Saturday, July 15, 2017

Malta; Should I Stay or Should I Go NOW??

Waking up this morning was not easy; I had a rough night and my bones were aching, all night long; I was so tired all I wanted to do was sleep. I eventually drug myself out of bed around eleven, when Cindy called from next door;It seems they were whooped, too.


We agreed to meet upstairs for breakfast, so I threw some "comfy" clothes on, and headed to the buffet. One thing that you can count on, on a cruise ship, is food and coffee, whenever the mood, or your stomach strikes.



As we were sitting there, we began to discuss the day. I told them I was considering staying on the ship because I was just dragging my ass so bad, and I didn't want to be the "pooper" on anyone else's day; I truly wasn't sure I would even make it off the ship.

Being the great friends that they are, they suggested just doing a taxi tour, (our favorite) and the Blue Grotto; which is exactly what I wanted to do; their enthusiasm inspired me, so I quickly decided to grab some Zip Fizz and give it a go; hoping I wouldn’t ruin regret my decision.

Since  the ship did not dock until one in the afternoon, and we didn’t plan to leave until after the herds had departed around two thirty, I was able to get a bit more rest before we left the ship, which left me a bit more confident in my decision to go out and explore Malta.

You can only imagine the internal dialogue that was going on in my head; "You are just, TOO exhausted and worn out; STAY on the ship!!!" vs "BUT, I may never be in Malta again!! I promise to take it easy!"" vs "HAHAHA! Right! You?" vs "YES, ME!" and on and on and on! There hardest part about living with a chronic cancer is the very real struggle between what your heart and soul want


Watching the ship sail into Malta was quite interesting.  The amount of colorless buildings were staggering; one, right on top of another; with massive fortresses surrounding large areas of the city, of Valletta. We could see domes and steeples off in the distance, and I knew that there was ONLY one way, in which I could tackle this island, and that was by taxi; so I am grateful that we had already made that decision!

Pulling into the port fueled my excitement, and I was already glad that I had decided to join everyone on their excursion around Malta, although I was still a bit apprehensive.

It didn’t take us long to march by all of the solicitors, trying to sell all types of tours,  and to make our way to the taxis. One driver quickly approached us, and offered to take us to five places, for three hours for eighty euros; we told him we had an agenda and wanted to go to Mdina, and the Blue Grotto and we agreed on seventy euros, for the four of us, to the palace, the Blue Grotto, and Mdina, with time at each place, with him waiting for us. I am not entirely sure he was as thrilled with our agenda, as he was with his own, but he did agree.

Before making the deal, we looked for a Mercedes taxi, as we have found them to have the best air conditioning, but as it turned out, there were none; fortunately, his Peugeot was just as good, and kept us cool throughout the day.

Our first stop was at the palace, where their woman Prime Minister lived; it was stunning and green; full of plants, trees, and swans! We also saw peacocks, and upon further exploration, we realized that the peacocks had babies! I have never seen a baby peacock before, so that was extra special.


and yes, he bit that boy!

We continued to peruse the gardens and came upon an entrance to an area that had a small church and a kitchen garden; the church was lovely and I imagine that the kitchen garden was too, but it was much further up the path than I was willing to walk. Since my sun-brella bit the dust yesterday, I was gratefully using a lightweight shawl/scarf, that my daughter brought home from London, for me, to try and shade myself from the sun, as best as I could.

After a short jaunt through the palace gardens, we made our way back to the taxi, so that we could head to the Blue Grotto, with enough time to take one of the boat tours, through the caves. It was on the other side of the island, which was probably why the driver was not quite as thrilled about our plan, as we were, as our "ride" was going to eat up his entire day.

We enjoyed seeing the landscape in Malta as we made our way to the Blue Grotto; the Blue Grotto was almost straight across the island from Valletta, where the ship docked, so it was nice seeing the center of the island, as well as the coastline.




I was not sure what to expect when we got there, but one thing was for sure, and that was, that I was SO glad I hadn't missed out on this excursion! We went down a ramp to get on a small boat that was going to take us in and out of the caves, in the Blue Grotto. The water here is crystal clear, blues and greens, so stunning it does not even look real.

Fortunately we were one of the last few people on the boat, so I was able to share the shade of the umbrella, of the boat driver, who was a toothless old guy that loved to smile! He kept pointing out different things to photograph and told me to "wait" when we got into one of the caves, so that I could photograph his hand in the water at the most perfect time, to show how the water reflected blue off of his hand.


It was exceptionally beautiful, and so nice to be out on such amazing water. I had grandeur thoughts of jumping in, but a. had no suit, and b. it was COLD!! Once again, Cindy was the only one brave enough to take the plunge, although I DID get in the water a bit past my knees.



After a short swim and a hike back up to our cabby, we headed to the old town of Mdina, which was at one time, Malta's capital. As you may expect, the old buildings were architecturally stunning, and the old cobblestone streets and shops made it feel as though we had stepped back in time; which in a sense, I guess we have.


Joe and I found the old church in Mdina, and enjoyed the interior immensely and were quite appalled that once again we were walking on the dead! So many tombs on the floors, and I swear I do not know whether they are just memorials, or if the dead people are actually buried there. Just the mosaic artwork and marble carvings are too precious to me, to even want to walk on, and I cannot believe that they do not take better care to preserve them. The church was truly breathtaking, and once again, I am glad that I made the effort to get here.





We looked around the rest of the square as we made our way back to the taxi, to head back to the ship. It was a great day, and fortunately I survived. I was more than tired, and really thankful for the great air-conditioning in the Peugeot!





Of course, that great air-conditioning tricked me right into thinking that I should go up the lift, "near" the ship, and see what I could see up there; we had seen the lift on the way into the port, and I believe it is the went to the heart of Valletta, so once again, I was game!



Going up the lift was a little freaky, as it was a really fast, glassed in elevator, that went REALLY high! Once at the top, there was a charming square, with various sculptures and a great view out over the water and the land. We walked a short distance and saw the Matla Stock Exchange, which was rather cool, but quickly realized that with all of the limestone buildings and all of the other rock and concrete, that it was extremely hot and not worth further effort to walk around, so we headed to the ship, with a little tiny detour of the facade that was built, at the port, that houses mostly souvenir shops and restaurants.






All in all, it was a great day, and I was SO glad that I made it through; for tomorrow is a sea day and I can REST!!!

We enjoyed our traditional card playing on the back deck, and then watching the ship leave the port before dinner. At dinner we all marveled at everything we had seen and knew that once we recovered a bit from our packed itinerary, that we would be very grateful for all we had seen.

We were all looking forward to a relaxing day on the ship, and hoping for a good nights sleep.

Mediterranean Cruise Excursions 2017 in the books!

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