Sunday, 9 June 2013

Our Last Day in Malta, Day 20, June 9th

We walked around to Fort St. Elmo this morning because we heard there was a short tour, despite the fact it is being renovated.  The fort was virtually destroyed by the Turks during the Great Siege of Malta in 1565.  It commands the entrance to both Marsamxett and The Grand Harbour. Interestingly, it was used as the jail in the movie Midnight Express. Along the way, I got some nice pictures of an unusual fog that was rolling in. Unfortunately, there was no tour so we walked back to the main square to the Grand Master’s Palace and Armoury, which is also the temporary location for Malta’s parliament. 

We toured the palace and armory and were educated as to how the knight's armour changed throughout the times as well as the weapons used.  Then it was time for lunch and we found a nice spot to celebrate our last meal out in Malta.  We made our way back to our apartment for a snooze before our host came over to say goodbye and read the electricity meter.  We were responsible for our electricity and delighted to find out that we only used 28 Euros of electricity in 3 weeks.  We never used the dishwasher or air conditioner and were very careful with the lights. He estimated we would use 30 Euros per week so a nice deposit-refund is coming our way. 

Our Air Malta flight leaves for Rome at 8:30am and hopefully we will make our 45 minute connection on Alitalia. I hope you have enjoyed my blog and pictures as much as I have enjoyed chronicling our day-to-day adventures during one of the best holidays of our lives.  Malta is well worth a visit if you are looking for a laid back, very affordable European holiday steeped in history amongst the happiest people in the world. Cheers! 

The Hilton Tower, the tallest building in Malta surrounded by fog

                                                         Fog rolling into Fort Saint Elmo

                                                      Fog rolling into Marsamxett Harbour

                                                            The Grand Master's Palace

                                                 There must have been some small knights

                                                                Beautiful ceilings

                                                    The Grand Master's Palace courtyard

                                                             A grand doorway in the palace

Fancy armour for the Grand Master's horse

                                                                 Fancy chest plate

                                                    New designs allowed for more movement

                                Opened in the front and designed to look like the fashion of the day


                                                                    Helmet with comb

                                                               Early helmet with visor

                                                             Elaborate shoulder armour

                                                          Gilded Grand Master's armour

                                                           Goofy looking Italian helmets

                                                                Nice powerful Cannons

                                                                     Mortar cannon

                                   No longer wondering where the lions are.  In the palace courtyard...

                                                              guarding this elaborate door


Malta, Wind down Saturday, Day 19, June 8th

Off to the market to get fixings for the muffaletta we are making for our flight home.  I shopped for tonight’s dinner while Jill went souvenir shopping.  We met at the central square at 12:30 and headed to Guze’ Restaurant on Old Bakery Street for lunch.  The building where Guze' is located is 400 years old and one of the oldest buildings in Valletta built by the Knights of St. John.  It has been renovated with care to preserve most of the original features. The ambiance was fabulous. Jill ordered lamb shank and I ordered traditional roast rabbit.  We also ordered a bottle of Aussie shiraz for a mere 14 Euros.  Restaurants in Malta do not charge an arm and a leg for wine which certainly encouraged us to eat out more often.  Jill’s lamb shank was outstanding and my rabbit exceeded my expectations.  It was the back half of a rabbit complete with all of the organ meats, heart, liver, and kidneys. I grew up eating organ meats so this was a treat.  Jill said, “look you even got mushrooms”. I had to tell her that they were in fact kidneys.  She did not cringe, just simply looked away. They tasted fabulous.  The rabbit was accompanied by red and yellow peppers, baby corn, snow peas and asparagus. The rabbit sat in a jus that I cannot describe other than it was the best I have ever tasted.  The rabbit was roasted to perfection and was so incredibly tasty.  This was one of the best meals I have ever eaten in a restaurant and the gastro highlight of my holiday.

Today summer arrived in Malta with 28 degrees, feeling 32, and not a cloud in the sky.  Boats streamed out of the harbour, taking advantage of the calm seas and glorious sunshine.  The sky was so blue and cloudless, a fabulous long weekend.

We strolled home to have an after lunch espresso and cognac.  We opened up all of our windows and let the breeze cool us down. There was a party under way on Manoel Island directly across the harbour and the music got louder as the party progressed.  You know how sound carries across water.  Well, we had the best seats in the house, sitting comfortably in our apartment.  And when the sun went down we had a beautiful sunset.  We sure will miss them.

                                                Guze', the kitchen entrance around the corner

                                                 Guze', the formal and exterior doors

                                                              The lower level

                                                      Original limestone block walls
The upper level

                                                               Stairs to the kitchen

                                                     Fabulous arches, thick walls

                                                  Original ceiling and wooden beam

                                               Lamb shank with potatoes fried in goose fat

                                             Traditional roast rabbit with triple fried potatoes

                                Beautiful but looks like it has not been touched since the Knights

                                                                  An ancient door

                       The dome of the Basilica which you can see in the pictures of our apartment

                                                                           The alter

                                           Original balcony weathered over four centuries

                                                               Letting in the breeze

                                         The sun getting ready to go down over Manoel Island