Vacation in a Time of Cholera

I decided to spend the Christmas holidays in Malta and it was a great decision overall. Nice Green Christmas weather of the type I remember from my childhood (sunny and about 16C). Great views of the Mediterranean, nice food. It wasn’t intended to be too active, especially since I was in a kind of remote location at the Northwest tip of the island – the country is tiny but it takes a surprisingly long time to get around do to lots of old narrow streets and mountains.

I felt a little bad at the pretty large hotel I was staying at because it was obvious that lots (and I mean lots) of people had cancelled. Meal times (breakfast and dinner/supper) were not many people in a very large dining room and servers restlingly looking around for things to do and ways to be helpful. I’d stayed at the same hotel for the holidays in 2019 (they were closed in 2020) so I had something to compare this year with and it was slim…

Travel was a bit easier as the bus only took an hour to get to the capital Valletta (rather than the previous hour and a half) and it was far less crowded than in the past (the buses are mainly used by tourists, foreign workers, the very old and very young).

Things picked up closer to the holidays as it’s apparently a Maltese custom to spend a day or two in a nice hotel for the holidays (and I think the government was giving out vouchers to encourage that). Before that I could recognize lots of particular guests and a pretty high percentage seemed to be from Central/Eastern Europe. A probably gay Polish couple, an ambiguous Hungarian couple (I could never work out whether they were father and daughter or Sugar Daddy and Sugar Baby, any signal one way was cancelled out by others), a German family (didn’t ask but they definitely seemed like they were from the old East Germany)…

Getting there was a bit of a hassle as two separate covid documents were needed (despite Malta being in Schengen) and before the final exit into the arrivals area they checked both (with a photo ID).

Coming back to Poland, a passenger ahead of me held out one of the documents (an EU ‘travel locator’) and the border guard snapped “What the hell is that?” before looking at a vaccination certificate for about a half a second without checking any kind of ID and waving the passenger through.

I’m so glad I went. The Powers that Be clearly hate recreational air travel and the tourism industry so I want to support it as much as possible.

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