Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Travel Report: EPT13 Malta, Arrival -- What’s New, Pussycat?

Hello from the Mediterranean! I made it to Malta in one piece, once again experiencing some run good with my travels.

The overnight flight to Munich was quite comfortable. Flew Lufthansa, who have always provided a nice ride in my experience. Watched an old episode of Columbo (awesome, like they all are) and the recent film The Nice Guys starring Russell Crowe and Ryan Gosling (inconsistent, but entertaining), so was happily locked in the 1970s with Same Difference-like crime stories.

Was another short flight from there to Malta. Got to my hotel by mid-afternoon and not too long after got up with my buddy Gareth who is here to play. We ended up taking a longish walk all of the way to Valletta where we grabbed a bite to eat. Really liked getting out and looking around, given that this is a new place for me.

I’m staying relatively close to the Portomaso Casino where the festival is playing out, near the Spinola Bay and looking out on the St. Julian’s Bay. Our winding walk down south to Valletta meant circling inland around the Marsamxett Harbour and a marina past all of the many hotels, shops, and restaurants -- two or three miles, at least (although I don’t know for sure as I didn't bring my Fitbit).

Along the way we chatted a bit about the drive over from the airport and how we both saw a lot of construction and less immediately impressive landscapes and architecture than is the case in the more touristy central region of the island.

Malta is an archipelago consisting of three islands, with the one named Malta the largest of the three. I was looking online to find the square mileage of Malta (122 sq. miles) is less than half that of the city of Charlotte, with about 450,000 inhabitants or so packed in that small area.

Speaking of, the sidewalks were fairly jammed with people all of the way to Valletta, the cloudy skies not keeping them inside. We parted after dinner and I walked back alone as night descended along with what ultimately became a fairly steady rainfall, and that didn’t scatter the crowds either. The scene somewhat recalled that of Punta del Este thanks to the close proximity of the water and the many boats and yachts, although Uruguay was a lot less populated last month during its off-season.

Lots of stray cats about, including these two at left relaxing of the hood of a car.

It was over in Sliema (on the way to Valletta) I spotted the 10-foot high cat statue pictured up top as dusk was starting to settle. Reading about the statue, it’s the work of an artists named Matthew Pandolfino who put it up there in the Ta’Qali National Park about seven years ago, and apparently other artists are invited to paint it over every couple of months. (You can click on the pics to embiggen.)

After I got back I took a quick trip over to the casino to reunite with some folks and get a sense of things. Gonna pack in early here as I need to catch up sleep missed last night while flying over.

Will be helping cover the second and final Day 1 flight of the Italian Poker Tour (IPT) Main Event, a €1,100 buy-in tournament that drew 219 runners for Wednesday’s Day 1a. There’s a €10K event going on already as well, with a number of other high rollers and the Main Event coming up over the next week-and-a-half.

Check the PokerStars blog for updates from the festival. And keep checking here for other stuff from my prowling about with the Maltese kitties.

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