Sweat trickles down my back and I fan myself with my guidebook, wafting hot, dry air around in a vain attempt to cool down. My legs stick to the cheap plastic seat and make embarrassing squeaky noises whenever I move around. I try to edge out of the early morning sun streaming in through the window, but there’s nowhere else to go.
I turn to Gareth, whose face is slowly turning a shade of salmon, and say: “It feels like one of the seven gates of hell has opened.”
He nodded. “At least we get to sit down this time.”
Always something to be grateful for.
A trip on a Maltese bus is a unique experience not to be missed. First of all, they are ridiculously photogenic with their classic yellow body and white rooftop. And secondly, even though there is a limit to how many commuters may travel on one bus, in our experience bus drivers just allowed as many people as can possibly fit to squeeze in. If you’re lucky enough to be first on the bus you get to sit down, but usually you end up standing sardine-like, packed cheek-to-cheek with locals and tourists alike. That’s one way of making friends.
The entire island of Malta (the largest of the three inhabited islands in the archipelago) is accessible by bus and tickets are inexpensive. All routes first lead to Valletta, the capital city, so be prepared for a long winding journey on the way to whichever part of the island you intend to explore. If time is limited, and you’re averse to standing for an hour or so, then it might be best to hire a car instead.
But really, travelling by bus is what it’s all about. You get to see the countryside (generally flat and brown) and the suburbs (beautifully uniform in their sandstone facades) and the cities (walled and impressive) from an insider’s perspective.
And isn’t that one of the many reasons why we travel?
Have you had the dubious pleasure of travelling on a Maltese bus? Was your experience the same as ours? What form of transportation would you recommend as best to explore the island with?