words & images: Leanne Gichard

It is a well-known fact in our family that whenever one or more of us begin to plan an overseas adventure, Plan A quickly turns to Plan B, C, D and usually even E!  Our trip itineraries seem to spiral (sometimes out of control!) as we try to pack the most experiences we can into one trip. This certainly happened on a trip my sister planned for our Mum (a local Ashburton resident) and herself to the USA and Italy when suddenly Malta appeared, out of nowhere, onto the trip itinerary!

The 7000 year history of Malta is incredibly rich, with the Phoenicians, Carthaginians, Romans, Greeks, Byzantines, Arabs, Normans, Sicilians, Spanish, Knights of St. John, French and British all having ruled the islands. As a result, the art and architecture are astounding and the colours are striking.  The sea is azure blue and the stone used on the buildings the colour of honey, all of these elements combine to make the most spectacular backdrop.

One thing you learn about Malta is that the weather can be very dramatic and change suddenly.  They awoke to intermittent sunshine the first morning with the clouds and light so dramatic, that Mum commented that the scene looked almost biblical.  What a sight! The view from every angle of their apartment was stunning, almost surreal.

To familiarise themselves with Malta, they booked the ‘hop on, hop off’ bus trip the first morning.  There were two routes available, north and south, with each trip taking approximately three 3 hours. Despite confirming with the driver to do one tour and get dropped back to the hotel, the driver combined both routes, which meant their three-hour trip turned into seven hours on the bus!    The bus juddered around the potholed roads, the suspension broken and the police even pulled the bus driver over and asked how much further he intended to drive that day as the bus was not fit to be on the road! They commented that by the time they got off the bus their suspension wasn’t so great either!  The next few days certainly made up for it….

…read more in Spirit Magazine online, or pick up a copy today.

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Judy McAuliffe is a writer, and publisher Essence Mid Canterbury. Her experience in media is extensive and includes approximately 15 years as Creative Director for The Radio Network, writing, and managing the writing of radio advertising, mainly in Invercargill and Greymouth. In the late 1990’s she transferred to Christchurch, moving into an Account Management role with 91ZM. In 2007 she and a business partner set up Essence Mid Canterbury, very quickly adapting her radio-writing skills to print media. Judy became sole owner of Essence Mid Canterbury in June 2014. Judy is a ‘people person’ and has found her niche writing feature stories about the community she lives in and the people who live there. She is also available for freelance writing assignments.