Tuesday, July 29, 2014
Malta bucket list:
check out War Museum (cried)
check out Palace Armouries (swooned at the manly coolness)
check out Ancient megalithic temples (felt wise and mysterious)
Blue Grotto/sea cave boat tour
get a hair cut (no longer look like basset hound - win!)
get confession heard in English (priest delayed the Mass for me!)
go to Mass in St. John's Co-Cathedral (glorious church, depressing liturgy)
go to my friend Madeleine's wedding
meet with Maltese pro-lifers
check out Birgu/Vittoriosa/Three Cities
get a ride across the Grand Harbour on an eye-boat/dghajsa/luzzu
(learn how to pronounce 'dghajsa' - "Dai-zah")
learn at least one full sentence in Malti ("Flixkun ta 'ilma bil-gass, jekk jogħġbok." Which seems a very laborious way of asking, "A bottle of sparkling water, please.")
I got it all done.
On the first three days, we marched smartly around getting things done and being very excited. Then my friend went home and I was left to my own devices so, naturally I slacked off. My left ankle was ballooning up every day from the heat and I was pretty tired, since we had spent three days marching smartly around being purposeful and organised in the blistering Maltese sun. So I spent a little time sleeping in a bit, wandering (or perhaps meandering) slowly around Valletta for Friday and Saturday. Went to the wedding on Friday evening and got tooken out to dinner on Sat. night.
That's the Saluting Battery. Those are the benches.
I gazed longingly across the harbour at the Three Cities, but really didn't have the energy to do much more than sit on the benches at the Saluting Battery, sipping my lemon Cisk and thinking, 'Save some for next time'.
Next morning, after elevating my foot and having a long sleep-in I felt on top of the world again and didn't want to just hang around Valletta again. The concierge at the British Hotel said I could get at least a taste of the harbour tour by taking the ferry across to Vittoriosa. So I cheerfully skipped off, only to discover that I'd missed the ferry by a minute. I was informed of this by two very wise-ened old chaps who were taking in the morning sunshine by the ferry slip and one of them said, "But don't worry, I can take you across in my boat. One-fifty." As if to reassure me, the other one said, "He can take you across. Only one-fifty." I agreed readily.
When I rounded the corner, my heart leaped. There was the most beautiful, old fashioned dghajsa one could possibly hope to see, equipped with tiny side benches and a suitably home-made sun shade. I sat down and held on. "You're used to boats..." the old guy said, since I had jumped in without waiting for a hand. "I grew up around them."
He cast off and we had possibly the best ten minutes of the whole trip.
"How old you think this boat?" he asked, patting the gunwales affectionately. Before I could guess, he said proudly, "A hundred, ten years. Survived bombing." All Maltese are in love with history.
He dropped me off at the very base of the Vittoriosa bastions where the sea had carved natural caves in the ancient yellow limestone. I gave him 2E and told him that he really ought to charge tourists more. He directed me to the church where there was a Mass starting in ten minutes.
I'm still kicking myself for not having bought new camera batteries for Sunday because you guys are going to love Birgu, where I met a nice young Scottish guy from Aberdeen who moved there and opened a wine bar with a cantina in the basement dating to the 8th century.