Malta

This morning we arrived at Valletta in Malta. The day has been overcast all day but humid as all get out. There were a few drops of rain this afternoon, but very little. The guide at Rhodes said the last time it rained there was 4 months ago… not sure about here though.

I booked the shore excursion here last year when I booked the cruise. As it turned out, it was a good one. We drove about 20 minutes to the ‘three cities’. These are 3 neighbouring ancient cities that have a lot of history with the Knights of St John. These are the knights featuring heavily in Rhodes history as well. The Maltese Cross is eight pointed because it represents the eight nationalities of the knights.

Anyway, Malta is about 13km x 27km and has about 400,000 people live here. There is something like 395 churches (wow!) which is made up of one protestant church, one mosque and the rest Roman Catholic…. Competition must be mad when it comes to appealing to the wedding market!… The guide told us that Malta has officially got the lowest unemployment rate in Europe. Just quietly, I would be putting my money on Greece having the most. We walked through the three cities, and I have to say they were awesome. At one stage we were walking what I thought was a lane way when a car drove through it. After it passed, we realised that the majority of the tour group had taken the opportunity to shoot up a smaller lane way and out of sight!

Also included in the shore excursion was a ride in a traditional Maltese fishing boat.

I was among the last four of our group to be assigned boats, the others on the boat were Cathy, Michael and their young son Harold…. And to my delight they were Australian. So nice to have someone who spoke my language and understand the quirks of an Aussie.

All started well with the boat ride, or should I say Dghajsa boat ride, until we were sort of in the middle of the port, surrounded by boats of all shapes and sizes. A naval ship (I assumed it was Maltese, but honestly, I have no idea) sailed out the harbour with all hands on deck lined up like…… well, lined up like sailors on a naval ship leaving a port, I guess.

We were distracted by the ship and didn’t really notice that old mate (a very old Malteser who wasn’t fabulous at English) was having trouble with the outboard motor. Even when we noticed, we still didn’t think it was much of a problem…. Except it was. We broke down. Being Australians, we thought it was hilarious. Cathy offered to row. Old mate was getting stressed. One of the other Dghajsa boats came back and put a rope around the front sticking up bit and putted off which was wonderful but the rope snapped. The second time was successful. Old mate was cranky, but we quite enjoyed the drama!

After that we went to a market beside a fishing wharf where they sold food and touristy things before coming back to the ship. After a quick drink at the ship, I decided to go to the city of Valetta which really is just a bit up the road from the ship. Funny thing is you get to the city by going up a lift. There are stairs, but seriously, for one euro return, it is the best money spent today. I did realise though that I had no cash and had to walk to nearest ATM, which was where I had just walked from before getting the lift.

You come out of the lift to this oasis that looks across the bay of Valetta. It is really magic when you see it. On a balcony a little bit lower there are cannons, and you can almost imagine them shooting their cannon balls across the port to protect the good folk of Malta.

I wandered around the cobblestoned roads in awe of the functionality and history combination that makes Valetta. I even found the Prime Minister’s designated car park. There are some really interesting shops, incredible historic buildings, gorgeous cafes and amazing scenery.

If you get a chance, I would really recommend visiting here.

I spent a bit of time writing the blog yesterday afternoon, after concentrating for so long. I figured it was time for a shower and dinner.

I have been really lucky with dinner companions, especially seeing as who you get to sit with is completely random. Last night I ate with Americans, Tracey and Nancy. I think Tracey spends a bit of time in the casinos, because she told me about the cruises she has won from going to the casino on the cruises she has been on. Once again, conversation flowed pretty easy and before we knew it 2 hours had elapsed.

In keeping with my commitment to try new things if offered (and safe), for entrée, I had alligator. Yep, that’s right. Apparently it’s big in Louisiana…… who would’ve thought? I must admit, I did take advantage of my dinner companions’ nationality to check that it was actually alligator; I mean buffalo wings don’t come from a buffalo, do they? Anyway, for the record, it was non offensive meat that really could’ve been chicken for all I would’ve known. Dinner was completed with a main course of Seafood Newburg and a desert involving baked pineapple with pina colada sauce.

More later….

PortseaRose
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