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Tuesday, February 18, 2014

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sandy vann

What a lovely get away once you managed the crazy traffic and drive in! Beautiful photos comme toujours. My poor husband is very accustomed to my back seat driving even here in France. I too believe I am really helping us navigate and survive any dangers on the road. :) Thankfully he is also a patient man. How fun to spend Valentines in such an alluring place.

S

Joie

and HAPPY ANNIVERSARY!

Jackie pace

What a lovely getaway.i too moving from Canada to New Zealand and had the same fears on the first day of my new job with the hospital car. I was told to go work in Darfield,44km from Christchurch with this car that had the wheel on the passenger side and everything opposite to what I knew.
Well I discribe it to this day as one of my most traumatic experiences.It really felt like I was going the wrong way in traffic at roundabouts that one entered the opposite way.i managed to conquer the roads and my fears but not before on the first day shaking so badly that the cluch kept slipping.The first day was sunny and bright but I drove to Darfield with the windshield wipers going and things in the car beeping but I could not take my eyes off the road!,,Always felt sad I never got to share that day with someone else in the car,,but I can assure you the air was really blue that day!!!!

Steve

We Brits have this issue (almost) every time we drive abroad ... we seem to manage.

Kristin Espinasse

Hi Steve, forgot to mention that that was one thought that reassured me: all the Brits and other drive on the left drivers who manage in France.

Isabel Campabadal

You can't imagine how much I laughed with your Maltese experience. The same thing happened to us a couple of years ago. I went with my daughter, son in law and three granddaughters, and the tragedy of driving on the left side, specially because we couldn't get an automatic car and my daughter was the driver. Each time we got to a roundabout our hearts stopped and we were petrified. To tell you the truth, the enjoyment of the trip was overcast with the driving. Next time, we will hire a local driver!

Marie

Well of course one manages, but it doesn't take away the fact
That you fear for your life and it is a stressful and
Life altering experience. So glad you enjoyed your
Trip, Kristen!

Tom - Jersey City

Malta is a lovely place filled with history that dates back over 2500 years. I was there in 2007 for a conference and was mesmerized. I would love to return. I am currently dating a Maltese so I think the chances are good and I look forward to it!

I am glad you enjoyed yourselves - once you found your hotel!

Eileen deCamp

Hi Kristin,
What a nice Valentine's getaway! Loved the photos! I didn't know they drove on the left side in Malta. I remember when we visited Ireland and we landed at Shannon Airport and when we went out to pick up our car and it was all scratched and dented. We went back in to tell them that the car was all dented and scratched so they wouldn't charge us when we brought it back. The girl at the rental car desk said "oh, all the cars are like that because the roads are so narrow". I was anxious when we hit the first roundabout out of the airport and my husband started to turn right...I yelled left, left! It was odd driving on the left. I kept waiting to see a car coming straight on and hit us! It took us some time to change our way of thinking...left, left! I love the phrase for today too! Thanks!

Suzanne Codi

Great story, Kristi, great photos and great trip despite the harrowing driving. Same thing happened to me in Jamaica years ago, then with Charlie in Scotland...very confusing indeed, but good brain workout!!
You definitely scored in the husband department, bravo Jean-Marc for an unforgettable valentine!
ps Charlie is also Mr.Calm to my freak-out mode...!!!but I'm such a back seat driver that I now do most of the driving in the interest of staying married... xo

Julia Lutter

Malta is, along with Lanzarote, my favorite island. I was there in summer 2011 and last november. Each time I must have made over 500 photos as I am fascinated with the old houses and the landscape. I actually took exactly the same photo that you posted on top of your mail. In 2011 we took a trip by boat around the island that included a visit to the small island Comino where hardly anybody lives. I think they have a small hotel there, but that's it. The hole island is covered with thyme and the water gives you an idea of what the tropical ocean must be like. Yet I almost enjoyed our trip in november even more, since Malta is not so full and the weather for someone like me, who was born and lives in Germany, a dream come true. Swimming in the ocean in november, 2.5 hours by plane away from home, is an awesome experience, although the maltese people think you are completely nuts.
Our first evening in november was equally exciting but not because of the traffic (we didn't rent a car but used busses and taxis). I managed within minutes after our arrival at the hotel to lock ourselves out on the balcony - mobiles left inside the room - and no way to climb down from the second flor. Also, at 11:30 pm there aren't many people around to ask for help. But thanks to my tablet, I could email my son in Germany, who then called the reception and help was on its way. I rather not mention the fact, that before that, I wrote about 5 emails to all possible adresses that were on the homepage of the hotel, none of them were read within time. We kind of felt a little embarrassed in the breakfast room the next morning when we had to tell them our room number. Contrary to our expectations, nobody bursted into a laughter (at least not in front of us).
I would like to thank you at this point for your french-word-a-day mail that I really enjoy.

carol

Was just thinking today about being in Enland and thinking, "I can't possibly drive on the left!". I am not sure your story reassures me. I now can't imagine a round-about going the wrong way. But if I must, I must and I will think of you with a smile. Thanks for a lovely story.

