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Europeans have clocks, we have time

On the face of it, everything in Malta runs slowly.

Maltese often say that Europeans have clocks and Maltese have time. This generally is an overstatement, however living in Malta for a year, one can definitely appreciate the difference in pace. Living in the busy Sliema, one can often enjoy the beatiful view on Valetta waiting for a any bus over an hour (up to 3hrs sometimes), watching either completely empty or full up buses passing by… The choice is often between going shopping or to going to work through the capital of Valetta by ferry or joining traffic frenzy with their own car (not recommended). The way to go in Malta is to go slow, otherwise it’s like swimming against the current: stuck in traffic or getting frustrated. Public transport: Sliema to Valetta (1.5hrs avg), Sliema to Bugibba (2.5hrs avg), Sliema to Gozo Ferries (3hrs avg). You can definitely walk around most of Malta faster than by taking a bus.

Working in Malta also has its own pace. Many of the companies are family run businesses over generations. Small changes take months if not years, even if technically there might be very little reason for them to take that long doing things locally and slowly is the way it goes. In Malta changes need to be aligned with changing times, yet all of Malta is a historical place. There are relatively few new developments due to very limited choice of available space, especially in popular towns. Having said that Maltese economy is quite resistant to crises and quiet vibrant as most of Maltese don’t shy away from employment. Lunches takes extremaly long with 45-60mins meal waiting time. One thing I learned is you either compensate this time by eating quickly or you just go slowly with the flow. Patience is the keyword here with most of the people waiting few years to complete any engineering project and very long years for a single career step in their life.

One of the most interesting places to spend time in Malta are the public offices. I have seen long queues handled by half a dozen of public officers serving essentially the whole population, where as equivalent services in some cities in Eastern Europe of roughly similar size can be run by few hundred public officers in half of that time. Getting anything done with the government of Malta is painfully slow but surprisingly efficient given incredibly small offices run sometimes by just few people. In fact the size is the factor in all of that. The size of the roads, the offices and cafes, the places you visit define a constant rush hour, or constant jam if you like. Most of Malta is literally packed with ever increasing inflow of tourists bringing everything to a halt. Whatever small thing you want to get done, reserve half day off for that. This is either frustrating visitors or relaxing locals who already know there’s nothing that can be done to help it and generally just take it easy.