Saturday, July 17, 2010

Malta...Finally!

Our first port of call on the cruise was La Valletta, Malta. The Maltese Archipelago is a group of 7 islands (3 which are inhabited)located about 50 miles south of Sicily. Malta has pre-historic temples that are older that the pyramids of Egypt and Stonehenge in England...who knew? Not me. It was a part of the Roman Empire before Christ and "changed hands" several times after the Romans. Napoleon Bonaparte took the island for a short period of time before the Maltese revolted against the French. It then became under British protection and in 1964 became an independent state within the British Commonwealth...in 1974 it became a Republic. The island of Malta is 17 miles long and 9 miles wide and we had decided to see it on our own. We watched the docking of the ship from our cabin and then went to Topsiders for a leisurely breakfast on deck. When we left the ship, we walked toward the center of town. Along the way, we met a line of horse and "buggies" lined up.



For an agreed amount of Euros, a driver would take us to the around much of the island and explain certain things to us. We agreed.


These photos are those that Shaggy took, mostly from his vantage point next to the driver...

note the horse's ears?



This statue commemorates Malta's independence in 1964.


Not sure which church this was, but love seeing this trip through my son's eyes.



The road wound its way on the outer wall of this formerly fortressed city...



We passed (I took pics, but they are on the MISSING card) the 16th century fortress which is now the Police Academy. We learned that the movies Cutthroat Island and Count of Monte Cristo were filmed at the fortress. The unused barracks were also used in the filming of Midnight Express.


While the skies were overcast, the weather was fantastic and the architecture was beautiful!



This is where our horse and guide left us...it was a steady climb to this point and I felt a bit sorry for the horse.



The bell tower, the plaques and statue are at the War Memorial that overlooks the harbor and offers amazing views.












When our driver dropped us off, he pointed to the road that we would walk down and would magically take us to the steps leading back to the harbor. We obviously misunderstood once we got on this road...it is funny how out of 4 people (Sugar Plum Fairy was staying out of the discussion) heard different things...a couple of us remember the driver telling us to turn LEFT...the others distinctly heard RIGHT. Hmmm...
























We wandered for a bit and found where we wanted to be. We also found the BEST little chocolate shop and decided that chocolate would cure anything that ailed us. We sat on the steps of St. John's Cathedral which overlooked this,


and took a break in the shade. The Cathedral houses Caravaggio's masterpiece "The Beheading of John the Baptist". We decided not to go inside, as the line was quite long, but wandered around the perimeter and were even treated to a band marching down the street. The vendors and storekeepers were very polite and not pushy at all. The streets were clean and we felt very safe.

I love this statue...I have no idea what it is and Shaggy is the only one who saw it. It was on a little island in the middle of an intersection and seems to me a pretty and green refuge.



The girls are posing next to the cannon here...see the head in front of them? That is hubby taking a photo...sure would like to locate my camera card! Grrr......



The Valletta Grand Prix and Historic Car Show had been held prior to our arrival and there were still some beauties on display...I think Shaggy was in heaven!






















The views from above the Cannon Battery was lovely...the Grand Harbor and Three Cities (all medieval) were spectacular!




As we walked back to the ship, we went down stairs that were in a park like setting. Near the bottom, we saw cat feeding stations. We knew this only because of the sign that told us so. Apparently there are gobs of feral cats and these feeding and housing stations are all over the island. I am not certain how organized it is, but the general public is encouraged to add food and milk, etc. to help feed the animals. Interesting.


We spent the rest of the day on the ship, eating and relaxing...we also laughed and enjoyed the Magic Show after dinner. Fun and funny!


Up next...Tunisa. (After our new computer arrives and I am able to upload photos again)

3 comments:

Twisted Fencepost said...

That must have been an amazing experience. Couldn't you just wonder around for days there, making sure not to miss a thing.
Love the cat feeding stations.

alicia said...

What an amazing vacation!! How breathtaking!
Thanks for stopping by my blog and leaving a sweet comment!

tipper said...

Oh the pictures are just amazing-such a beautiful place!!

(I do hope you find your card)