Shutting down the city
When I was growing up, Valletta was the place to be. For the traditional Saturday morning coffee, the post-work shopping spree or just for a spot of people-watching and to have a drink... it was Valletta that people flocked to. Which is only as befits a capital city, of course.
Fine, as a city girl born and bred I may be a tad biased but hey, the day that a country’s capital winds up playing second fiddle to every other town with a shopping mall is hardly a proud day. According to the Malta Retail Review report published earlier this week, that day is officially here.
Not that we needed this report to do a Mr Obvious on us... the evidence has been staring us in the face. While the culture scene is being slowly resuscitated (hallelujah and roll on 2018, incidentally), the opposite is true on the business front.
And while I’m the first to admit that a good theatrical or music production is more likely to turn me on than a shopping mall, even I can tell that empty shops do not exactly qualify as harbingers of all things good.
The reason behind this defection from Valletta, we are being told, is that people prefer to get rid of their shopping in one massive mall instead of traipsing around a variety of shops. Which is all very well and probably true, but I sure as hell hope no-one is suggesting turning beautiful Valletta into another Sliema.
At a guess I’d say that the main reason everyone prefers shopping malls is the fact that they tend to come with oh-so-convenient car parks attached to them. Drive in, park, shop, have coffee, carry your shopping bags down the elevator and you’re in and out in without the slightest hint of headache. This is precisely why the biggest mall in Sliema is always buzzing.
Compare this to the situation in Valletta. You get there, spend the next thirty minutes swearing your head off while driving around in circles around the same four blocks, hoping that some kind soul will see fit to relinquish his parking spot.
When that doesn’t happen, you head back out to the Park & Ride facility – which, most likely will be already full because let’s face it, while you’ve been going round in circles everyone else beat you to it. Drive back towards Valletta and use the private carpark. That’s roughly one hour wasted and the real fun hasn’t even started yet.
Conclusion: it’s perfectly useless lamenting the lack of shopping scene in Valletta if you’re all going to conspire together to make it impossible for us to actually shop there.
Someone, please, solve the parking issue why don’t you? Not everyone necessarily wants to add the expense of a commercial carpark to their shopping tab and it’s pretty obvious that the words ‘Park & Ride’ facility and ‘practical’ don’t belong in the same sentence. Not in this case, anyway.
Oh, and please do forbear from suggesting that I bus it. The least said about that, the better.