Wednesday, April 10, 2019

Our Maltese Adventure Comes to an End

Thomas and I both woke up around 6:00am. So we showered, dressed and finished packing for our flight home today. Once everything was packed and we straightened out our room we took our bags downstairs and went to have breakfast with Dave and Deanne. After breakfast we visited, worked on the jigsaw puzzle, read and relaxed. At lunch we had sandwiches and a little later we left for the airport in Manchester.
Dave and Deanne dropped us off and we said our goodbyes. Then Thomas and I checked our bags in and then made our way to security. Everything went quickly and in no time we were at our gate waiting on our flight. The flight from Manchester to Chicago Midway was good. It wasn't a full flight and we had the row to ourselves. We spent the flight reading and before we knew it we were landing. Once at Midway we made our way to our next gate and we had a little over two hours layover. So we got something to eat and spent the rest of the time reading. When it was time we boarded our plane and this time is was crowded. The other person in our row was obese - not just fat but obese. She hung over into my seat and I was forced to push up against the opposite arm rest and was up against Thomas. It was uncomfortable and I really felt like she should have paid for two seats. I eventually lifted the arm rest between me and Thomas and we snuggled up and went to sleep. The flight to Albuquerque went fast since we both dozed off for most of it. I was so happy to get off that plane, We made our way to baggage claim, grabbed our luggage and found the shuttle to our car.

I was so glad when we were in the car heading home. This had to be the worst trip for airports and airplanes that we have ever experienced. But even with those bad parts the rest of the trip was amazing and we had a great time in Malta. I would really like to make a trip back there sometime.

Tuesday, April 9, 2019

A Day in Leominster

After the awful flight and the long day yesterday I ended up sleeping from 8:00pm last night until 7:00am this morning. Thankfully, I feel much better and am ready for a new day. Around 8:00am Thomas and I went downstairs and we had coffee and breakfast with Dave and Deanne. After eating I worked on some blog stuff and photos. Later Deanne, Thomas and I went out and ran some errands and we did a little letterboxing. You can read about that at Letterboxing in Leominster. After running errands we returned to the house. We all had sandwiches for lunch and then Thomas went to take a nap and I did some reading.

When Thomas woke up we got some things packed and ready for our flight home tomorrow. Then we went downstairs to visit with Dave and Deanne. Deanne and I worked on a jigsaw puzzle for a while and just talked and relaxed. Around 6:30pm we went out for dinner and had a nice meal. After dinner we worked on the puzzle for a while and then we all turned in for the night. We have everything ready for our flight tomorrow. It will be good to be home. We had a great time but we are ready to see our dogs and sleep in our own bed.

Monday, April 8, 2019

Making Our Way From Malta to Massachusetts

We were up early this morning - we had a few things to take care of before heading out to the airport. The apartment we rented had a list of things we needed to do before locking up and heading out. We had to start a load of towels in the washer, turn off the hot water heaters, empty the trash and put the keys back in the lock box outside. So once we had packed and completed the list we relaxed and read for about an hour while waiting for our taxi to pick us up at 9:00am. About 15 minutes before the taxi showed up Graham and Jessica came by to see us off. We visited with them until the taxi showed up and then we were off to the airport bringing an end to our Maltese Adventure.
The check in and security at the airport went fast and smooth. We made our way to Gate G4 and had about an hour to wait for our flight to Rome. We boarded the plane and luckily it wasn't a full flight and Thomas and I had a row to ourselves. We made the hour and a half flight to Rome without any issues - we both read the entire time. Once at the Rome airport we had to go from Terminal A to Terminal E - it was quite a bit of a jaunt. But we had a little more than an hour layover so we had plenty of time to walk the distance. In no time we were boarding our flight back to the states.

Let me just start off saying this was a really awful flight. First, it was packed and second the woman in front of kept her seat reclined the entire flight. I had no space, I wasn't even able to eat because I couldn't put the tray table down and the woman outright refused to put her seat up. I was so pissed. For most of the flight I kept shaking her seat and pushing on it - I made sure she didn't get any rest. This was the rudest person I have ever encountered on a flight. I read most of the time because that was really the only thing I could do. It was hard to watch a movie because of the angle of the seat so I just read. By the time we landed I was so tired and my neck hurt - it was so uncomfortable. But thankfully the eight and a half hour flight ended and I was so happy to get off the plane. We made our way to customs and that went pretty fast. Then we retrieved our luggage and met Dave and Deanne's friend, Mark for our ride back to Leominster.

We got settled in the car and then we were off. I was so tired from the flight that I fell asleep in the car and they woke me up when we arrived at the house. All I could think of was taking a shower and going back to sleep. So I went up to our room and did just that. Thomas stayed downstairs and he, Dave and Deanne had something to eat. I hope I feel better tomorrow.

