Travel

Mixed mode ferry commute from Kalkara to the University of Malta (Msida)

On my quest to find nice ways of commuting, I just explored this one from Kalkara to the University in Msida. It includes on the way a coffee at the Cafe Cordina in the morning, or in the evenings a glass of wine in the Baccara Gardens, overlooking the Grand Harbour from the Saluting Battery. This makes every commute a small adventure, and the journey goes as follows:

  • 10 min or 40 min past the hour, leave Kalkara and walk through the Birgu Ditch which is the West part of the Fortifications of Birgu. Should the gate be locked in the early morning, follow the road (equal walking time, just less spectacular).
  • Full or half of the hour, take the ferry from the Cospicua Pier and cross the Grand Harbour to the Valletta Waterfront Pier (takes 15 minutes)
  • Cross Valletta by foot, 30 minutes are enough to include the above mentioned coffee on the way. You may take the lift up for EUR 1,50 (the way down is free).
  • 15 min and 45 min past the hour, take the ferry to Sliema. You will land at "The Strand". Cross the road and you will see a bicycle renting station operated by Nextbike Malta. Download and install the application and register your account beforehand.
  • Cycle from the Sliema Nextbike Station about 5 minutes to the Station of the University Sports Complex. The bike rental under 30 minutes is free (as of December 2016). Lock and return your bike and cross the underpass up the hill and you are on the Campus of the University of Malta. A campus map can be downloaded here.

The commute takes you 85 minutes. You can easily turn around the schedule for the way back, by using the ferry schedule leavelets, which you may download here. Here you can also see the limits of the ferry schedule in the morning and at night. Not the shortest way, but a nice one.

After 15 minutes walk, exiting the Birgu Ditch

After 15 minutes walk, exiting the Birgu Ditch

Less than 5 minutes more walk: The ferry between Cospicua (the Three Cities) and Valletta Waterfront leaves every full and half hour and takes 15 minutes to Valletta. 

Less than 5 minutes more walk: The ferry between Cospicua (the Three Cities) and Valletta Waterfront leaves every full and half hour and takes 15 minutes to Valletta. 

The way to work, passing more interesting vehicles than cars.

The way to work, passing more interesting vehicles than cars.

Nextbike station in Sliema, opposite the ferry pier.

Nextbike station in Sliema, opposite the ferry pier.

The campus of The University of Malta on a winter day.

The campus of The University of Malta on a winter day.

Vive le "Velosolex"

Today I tried to get spare parts for my Wanderer bicycle in Beijing. It is strange that even you would think China is a bicycle country, people actually don't know much about bicycles, and it is not easy to get parts. You also don't really get the impression that they know even how to use a spanner key or a screw driver. So finally, I decided to get what I need when I am next time in Germany, and then repair it myself.

But on my Odyssey, I had a closer look at the electric bicycles available. There is a whole range of electric scooters, but my interest was in some kind of "muscle-electric hybrid", which also is called "Pedelec". I have been trying a prototype from a colleague once, and found this the "Velosolex of the 21st Century". Not many remember the old bicycle with the small one cylinder two stroke support engine which was just flipped on the front tire when needed. I was still once riding one in the late 70s, and remember well how it blew the oily exhaust fumes strait into my face. Of course this does not happen with an electric version. Actually, the original version of the Velosolex is still available and is advertised in the US, as the "French way of getting from A to B". Other electric personal mobility concepts are provided for example by Segway. Segways are also available in China, via an importer in Guandong Province, but far too expensive to compete with the local bicycle electric competition. The one I decided for, is a simple 20 inch bicycle with a 36 Volt (10 AH) Lithium Ion battery, which is supporting via a 240 Watt motor in the front wheel. Really a bit like a Velosolex. But the manfacturer is Giant, which is a Taiwanese company, of which lso my racing bike is made. Could be called the "Chinese way of getting from A to B". The range is very much determined on how much you rely on the engine and how much you paddle. It is really a hybrid. Today I tried out nearly the full electrical range, which is about 20 km. Then the engine stopped abruptly and went home on a conventional push bike.

Currently Out of Office

I am currenly out of the office. As I am roughly following the red arrows on the map above, please allow longer time for responding e-mails due to potential lack of sufficient infrastructure. Please also allow infrequent updates of this website, if at all. Later though, most likely at the beginning of the next year, I am happy to condense field book notes in some blog posts and also upload some photos. If you like you can subscribe to the RSS Feeds and you will not miss it when I am back to Cyberspace. I will try to feed the Microblog from time to time, which you also find in the left column or you can link to Twitter, which is the system via which I feed this section remotely. I hope you excuse, that I have pulled the contact form on this website into the "members only" section, as I will not be able to respond to website requests. If you have a login to this website, you will see emergency contact data and satellite communication features. I wish all you on the Northen hemisphere a good autumn and those on the Southern hemisphere a nice spring time. Some of you I might meet on the way. So far, take care and all the best.