After 13 years on the air, 24 seasons and over 80 countries visited, the hit American reality show The Amazing Race, stops by Malta for its eight leg of its recent season!
The Amazing Race is a reality game show involving eleven teams of two players racing across the globe to win a cash prize of $1 Million. With an approximate twelve pit stops and countless physical and mental challenges along the way, this competition has delighted audiences across the world for over a decade. It is also a spectacle for avid travellers who get to see various countries and cities through the sore and sweaty eyes of contestants.
The current 25th season of The Amazing Race, which aired in September in the US, has seen contestants kick off their journey in the US, slowly progressing onto Europe through the UK. Following legs in Denmark, Sweden, Morocco and Sicily in Italy, the six remaining teams make their way to Valletta from Pozzallo.
The episode, filmed in Malta sometime during June 2014, saw the contestants whiz around various key places in Malta including Valletta, Zurrieq, the Blue Grotto, Birgu and Manoel Island. The episode was quite interesting to observe from a ‘local’s’ perspective, and included challenges that were somehow linked to the Knights of Malta.
As expected, the contestants were quite confused when they saw Malta on their travel plans, since all of the teams thought they were either going to Spain, Greece or Narnia. Upon arriving at Valletta Waterfront, contestants flew through customs in search of taxis to take them to their first destination. They asked their taxi drivers to drive as quickly as possible, clearly not being aware that reckless taxi driving is a registered Maltese profession.
Contestant arrived at Bridge Bar in Valletta, where the Barman instructs them to carry trays of Mateus wine (imqar local jew forsi xi Gleech) and two wine glasses from the bar up Saint Ursula’s staircase street to the Upper Barrakka Gardens. Dropping any items will result in starting over and jeering from a group of onlooking customers, since us Maltese love to clap and embarrass clumsy people who break glasses. Teams had to deliver their trays to a group of very convincing Maltese Knights, whose costumes were later reused for Prince Williams’ visit to the Islands in September (#werecycle)
Upon completion of this task, teams were directed to a boathouse in Zurrieq to obtain their next clue, Maltese cross necklaces with times for the challenge of the following morning. Teams were asked to camp there overnight, which must have been an amusing sight for locals; imagine stumbling across a group of American campers during your morning walk in Zurrieq (#Brangelinaisthatyou?).
The following morning, teams took a boat ride to the Blue Grotto, allowing them time to express their amazement and awe of Malta’s pristine waters (#marketing). The challenge for this stage consisted of a 20m abseil down the grotto and a swim inside the caveto obtain their next clue, and producers also gave contestants a free bag of pastizzi if they managed to say ‘blue waters’ twice in every sentence. The clue guided them to the Monastery of St. Scholastica in Birgu in Triq Antika, or as the commentator called it “Treek Agantika” (#couldyourepeatthat?)
The next phase of the competition was split between a choice of ‘Flag’ or ‘Shine’, each of which involved different tasks. ‘Flag’ was a task where teams had to undertake the traditional Maltese game of Gostra, which probably saw the first women in history to ever attempt such a game. A group of bare chested Maltese men cheered them on and provided some advice, but ‘Ejja Lily’ and ‘Don’t worry hi’ didn’t make it to the final episode cut. The Gostra challenge was by far one of the most challenging tasks I have seen on this show, so much so that no team managed to complete it (#nationalpride, Malta 1 – 0 USA).
‘Shine’ involved the polishing of parts of armour after obtaining them from atop the Gate of Provence in Birgu. This challenge was a very good ‘couples therapy’ exercise, which Ta’ Kana courses should immediately include in their programmes between the sexuality and finances session (#ghoroksew).
One of the teams had to perform an additional task involving the painting of a Maltese cross on a shield, which is a shame as it would have been more entertaining to see a challenge involving food, binge drinking or festa statue carrying.
This leg of The Amazing Race was completed once teams reached their ‘pit stop’ at Manoel Island, where they were greeted by a Grandmaster of the Knights of Malta holding a live Maltese falcon (Peregrine Falcon) – which was probably illegally shot by a marauding hunter after filming wrapped (#whathunting?).
Side Note: Shame the Malta Tourism Authority or Malta Film Commission did not push for bird hunting as a challenge, some locals do classify that as a hobby.
On the whole, this episode was a very pleasant one and a definite must see for all Maltese people! Who needs tourism envoys when you have such glorious free marketing? Survivor Kemmuna/Kardashians take Malta perhaps?