Sunday, April 7, 2019

Our Last Day in Malta

Today Thomas and I ventured out on our own. Dave and Deanne were going to spend time with Jessica and meet Graham for lunch. Since it was just the two of us we got an early start. We left the apartment around 8:00am and headed to the bus stop. We took the bus to Tarxien and we got off at the Grasso stop. From there we walked a short distance to the Tarxien Temples. The morning had been overcast and as we arrived at the temples it started to rain. We went into the visitors center and got our tickets and looked around the gift shop. Then we made our way to the temples and thankfully they were covered. [Malta has taken to putting tent like structures over the ruins to protect them.] I was glad because now we could walk around, read the signs and enjoy the ruins without getting soaking wet. The Tarxien Temples are the largest of Malta's megalithic temples. We spent about an hour here reading about the site and taking pictures.

Upon leaving the temples we made our way to the nearest bus stop and caught a bus to our next destination - Mosta. We arrived in Mosta around 11:15am and it was still raining but not very hard. We got off the bus and decided we were hungry and decided to walk around and find a restaurant. We had a nice relaxing meal and got out of the rain. By the time we were finished eating the rain had also stopped. We left the restaurant and walked to the Rotunda of Mosta - our reason for visiting Mosta. At the Rotunda we had the option of tickets - the church, the dome or the catacombs. They also had combo tickets and we opted for a ticket for all three. We went inside the church and walked around enjoying to beauty of the building. The dome is spectacular and has a great story. During World War II a German bomb pierced the dome during a prayer service. Miraculously, the bomb didn't explode and no one was injured. They were able to get someone in to defuse the bomb and dispose of it. After visiting the inside of the church we then climbed some stairs and went to the roof and entered another doorway which took us to a walkway at the dome. We got a closer look at the dome and bird's eye view of the chapel. Once done with the church we went back outside and made our way to the side of the church and went down into the catacombs. They don't have any bodies down there now and it has been turned into a small little museum. We really enjoyed the Rotunda and I am glad we made time to visit Mosta. Here are some links for more information . . .
Rotunda of Mosta | Malta’s Miracle Church of the Unexploded Bomb
Rotunda of Mosta
Mosta: Myths and Facts
The Rotunda of Mosta: The Bold Architectural Design That Demands Your Attention
After we were done visiting the church we headed to the bus stop to make the trip back to Valletta. Once we arrived in Valletta we decided to walk around the city and just relax. We ended up walking to the Lower Barrakka Gardens. Here we found a bench and sat and enjoyed the views of the Three Cities. We also had a great view of the War Siege Memorial. After we left the gardens we wandered around Valletta. We bought some chocolate and something to drink. Two hours later we decided to take the ferry back to Birgu and meet up with Dave and Deanne. On our way walking to the apartment from the ferry we stopped at Waffles and More for some ice cream. It was 4:00pm when we arrived back at the apartment.

We spent about two hours packing and getting things ready for our flight home tomorrow. Then around 6:00pm we all left and went to dinner in Birgu Center. We ate at dCentre. The food was good and we had an enjoyable meal and visit. After dinner we returned to the apartment and got a few more things ready for the morning. Tomorrow we fly home.

Saturday, April 6, 2019

A Day on Gozo

Today we are all going to Gozo - me & Thomas, Dave & Deanne and Jessica & Graham. As usual we were up early and we had plenty of time to get ready since we weren't leaving until around 9:30am. We met Jessica and Graham at Birgu Center and they called for a taxi to take us to the north part of the island to catch the ferry over to Gozo. It cost about €50 and took about 45 minutes to get from Birgu to the ferry terminal. The drive (which was partially along the coast) was beautiful and relaxing. We arrived at the ferry terminal and made our way to the line. The ferry leaves Cirkewwa, Malta and goes to Mgarr, Gozo. The ferry from Malta to Gozo is free but you have to pay to come back. So we got in line (which was long) and we had about a 40 minute wait until we got on a ferry. Once on the ferry we found a spot to sit and then just enjoyed to views of Malta, Comino and Gozo as we made our way across the Mediterranean. As we passed Comino, Graham pointed out a fort. This fort was used in The Count of Monte Cristo. It served as the Chateau d'If where Dantes was imprisoned. The ride over to Gozo took about 30 minutes and once off the boat we made our way to the bus stop.

We took the bus to Xaghra so we could visit the Ggantija Temples. These are two temples standing side by side and are thought to be the world's oldest stone structures and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. We paid our fees, got our tickets and then decided to walk through the museum before heading out to the temples. The museum is full of artifacts found around the site. When we finished with the museum we headed out to the temples and walked around the strucrtures. It was amazing to see such large stones stacked one on top of the other - truly remarkable building skills. We spent about an our here before getting to another bus and moving on with our day.

Once done at the temples we took a bus to Marsalforn. When we arrived here we decided to get something to eat. We stopped in and ate at Murella Restaurant. We had a delicious and relaxing meal and just enjoyed the views of the water. After lunch me, Thomas, Dave and Graham took a GoTo car and headed out to the salt pans. Meanwhile, Jessica and Deanne stayed in Marsalforn. The four guys drove out for a short distance along the coast to the salt pans. We parked along the side of the road and crossed the street for some incredible views of the salt pans and the sea. We visited with a man whose family has worked here for a long time. His business is Natural Xwejni Sea Salt. So, we bought some salt and then continued our drive along the coast. We stopped at Wied il-Għasri and walked down some stone steps to a secluded little rock beach and inlet. It was so beautiful. There were only a few people there, very quiet and peaceful. I took some pictures and we just enjoyed the area for a while before heading back to Marsalforn to meet Jessica and Deanne.