Sara

Gozo was my favorite part of Malta! It's more countryside, but there are some beautiful beaches.

Gordon Precious

Quelle histoire. Superb.
An easy rule when driving on the left - ALWAYS KEEP YOUR WRISTWATCH NEAR THE CURB (assuming, of course, that you wear your watch on your left wrist); especially helpful in intersections and round-abouts.
I was given this bit of advice 65 years ago as I, obviously an "American" (actually, Canadian), drove my brand-new motorcycle out of the BSA factory gate in Birmingham, England, at the beginning of a trip around the world, which included many left-hand-drive countries - East and South Africa, Australia, India, Japan and several others. The simple rule must have worked, for here I am still driving (and still trying to improve my French) at age 90.

Adeline Richarson Reunion Island

Lovely and funny story ! So lively too, just as if we were in the car ! It reminds me of the first time my husband-to-be and I crossed the Channel from Britanny : once in Porstmouth and leaving the ferry at 11 pm, well, we simply forgot to drive on the left ! We were quickly reminded to behave ourselves !!! That was stressful first, then... a lot of fun!

Elizabeth

The story of your worrying reminds me of an English word a friend made up: "awfulizing", thinking of all the worst things that might happen instead of living in the present.

May you ban awfulizing in your life!

catharine ewart-touzot

what a lovely thoughtful get away..so now you know you can drive on the wrong side and survive..another fear conquered yea!

Kristin Espinasse


Gordon, you are an inspiration! I appreciate your notes over the years, and learning more about you. Thanks (but, as a leftie, I better not take your wristwatch tip!)

Sue Lennox

Had half a day in Malta several years ago but , sadly, only remember how tired I was after flight from Phoenix-NY-Frankfurt-Malta. We boarded a cruise in the afternoon so that was it. Looks as if a return visit would be worthwhile!

Splendid market

So funny, I could imagine myself falling into this same situation.

Judy Smith

It was perhaps luckiy that you arrived at night. The Maltese are fairly relaxed about driving rules and they readily admit themselves that they drive "on the shady side of the road".

FM

We had a lovely holiday on Gozo about 25 years ago and I remember being told that it wasn't about left or right, but that the Maltese drive in the shade! Can I recommend Nicholas Monsarrat's book, the Kappillan of Malta - I read it whilst I was there and it was just a wonderful read.

Joie

Oops....thats what I get for being up at 4am....anniversary isn't until July! Perhaps you choose where you go then...and next year he makes the choice.

Gordon Lyman

Kristin - You nailed this experience perfectly.
"We been there, we done that", but in Britain, not Malta.
After some days of driving in England and Wales, I still got into the rental car one morning from the left side and was shocked to find no steering wheel in front of me.
Did you know the history of the world was almost changed by left-right disorientation?
Before World War Two, Winston Churchill visited America and was almost killed when he looked the wrong way before stepping off the curb into the path of an oncoming car. He may have been saved by the cushioning of the fat he carried which lessened the impact of the smack. As I recall, he was knocked through the air and cushioned again when he landed in the street.
Good to travel prepared for whatever comes. :-)

Gordon

Joie

Many years ago when I was in Europe for 6 months we drove to Greece. That day I was the navigator. Everything was fine until we got to Athens. I had the map and was to guide us to the area where we wanted to stay. I looked at the map and then up at the first street sign. The map was in English and the signs in Greek. All Greek letters. I am sure at this point that has changed and they are in both. Somehow we got there and to the biggest round about I have ever seen. There were at least 10 streets filtering into it. And once you entered you didn't dare get towards the middle because you would never be able to get off. To think we can get anywhere with a GPS and I do not have one. I sort of like the map.

Janet

I'm an American and have been living in Malta for almost two years now. Driving here is still a challenge as the Maltese are crazy drivers--but the nicest people. I'm very impressed that you managed to find Mellieha in the wee hours of the morning.

