Duncan will know all about the strange allure of foreign football team names from your youth. Jeunesse D’esche, Nancy, Grasshopper, Shepshed Charterhouse…
So, on what some folk refer to as Valentines Day, I left Mrs RM with enough euros to buy a bottle of milk stout and took the 50 minute bus trip to “Do Sliema in an hour“.
Malta not only has cheap, efficient buses (1.50 euros for 2 hours travel); there’s also enough WiFi to plan your journey on the way. Compare and contrast with Melrose, for example (I’ve no idea why I’m picking on Melrose).
Sliema is where the trendy bars are, a strip along the Strand facing Sliema Creek holding the bulk of the Maltese youth in the sort of covered outside drinking areas you’d expect in Islington or Southport or Chorlton.
I started at the ancient Hole in the Wall, which Richard reckons is the best bar on Malta, and as usual the cocky sod is right. This is as close as you’ll get to a slice of new Leeds or Norrebro, anyway.
Actually it’s very Copenhagen, only lacking the Evil Keg fonts and exciting prices. A seat at the bar allowed me to take some photos so bad I wondered why I bothered as I drank the local (and rather wonderful) Stretta IPA.
No live music tonight in the tiny upstairs balcony, but an eclectic jukebox went from Johnny Cash to “Making Plans for Nigel” and sometimes that’s all you need.
I suspect the banter was about internet speeds and the continued lack of Punk IPA but I’ve no idea. Next to me the locals were drinking Stella.
Richard’s blog has the photos you need but I caught Socrates, who famously played for Garforth Town, of course.
A few yards west to a proper ex-pat bar.
No relation to the Cambridge pub at one stage owned by CAMRA investments, the Salisbury is more a little slice of Magaluf.
There may have been a couple of Maltese locals in watching Real Madrid on the telly, but the bar was full of Scousers cheering Liverpool on to a win in mighty Porto.
There were unused hand pumps with hunting patterns on at the bar; I was secretly relieved they weren’t dispensing vinegary Bombardier.
“Do you have local beers ?”
Perplexed look, pointing to a sea of Heineken, Guinness and Stella.
“Beers from Malta ?”
“Ah, we have CRAFT beers“.
Well, they had those Phoenix beers, served icy cold into a Farsons glass. The Dubbel was decent before , but their standard stuff was fairly rubbish. retiredmartin says “Not craft”.
And I’m not just bitter because I had to sit in a room bedecked with Man United tat.
There were two football commentaries going on at the same time, in Spanish and Mancunian, and neither bore any relation to the match being watched. An experience.
So I wandered down to the waterside, past some pleasing crumbling architecture.
Richard had spotted Lord Chambray beers on draught in the Black Sheep, whose fridge gave no clues to its odd name.
A narrow bar set out for Madrid v PSG, which made the task of the excellent singer (below) rather thankless. I thought of asking her if she did “Blue Moon” and “Seven Nation Army” but these things get lost in translation.
An enthusiastic barman lit up when I asked for the local (and superb) Lord Chambray beers, and not just because they’re the most expensive (£6.50 for a 6.3% San Blas). He told me they were stripping out the Heineken and Stella taps to put more craft beer on.
We’ll see if that works, won’t we ?
3 bars in 40 minutes, almost Pubmeister standard. I was back just in time to find Mrs RM had finished the milk stout.