nearly consistent fireworks, and they weren't even at the finale yet - we were incredibly impressed. Terry and I promised ourselves to attend all the festas we could - as long as they were walkable. No more driving to a festa.

On dad's last day in Malta, we didn't do much other than pack and get ourselves to the airport. Terry dropped me off at the hotel - we ended up having dessert with them before he headed home - and we set out to get to the airport our full 2 hours before takeoff.

As we thought may happen, there were no ticketing booths open for our flight more than 2 hours before the flight was meant to take off, so we settled ourselves in the cafe. Some time less than 2 hours before the flight I decided to take a walk to check out the airport and discovered the British Jet desk. There were people ahead of me in line, and it turns out they were being told our flight would not leave until 12:30am. Our flight was scheduled for 6:45pm. The lady claimed mechanical problems - which is always a good thing if an overnight stay at the airport is looking likely - but a huge frustration for us. With such a late departure, we had to notify the car rental and the hotel in the UK. I tried to convince them to return to my house where we could be comfortable and make all the necessary phone calls - one more reason to love Vonage, calls to 5 European countries are also free now - but they preferred to stay at the airport. Dad's calling card and even the credit card charge calls were not working properly, so I ended up relaying phone numbers and contacts to Terry back home, who would make calls and report the information back to us. Dad started calling Terry our private operator. I was glad to see that the news stand carried Go Mobile top up cards because I was pretty sure I was going to run out - luckily everything got sorted before that happened.

Dad bought a deck of cards and we discovered we didn't really remember how to play any card games. We ended up playing gin rummy but I am pretty sure we did it wrong because someone won a hand within 2-3 rounds, and I remember the game going on much longer than that. We also headed up to the more comprehensive restaurant for a change of pace and hot food for dinner, and being Malta even an airport meal took over an hour.

Amazingly, the plane did actually take off at 12:30am, as we were first told.

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