My disdain for planners has been noted. Seeing modern atrocities sitting next to traditional masterpieces does my head in. And yes, I can appreciate how, in their day, those same traditional masterpieces might well have been regarded as modern atrocities themselves, but this does little to cheer me up. That said, I’m quite partial to a decent re-do. I like it when old buildings get a facelift. Not the Macedonia-style facelift where they’re built new to look old, but the genuine thing. I was quite keen to see what the Maltese had done with the battlements at Birgu and was genuinely impressed with how tastefully it all turned out.
It wasn’t my first time visiting the Maltese city. Of all the city’s houses and archways and battlements that boast of dates from the sixteenth century, I’d earmarked a building on the harbour-front on a previous trip, one I’d planned on buying when I won the Lotto. I had great notions for it, and the accompanying yacht that would have certainly been a must, had the win come through. But I note that the American University is currently revamping it. I only hope they do as I had intended and keep it simple.
Walking beneath the arches of the battlements at Birgu, strolling amidst the olive trees early in the morning with nothing to listen to but the sound of birds chirping is probably as close as it gets to heaven on an island beset by tourists, traffic jams, and building developments. The combination of blue skies and white stone is one I don’t think I could ever get tired of. Add to that the startling blue of some of the houses and you can’t but realise that you’re in the middle of the Med.
Wending my way through the streets, pedestrianised by virtue of their narrowness rather than by public order, was like walking back through time. For many, the day had yet to begin. And as the streets rose and fell and the walls popped out of nowhere, slivers of water could be seen through the gaps. It was truly magical.