Ποιειν Και Πραττειν - create and do



   Central Bus stop

In the present sense, the huge bus terminal outside the historical city of Valletta tells its own story. In 2013 everyone speaks about the decision to abandon the old buses which have existed since shortly after the end of Second World War. They had distinct colours so that one could recognize from far away to which district they would go. The new buses are not suited for the narrow roads of the many villages they have to pass through. Consequently people experience huge traffic delays. They drive by the way on the left hand side of the road like in England. For some visitors that might prove confusing and even dangerous at first sight but then everyone seems to adapt quite quickly to the other way. And like everywhere else the main square where the buses park is a round about. One more feature of this terminal are the many booths offering all kinds of drinks and small food. Some delicious little pies can be bought for 40 cents. Other food prices especially in the restaurants are not that cheap.

Valletta's fortification reaccounts a history linked to Knights and experiences of the big siege by Nelson which left the city aware of its vulnerabilities. Since then the guides know to point out the fortification was build in such a way that the guns could be turned around, no longer pointing seaward but inward in case of a revolt by the Maltese.

However the main gate to the historical part of the city has vanished. Right now only a crane indicates construction is under way for the new parliament. In brief, an account of Valletta as world heritage site is undergoing transition, and some argue it was not a good idea to tear down that historical gate.


Beside the entrance where the gate used to be the depth of the mount can be seen. In historical times, the constructon of the fortification meant even if the walls received a direct hit, the rubble which fell could not be used by the invaders as stepping stones to scale the walls. They were too huge.

Altogether the first impression of Valletta can be the light upon the special stone used for all buildings.


Red sand

the wind strokes everything

standing in the way

so they build cities

to give shade from heat and wind

but still humidity can be felt

and the exposure to something cold

called insularity and isolation.


It leaves voices mute

in fear of big shadows

gliding along sand stone walls

to make their shape look bizarre

and in contrast to a wish for colour

like the big spirit in the great harbour.

Once the sun sets, this particular Maltese stone starts to glow in red. Overall it prompts the question if one can live all the time with but this one basic colour? Equally noticable is the absence of graffiti. There are only very few spots on the island marked by such signs that can be seen, by comparison, everywhere in Athens.

Upon entering Valletta, one of the first things to notice are the balconies. There is a history behind them why closed as they are an extension of the bedroom. At least this is what the guide told us.



When walking along this main street, looking left or right down the side streets means to catch always a glimpse of water, of the harbour. At the very end of the street, there where it takes a nose dive, so to speak, mystery provokes a kind of curiosity as to how life unfolded within these confines? It means also the wind can rush through the street to exit simply at the other side. There is no way of telling what the wind carries inside its brief case. Often, so it seems, he leaves a flurry of autumn leaves behind even when spring has come and another year is set to receive tourists.

Malta's economy depends to 30% upon tourism. Many can be seen walking through the streets, wondering like everyone else, where to go next, if not into another side street cafe. Fortunately it is at this time of the year, namely April 2013, not so crowded as during the full season. And it takes time to distinguish the locals from the visitors. This is best done by entering a shoe shop and trying out something. Besides the store owner with a friendly smile, there is a brother or cousin, and one woman sits in the far corner. She might be another relative or even the wife of a cousin. It is said in Malta everyone knows everyone else, and that is why some find it hard to get away. One definite need is for nature. This need is usually fulfilled by going camping in Italy, and there far outside any city.



   Main square in front of parliament



At the main square is located presently the parliament best known for the elongated closed balcony.


    The parliament of Malta (soon to be relocated)

In April 2013, a new government has just been installed. It is then one month old. Labour replaced the Conversatives after a long period in the opposition. The question of governance linked to the need to resolve many issues, including migrants, water, economy, European Union etc. Especially in April and after the Cyprus crisis, there was some nervous tension within Malta where likewise the banking sector is outdoing the normal economy, but not by as much as in Cyprus - instead of 24% only 8% - but people reassured that Maltese are safe and sound when it comes to money. They keep calm and economize well what wealth they have accummulated over the years. Naturally entry into the European Union has brought with it many changes. One key alteration is the emphasis put upon central governance as opposed to encouraging local councils to get active.

A city speaks through its walls while in the streets resound footsteps of those who have gone here before our time. Naturally the presence of the Maltese government in Valletta determines now the character of the city as before the Knights had and the church.



Today there are many beautiful remnants of houses no longer used even though some say the usual day activity and going to sleep at night is slowly vanishing as night life returns to the streets of Valletta.

To come back to the streets near the parliament, they are all marked with special signs: parking only for members of Parliament. Parking space is a rare commodity. Outside the main fortification they have created a huge parking area with many storeys even though some prefer to take a water taxi from across the harbour to make it via elevator into the city within less than ten minutes.


The city with the great harbour


        At a distance the harbour entrance (to the right of the bridge)


At the crack of dawn

hear the rowing boats

filtering into the harbour

after they had been swayed

at sea by many kinds

of winds blowing them

in all kinds of directions,

bringing them at times

dangerously close

to rocky shores.


But now, within the safety

of the great harbour,

they quietened down

as again the rowing strokes

of the men find the rhythm

to make sure they would

soon be home – but how strange,

the entire city seems silent,

no one moving about, no one

at the pier to greet them.


What happened was

that the lights of people

they had just lit

the evening before

to see what lies ahead

on stairs leading up

to the Cathedral went out.

It was so sudden

that a hush of silence

befell the entire city.

Even the church bells

stayed silent that morning.


At first sight it seemed

the silence was meant

to let children still dream

instead of awakening them,

but no one else moved

as if frozen still, unmoved

despite of the wind.


This is how the men

from the rowing boats

found a city no longer

touched by signs of life.


Acquiescence as essence

was like asking the houses

“answer us, why no one moves?”

They heard only the echoes

of their footsteps ascertain

silence had become non-recognizable

in their heads still tossed

by a sea moved by winds.


It was only once they touched

the sand clinging to walls

like dust of history

did they realize they had

been gone for too long, and

had lost the measure of time,

so now back in their city

by the great harbour

they need to find a new horizon

not one of the sea, but lying ahead

when out of love in mankind

thought to have been lost

a magic touch of dreams

undoes an odd kind of neglect

and thus brings back to life

memories kept well by stone walls.

HF 10.5.2013


A hidden corner of the harbour

The question of silence pertains in Malta not only as opposite figure to the ever prevailing wind. For instance, it is of interest that Michael Vella cites in his story about Valletta at the very beginning Lord Byron's poem 'I speak not'. Known for his romantic inclination, Byron's main emphasis is on silence, and this in the year 1820 (interestingly enough just one year before Greece emancipated itself from the Ottoman Empire and declared its independence).

I speak not, I trace not, I breathe not thy name;
There is grief in the sound, there is guilt in the fame;
But the tear that now burns on my cheek may impart
The deep thoughts that dwell in that silence of heart.

—Extract from Lord Byron’s I Speak Not

Source: Michael Vella, Valletta, City of Guilt





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