Saturday, April 01, 2006

The Maltese Tourist

Yesterday morning, we sailed into Malta, an island near Italy. Like every other place we've been, it's rich in history. And like every place we've seen in our cruise, it's been settled, occupied, conquered, re-conquered by various empires and kingdoms and the like.

Malta is really lovely, a charming place. I would love to come back here for a few days and see the shops and other attractions. It's hilly, and we walked a few of those hills checking things out.

Our guide this time was not one of the best. She was an older woman who loved the sound of her own voice. She took us first to this arch going into the city, just a kilometer or so away from the ship. We then went into St. John's Co-Cathedral. Linda and I have never been to a cathedral before, and this was a good place to start. Inside, huge religious themed paintings covered the curved ceiling high overhead. The floors were inlaid with tiles with more artwork. There seemed to be a skeleton motif to the floor's paintings, also inscribed with various bits of Latin text. Large paintings were on various walls, good examples of Renaissance art. In the gift shop, I bought a Knights of Malta action figure and a combination cannon/pencil sharpener.

After that, we went to Mdina, another section of the city, narrow streets of sand-colored buildings with various shops and apartments. We saw three cats, fat and happy, and also bunches of pigeons (I guess these were Maltese pigeons). Another cathedral, equally impresive.

Before long, we headed back to the ship. We left Malta at 2 PM, and headed for Salerno. Dinner that night was another gala affair, and at the end of it, the lights dimmed and the waitstaff paraded out with platters of baked Alaska, flames rising like little volcanoes from the dishes. Marvelous stuff.

We met the Haldemans in Le Baroque, one of bars aboard ship, and we watched Los Latinos, two very pretty girls from Paraguay sing pretty Spanish and Mexican songs, accompanied by an older man playing a harp.

After that, we went to the evening's entertainment. The opening act was a really amazing and funny piece. A man covered in white makeup and white clothes posed like a marble statue, and then a head poked from his cloak. So we had a two headed statue (it took a while to realize that the head was a realistic puppet controlled by the man. In mime, he did an act, the two heads alternately arguing and fussing, and trying to control each other. In turns hilarious and ironic, they moved and countermoved.

The ending piece was bad. It was a syrupy rendition of We Are The World, accompanied by people carrying various flags, and moving around the theater. Whatever possessed them to put on such a display of recycled 80's treacle, I'll never know. Bleah. They should have closed with an encore of the statue with two heads.

We left the theater, and while Joe and Gay played blackjack, Linda and I whittled away 20 Euros on the slots.

This is my last post for the trip. Today we see Salerno, and tonight is our last night on board. We spend tomorrow night in Genoa, and on Tuesday we fly back.

It has been a wonderful trip.

Ciao.

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