|Our last port of call was Malta, an island located between Sicily and the North African coast. As we had come to expect, we awoke to rain and thunder but shortly after we got off the ship the rain stopped and the weather improved as the day went on.
Malta has a history that dates back beyond 5,000 BC and has been ruled by the Romans, Moors, French and British amongst others. I didn’t think it was the most picturesque island – it’s a dry, desert-looking place – but there were parts of it that weren’t bad. What I found most interesting was the World War II history that was evident at one of the stops on our private tour.
We drove past a couple different ports and spent some time in the area walking around where the British fleet was docked during WW2. The presence of the fleet and the German’s desire to take over the island for strategic purposes, made it a prime target for bombing by the Luftwaffe and Italian Air Force. In fact, during World War II, Malta was considered to be the most heavily bombed place on earth. During what is referred to as The Siege of Malta, over 14,000 bombs were dropped on it, 30,000 buildings were destroyed and 1,500 civilians were killed. Evidence of that was a couple buildings that we saw that still have bullet holes in them from German aircraft as they strafed the city.
We took off to the port of Marsaxlokk to see the colorful fishing boats and grab some sweet bakery thingies from a roadside cart. The most hygienic food source in Malta? Probably not, but probably no worse than your average dirty-water-hot dog in NYC.
We continued on around the island till we got to the overlook of the Blue Grotto on the southern coast, a series of caves that have been carved into the rock by the waves of the Mediterranean, then a little further to the church of St. Mary Magdalen. The church was originally built in the 1400’s, but the structure as it stands today was built in the 1600’s. After looking at some websites about the island after we got back, I learned that Malta has numerous sites that contain what are considered to be the oldest free-standing structures on earth that date from 5,500-2,500 BC https://www.ancient-origins.net/news-archaeology/megalithic-temples-malta-still-oldest-ones-world-00369. Why our tour didn’t take us there is baffling and something I would have liked to see.
Our tour ended up back at the ship in time for us to attend an invitation only event. Because our cabins were on the Concierge level (which translates into “Y’all is special” in Maltese) we were all invited to go to the helipad on the bow of the ship to watch the departure from the port of Valletta. It was neat to see a different perspective as the ship headed out the narrow inlet and into the Med, beginning our journey back to Barcelona.