Malta is an archipelago in the central Mediterranean Sea (in its eastern basin), some 93 km south of the Italian island of Sicily across the Malta Channel. Only the three largest islands Malta Island (Malta), Gozo (Għawdex), and Comino (Kemmuna) are inhabited. This place is OLD…first inhabited about 5200 BC!
Being Sunday, most everything was closed today, but we walked to the city center anyway, then caught the HO HO bus for a 3 hour tour of the north end of Malta. This is a very arid island, dotted with low stone walls separating farm land on the outskirts of towns. The island consists of mainly ochre colored old Baroque structures, all stucco and limestone; no wooden buildings anywhere. A paint salesman would starve here. Tourism and manufacturing are their main economy.
Malta has changed hands numerous times, with everyone from the Normans to Napoleon laying claim to this last outcrop of Europe before one reaches African shores. Fresh water is in short supply. Cactus is everywhere...apparently used by farmers when no rain means no clover to feed the animals. They remove the thorns, flatten the cactus and use this for feed. Of course we don’t know WHAT they are feeding. We saw a few dogs, a few horses, and one enclosure of sheep. Apparently rabbit are plentiful and a popular menu item. How many ways can they fix rabbit?
Wind is a major problem for the island. Grape vines are not grown on any hillside, unlike Europe, and the grapes have to be harvested at night, due to the heat giving the juice a narrow window for crushing before losing its flavor.
The bus made a 10 minute stop at a glass factory, but nothing called my name to purchase and tote home.
So now we are back at the ship, about to enjoy a siesta, sending hugs and birthday wishes to Scooter, who officially turned one just the other day. We miss all the kiddies...I miss reading all my fave blogs. Thanks for the comments. Life is good...and the medical problem patient is apparently doing well. Whew!