1st May: Arriving on Malta
As I told you, we should have been in Valletta around 1am, but we did not arrive before around 3am. At this time I could not call my host. Therefore I had no chance to go anywhere for a sleep but in a hotel, which was a to expensive alternative for me. A taxi driver tried to drive me somewhere, but I had no idea where to go. I denied and tried to walk to Msida, but I did not really find my way in the dark and also got afraid a little. Thinking about what to do, I was remembering my night at the airport in February. I stopped the next taxi and asked the driver for bringing me there.
When I arrived at the airport I was going to the same coffee shop where I have been in February. I took a big cappuccino – and it was a really big cup. I have never seen such a big one at a coffee shop and I took something to eat, too. Than I was sitting where I could charge my tablet and use the Internet. I also were happy, that I could use the toilet. In the early morning I was taking out money for the rent at an ATM and going by one of the first buses to my further home. I came really early also the bus took a while.
With my tablet and google maps I found the street where my new apartment was situated, but then I had to walk the street because the houses here on Malta usually have no numbers, but names. Also google showed me a much to long way, I was still early. I was lucky, because I was looking in the right direction of the street. In the street I also ask an elderly couple if they know which house the Tagliaferro Mansions is. They did not know but were helping me to find it. Just before I saw an unfinished house at a corner of the street and was thinking maybe it is one of these unfinished apartments I have rent and I have sent the deposit to a dishonest person. Luckyly I found the Tagliaferro Mansions quite fast and waited for a while, than I sent a message to the owner telling him I have arrived. We appointed for 11am, because the 1st of May is a public holiday and he was sleeping until 10am and arrived not earlier, but the weather was nice and it did not matter.
The owner and his grandson are very nice people. The more than 70-year old owner took my backpack up the four flights of stairs and was later also helping me with my suitcase! The apartment was accurate like it was on the pictures I have seen of it, but the bathroom looks nicer in real. I was very happy, of course, that all went OK. Later that day I was looking around the area for shops and so on and I am really happy, how the apartment is situated – only five minutes from my ny job, two minutes to the Msida Marina, one minute to the next grocery shop, also one minute to a computer shop and two or three minutes to a supermarket. The bus stops are also only a few minutes away, so is a copy shop and sub mail. It could not be better, also I have no balcony and the sight is only to the backyards, but I can use the roof.
2nd May 2014
My first impression as a resident on Malta was unfortunately not the best. I was coming to Malta some days before I have to start at my new job. I did it, because I was eager to make all the tasks like registration, application for Malta ID-card, settle down and find the grocery shops etc. before starting my work, so I can concentrate at all the new things at work.
The visit at my employers’ went very well, but at the Local Council of Msida I had to wait for hours for my insurance no, being the last but one because I had to wait for the Office Manager, who only could take my case and the case of the customer behind me. Getting the insurance no. did not take long time at all. The manager only took a copy of the first page of my employment contract for this. I asked him what I should do with the other forms I have got and I filled out. He told me that they were for the ID Card Sector at the Gatthard House, National Road in Blata I Bajda with the same opening hours like the social department of the local council – from 8am until 12. When I asked if they only had open on mornings, he told me I could also go there between 2pm and 4pm. Therefore I went there, arriving 2.10pm. Fortunately I met an officer who still was there, because that department closed at 2pm – and it was the wrong one. This department is only for Maltese Citizens! He and a colleague of him took time for me to check my documents – if I have all with me I need for the application – and explained to me where I have to go and that the department only takes applications on Monday, Tuesday and Thursday mornings. He was also asking me for the name of the manager, which I gave him, because I remembered the name on the desk in the social department. By the way at the social department a police officer were checking which matter we came with and was than allocating which person was allowed to go to the service officers. He did not at all follow the queue. He did not tell me and the person, who was last in, that we had to wait for the office manager, either.
A day later I’ve got lost. I was so ashamed but it really happened to me. Unfortunately I did not have my tablet with me and so I had to ask at a police station. How could that be? I was at Tigne Point for shopping because I was looking for a special thing I could not get at my local supermarkets. Tigne Point is a mall and I thought maybe I will find it there. I did find some things, but not what I was looking for ;-), anyway I took the wrong exit and I thought I will find my way home yet and it could be nice to see a little more of the area. I had the direction to my home in my mind, nevertheless I was walking the wrong way, so I’ve got further and further from my home. At least, when I could not remember that I have seen that area before, I had to ask where to go. The police officer asked me if I have some money with me and could take a taxi, but I answered him I only have money for the bus. So he explained me, how to go by bus – the bus stop was very close to the police station and I came home luckily.