Malta is a great place to visit--it has many hidden treasures. Be sure to visit Gozo next time as it has a character all its own. The Kempinski hotel there is quite nice as is Ramla Bay--the best beach in Malta. The other city that is my favorite is Mdina. For history buffs, visiting the ancient hypogeum is a must, but tickets must be purchased a month or two in advance. A good site for historical information is HeritageMalta.org. There are several ancient temples on the island that were built before the pyramids.

Malta is definitely worth a visit--the best time being in the spring (March-May).

Faye Stampe, Gleneden Beach, OR

Loved the story --- what a fun filled, exciting Valentines! I also love the photos. We were stationed in England for 5 years. When I first started driving ---- it was sooooo difficult. It was always: LEFT, LEFT! After about 6 months we were totally adjusted. We used to drive up the Scottish coast, and drove in Ireland.

The difficult part was coming home each summer --- we had to really adjust. Great memories, so much fun.

Thanks & stay well!

Sally

Though it sounds like you gained some grey hairs, it made for an enjoyable story- I'm still laughing. I would love to go to Malta- I lived on a Greek island with many proud Maltese Greeks. Can't wait to read the further adventures!

Nancy

Glad you had a surprising and beautiful Valentine. It reminded me so much of my husband and I vacationing in Gaudeloupe. To be sure, it is part of France and we didn't have to adjust to driving on the "other side." The roads are well paved, but narrow and often steep hills and curves add to the excitement, and I knew if we got hopelessly lost my minimal French wasn't going to save us (well, i could get us "un café, s'il vous plait" , but that's about all) I shrieked a lot. You have such a talented way of making us smile with your story.

joy greenidge,

Dear Kristin,
Thank you for all the years that we have received your letters. My nephew is now in Nice, and I wondered about the cost of things in the region, so I am especially thankful for the detailed price of tickets to malta, the hotel etc. How many euros is the basic monthly salary for the lowest level civil servant in Nice?

Peter

I don't wish to appear rude but, surely what was foreign were the visitors and not the local signs and language!
I am lucky enough to be able to visit the land of my birth, England, a couple of times a year with the advantage of having learned to drive there many years ago. Just remember, the penalty for driving on the incorrect side, not the wrong side (see above), is a lot of pain and possibly death. Works for me.
Best wishes from a very rainy Vancouver, BC

tylert0625@comcast.net

Happy Anniversary! The pictures are truly beautiful and I had to laugh at the car episode.

By the way, I've been to Apache Junction! Even saw a rattlesnake on the suffleboard court there.

Many more happy anniversaries.

Judi Miller

Enjoyed your story very much! Like others, it reminded me of driving in England - my husband says 'never again,' well at least until the next time! Travel is so marvelous while it's happening and it's like the gift that just keeps giving in all the wonderful tales that can be told after returning home. Makes for some wonderful memories. I think it was especially nice of Jean-Marc to arrange everything and glad you ended up having a beautiful time (and returned home safely!)

Debbie Ambrous

Kristin,
I was extra glad to see this story on Malta since I have also been looking at the budget airfare, thinking about a side trip from France when we visit later this year. The photos show a beautiful location. It's rather funny that you are also talking about driving under scary conditions this week. My story "Le blah-blah on Narrow Roads" on www.AFrenchOpportunity.com was posted Sunday, and you can imagine from your trip what it involves!!! I'm wondering where you stayed. Could you share that info if it was a nice place?
Thank you for a great story!

Millie

I would have been stressed too. You are so funny, Kristin. I really enjoyed your story.

Il conduit, tu conduis (avec un S)

Patti

LOL, K! I just pictured Lucy and Ricky in The Long, Long Trailer...!!!

Nancy

Just wondering … wouldn't it be "c'est toi qui conduis" ?? Would you verify with Jean-Marc, SVP ? inquiring minds would like to know (grammatical minds, that is !). Beautiful pics and letter, as always.

Natalia

Our dear Kristi,
Once again you've gifted us with not only a beautifully written post,but with one that filled us with smiles and enjoyment,too!
Your descriptions are wonderful(so are the pictures!)Thank you for taking us along with you on this lovely getaway!
Love,
Natalia XO

Patience T. In L.A.

This is one of your best. Thanks for these postings. To add to everyone's experience on le monde en l'enverse, went to Ireland with a friend planning on sharing the driving, imagine our shock when we went to rent the car and were told that since I was over 75 they could not allow me to drive. So off we went. I was co-pilot for the three weeks. As we exited the rental lot into a narrow street I heard Bop,bop,bop,bop......... I shrieked "you are hitting the mirrors of every car, the middle,the middle" . Now we laugh about it but at the time my heart was in my mouth. I still love to travel,anywhere,any time.

