Christmas Eve, 2014...
This was an incredibly cool port to come into! The walls were reminiscent of Rhodes, but we saw so much more coming in, I guess because of the shape of the port. It was a bright sunny day, and we were eager to explore without an agenda like we did in Rhodes. We did discover once we were off the ship that the weather was deceiving--strong winds were COLD and made us wish we had bundled up more. The cold affected me a lot more than I wanted it to, especially since we got cheap tickets for the hop-on, hop-off bus.
Our first stop was the craftsman's village. Though many places were understandably closed for Christmas Eve, we did get to watch some men heating and shaping glass as well as a man who showed us the beautiful and delicate skill of silver filagree work. Amazing! We puttered around the shops a bit before getting on the bus again. Some of us had to ride up top--brrrr! Beautiful views, though! Prickly pear and rolling vineyards...using the bus gave us a feel for how big the island is--we think of it as a tiny little dot on the map, and yet it's quite expansive, definitely large enough for multiple little cities! We went to Mdina, the "silent city," and walked around the walled streets for awhile looking for a reasonable place for lunch. We gave up and opted for ravioli at 9.50 a plate. Oy! As it turned out, the manager must have cut us a family deal, because he only charged us 50 euro total!
After lunch Tobin begged to see the "dungeon museum," which turned out to be way too disturbing for Arden, so I took him and Zaden outside to wait. It was a very tiny version of what I remember of the London Dungeon--figures set up to recreate some of the medieval horrors and plagues. Sometimes reading history is quite enough! We don't need to bring everything to life! Charis said she wished she hadn't gone in and that she hoped Lucan didn't understand everything he saw. Tobin had been so reluctant and mopey about everything else we had done that day that I hoped he would feel good about getting to do something he really wanted to do, but the experience wasn't what he expected. Still, he at least knew better than to complain since he had asked for it!
We went straight back to the port from there, to everyone's relief. We settled little boys in rooms with Grandma and Charis for naps, put the others in Ted's room with a movie, and then Ted and I went back out (me with my coat this time!). We stayed on foot, taking the lift up to the city of Valetta. We saw the shooting battery where they usually fire the cannons at noon and 4:00, which would have been cool to see, but as it was Christmas Eve, all was silent. We wandered around the streets a bit, looking for a few particular things. We wanted a Christmas treat for our dinner servers, so when we found a specialty treat shop, we got ourselves some wonderful gelato and a box of beautiful Christmas cupcakes for our guys. Then we really focused on finding a Maltese cross for our "cross wall," but it was impossible to find one all by itself! On decorative plates or gaudy shields, yes, but no plain, simple cross! We finally got an unpainted square plaque for our cross wall as close as we could come. Then we headed back to prepare for dinner.
Christmas Eve dinner was wonderful, if a bit sad, because of knowing that our crew friends were serving us instead of being with their families. :-( We tried to express our appreciation when we gave them the cupcakes, but it's a poor substitute, I'm sure.
Crazy kids climbing the walls--but we pinned everyone down in one cabin after dinner to do our advent calendar. It wasn't quite the picturesque setting one would hope for, but hopefully it will stick with them.