Location: Whitby, Ontario, Canada

Born in Malta but in Canada since age 5. Has written three books and presently does several columns about wine and food for various magazines.

Friday, August 28, 2009

August 27th/28th: The Journey Still Continues: Toronto/Rome/Malta

"Adventures In Wine Country" Co-Hosted by Chuck Byers and Greg Rist is a new series airing in April 2010 on CHEX Television Channel 12 Durham and the Greater Toronto Area.

All Flights Lead To Rome
August 27th was one of those days! I still had some lawn to cut, a Gecko to feed, plants to water, filters to change and a limo to catch. The month long Italy/Malta trip was on me already. The limo was supposed to come at 12:30 pm but the fellow was quite efficient and came about fifteen minutes early. I had just finished packing and my flight was to leave at 5:10 om. I hustled my buns and really did not want to see another airport so soon.
I managed to get my gear and this time not forget my computer. The limo was ready, I was almost ready and my gear was ready. Time to leave.
We got to the airport (Pearson, Toronto) very quickly. It was about one thirty pm when we arrived. I walked into the Alitalia counter building and to my surprise, my flight was delayed by two hours. The flight was to leave at 7:15 pm. However, it was a reasonable delay as a person became quite ill and the flight had to wait for the person t0 get help.
Our plane flew off into the sky at the above time and Greg and I settled into a rather long flight but it is a rather long distance of almost 7,300 Kilometres to Rome. The flight was actually quite comfortable and I can't say enough about the Alitalia crew and service. Our North American carriers can learn a lot from these people as they could from the Air Malta Service. I wonder why there is such a disparity between the levels of service between our NA flights and those of these fine carriers?
Our flight landed in Rome without any incidents and with little confusion, Greg and I made our way down the long "In Transit" corridor and to our gate of departure for Malta. We still just had our tickets and no boarding pass so Greg found a courteous Alitalia person who directed him to an equally wonderful Air Malta representative and we were all set. The flight to Malta was a short one but well serviced and again I was so impressed with the quality of service and consideration given the passengers by the crew of the airlines. It leaves a comforting and lasting impression to have such quality in our midst. So if you are travelling, look these airlines up! You're certainly in good hands.
We obtained our baggage at Luqa (Malta International Airport) and were picked up by a representative of the Malta Tourist Authority. A brief car ride and we arrived at the luxurious Fortina Hotel in Sliema. Sliema is a city in Malta that has long had favours with the tourist industry. Its great location and closeness to all types of recreation and gastronomic delights has made it a haven for those interested in having fun and enjoyment as well as relaxation. The hotel is among the best here with excellent room accommodation. The balconied view overlooks the lit patio bar below and offers a great view the surrounding area and buildings. Other rooms offer a magnificent view of the harbour with its many boats and recreational areas.
After a brief respite, Greg and I met and went for a walk along the Sliema promenade. People in Malta love the seashore and when there is a venue such as this: Great weather, calm seas and a fine summer eventing, it is a sounding call to "Walk The Sliema Promenade" and have a quiet during or a nice meal while people watching. The attractive young ladies, interesting joggers, loving families, couples in love-----all walk the promenade near the ever present sea.
Greg enjoyed a "Maltese Wrap" and a Cisk Lager with me while we watched the continuous action of people enjoying their relaxation near the sea.
It did seem that such a tranquil scene came from an island that has also known hardship for had it not been a bastion of strength during two sieges (1565 and 1942) the world might be a very different place today. This little place has time and time again kept the world from imploding by standing up to dictatorial bullies and coming out ahead. But what do they say? One cannot enjoy the fruits of anything without sacrifice? Well the fruits were well enjoyed here tonight.
Tomorrow we begin our work in earnest. We both are looking forward to our stay!
End of First Day