Can I admit that before this trip, I had never heard of Malta. I think it may have been stored in the recesses of my brain because when Lindsey mentioned it, I had a vague memory, but knew nothing more about it.
The night before we ported there, the Cruise Director encouraged us to stand up on the top decks while we were pulling in to the port. He said it is the most breathtaking view as we cross through the pass. I had no idea what he meant, but these pictures give you a pretty good idea of the view. These were taken as we were in motion sailing to the port.
I googled "Malta" for a description and I think a fellow Maltese blogger described it perfectly... "Malta... A tiny island, which is located in the middle of the Mediterranean Sea, and which is blessed with sunny weather, lovely beaches, a thriving nightlife and almost 7,000 years of intriguing history..."
A lot of you might recognize it as the background of many films... it was used to film the live action version of "Popeye", with Robin Williams and Shelley Duvall, was filmed...as well as "The Count of Monte Cristo" with James Caviezel. (They even left the set of Popeye up to visit, play and tour.) Other films include Alexander, Troy, U-571, Gladiator, Swept Away and many other movies have been filmed there.
We didn't get off the ship right away with everyone else. We decided to take it easy, have a leisurely breakfast and get off the ship about 10:00 a.m. I didn't really pay much attention to what the view was (once the boat had stopped) outside the windows. But imagine my surprise right after I had gone to the room to get my camera and turned the corner to see this:
You can't see much from this picture, but it almost took my breath away. This beautiful sand-colored city... decorated with rows of bright, colorful doors.
...and we're off......................
(just some old, and very steep, stairs we found hidden in the middle of a shopping square. Can you see the ship in the background?)
Two boys and their obsessions.... Brian and his watches (he's as bad as a girl every time we pass a watch shop)... and Spencer and escalators... that's what he's pointing at... he REALLY wanted to go on the escalator. He'll go all day if we let him.
From here, we rented a taxi to drive us around to the main sites. English is one of their main languages (from their previous British rule), so it was easy to get around and see the culture. We could ask them all the questions we wanted.
I caught some pictures of doors as we were driving around. These ones were a bit older... but still really cool looking.
He first took us to the "Palace of the Grand Masters" (at least I think that's what it's called). It's the residence of the President, as well as a government building for the Parliament. I absolutely loved it. The grounds had such a different look to it, much different from the other European palaces we've been to. This one was definitely in the Mediterranean style. This is how I want to landscape my palace when I have one. :)
(This sign was right outside the front...the original sign when the building was erected... when it was part of the British rule.)
A random clock amongst the gardens...
Back in the taxi...
The girls already "checking out"............and wanting to go back on the ship... Brian and I are seriously considering not letting them come with us anymore to the ports...
...Heading to "The Walled City of Mdina"... an ancient walled city, used as a fortress, up on a hill, with a history frozen in time. (You can see it in the background up on the hill.)
I was, again, amazed at the beautiful doors with the beautiful door knockers. They were all different, some mythical gods, some dolphins, some ornate designs. I wish I would have gotten more pictures of the different doors, but I was so amazed with the sites that I missed many of the beautiful entranceways.
It was just as I was starting to notice the amazing doors and was having the thoughts that this is how they exhibit their decoration for their house and should make these more famous (including the matching balconies), when I walked into a souvenir shop and noticed they were selling small replicas of some of the doors around the city, calling them, "The Maltese Door." So, I guess it's kind of a known thing that the Maltese decorate with beautiful, ornate doors, a fact I was all too happy to enjoy.
St. Paul's Cathedral within Mdina...
I just love the architecture. I've seen a lot of architecture...this one seems to catch my eye. Maybe because it's so much more different than what I've seen in so many other places and cathedrals.
The wind got pretty bad within the church square. You can't see it very well, but Xanthe is leaning forward into the wind and was bent over pretty far.
...outside the front entranceway there was a huge playground. Spencer and the girls were in heaven...