I had not been traveling alone for more then decade. Then I decided to go to Malta to study English and get some rest. I had been working hard at home in the last year and I felt tired. When I finished my fourth novel called Cyklistka in Czech (let’s say The Cyclist Girl) and it was finally published and we celebrated it with my friends, I flew to Malta. I had simple plan: to study, to swim in the sea, to read, to relax in cafés. I left my village in the middle of Brdy Mountains and found myself in a hot concrete jungle and noisy streets. Honestly, it wasn’t love at first sight.

I decided not to give up. I dressed up and went to the streets of Saint Julian’s to see what is around. It took few days but finally I flowed with the flow, and I enjoyed it all – even as an introvert. There are so many things you can do alone – see the movie in the cinema, have a dinner in a restaurant, swim, read a book on a terrace of a nice café, do some sightseeing in beautiful Valletta or go shopping. I did it all.

You might object that having a dinner alone in the restaurant is weird. It is not. I was afraid too at the beginning. What will they think? Nothing bad! I brought a book with me, and it helped. It was Hemingway’s Moveable Feast, my favorite novel, and it was a great company. I went to the first nice restaurant I saw, and I was seated immediately. A waiter was nice and served me good drink. I ordered pizza margherita – and they made me a pizza in a shape of heart! I understood it as a nice supportive gesture.

After a week I started feeling like at home. I took private lessons and my teacher, David, was nice. He has a great sense of humor. We talked and shared some stories. My classes started in the afternoons, so in mornings I walked to the rocky beach in George’s Bay where I watched waves coming and the sun having bath in these little ponds created in the rocks. I love that place! As I was walking, I was passing the same people every morning – an elderly man siting outside his house, a lady practicing yoga on her balcony. We smiled at each other.

And so it went. Until this moment. I am sitting in a café waiting for my lift to the airport as I am writing this. I swam in the morning and visited my favorite spot on the rocky beach to say goodbye. It is not “goodbye”, actually. It is “see you later” because I want to come back.


Jana Poncarova