Today started with an early alarm waking us up in time for breakfast before joining up with our bus and walking tour of historic Mdina and Valletta on the island of Malta which was originally colonized by the Phoenicians around 800 BC and exchanged hands frequently through the centuries until it became the independent nation it is today. The walled city of Mdina, high above sea level, has existed for more than 3,000 years. The streets are narrow and were built to zig-zag rather than run straight. Since the primary weapon of the early times was a bow and arrows, the zig-zaggy streets resulted in many arrows from the enemy hitting walls rather than their targets — arrows fly straight, so the walls were a perfect defense!
We saw many old stone buildings including a church built with a very plain facade that included two clocks, each displaying a different time. The story is that the clergy did not want “the Devil” to attend services and upset the congregation, so one clock was always set at an incorrect time to confuse the Devil!
After re-boarding the tour bus, we traveled back downhill to the harbor city of Valletta which was built and fortified by the Knights of the Order of St. John of Jerusalem after they arrived on the island in the 1500’s. We visited St. John’s Co-Cathedral and the Palace of the Grand Masters, home of the Maltese Parliament. This church was also very plain on the outside, however the inside was covered wall to wall plus floor to ceiling with artwork. Because our guide had so much knowledge to share with us, our tour ran late, so there was no time for shopping here!
We returned to the cruise ship for a late lunch and afternoon rest before heading to dinner at the on-board steakhouse — I know, I know, I don’t eat steak, however they’ve got plenty of other items!
The next two days are “at sea” days before we arrive in Israel.