Friday, 6 December 2019

88 George Borg Olivier Street (Saint Julian’s, Malta)

My time in Malta so far has been perfect, or at least very close to it. I enjoyed my time in the Gzira/Sliema area of Malta, with a few inconveniences. Mostly due to a island-wide power outage that resulted in the building’s elevator to be out of service. For a couple of days the flat above mine was hosting guests who liked to stay up all night, for two nights. Then the occasional mosquito who visited me while I was trying to sleep. The remedies for the above issues were easy: take the stairs and get exercise, ear plugs, and keeping my bedroom door closed at all times.

The sunrises were so beautiful and a little different each day. Being high above the water gave me great views of the bay and over to Valletta, Malta’s capital. The soundproofing of the windows cut out most of the street noise, but I opened the balcony doors in the afternoons to let in the fresh sea air.

The flat is a little unusual. It occupies one floor of a narrow building. The main living area is very large and when I talk on the phone there is a distinct echo, the kitchen takes up a quarter of this large space, then there is the long hallway. The bathroom, small laundry room, and two bedrooms are off of the 75 foot (?) length of the hallway.

Besides not using the elevator, I went for daily walks to exercise. No tourist excursions, just relaxing as much as possible. I spread out working on small projects each day while there so I had something productive to work on. Gives the sense that I’m accomplishing something.

As for not having an elevator, I asked the host if he and the owner would be willing to adjust the rent. I was pleasantly surprised when they offered an adjustment of over $500. They wanted to make sure I gave an excellent review at the end of my stay, which I did. My host even came by on my last day and carried my suitcase down to the street and called a taxi.

My new place, which is located on the other side of the island, but not too far away. I’m also looking over a bay, but the bay is much smaller. Also, I’m on the first floor which is one level above the street. When I walked in the place smelled fresh, very clean and has many amenities. I have enough water, milk, orange and apple juice, and bread to last me throughout my stay. The bedroom is in the back and once you close the door, no noise from the street. Though I’m missing my beautiful sunrises.

The cold that I had a week before I left the last place finally cleared up on the day that I moved. This is the third time over the past three years I’ve had back-to-back colds where I’d just about get over one and another takes its place. Nothing serious, just annoying.

Yesterday I went out to find if I could get a sim card that would allow me to call the U.S. for a reduced rate. No luck. I have several calls to make to the U.S. and came to the realization that I’ll have to pay the going rate.

One of the calls was to Cousin Donna, since I hadn’t spoken with her for several months. She turned 83 on December 1st and is the oldest Marsh cousin and I’m the youngest. We didn’t grow up together but we share many of the same interests and personal attributes. She said her sister, who now has Alzheimers, is getting great care at home but her health has been declining for most of 2019. I’m glad I got a chance to visit with her sister before I left in 2016.

My next call was to a financial planner that my credit union recommended. This is the second referral that they gave me. After a fairly long conversation we concluded that they couldn’t do much to help me. They could advise regarding tax issues but they would want to manage my portfolio and charge a fee, which I wasn’t too keen on. I’ll meet with them when I return to the U.S. in July and they can make a more informed pitch for my business once they see my portfolio.

My final call was to Fidelity who holds my 401(k). I combined all my 401(k) accounts via my Principal Financial planner, then combined that group with Fidelity who held my OHSU 401(k). Over the next few years I’ll transfer these funds into a Roth IRA which I set up yesterday evening so I can avoid paying tax on most of the funds.

I also spoke with Viktor who is in Russia. But that call I made via WhatsApp so there was no cost. Good to hear from him. He thinks he can start applying for a new passport in January or February next year. Right now he is pretty much stuck in Russia. I told Viktor that I’ll probably see Prean around New Years and stay in London during Christmas. My friend Csabi lives outside of London and because there is no transportation on the 25th or 26th I won’t see him and my only other close friend in London is Muslim. I’m planning on having Chinese food, which would be a new tradition for me. However, I’m looking forward to attending Christmas Eve services at St. Paul and Christmas Day services at Westminster Abby.

Today I went for another walk around the bay. I’m enjoying discovering another part of Malta. For the most part the main part of Malta is a collection of once small villages that now comprise one large area of buildings. Mostly high rise apartment buildings along the water and residences of the locals a block or so inland. There is no rhyme or reason how the streets are organized and I rely on the taxi drivers to get me where I need to go.

We had quite a storm over the last couple of days. On Wednesday we had strong winds and a little rain. The rest of this week and next will be fair weather with temperatures in the 70’s or high 60’s. Next Friday I’ll leave for London. I’ll post my itinerary within this blog before I leave.

Now, time to make dinner. Tonight I’m making a chicken stir fry, with cabbage, onion, snow peas, broccoli, mushrooms and seasoned with garlic, grated ginger, soy sauce and red pepper flakes. I’ll enjoy eating it while watching the last of my Star Trek episodes on Netflix.

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