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‘Travel has made me a more complete person’

David CarabottDavid Carabott

Name: David Carabott
Age: 32
Occupation: Teacher/freelance writer

My best ever trip…

This is difficult as there were many. Highlights from all my trips include the unique and magnificent Croatian peninsula of Istria; the mesmerising villages with their distinguishing fortified churches and the walled cities of Transylvania in Romania; and Zakopane, a Polish town which lies at the foot of the Tatra Mountains, with its high hills, crystal-clear lakes, rivers and impressive wooden architecture.

Then there is Islamic Turkey, ‘lost’ at the crossroads of Europe and Asia; the authentic Italian region of Umbria and enchanting Morocco with its Atlas Mountains, unconquered Berbers, spectacular waterfalls, tanneries in Fez, and colourful Marrakesh, with its illuminated Djemaa el Fna.

I felt most relaxed in…

If people waved or greeted you in Egypt they expected tips in return

Greece’s Emerald: the island of Corfu. I enjoyed the exquisite Greek cuisine and wandering around Europe’s most secluded and pristine beaches.

Time seemed to stand still when I trekked along those infinitely long beaches with natural golden sand dunes and rich biodiversity.

I lost my cool in…

Albania and Naples.

I went to Tirana to watch Malta play a World Cup 2010 qualifier against Albania. Stones and vulgar gestures were thrown onto us from the home supporters during the game.

When I visited Campania, Neapolitans recounted stories of the mafia in their region that caused goosebumps. I found out how much people in Naples fear the Camorra. I hope one day the nightmare will be a thing of the past, and these people free themselves from this slavery and oppression.

I felt so welcome in…

Castellace (Reggio Calabria) and Ostia Lido (Lazio). I am lucky to have befriended some Italians. It is awesome how each and every time they make me feel at home and part of the family. They treat me like their own son or brother.

I cannot ask for more: mouth-watering food, a warm welcoming house and decent, positive people.

I also enjoy the seemingly never-ending conversations over dinner that have taught me so many things about the Italians and their lifestyle.

They truly helped me to break the stereotypes I held towards Italians in general. I would like to thank them for their kindness, hospitality and generosity – these are virtues rare to find nowadays.

Later, I found out that if I did jump into the river, I would have risked an underwater encounter with the Nile crocodile

I couldn’t wait to leave…

Amsterdam. Visiting the red light district and coffee shops does not make you special, just soulless. All I could see were sad and weird faces. I felt like a fish out of water. I also had a somewhat horrendous experience in Egypt. I was warned about how everyone expects a tip for any service, but I hadn’t expected it to be so embedded in their character. If people waved or greeted you they expected tips in return! If I will ever go back, I will take a mountain of one-cent coins for the sole purpose of tipping!

On the other hand, exploring Egypt’s historical sites and artifacts was an unforgettable and enriching experience.

I partied hardest in…

The Norwegian town of Gjøvik. I had the opportunity to taste this piece of Scandinavia when I visited a university friend while she was on an Erasmus placement.

I had a wonderful time meeting loads of students from all over the world. From first-hand experience, I must say that Erasmus is not only about studying, it is also about partying.

I cringe when I think of…

The appalling experience I had close to Elephantine Island while on an Aswan Felucca boat trip in southern Egypt. The men who were operating the boat suggested I take a dip in the Nile. I was dying to try it out, but something inside me told me not to.

Later, I found out that if I did jump into the river, I would have risked an underwater encounter with the Nile crocodile, which can grow up to six metres long!

I laughed so hard in…

Tunisia. Going on holiday with my amateur football mates was an opportunity to swap stories and jokes, play all sorts of sports and enjoy cultural nights and more. I was delighted that most of us shared spontaneous humour.

We adopted a series of sounds often accompanied by corresponding facial and bodily movements. What an amusing time; when it comes to mind I smile over again.

My longest journey…

Egypt. What an iconic itinerary! Going all the way from Cairo to Aswan and back and also to Alexandria was something that taught me how huge the world is, and how we Maltese are in a world of our own. We complain about almost everything, not realising we are lucky to live in such a tiny and comfortable haven.

In the land of the pharaohs, I had to take a 90-minute flight, a 12-hour night train, a four-hour crowded bus trip, a never-ending taxi ride, and I also covered some distance on foot. The total distance was a staggering 2,400 km.

I wish I could live in…

Well, according to recent research, we are blessed to be residing in one of the finest places on earth. Can I ask for more?

I treasure the memory of…

Witnessing leather-making in the tanneries of Fez, Morocco. It is like looking at gigantic trays of watercolours. I was overwhelmed when seeing those men and boys working on an outdated trade, for hours on end, waist-deep in dyes, under the North African sun.

The most delicious food I’ve tasted was…

The cuisines of Morocco, Andalucía and Italy. I have been to Italy 17 times and I have managed to build a network of contacts and friends over the years. Through them, I am learning the secrets of Italian cooking.

The hardest part of travelling is…

When you start to get familiar with the culture and way of life of a place, the hardest part is to say goodbye. Nevertheless, it is important not to compare places, people or experiences.

Travel has taught me to…

Leap into life! “The world is a book, and those who do not travel read only a page” (St Augustine). How true! Therefore, I am the author of my very own book of life.

Looking back at all my travelling adventures, at what I have seen, felt and touched, I firmly believe they have made me a more complete person; cleverer, with a better understanding of the world.

I dream of one day visiting…

Venezuela – the land where my ancestors came from. My great-grandfather used to tell me his grandfather, a Caraquenian sailor, way back in the 1800s, arrived in Malta on a ship all the way from Caracas, and fell in love and married a Maltese woman from Senglea.

Having said that, I have an endless to-visit list, and I am currently stuck in a phase of life where if I get a new idea or a dream, I try all possible means to follow it through. Days left until the next destination…?

Are you well-travelled?

Once a month we will be letting one of our readers take part in this travel interview, which normally features people in the public eye. If you would like to share your globetrotting travel experiences and photos, e-mail [email protected] and write My Travels as the subject.

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