Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Euro Spring 2015 - Part 13 - Mustafa Pasha Failed...We Didn't

Where Our Heroes
  • Are exposed to new rapid transit adventures
  • Find success where the Turks did not
  • Come face-to-face with a princess from the Pacific
  • Have reason yet again to thank the TripAdvisor App
  • Are routed by arms
  • And take in the harbor by other means
In 1563, the Turks under the command of Suleiman the Magnificent's greatest commander of the the time, Mustafa Pasha was sent to destroy the Knights of St. John and gain control of Malta as a foothold for invading Italy and expanding Ottoman power in Europe.  The Knights of St. John had been first kicked out of the Holy Land after the fall of the Christian Crusader Kingdoms in the 13th Century and then out of the island of Rhodes where they had made a second base in the early 16th century.  They were given Malta as a new home by Charles the V of Spain (who as is usually the case with these things never bothered to ask the Maltese natives what they thought).  The Turks were none to happy about this and set about driving them out.  The story of the long siege where the Knights were able to hold off the Turks led to the founding of Valletta as the capital and fortress city of the Knights on Malta.

Wife, having just arrived from Istanbul, was filled with the historical sense of our being here.  Taking on the role of Sultana Wife the Magnificent, she ordered me, de-I Pasha, to pull together a force a break our way into Valletta!  While Mustafa Pasha had access to trained armies and a huge fleet to assist him, I had just Wife and some vague information on the rapid transit system to help us.  Reminding the Sultana that there are only two of us and that she was going to have to play the role of Janissary (Turkish foot soldier) as well (she was none to happy about this!) , we went off to figure out how to take a bus from Sliema to Valletta.

If the public transportation system in Istanbul is a marvel of rapidity, frequency, speed, efficient ticketing, and an ability to on and off load large numbers in short times, the Malta system is pretty much the complete opposite.  Long waits, super crowded buses, a system for buying your tickets that seems pretty inadequate, and buses with only one door so it makes on and off loading insane.  Nonetheless, the Sultana's expeditionary force was successfully delivered to the gates of Valletta.

There is something to be said for being overlooked.  In this case no one was prepared for our assault and we simply walked in.

Assaulting the gates of Valletta

Plundering the captured city is de riquer for Medieval assaults.  Might as well start with the open air markets.

Much to our chagrin other invaders were present - Cruise ship travelers.
Valletta it seems is quite a popular stop in the Mediterranean cruise circuit

Wife posing with her namesake electric cart from the cruise ship

We spent much of our time in Valletta going to museums as that doesn't seem to have much attraction to the cruise ship set.  We've bought a pass that gets us into most of them for our stay.  The Archeology Museum was very good but I'm going to save writing about ancient Malta for visits to some of those sites.  How about a gastronomic interlude?

(This Food Stop is brought to you by our good friends at TripAdvisor App)
Once again the TripAdvisor app was wonderful in finding a place close to us with sufficient information for us to find something really good)

Today we went to Aaron's Kitchen (www.aaronskitchenmalta.com.mt)

We're finding that half bottles of wine are pretty common here and that's good since we're eating our big meal at lunch

They gave us a nice pre-meal nosh of a chickpea spread, bruschetta topping and olives marinated in chiles.

Wife had large ravioli filled with paste of local seafood

I had fettuccine with sea urchin and some zucchini and cherry tomatoes.  The veggies were enough to cut the richness of the sea urchin sauce.  The pasta was al dente and not over sauced.  I thought our meal was a good value at around 45 dollars.

After lunch we went to the main square and then to the Palace Hall Museum and Armory Museum where we were defeated by the shear number of weapons on display.  We were given a free video guide and gave up when we were in the number 80 item with who knows how much more to go.

We finished our day but going to a look out point that we'd seen on our harbor cruise yesterday and looked at the harbor again yet from above.

Harbor vistas

Told you this is a working harbor.  In the first picture is a ocean drilling rig and next to it a large dry dock with ship inside.  The second one is a picture of a ship leaving harbor.

We managed to survive the insanity of the bus system to get back Okay to Sliema.

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