Saturday, 9 August 2014

Strummer in Malta

When thingy went off to Malta I was quite pleased that I had persuaded him to write a blog so we knew what he was getting up to over there.  He wrote a monthly update for a little while but stopped in December 2011 saying "I am definitely winding up this incessant blogging. I've run out of new things to say about Malta, and it’s no fun to be trapped by the self imposed obligation to keep writing about every-day dull activities...".   
Not the most inspiring quote to make you want to read any more but here's the address anyway 

There was one particular post though that is worth a read for it's pure comedy value.  A trip to Italy written in note form which whether it's supposed to be humourous or not I don't know but I've read it several times and it seems to get funnier with each read.  I will paste it below in a moment but here's the link

As for the rest of the posts on the blog it mainly consists of very long posts moaning about bills, food prices, traffic, how expensive clothes are, tuning the satellite tv, more bad traffic...... sorry, not really selling this am I?  But even so I would like to urge Rob to resurrect his blog with at least an occasionally post.  This is because he always makes excuses to avoid skype calls, although we exchange regular text messages they don't tend to progress past sillyness and twice a year when he visits home he spends all week sleeping.  So at least if he posts on his blog I'll know I've still got a brother out there somewhere and what weird things he's currently moaning about ;-)

As promised here is Rob's trip to Italy in full glorious detail, it's comedy gold!.....

Strummer in ITALY - September 2011

I just noted down some things I learned and saw on each day:

Thursday 8th

La luna pizza place is nice but meals are small for the price- is this typical of all restaurants here? Had to get a kebab after

The first time you see the cathedral it is amazing- the size and detail, the rest of the city is not bad either

There are interesting bars on the other side of the river and students gather on the river bank where there is an outdoor cinema, very cool area, shame about the students

Don’t come on holiday with someone who doesn’t have any idea how to enjoy themselves and goes into an annoying panic when they get tired

There are loads of scooters everywhere

You definitely need a map to get around, but you can get away with not paying on the bus if you just pretend to stamp your ticket


Italians normally have a lavish breakfast with cakes and pastries... but not at the place I am staying

The city looks as good in daylight as it does at night

Food is expensive everywhere, do not sit down anywhere even in a greasy cafe or you will get stung... even if you are bored with eating sandwiches from snack bars

It’s stifling in summer here too

Florence is not that big but there is still so much to see and it tires you out after 7 hours walking around

The street sellers are so pushy you have to be very rude to them to make them stop pestering you... no problem for me

It’s very difficult not to spend money, even if you avoid all the museums

It’s weird when the guest house owner starts singing opera, clearly so we could hear it, and you have to sneak out so you don’t get drawn in to having to make compliments

When you order chicken breast, that is all you get... no garnish or chips or sauce. Reminder- do not eat out if you are being stingy

Don’t let negative experiences with food affect your holiday as a whole


The guest house owners are ok after all

When I go on coach excursions I get in a really stupid mood making a dick of myself in front of new random people

San Gimignano is a very nice little medieval village but can be seen within 90 minutes

Siena is a whole new city to explore but again, do-able in 2-3 hours

When the coach company offer you a group meal for only 10euro a head, you should be sceptical about how much food you are actually going to get

New people seem to find me more interesting than I find myself

I don’t listen to guided tour commentaries, I just look around and think my own thoughts, so I should remember this in future and save money

The cathedral is very very nice, but if you keep taking flash photography, the security bloke will get you eventually even if you are good at hiding, and you will get told off

Visit to a farm in Chianti for food and wine sampling- shows how good things can taste when produced with quality and not processed or preserved

But everything comes back to money in the end and the farmer led us into his shop to buy his produce, which I didn’t

By the end of the trip, these new random people become your friends and thus you become answerable to your earlier childish behaviour

My mate’s behaviour is even worse than mine in this sort of atmosphere and I’m sure people went away thinking he’s a dick, and hopefully that I’m not one, but once they’re gone who cares?

