23.03.2016 - 25.03.2016 18 °C
So our time on Gozo had come to an end and it was time to take the ferry back to Malta. The wind that had been building from the south for the last couple of days had become a full force of nature of between 50 and 75 km/hr with gusts of up to 100 km/hr. The deck hand assured me that they had navigated through worse, and they adjusted our route to the leeward side of Comino (the small island between Gozo and Malta) for protection, but it was Gravol all around for the O'Pachs on this one. Sara and I stayed up on the top deck with an American family on break from teaching in Tunisia (Sara makes instant friends with any kids she can), Erin and Gerry stuck to the lower, slightly more stable, deck while Jamie and Grandma Cheetah huddled in the cabin area below. This was one white knuckle ferry ride - it was kinda like one of those fair rides that looked like fun from the ground, but took on a much less entertaining dimension once you got on and started going. Check out my FB if you haven't seen the video. When we finally arrived at the other side, the waves were crashing on and over the breakwater some 30 feet into the air:
Valletta, which is a major tourist attraction, is quite a contrast from the peaceful solitude of Gozo but has managed to maintained its medieval charm. This historic city is absolutely beautiful and it is no wonder that this, the smallest capital city in the EU, has been designated as a UNESCO world heritage site. We were lucky enough to find a really cool apartment is right in the heart of the old walled city, tucked away in a quiet alley near Fort St. Elmo. This is the street where our apartment is located:
There is a surprising amount to see and do in pint-sized Valletta but it would be folly to try and describe all of it in this blog. It would also be folly to think that anyone would be patient enough to read my inaccurate musings on this place or its history. Briefly, Valletta was built after the great siege of 1565 during which the Ottoman Empire threw everything it had (~40,000 Turks) at 8000 Maltese and about 600 Knights of the Order of St. John. The original St. Elmo's Fort withstood every Turkish advance over a period of a couple of months, save for the last one. However, reinforcements arrived from Spain and ultimately sent the Turks on their merry way. Valletta was built in behind St. Elmo's Fort and battlements were erected all around this peninsula to further fortify the area. It makes for some interesting walking and sites to see. There are amazing views all around this place:
We have a number of in-Valletta museum and church visits, Easter parades, as well as some excursions (artfully lead by my much better half) to other ancient cities, temples and harbours so stay tuned!