Malta: Day One

Yesterday morning when I woke up, I found that my flower had frozen. The cold front blowing through mainland Europe had reached Lausanne, leaving me with irreversibly chapped lips and now a frozen flower.

This morning, I woke up to humidity-fluffed hair and unremarkably normal lips. I could only think one thing as I looked out across the turquoise bay at the slope of whitewashed square buildings: where the hell am I?

Admittedly I have seem very little of southern Europe, but this has to be a little more Middle Eastern flavored than the rest of it. It doesn’t feel that way among the people, though: Between the fried food-laden menus of the waterfront sports bars, the English conversations floating around, and the Cinnabon I found in the mall, this feels more like America than anywhere else I have been (France, Switzerland, Spain) within the past year.

I suppose American “culture” is what creeps in when, frankly, there is a lack of any other. I have never been to Italy, but I can imagine that Malta is much like an Italy stripped of all its romance.

Walking around did make me miss the Francophone region of the world that I have called home for the past year and a half. Firstly, there is much less of an attention to gastronomy here. I walked along the entire peninsula and did not come across a single epicerie. Maybe I have become spoiled. It was just a shock to come across such blatant commercialism in a smaller city, when the only place I had seen it for the past year has been in only the most touristic parts of Paris.

As previously mentioned, the food offerings are quite quite gastronomically hedonistic – fried food, burgers, with a strong Italian fusion and usually a Maltese specialty menu. A little “french” café offered a slice of red velvet cake with a cartoon couple printed on white chocolate, and neon pink and blue macaroons.

These complaints aside, the weather is extremely pleasant and the walking feels quite safe. I got a lovely view of the city’s capital, Valetta, hanging above rows of lovers’ locks. I am still trying to identify the architectural inspiration here. Everything is mostly square but not uniform, very few little curlies or accents, but occasionally the arched rows that make me think of the Middle East, or Rice University campus. Valetta must be more of a Mediterranean-Catholic situation with her grand domes and towers.

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