So, after coming up with Bus Bingo yesterday, it was time for Lovin Malta to put our Tallinja money where our mouth is, strap on our gauntlets and leather boots and get this adventure started.
The aim of the game here is to head to the Bombi bus stop and get the first bus out of Valletta no matter where it’s going. As I stood there, weirdly nervous that I would end up in a remote car park surrounded by frisky goats, the bus appeared in the distance within seconds.
That’s the best part of Bus Bingo; you don’t have to wait ages for your bus to appear, and anyone who uses public transport in Malta will understand the almost sexual levels of satisfaction you get when your bus turns up within seconds of you arriving the bus stop.
Anyway, as it drew closer I saw the destination on the front.
I was going to Mqabba.
I have never been to Mqabba, so I wasn’t sure how to feel about this. To my delight, the bus was nearly empty and the driver wasn’t angry at me for no discernible reason, so even if Mqabba was a complete shit hole, as far as I was concerned I had already won the lottery.
As we drove around unfamiliar streets, I was reminded of how beautiful Malta really is. If you’re stuck in the Sliema/St. Julians quicksand as I often am, it’s easy to take this island for granted. It was nice to look at all the quaint shops, friendly faces, and beautiful narrow streets with a fresh pair of eyeballs.
After a surprisingly enjoyable bus journey, I was soon at my destination and I hopped off in Mqabba church square. Everyone knows if there’s any shit going down, it’ll be going down in the church square.
There was no shit going down. Just a small cafe that, bewilderingly, was playing 90s rave music at insane decibels at 1pm on a Sunday afternoon. I was hungry, but I couldn’t eat there. Not only was it too loud, but I would get flashbacks of 1998 Paceville that I had locked away in the “character building” section of my slightly damaged brain.
Looks like I was gonna need help to hunt and gather food. Enter Google, who pointed me in the direction of a restaurant down one of the side streets called Dos Avós. My adventure partner and I arrived there and were delighted to find that, not only was the door open, but oh my fucking jackpot, there were 3 or 4 tables of people inside eating a roast chicken dinner. I almost cried with the sheer joy of it all. I had just accidentally found a Sunday roast in the middle of nowhere. Highlight of 2018 so far without a doubt.
So in we walked. People were staring at us a bit, but we thought maybe that’s because we weren’t from around these parts. We asked if we could have a table, to which the lovely man behind the bar replied “Yes of course, but there is a birthday party starting in 15 minutes, so as long as that doesn’t bother you, I will put you in the corner out of the way”.
A young waitress brought us menus, and…wait a fucking minute…there is no roast chicken on this menu, only platters. “Maybe it’s because it’s a Sunday Special” I whispered, the sweat beginning to bead on my forehead. “There are like eight people in this place having roast chicken. Chicken is definitely available. Stay calm.”
When the waitress re-appeared to take our order, I told her that I would like to have the chicken that everyone else is having. To which she awkwardly replied “Oh, um…that’s not really available because these people are all my family and it’s a family lunch that my dad cooked for us.”
How embarrassing. We had just gatecrashed the restaurant owner’s family Sunday lunch and now people from the fucking birthday party were starting to arrive, and I think they were also related to the family so now we were in the middle of this massive family reunion trying to eat their food with our weak, inexperienced Sliema faces.
Mortified, I apologised to the waitress profusely and said a platter will be fine (whatever, I was hungry, I wasn’t leaving without sustenance), and two minutes later she comes back to tell us that it’s no problem at all, her dad is cooking us both some roast chicken and potatoes because he is quite clearly the nicest man alive.
I felt awful, but I really wanted those potatoes, so I munched my roast dinner and enjoyed the birthday party immensely. Then, not knowing if we had overstayed our welcome since we weren’t even invited in the first place, we decided to quickly pay and leave them to the rest of their party.
So, thank you, Dos Avós, for being awesome, welcoming, understanding of my social ineptitude, and for having such delicious chicken. You really made my day.
After a slow wander around the delightful Mqabba streets, it was soon time for us to get back on our faithful steed/bus and head home to the bright lights of the big smoke. An eventful day and a memorable first venture into Bus Bingo, can’t wait for the next one!
Bus Bingo – Level 1 Complete.
Success. Mqabba is definitely worth a visit. But maybe just ask first before you climb into someone’s house and start demanding poultry.