Sunday, November 20, 2011

Sunday, September 18, 2011 – Valletta, Malta – Sunny – 90F

A warm day on the island of Malta

We are in Malta instead of Naples because Naples was overbooked for cruise ships.

Malta was the last official home of the Knights of St. John (a military order originating from the Crusades).  Much of the architecture on the island is the work of the Knights of Malta. 

Malta Facts

Maltese: Only Semitic Language in the EU (not Arabic or Hebrew)

Malta: Second most densely populated nation (Singapore #1)

Malta: 9th Smallest Country in the World

The Sail In to Malta was very scenic.

Malta Sail In (Small) Malta Sail In 2 (Small)

Valletta Sail In

The Port is right across the street from the town.  There are a few shops near the terminal but the real village of Valletta is on the hill above the harbor.

Malta Mariner OTS and Shops at Pier (Small)

Mariner of the Seas docked in Valletta

We are on tour today - “Panoramic Malta”.  The bus is comfortable and the guide speaks English perfectly.

The first stop is near the harbor and gives us look at some of the architecture including the churches in the area and some of the fortifications the Knights of Malta built to protect the city,

Malta Harbor (Small)

The Marina at Valletta

Cannon In Malta (Small) 

Always a Cannon in Town

Our next stop is the fishing village of Marsaxlokk (according to the guide, the “Marsa” designation indicates “port”).  So this would be the port of Xlokk.  It is Sunday, and everything is closed but some restaurants.  There is a lot of cigarette smoke and few vendors so not much to see.  In addition, we have to walk a ways from the bus to the water due to the tight streets.

 Marsaxlokk Boats (Small) 

Fishing Village of Marsaxlokk

The bus ride continued around the island – Destination: Blue Grotto. The Blue Grotto, visible from the cliff above, is an interesting rock formation.  Some people take boats and check out the grotto up close.

On the way, our guide points out an oil platform in the Mediterranean.  It is not a functional platform (no oil on Malta) but it is parked there until it can be moved to its intended location.

Oil Platform parking place (Small) 

Oil Platform parked in the Sea

The pictures below are of the Blue Grotto taken from the cliff area above.

 Blue Grotto  3 (Small) Blue Grotto  and E (Small)   Blue Grotto  1 (Small)

Our next stop is the Mdina Palace.  It is a magnificent structure complete with moat.  It sits in a park area of the city.  We didn’t go in and I did try to find some free WiFi with no success. Mdina Palace pictures are seen below.

Mdina Palace 1 (Small) Mdina Palace (Small) Mdina (Small)

Valletta Local (Small)

A local (not too animated) greets visitors to his shop

We left the tour near the entrance to Malta – wanted to find WiFi and check out some souvenirs.  We did find a McDonalds with free WiFi but my phone wouldn’t connect.  We did get some shirts for the kids and some nice Malta pins (thrown in).

Main Gate Valletta (Small) Valletta Main Pedestrian Walkway (Small)

Valletta Main Pedestrian Walkway

Valletta Square of the Siege (Small)

Square of the Siege

Fountain in Valletta (Small) Statue near Valletta Bus Station (Small)

Fountain near Bus Station – Near Valletta Gate

We found our way back to the ship in time for dinner.  I was able to pick up some free WiFi intermittently from the deck facing the city.  Checked out e-mail and that was about it.

Malta returning to ship (Small)

Down the hill to the Mariner of the Seas

I was able to get some very interesting pictures of our night time sail away (using my cell phone camera).

Malta Sail Away (Small)

Headliners:  Emperors of Soul; Motown cover group.  Did some Temptations, Four Tops, etc. Entertaining and personable.

Pedometer: 13,139 Steps; 6.2 miles; 643 calories; 2 hours 46 min.

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