Monday, April 6, 2015

Euro Spring 2015 - Parts 10, 11 & 12 - The Maltese Sparrows

Where Our Heroes
  • Are put under an enchantment
  • But finally are awaken 
  • Come face-to-face with Captain Morgan
  • Explore the harbors 
  • Discover unknown sea legs
  • Begin there gastronomic exploration of Malta
  • Seem to actually embrace a 'we don't need to do it all today' philosophy

After the incredible energy used touring Istanbul, we arrived in Malta pretty much exhausted.  On Saturday we merely went out a couple of times for groceries and spent the rest of the time in the apartment.  I spent the time doing all the Istanbul pictures and getting them posted, Wife worked on her pictures to.  We made a salad for dinner.  It was if we'd pricked our finger on a spinning wheel and went into a deep sleep.  Of course when you have this out your apartment window, it helps with the enchanting.

Sunday we were still under the enchantment.  As Malta is a very religious, Catholic country, Easter is a big thing and just about the whole country is shut down.  We literally did not leave our apartment the whole day.  I took two naps during the day.  I did attempt to cook some dinner which did not come out so well.  There is a minimum of cooking ware in the apartment and the stove thought new is not terrible effective.  We've decided (as we've done on other trips) to make our lunches our main meals and just have sandwiches or salad for dinner.

Finally today, Monday, we felt we were ready to throw off the enchantment and return to the world.  One minor problem - BOTH OF US WHERE ENCHANTED!  Who was going to play Prince (or Princess Charming) and wake us up?  We decided to flip a coin and Wife got to play Princess Charming first.  She kissed me and I came out of the enchantment.  Then she went back to bed and I did the same for her.  Much like the Eldership de-I staffing problem, when you have a limited staff you have to be flexible about these things.

Still being aware of tourism overload we'd decided to take the Harbor Cruise.  We like harbor cruises anyway and have done them all over.  There are a number of lines that do these but Captain Morgan is the biggest and we went back to the lady who'd given us the sandwich on Friday.  She remembered us and gave us a big discount on the tickets.

One thing you need to understand about Malta is that although it is just a speck in the Mediterranean, it is a very strategic speck being in the middle of the most narrow point midway East-West between Sicily and Tunisia.  As a result every sea power in history that has worked the Mediterranean has owned, attached, or used Malta.  It has been successively, Phonetician, Carthaginian, Roman, Byzantine, Arab, Norman, Spanish, and British.  It has major civilization ruins that predate the Great Pyramids.  There have been huge battles fought over its possession including the famous one between the Knights of St. John and the Turks in the 16th century, and the air war by the Italians and the Germans on the British during World War II.  In spite all that Malta has a unique populace and language that has persevered.

Hence when one goes on the harbor cruise it is a lot about fortresses.  Of note - Malta evidently has one of the deepest and largest natural ports in the Mediterranean, one reason it has been so attractive to so many.

Wife in deep contemplation about the rich history of Malta as we go out of Sliema Harbour
(Or she might have been taking a nap)

Walls, Fortifications, Castles - Oh My

Views of the Cathedral of St. John in Valletta the capital

The harbors of Malta are working harbors.
We saw all kinds of cargo ships, cruise ships, ocean ferries serving Italy and Africa, tankers, oil drilling rigs, dry docks, and a geophysical exploration ship!

In doing this tour one starts out in one harbor, goes out into the ocean, and then comes into the other harbor, then does the same in reverse.  It was quite windy and cold on the water and the sea was very choppy.  I've had very bad experiences on the ocean over my life but for some reason in spite of this being a real corkscrewing type of sea, I did fine

And to get our Malta tour on the right foot...

Our first good meal (thank you TripAdvisor App!) at Ta' Kris in Sliema.

We started off with a half a bottle of some local chardonay

The reviews warn of the huge portion sizes.  But we were chilled from the boat cruise and the sound of the potato, leek, and artichoke soup was enticing and satisfying.

The fish of the day was a local species called Dar (stone bass?) which was served with a wine, cream sauce flavored with dill.  The green beans and carrots with it were very well done too.

And a special hats off to the potatoes.  They were called baked potatoes but I think we would have called them roasted.  A lovely sample of a very simple item done very well with a very good ingredient.  I could have made a meal just of them.


alexis said...

looks like you're having good, sunny weather too! I'd forgotten Malta was so strategically important.

de-I said...

Sunny but on the cool side. It's been running around 60/15 degrees.

Agent W said...

Wonderful pictures! I didn't know about the importance of Malta's ports! The food looks great too! Enjoy exploring and relaxing!

Renee Michelle Goertzen said...

Malta looks like a terrific location for history buffs such as yourselves. I look forward to hearing more about it's history.