After what was for me an incredible day off in Malta, we headed North and back into mainland Italy for our final Italian show of the tour. The day off yesterday was spent doing my favourite thing apart from playing music, Stand Up Paddle Boarding.
I had called a chap called Joe Muscat who runs a couple of surf shops on Malta and as it turns out, Joe is the sole importer of high quality SUP boards onto the island. The SUP boom hasn’t hit Malta yet but when it does, and trust me, IT WILL, Joe will be there to supply the needs of the hotels and rental beachfront stores.
Joe offered to come and collect me from the hotel and take me for a paddle in one of the bays at the North end of the island. I grateful accepted, covered myself from head to toe with sun protection, donned my favourite board shorts and met Joe out in front of the hotel. Joe had 2 brand new 11’6″ Bic paddle-boards on top of his car ready to go. We headed North and met up with his lovely wife Alison and their youngest son, Joe who both are expert Paddlers. The four of us unloaded the wagons and headed out into the glassy, warm Mediterranean waters. I immediately felt the therapeutic effect of being back on a board again. God, I’ve missed this. We paddled across the bay and headed towards the North Eastern tip of Malta. Joe led us about 4 kilometers around the point and towards a cave he knew about having visited it on a kayak a few years ago. It’s kind of a secret lagoon but open to the sky. We found the hole in the rocks and paddled in, lowering ourselves to our knees so as to fit through. The serenity in the cavern was sublime. Joe assured me that we aware the very first Paddle boarders to ever come in here, since he is one of the very few who SUP on the island.
We soon headed back towards our point of departure out across the widest part of the bay and past a row of huge offshore fish farms where apparently they grow huge Tuna. We arrived back a couple of hours later and had an ice-cold beer and a spot of lunch in a beach-side cafe. The day for me couldn’t have been more perfect and I thanks the Muscat family for their generous hospitality. Joe told me that most people on the island are very friendly, it certainly has the island feel to it. If you are in Malta on holiday, drop by Joe’s shop and have a go at paddle boarding. It will be the best thing you’ll ever do.
Show day – We woke in the blazing heat of Malta and it wasn’t until 4pm when we finally headed out to the airport for our FOUR countries in one day, day. Malta, Italy, France, Switzerland.
The flight to Pisa was smooth and sushi-laden and Range Rover Team C collected us from the airport and drove us into the beautiful town of Lucca. Because of restrictions, our caterers weren’t able to operate today so the band and crew ate at nearby restaurants. Not bad when you consider food in this region is arguably the best in the world. The only down side was not being able to drink their delicious wine before the show. The show was absolutely fabulous, a fitting finale to the BEST trip to Italy that any of us can recall. The fans here are so enthusiastic and the welcome they gave us when we took to the stage was extraordinary. The next stage of our journey was a flight from Pisa to a town in France called Colmar. This was our only late night option for landing anywhere near Zurich and meant a one and a half hour drive to one of the best hotels of any tour, the Dolder Grand. I was all the more anxious to get there as the family were visiting and it’s my wife’s birthday tomorrow…no today! The landing in Colmar was unique as it is a very short and very narrow runway, plus we had to land with a 15 knot tail wind. Presumably due to residential restrictions. Victor, our pilot (I call him Victor Bravo) slammed the Legacy down with no messing about and applied full reverse thrust to halt the jet before our tarmac ran out. Into the cars then and Gunther expertly whisked us to the Dolder and we arrived at exactly 3am. It felt nice to be in relatively cool air once again after the heat of the South.
What a trip.