Andrea Ebarb

Hello Kristin,
A friend of mine (Vicki Ford) forwarded your blog and I REALLY enjoyed hearing about your adventures in Malta. A few years ago I took a Mediterranean cruise with a friend and was blown away by the beauty in the city of Valletta. I think most people probably know the city for its political prison, the Château d'If (make famous by the Count of Monte Cristo), but I fell in love with the colors of the place. It had an overall peace about it that words cannot describe. I guess I was feeling rather edgy after coming from an unexpected stop in Tunisia just after all the political turmoil. In any case, you asked about places to visit in Malta and I simply must recommend a little silver and goldsmith boutique I happened into while wandering about the streets with my friend. The gentleman who owns it makes everything by hand and I've never seen such workmanship. The prices are EXTREMELY reasonable. The name is Ardnael Filigree and the address is as follows: 77, Republic Street, Valletta, Malta (Telephone: 246192). Should I ever go on a cruise again, I hope we get to stop in Malta!!! Oh, and for those looking for a nice cruise, I highly recommend the Italian line MSC for a Mediterranean cruise. The food was amazing!!!

JacqBrisbane

It's among my many travel dreams to visit Malta...and Cyprus... Sigh.. At least I spent a week on Easter Island; a place I never dreamt I would be able to visit. It was the silver lining of a very dark cloud in out family's history. Small islands are so exciting!
Thanks to you Kristin and to the many interesting/funny commentators today, especially Precious!
Tautology alert: 1 am IS in the morning!
PS: Apache really sounds exotic from where I'm reading! (Australia)

Jill

So enjoyable to read of your experience locating the car,not being able immediately to realise about driving on the left and so on.Being Australians,we had a similar experience a few years back on arrival at Toulouse Airport late at night.After my husband not hitting it off with the rather unfriendly French receptionist,then not even,at first finding the rental car park as reconstruction was going on.The first roundabout(in the carpark) was terrifying in the dark and rain.Your account,Kristi brought it all back to me.Do hope the weekend turned out well for you.

Julie

I sympathise! It's what we Australians have to contend with every time we go to Europe. Makes life very interesting at times, especially at roundabouts!

Kristin Espinasse


Thank you for sharing your driving stories. It sparked a few more memories of our trajet--or drive--from the airport to the hotel. Im updating the blog, now, and will try to add the additional notes!

Thanks Millie and those of you who corrected my French grammar (and English spelling!). Im fixing the post now. Much appreciated!

Kristin Espinasse


P.S. JacqBrisbane - tautology -- great term. Thanks! (Tautology: the saying of the same thing twice in different words, generally considered to be a fault of style (e.g.,they arrived one after the other in succession).

Sarah LaBelle, near Chicago

Chateau d'If is on the island of If a few kilometers from the port of Marseilles. Not on Malta.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ch%C3%A2teau_d%27If
A movie version of The Count of Monte Cristo filmed on Malta about 12 years ago, but the movies always mess with actual geography. (film in Chicago for a movie set in New York City, film in Toronto for a film set in Chicago, etc.)

The Brits left their mark on Malta both in language and driving on the left. It sounds like a lovely trip, and such a nice way to enjoy Valentine's.

Audrey Wilson

As expats living in France we have this problem everytime we take the car back to the UK . Right hand side all the way to the Channel & then at the docks in England a quick adjustment (one hopes !)
Also I have to become the lookout for overtaking as our car being French has a left hand steering wheel . I find this to be some what unnerving !! And I feel vunerable on motorways when huge lorries pass us ,going the same way !
Ah! well , 'Vive la difference !)

Kristin Espinasse


FM - thanks for the book recommendation. Will add it to the post. And I loved the note explaining the erratic way the Maltese drive: because they enjoy the driving in the shade. So funny and relatable, now that we have experienced this!

Jules

Darling Kristi,

One of your funniest stories…but then of course in real life you are funny like this story everyday.

XOXO

MOM

sparkling74

I've never driven on the opposite side of the road and can't imagine attempting it at 1am!! I am an avid fan of the Amazing Race (a horrible American "reality" show) where contestants often have to hop in and drive on the opposite side of the road at crazy hours, on little sleep. Not my cup of tea

How long was the flight?

Sharon

I laughed all the way through this story! You sound just like my husband and I on our first trip to England (and a few trips here in the states). Only, I was the one who ended up driving when after ten blocks of hitting the curb twice and almost side swiping several parked cars, he announced, "We are not going anywhere today. I am not driving this car!" It turned out to be the best and most memorable day of our trip.

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