My neighbors I met for the first time when I lived in my apartment for some days. Because the father of the landlord told me, that a cloth hanger belongs to me, I was using it and also the clothespins I found in a basket close to the hanger. So my neighbor on the same floor, but not next to me, was asking me if I used that things because it was hers and she needed them. She has to wash and dry her clothes at the weekends because she is working fulltime during the week and need the clothes washed during the weekends. I apologized and she answered, it is ok if I use her things during the week, but not at the weekends. She was very kind and polite while talking with me. I am very happy about such a neighbor.
My other neighbor, the French-Asian woman I already wrote about on the start page, is also very kind. I think she is quite happy to found one in her own age. She was growing up in different countries and have not had an easy life either. She apologized for her English, but I told her, that my English is not perfect either. She is very open och give me advises how to cope with the Maltese weather and more. I’m also happy about her, of course.
My landlord and his family is also living on my floor, but my landlord is not at home for the moment. His wife and little son are here. She is a very nice, quite young Thai woman, she always tell me, if I need something I can come to her, so I did when the cover case did not fit, the electricity was gone and also when I run out of gas for my stove. I thought, it still should be gas left, because one gas bottle should be enough for half a year. First I tried to put on the gas by a match, but that was not working either and I did not here that noise, when gas flows. She told me, that she always has one bottle extra if someone of our three households run out of gas and helped me to get the bottles switched. She also explained, that the gas bottle, which was in my apartment when I arrived, has been used by the former tenants. So it is all ok and I have to pay for the new gas bottle when I pay my rent at the end of the month. Now I should have gas for my stove until Christmas and maybe a little longer, because I am not cooking big dinners every day.
The first day at my new job, 5th May 2014, was a very positive day. There were three more new colleagues, all of them with a very interesting past, two of them had worked in Egypt for some years and moved to Malta because political / security reasons. The age of us is very blended, so it is of the other colleagues. The most of our group are Germans, but there are also some other citizens like from Switzerland and Spain, but it is necessary for all of us to be good in German because of the cases we are working with. Because of all people in our group speaks German, we always speak German with each other, but with the colleagues at the welcome desk we have to speak English because they are locals.
We have had two weeks of introduction. The first week our working hours were from 9am to 17pm, the other week all of us have had the late shift. At the end of this second week we could choose, which working hours we prefer. One colleague and I chose the late shift, the other two the early shift. So it fits very well. Also when I was talking with our team leader for the first two weeks, I’ve got the answer that it will be possible to get four days of in a row. Meanwhile I have had a chat with the colleague for the schemes and he will try to give me such a scheme. Why was I asking for that? You know, I love to see other countries and to learn about other cultures. With four days of and starting late I can easily make weekend trips to the other Mediterranean countries. Moreover it is possible to make a short trip to Sweden to see my children. I will enjoy that, I am sure.
By the way my colleagues are all very nice, though I am afraid that it is just for the beginning, because I have had very bad experiences with German leaders and colleagues on Ireland, but some. I know them like false and arrogant, therefore I just hope, these colleagues and team leaders etc. will not change their way to be. We have a plain organisation, what also is unusual for German companies and authorities any more, but we are a daughter company of a Swedish one. That could be the reason for the structure. We use the German “du” (you) between all of us, instead of the usual German “Sie”. I could say, the German colleagues are that way because they are another kind of people, working abroad …, but I met this kind of people on Ireland, too and they were the old-fashioned German way. I think the sunny weather on Malta is one of the reasons that people are friendly.
