|Hydrofoil from Sicily to Malta|
|View of Valletta from the Grand Harbor|
|Another view across the Grand Harbor|
The Maltese people were put to the test once again during WWII when they suffered 154 days of continuous bombing (even London during the Blitz numbered only 57 days of continuous bombing). As a result of their bravery, the people of Malta were awarded the George Cross, Great Britain’s highest civilian honor.
|Colorful wooden balconies in Valletta|
|Steep streets in Valletta|
|Looking out over the Grand Harbor|
|Co-Cathedral of St. John inValletta|
We also visited Valletta’s Archaeology Museum where we first learned about the remarkable prehistoric sites on Malta. Believe it or not, the megalithic temples of Malta, built between 3600 and 2500 B.C., are the oldest surviving free-standing structures in the world (500 years older than the oldest Pyramid).
We explored several of them including the prehistoric temples at Hagar Qim & Mnajdra (you can really see the Arab influence in the Maltese language), and the even more impressive Tarxien Temples. All the temples were built with great craftsmanship over 5000 years ago with standing stones weighing as much as 20 tons, marvelous swirly stone carvings, and unusual stone portals with holes in the stone doorways believed to have been used to hang animal skin “doors.”
|"The Sleeping Lady"|
|The "Holy of Holies"|
No one knows who these people were, or more importantly, why they abruptly stopped building temples and seemed to disappear. Honestly, the more of these mysterious sites that we visit, the more we start to believe in aliens!
|Fishing boats of Marsaxlokk|
|Island of Gozo|
|Franky, our excellent guide and taxi cab driver|
|The Miracle Church|
|Gozo "bobbin" lace in progress|
A lot of fun was had at the Folklore Museum that, like Doylestown’s Mercer Museum, contained one man’s well-organized collection of tools, devices, and other historical memorabilia of Gozo. Later, we stopped at the super friendly Ta ‘Mena winery for a taste of unique Gozo wine!
After returning to Malta, we flew Easy Jet from Valletta to Milan where we spent just one night before flying home. But this stop gave us time to partake of a long sought-after view of Leonardo Da Vinci’s famous wall mural in the chapel of Santa Maria della Grazie - “The Last Supper.” The painting is in much better shape than we expected with surprisingly vibrant colors. Anne was most intrigued by all the different hand gestures (something she had never noticed before), as the apostles pondered the statement that Jesus had just made: “one of you will betray me”. Leonardo was a real master hand painter. We had a mere 15-minute time slot with Da Vinci, but the memory will be infinitely more long lasting.
|Da Vinci's "The Last Supper"|
We had an uneventful but lengthy 9-1/2 hour flight back to Newark – and were greeted by cold, rainy and dreary weather. We had worried that we might miss some of our spring flowers, but it looks like Spring decided to wait for us.