Settling in Sweiqi

The view across the valley - Swieqi (taken by me while exploring)

It’s my fourth day in Malta. It’s cold.

I spent my first day signing a contract and then moving into a rented flat in Sweiqi — a quieter residential area close to the central party district of Paceville and the rather lovely St Julians. My landlady is friendly, slightly eccentric and has got the idea from somewhere that I really like horses.

From Saturday to Monday I visited various supermakets a total of 5 times and will be going again today. Going to the local supermarket and browsing the mixture of familiar and completely alien products is one of my favourite things to do abroad. Malta does not disappoint — Waitrose granola selling for around €8 next to traditional Maltese biscuits made with molasses and cinnamon and Royal Galia apples next to kumquats. There also seems to be some kind of almond cordial amongst the usual lemon and organge squashes which I have heard is quite popular locally.

Getting my bearings has been made easier by the existence of two rather prominent buildings in the vicinity of my appartment — the Intercontinental Hotel in Paceville and the Portomaso Business Tower. I’ve been using these to orientate myself on unfamiliar streets and get a sense of how close to or far from home I am — although Google Maps has had to provide some assistance.

In my Wifi-free flat I’ve been busying myself with unpacking and making the place homely; mostly by putting various nicknacks left by my landlady in drawers and replacing them with my own. I don’t know if there is a certain etiquette around this and by putting her things away I’m making some kind of point like ‘your stuff is ugly and I don’t want to see it’. To be fair, it’s not really to my taste. There’s a rather large swirling piece of orange and brown artwork across three canvasses in the main living space which I would like to replace but I think maybe this is a step far only a few days into my tenancy.

The other thing that has been occupying much of my time is reading. I often forget how much I enjoy getting stuck into a good book. I have finally finished Bill Bryson’s ‘Mother Tongue’, which I have been enjoying for longer than I’d like to admit, and am already halfway through ‘The Penguin Lessons’ by Tom Michell, a Christmas present from my Dad. He always manages to pick out exactly the book I need to read at the right time.

Writing this, I’m in a Costa Coffee (familiar) looking out onto the rippling water of Spinola Bay (unfamiliar). I’m going to spend some time job hunting before doing a little more exploring, and then returning to this same spot to meet a fitness coach who made contact with me through Instagram. I’m hoping she might be the key to a whole community of friendly, healthy people I can persuade to be my friends.