It is Time!

It’s time – time to soothe the itchy feet and sate the wanderlust just a bit. On this occasion, though, I’ve rustled up a partner in crime – my Mum! Watch out for her guest interruptions, er, I mean contributions (in red italics), along the way 😉 Our destination? Malta.

But why?
Why? Well, I think it’s really the fault of my maternal grandfather. He was born there, you see, in Valletta. Now doesn’t the very name stir up at least some measure of intrigue? It’s this intrigue, and possibly the fact that I knew so little about Malta, that fuelled the yearning to visit this island country some 80 kilometres off the southern coast of Sicily, in the Mediterranean.

Breaking new ground
The day has arrived and it is indeed time for us to be on our merry way. I “hail” an Uber, or whatever it is one does – a first for me (yes, yes, I know – I’m slow; don’t judge!) – and within a couple of minutes,
Tshepo arrives and we’re on our way to the Gautrain station.

Selfie on the Gautrain.
Selfie on the Gautrain.

Having checked in online, we clear the baggage drop, security and immigration without a fuss and are soon seated in Jacksons, Mum ordering a Savannah Light and myself a cappuccino with a side helping of caramel muffin.

Cappuccino- & muffin-assisted planning.
Cappuccino- & muffin-assisted planning.

I haul out my tablet and log on to Planapple (a free, online trip-planning app), which I used for the first time while planning this trip. We work on fine-tuning our itinerary for the first few days, interrupted only by a lady from a neighbouring table asking what I was drinking which was, by this time, a rock shandy, which she then promptly ordered for herself.

Reflections in Jacksons.
Reflections in Jacksons.

With an hour and a bit to go before departure, we pack up, pay our dues and make our way to Gate A19. We’re flying SWISS – another first for me – and boarding is swift and efficient.

Our Airbus' wing from our seat.
Our Airbus’ wing from our seat.

And we’re off!
We’re soon taxiing across the tarmac. However, after about 5 minutes of this, I lean over to my Mum. “Do you suppose we’re gonna taxi all the way to Zurich?” I ask her, which got us wondering what it would be like to change an aircraft’s tyre!

Hey, gimme the pen. It’s me – Mum! Our Airbus sits poised at the end of the runway, two glistening rows of lights ahead of us converging into the blackness. We shudder down the tarmac, gaining speed, and lift off smoothly above the lights of Jozi. My stomach lies some place below us on South African soil.

Rowena reads my contribution and bursts into hysteria. “What kind of word is that? Is it German?” she asks. She’s referring to “poisedat”. What’s her problem; I only left out a space.

Can you blame me?
Can you blame me?

No sooner do we reach our cruising altitude than the stewards and stewardesses start swarming around the cabin. Appetizers (mini rosemary breadsticks) arrive first, followed by drinks and then supper (potato salad, pasta in a mushroom and cream sauce, a bread roll, cheese, and a chocolate brownie), followed by more drinks.

Thus far, the gentleman seated in front of us has slept continually, hunched monk-like against the window, with his hoodie pulled over his head. Except when he came-to, 15 minutes after dinner and managed to coerce a steward into bringing him a late meal. The steward was clearly unimpressed and responded by saying he would “see what I can find, sir”. I had a graphic vision of him raking through the rubbish…

There’s sufficient turbulence during dinner to prevent the crew from offering hot drinks “because it’s too dangerous”. It’s lights-out shortly after and, both being rather exhausted by this time, we’re only too happy to oblige. Not being full, the flight is one of the quietest I think I have ever been on, even with two infants on board, and we’re soon drifting in and out of that now-familiar fitful state of plane-sleep.

Until tomorrow, auf wiedersehen.

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