In Italy, having a kebab seems to be the only cheap option for a late meal

A dessert called zuccotto is quite nice- an ice cream cake with alcohol and chocolate sauce


When there are awkward silences, people often turn to me and mention something I’ve said or done to break the silence, but in doing so putting me in a bad light

Cold pizza slices for 3.50 do not capture the ideology of wonderful Italian food. The food in general I have found to be pretty average unless you are willing to spend a fortune

When someone is walking too slowly, being miserable and refusing to go into any museums (despite being in a major city for culture), get rid of them and go off by yourself

Even when you find the galleries or museums you want, there is either a big entrance fee or an even bigger queue... both of which are an adequate deterrent for me

Met up with mate again, then randomly bumped into one of his friends, who we took for a drink but made him pay

There is a reason why the museum Casa di Dante is only 4euro and no queue... so when I get bored I start causing mischief, hence I have not really grown up at all in the last 20 years

When all else fails, go into the serial killer museum and mark it down as cultural

After seeing the cathedral for the 100th time you are not amazed by it anymore, which is a shame as it is really a masterpiece

After 2 days of walking, you have seen all of Florence, but having not been in any of the main museums, I really want to see at least one of them

The kebab place really is the best option in the evening

Italy is quite intimidating when you don’t speak any of the language and when you get a bit irritated by crowds. Everybody seems to want your money but without you being there

But I have to admit it is a unique place to be with amazing scenery everywhere


Lucca is a nice medieval city surrounded by a big wall. Has impressive landmarks but in general is a bit run down and not a patch on Mdina

Saving money is one thing, but another thing is being too stingy so that I regret not doing things while I’m here

Even in coffee bars- stand up to drink to avoid extra charges

Viareggio- very nice looking holiday resort... like Sliema but with more space and more class

But there is only so long you can make a joke out of being lost while wandering around looking for the restaurant areas

The pizza in Italy is nice but not sure it justifies the praise from Italian chefs on TV trying to promote Italian food... or maybe I haven’t been to the right places

Never heard of a 15euro charge per day just to go on to the beach

Tomorrow I have to see an Art and Science museum or I won’t be happy...


No way I would ever join such a big queue for the Academia museum- so there’s that one struck off- at least I can say I was there

So the Uffizi and Academia are impossible to get in, just forget that they exist

The torture museum in Florence is really really shit and doesn’t make up for not going to those famous museums that don’t exist

When you are pinning all your hopes on seeing just one museum- the Galileo museum- then you find that it randomly closes at midday on Tuesdays, it pisses you off

Now I will go home having not really seen any culture at all

When you go for a consolation coffee and the bill comes and it’s 7euro (for two) it pisses you off even more... but you have to laugh it off in the end (remember not to sit down for any food or drink)

Nice big area the other side of Ponte Vecchio unexplored before today, including huge gardens, but of course they want your money and there are big queues so you can’t actually do anything you want to do

I’m eating too much ice cream

Santa Croce church is supposed to be a very special place, but I am so ignorant about religion and history I don’t know why

Fighting my way through crowds really gets to me especially after a whole week of it and can’t help letting it taint my general enjoyment

Would I end up hating all big cities after a few days?

The owners of that kebab shop in Florence now know us by name

Wednesday 14th

On the coach to Pisa, my head was full of songs I’ve learned/written so I’m glad the desire is still there somewhere

Pisa the town is a bit of a dump

But when you get to the area with the tower, it does feel like a special place to be, even though the setting is alot more down to earth than you’d imagine

I get really pissed off with clich├ęs and people having no shame as they do the stupid camera pose pretending to hold up the tower- so many people are doing it- really annoys me

Met locals- they HATE the tower and find it the most boring and depressing thing in the world

Sometimes it’s ok to sit down for a meal- Steak at a nice restaurant to finish off the holiday, and got undercharged I think

Didn't manage to try a carbonara, but maybe it's for the best- never meet your idols etc...

Out to look round at night- it’s full of students just hanging around in the town square (not drinking?)

I did well to be in a big city as a student as it would be quite boring in a small town like this. I’ve been lucky with some of my unconscious decisions taken in my life so far

But as a tourist you are naturally led to the only place worth seeing which is back to the tower

A terrorist could so easily bring down this iconic structure by planting explosives as there is no security presence at all

In general, don’t take reliable mates for granted as acquaintances let you down so often

Relief to have a comfortable room at last with A/C, balcony and trouser press (hotels are better than guest houses)

On holidays I always have a better time in hindsight than I do at the time

Italy - Il bel paese!

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