We took a bus from Marsalforn and made our way to Victoria. Once in Victoria walked over to the Ċittadella. We walked around the area for a while and enjoyed the views of the surrounding land. The Citadel is beautiful and it was very relaxing wandering around. We found a place to sit and we just talked and had drinks. After about an hour we walked a bit around Victoria and eventually made our way to the bus stop.

The bus stop was crowded and we had to wait for a second bus before we could get on to get back to the ferry. Once back at the ferry terminal we had to get tickets - they cost €4,75 for the trip back to Malta. It was dark by the time the ferry left Gozo but the ride was just as beautiful as earlier. Once back on Malta we caught a bus back to Birgu. The bus ride took a little over an hour and we were all tired so we just closed our eyes and rested for the ride back. It was a little after 10:00pm when we arrived at the apartment. It was a fantastic day and Thomas and I really enjoyed Gozo. I would have loved to spend more time there. We will just have to make another trip sometime later.

Friday, April 5, 2019

A Day in Valletta

Today Thomas and I decided to explore Valletta on our own - there were some things we wanted to do that the others didn't. We got up around 8:00am and got things ready. Then after a little breakfast we walked over to Birgu Center to catch the bus over to Birgu.

Once we arrived in Valletta we walked up Republic Street and made our way to Fort St. Elmo. At the fort we paid our entry fee (€10) and entered the grounds. We spent about an hour walking around the area and visiting the National War Museum. Malta has an incredible history and this was a very interesting museum. Upon leaving the museum we walked along the water and made our way to the Siege Bell Memorial. I took a few pictures and then we headed up to the Lower Barrakka Gardens. From the gardens we had great views of the Three Cities. We walked around a bit and then found a place to sit and relax for a while. An hour later we walked to Merchant Street to find something to eat. Nothing there looked good so we went down Old Theater Street and ended up eating at StrEat Whisky & Bistro. We sat outside and luckily our table had a large umbrella because it started to rain. It was nice since we got to stay dry and the rain cooled things down a bit. Dave and Deanne passed by while we were eating so we chatted for a minute and then they continued on. The food was delicious and we enjoyed our relaxing meal.

After lunch we walked around Valletta, stopped at a few souvenir shops, had some ice cream at Caffe Cordina and stopped by Chocolate District to get a little snack to take back to the apartment. After that we headed over to the bus stop and on the way we ran into Dave & Deanne again. So we all took the bus back to Birgu together.

We took the bus back to Birgu and when we arrived Thomas and I got off the bus at the Riche stop. Here we went in search of a letterbox that Deanne and Graham had planted a few days ago. You can read about that at A New Letterbox in Malta. After looking for the letterbox we started walking toward Birgu Center. Once we arrived there we stopped at a store for a few food and snack items for the apartment.

Once back at the apartment we took showers and decided to stay in for the night. The rain today really brought up the humidity and I didn't really want to go out again. We ended up eating some leftovers and watching a movie. It was a great day, nice and relaxing.

Thursday, April 4, 2019

Mdina and Rabat

Today we are hanging out with Graham again. So we were up early and ready to go by 8:30am but we didn't meet Graham until 10:30am in Birgu Center to catch the bus. Our destination for the day Mdina and Rabat.

After about a 40 minute bus ride we arrived in Rabat, just outside of Mdina. Our first order of business was to get some pastizzi. These are pastries stuffed with either mashed peas or ricotta cheese. There are a few other flavors but these are the ones we tried. And we tried them from the place in Malta that has been voted the best most often - The Crystal Palace (aka Is-Serkin). We really enjoyed these and they were the perfect little snack.

After eating our pastizzi we crossed the road and headed to the gates to enter Mdina. Mdina is known as "The Silent City" and is completely walled in. We entered the city and walked around for a while. No one seemed interested in doing anything, so we just walked around. The city is beautiful and there are great views of the surrounding area from Bastion Square. I took lots of pictures of the city. I loved the small alleyways that connected the city. I even took lots of pictures of door knockers - some of them were amazing. After an hour or so we left Mdina and walked over to Rabat.

In Rabat, Thomas and I decided to go to Domvs Romana. This is a ruined Roman era house just on the boundary between Mdina and Rabat. Thomas and I spent about 50 miniutes at the ruins and walking through the museum. The history was interesting and museum had nice exhibits. We left the museum and we still had time before we were meeting up with the others so we decided to walk around Rabat for a while. We walked down some beautiful, narrow streets, visited a church and stopped in a few shops. We returned to the meeting place about five minutes before the others arrived. When we were all together we walked over to the bus stop to make our way back to Birgu.

Back at the apartment I decided to take a shower. The weather today had been all over the place - it was cold, windy, rainy, hot, humid and just a little while ago we had a major thunderstorm. We decided to stay in again tonight and just have sandwiches for dinner while Dave and Deanne had dinner with Jessica and Graham. Thomas and I watched a movie and then read for the rest of the evening.