Our first arrival in Malta, now 50 years ago

(originally posted on Facebook, 2nd April 2023)

I became interested in Malta in the late sixties of the previous century. After I managed to get a small research grant we (my wife, our two children and me) drove in early April 1973 overland in five days via Belgium, France and Italy to Siracusa, where we took the ferry to Malta.

It was already dark on Friday 6th April, the ferry-boat from Sicily has been at sea for hours. Then, suddenly. lights were seen. Within half an hour the boat was tied to the quay at Malta’s Grand Harbour; it was 10 o’clock p.m. A few immigration officers embarked. Since I had filled in a disembarkation card, I expected to be off the boat soon. But the officers wanted to ask everybody personally what their business was going to be in Malta and how long they intended to stay. That took a long time, especially because our family passports were not kept together. After I was handed back our stamped passports I drove the car off the boat.

Dun Charles Vella (ta’ Cana), who I met in Amsterdam a few months before, was waiting at the quay for us. He wriggled himself into our fully packed Volvo Amazone, told me to drive on the left and coached me towards his flat in Amery Street, Sliema. There he had made an apartment available for us on top of his own. There was coffee, tea, lemonade, bread, butter, sugar, cheese and other necessary things for all of us.

After we had unpacked the car and put the children to bed he poured me a glass of whiskey, the first I ever drank. It was a great welcome to Malta.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *