After sorting out our room in Gzira, we decided to venture out further into Malta. Our original intention was to take a bus into Valletta. There was a bus stop handily located at the end of our road, so we waited there for a few minutes for the bus to come along.
The first bus that arrived was full, and as no-one got off, the driver wouldn’t allow anyone on. The next bus was our old friend NIS – Not In Service – and the one after that was going in the opposite direction, to Bugibba. “Sod this for a game of soldiers” we said, “we’ve got a car. Let’s just drive somewhere. How about Bugibba?”
And so we set off towards Bugibba, following the coast road around Sliema and heading north. Bugibba is a short drive away (everywhere is a short drive away – Malta is a small place). We passed some coastal forts along the way and promised ourselves we’d look at them another time, before arriving in Bugibba and miraculously finding a parking spot on a side street, whilst we were looking for how to get into the town centre. Not ones to look a gift horse in the mouth, we parked there and walked a couple of minutes to the main square. We quickly found a place for lunch, with the unappealing name of Bognor Bar & Restaurant, but the food was good enough. Nicola had been importuned on the street as we walked in, and handed a leaflet to The Fish Lounge. We dug out all our other leaflets and decided that our plan would be to go to the Fish Lounge after lunch, as it was just across the street, then get to the Tourist Information place and look further abroad. Bugibba is also home to the National Aquarium, and we thought that worth a visit.
The Fish Lounge is a fish restaurant. That is, it’s a restaurant for fishes. These particular fish, Garra rufa, will eat the dead skins cells from your feet. It’s a pedicure treatment that originated in Turkey. We booked a 20 minute session and sat there with our feet in the tanks, while fish ate away the dead skin cells from our feet! It feels a bit funny at first, but you soon get used to it, and it’s an enjoyable experience. We came away feeling our feet were nice and healthy.
Next, we went to the tourist information office and got a proper map of Bugibba, then drove out to the aquarium. There, we booked not just the normal visit, but also a backstage tour, where we were guided by the multilingual Alex, who escorted us and a French family. He showed us how and where they look after new fish, and also sick fish from the aquarium; the feeding of sharks and rays, including how they ensure that everyone is fed – necessary to stop them eating the other fish in the tank; the feeding schedule and the food preparation room (smelly!); and how they keep the tanks healthy and at correct temperature and salinity, as many of the fish and other creatures are highly sensitive to even very slight changes in their environment.
After the guided tour we took the regular walk around the aquarium. They had many varieties of fish, from local species to reef fish, and also a reptile and arthropod section, which housed a red-kneed tarantula, amongst other specimens.
We’d spent a good couple of hours at the aquarium, so after a quick beverage decided to head back to Gzira. We checked out the hotel pool, which was full of cavorting teenagers, and considered a plan to use the pool early in the morning when they were still in the land of nod. This plan, unfortunately, was thwarted by the hotel, who don’t open the pool until 10:00am. So unless we decide to stay late one morning, we’ll probably not make much use of the pool. And after all the fuss we made! 😉
In the evening we headed out for a drink at Sistina. They brought us menus and we decided, after a couple of beers on my part and a glass of rosé for Nicola, that it looked quite reasonable, so moved indoors (it was getting a little chilly) and ordered ourselves a platter to share. It was enormous! It had salami, prosciutto and other cold meats; four different cheeses; plenty of pickled and dried vegetables, fresh crudités, and some bread and biscuits. We manfully and womanfully managed to finish it.