deserted train station in Medina

Somebody should write once a history of the railroads in the British Empire. All were ambitious projects, designed as a replica of the network that was built as the infrastructure of the industrial revolution in the British islands. The stations were built as a carbon copy of the old country stations, the locomotives and wagons were destined to run on four continents, all driven by the coal extracted in the pits of Wales and Scotland. Yet reality was stronger than the imperial designs, and as in Palestine, or even worse, the train in Malta never became an economic reality. Due to short distances within the island and long delivery distances for equipment, parts, and especially for coal the train service was interrupted in Malta by 1935. It is only the old, abandoned trains stations like the one in the city of Medina that stay witness of the history of railroad transport in the heart of the Mediterranean. Demolitions are not a Maltese skill, did I say it already?

on the roads

So the tourists and the locals are left with the roads network. They are driving on the correct side of the road, so my only day of car rental was the usual challenge which I overcame heroically. No real highways on the island, and the state of the road was fair, some place between Israel and Romania. Road signs are poor, no signs with road numbers, you never know when you exit a village or city and enter the next one, but distances are small, so you cannot really get lost.

central bus station in Valletta

The principal mean of transportation used by locals and tourists as well are the buses. They are quite inexpensive, no ticket exceeds too much one Euro, most are less. The central bus station in Valletta connects to any point on the main island, and being situated just out of the city gates is the starting point for exploring the city.

the yellow bus

Much can be written about the buses in Malta. The common thing is that they are all yellow – the yellow of the cabs in NYC or Bucharest. Under the paint you can find any model the British bus industry produces in the last half of century, from smoky and noisy Leyland buses similar to the ones once manufactured in Israel and exported to Romania among other in the 60s, to the modern air-conditioned ones. You buy tickets from the driver and better have change with you, or not too big notes fit to the value of the tickets.

in the bus - the full experience

Do not be in a hurry and do not rely to get to the minute to your destination. Buses, as life in general go at slow pace in Malta. Sometimes a 20 kilometers trip can take one hour, in some cases the bus has problems with changing gears, or climbing hills, and the timetable on the station panels is just for orientation, provided that you understand it. All these happened to us, but eventually we always made it at the destination, and the good-humored indifference of the drivers did not allow us to get too angry. Bus traveling is certainly one part of the Malta experience not to be missed.

waiting on the dock of the bay