I had to go to the Maltese government’s Department for Citizenship and Expatriate Affairs at Evans Building, St Elmo Place in Valletta to apply for an ID-Card. The reasons to get such an ID-Card are:
Therefore I was going by bus to Valletta and was looking for the Mediterranean Street because the officer at the wrong department told me to go there, so I will find easily the Evans Building. So I did. In the Evans Building I was confused, because the officer told me that I have to go to the ground floor for the ID-card, but the way I was coming in – and I thought it was the ground floor – there were a health center. After looking around and asking a man I was going downstairs because there were another entrance and from that it was the ground floor. What I saw was very distracting, so I went to the information desk and asked where to go. I had to queue in a long queue. Meanwhile I were queuing they made two lines of the one. One officer was taking the EU-citizens and the other one the none EU-citizens. Now the queue was half as long as before and after a while it was my turn. When the officer checked my papers she gave me two more to fill in – one for my signature and one for the right to vote for the EU parliament and the local council. She sent me away and I hade to line up again, but this time I did not have to wait for a long time. She checked my papers one more time and answered that all was OK and I did not get a number to wait in another room as most of the people in the queue. So I was happy about that. Now I am waiting for my Maltese ID-Card for saving some money – even if I will not go by bus very often, but anyway. Life is not very cheap on this island and my salary not very high.
Last week (Wk 21) Carol (my French-Asian neighbor) and I was going for a walk. We started around 2 o’clock from our home, used the bus no 44 from Msida Kullegg to Għajn Tuffieħa, what means Golden Bay in English. Because Carol used the Maltese name and I only remembered the English name I did not know that we were going to a place I already know, but when we arrived. That didn’t matter, because we were walking on the hills and it was really a nice and partially an amazing adventure. At this time the hills were already dry, but there are still flowers to enjoy. I think, the trails we walked are small rivulets at winter time. It was not very easy to go there, but easier than in Conero, Marche, Italy.
We finished our adventure at a little restaurant in a bay enjoying a Cappuccino. It was like a gift for our struggles, even they were very small ones.
I liked that walk with Carol so much, therefore I was looking for what I could make by my own, not taking so much time. I decided to see gardens and was chosing Upper & Lower Barrakka Gardens in Valletta. Because Valletta is not far away from here I tried to find a good pedestrians way to go there – and I did. I walked in an unknown green and wild area where I could look at the Bastion around Valletta coming out in front of the Bombi Memorial. I followed the road to the Centre of Floriana. Before being in the center I found the Floriana Heritage Trail and was following it a while. Therefore I have seen:
a cat café
the Robert Samut Hall
the Sarria Church – unfortunately I did not find an open door for looking inside
and the Argotti Botanic Garden – a small part of that area is still used by the University of Malta for educational purposes
Afterwards I continued the promenade to the Mall Gardensand the St. Publius Church with the Granary infront of it (sorry the Granary is not on the picture)
Hereafter I continued through the Mall Gardens, crossed a round about and continued on, to the statue of “Christ the King” where I took a rest on a bench close to it, enjoying the sun, which still gav warmth. – Please do not understand me wrong, that I named the statue of “Christ the King” was only for the reason that you can follow me on a map, not that I am interested in religion. – I looked on my watch and saw, that I should go home because I had my washing for drying on the roof and in the evening hours it would get dump again. So I went back, but not the way I was coming – it should have been boring. So I was walking down the Great Siege Road, made a picture of the Bridge into Valletta,
came close to the Basilica of Our Lady of Mount Carmel and St. Paul’s Pro-Cathedral,
walked down to the Ferry, which I was using to come to Sliema
and took a look back
From the Ferry Point in Sliema I was walking back to my home and ate an ice cream on my way because it was still warm and I was still sweating.
I have got my first payslip! I’m happy about it, because my net income is some Euro more than I have had in unemployment benefits. I have to work for it fulltime, of course, but to be unemployed with benefits means, you have to look for jobs all the time and send a limit of job applications each month always getting the answer “We chose someone else.” Yes, I have had an extra income from the PIRATEN-Fraktion Hamburg-Mitte, but I do not have so much expenses now as I have had in Germany, so I will get out more of my income as before. Furthermore my unemployment benefits would have expired in July this year and my pension is low. I am very happy, that I decided to take this job!
By the way I have had three days off this week and I was longing back to my job! I hope I will continue to be so happy in my job. Anyway I think, when I have the possibility to travel on my days off I will not be longing for my job during this periods.
That were my adventures for the month of May. I would like to go out these days, too, but first I had to finish the upload of my pictures from my trip from Hamburg to Malta. I think I will have a lot to tell you next month, too, because my son and his wife will come and visit me and I am sure we will see a lot of Malta together. After that my first couchsurfers will arrive at my home. – I look forward to see you again on my blog.