…are Steve & Renee now?

Malta–First Port of Call

I was*so* excited to visit this location.  The place has an amazing history that dates back before the pyramids at least 5,200BC!

Here’s a rather nice write-up on the islands: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Malta

I liked this picture of a prehistoric pygmy elephant (oxymoron)

Malta is a part of the European Union since 2003 and Maltese and English are both national languages.  As our guide told us on the way to see the Blue Grotto “93% of all Maltese people speak English, the other 7% are foreigners

Open-mouthed smile

Approaching the ‘Big Island’ of Malta 7:00am and hazy

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Map picture


Here’s a map of the spectacularly huge port area.  The red pin shows where we docked, it’s quite a site as we entered and exited the port.








The Port of Malta seen from the aft/starboard side of the Disney Magic.















Here we are in port and stopped at 8:10am local ship’s time on Monday May 30th.  This is provided on the in-room ship’s position monitor: IMG_1623

This is displayed 24hrs a day on one of the TV channels in each room.  I tried to remember and capture a shot each day as we arrived in port.

There’s Tunis off to the left, our ‘lost port’… sad not to see the ruins of Carthage.  We we close enough to it overnight that my mobile phone picked up the service from the mainland for awhile.









Today’s Port Adventure is a trip to the Blue Grotto and then off to a ‘typical fishing village’ (Adult Only Departure)
I should mention here that Renee and I have been going to Disney World ‘as adults’ for 10 years and we really love it.  We are fortunate enough to live about 9 hours driving distance and went down the ‘slippery slope’ of DVC (Disney Vacation Club) back in 2003.  This cruise was paid for with 1 1/2 years of vacation points so that’s pretty awesome!  We have taken some friends with us to the parks “as adults” who have young kids and they agree it’s a whole different experience!  One of the joys we have found aboard the ship is that if you don’t want to be around kids… you won’t be hardly at all.  The Adult-Only areas of the ship are great and the ability to isolate sound from one part of the boat to another is nothing short of amazing.  Most of the kids are off having fun all day in the Oceanears Club.  We’ve spoken to many parents aboard that tell us the kids check in there in the morning and they don’t see ‘em again until dinner/Showtime and then they go right back.

So, we booked ‘Adult Only Departures’ wherever possible and we did not have to contend with strollers keeping up.

After about 30 minutes of bus ride, we arrive at a scenic overlook near Wied iz-Zurrieq, allowing us to look down on part of the Blue Grotto area.  There’s also a sign advising “TODAY THE BOATS ARE RUNNING” 

Europe2011 084Be advised! These are open, outboard motor boats that seat 8 people max.  If the seas are running, the boats will not be.  Be prepared to be disappointed if you take this tour as it sounds as though it’s a 50/50 proposition… our native guide was happily surprised to find the boats running!!










While standing at the overlook, I was able to shoot this itty bitty island off on the horizon since the day was so clear.  Shot with an effective 300mm lens, this is the smallest island of the Malta group.

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The overlook itself:


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And what we could see from it:

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Then it was off to the town and access to the protected cove to load up the boats and adventure out to see the caves carved out by the sea:

Here’s a three-step zoom-view from the water back up to the overlook (double-click the pics to see them zoomed up to full size):

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Here’s a quick bit ‘o video at one of the six grottos… it doesn’t do justice to the experience… strongly recommended!!

The Blue Grotto Sneak Peak


So we thoroughly enjoyed that adventures, climbed out of the boats, walked up a steep hill where I captured this candid photo:

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Europe2011 141While we caught a (provided) bite to eat and a welcome drink, I spotted this salty dog and his spotty dog





















So now it’s off to the second half of our day in the fishing village of Marsaxlokk with a whopping 3,200 +/- people

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What a great little slice of life.  Renee and I really enjoy going to the smaller, less travelled locales.  There’s so much to see and a lot of culture to soak up.

I particularly appreciated the local banking hours:Europe2011 150










Marsaxlokk, Malta in late May 2011 during a Disney Magic cruise

Here’s a brief pan of the picturesque waterfront of Marsaxlokk.  Notice (once the clicking of a certain person’s massive camera stops) how wonderfully quiet it is.  I particularly like the fisherman repairing his net right at the end.








After about an hour touring the town, we head back to our floating hotel…



Disney Magic, seen through the buildings near the Port in Malta as we returned from the day’s adventuresIMG_1624:























Sessions_VodkaEnd of the day and we settled into Sessions for some mellow tunes and vodka on the rocks as we sail away to our next Port of Call – Sicily… good night!


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