Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Kosovo: Chapter 8, Scene 2 Spring Break in Malta

Having the opportunity to fly to Malta for Spring Break is certainly a perk of living in southeastern Europe. While some of my friends took off for England or Austria (been there, done that) and another headed for Croatia (jealous), my friend Grace and I decided to head south to an island in the middle of the Mediterranean. 

We made the right choice. Malta is incredibly beautiful. While I’m sure I missed a number of tourist attractions, the water and sunshine called my name. 

My rendition of the Malta seashore.
Day 1: Grace and I both like to draw and paint so our first adventure was to take our art supplies, head to the water’s edge and sketch. Of course our supplies are limited. It was simply impossible to capture the true colors reflected in the sea. But it was fun trying.

That day we also found a great seaside restaurant with wonderful pasta and seafood. What a treat! We walked along the coastline taking in one remarkable view after another.

This is what the camera saw!
Day 2:  Day two turned out to be the best day of all. We decided to “go tourist” and plopped down our money for an island cruise. The boat took us past the smaller island (just offshore from Malta proper) that is widely accepted as the actual place where the Apostle Paul was shipwrecked. There is a monument atop the cliff to honor him.

The boat then took us by several smaller islands where caves and waterways have been cut into the stone by the shear force of the pounding sea. Some were known as pirate caves, though I don’t know for sure they were used that way. The water was crystal clear, calm, and the colors vibrant.

Coming into the Blue Lagoon
The boat finally dropped us off at a place called the Blue Lagoon. Protected on three sides by the rocky hills and cliffs of smaller islands, this is where we braved the cold water of the Mediterranean.  I couldn’t help but think of Tom. He would have LOVED this! We had hours to swim, picnic, and explore the island. We were tired by the time we got back to the Airbnb, but it was that good kind of tired. The kind where you know you’ll be able to close your eyes on a cold winter day and relive the experience.

That evening we found a place that sold pastizzi, a flaky pastry filled with warm cheese or mashed peas. It is known throughout the region. We also tried drinking “Kinnie” which is like an orange flavored cola drink. In time it may grow on you…okay, after a L-O-N-G time. The man who sold us our food said we were “going Maltese.”

Going Maltese!
Day 3:  On the third dayof our trip we caught a bus to a huge ferry to take us to the island of Gozo. It was here we sketched the harbor and toured the island via taxi.  Our taxi driver did his best to act as a tour guide. I think he was surprised to find we were more interested in the beautiful scenery than we were in shopping. But he would stop to let us photograph some of the waterfront, the almost volcanic looking rocks along the shoreline, and a grove of olive trees I found particularly interesting. He drove us to a beautiful church high on the hill above the harbor (apparently Gozo has 365 churches and one mosque). The inside of the church was very “old world” in d├ęcor but still very much in use.  Then it was back on the ferry, which is as I said huge…it carries cars and eighteen wheelers in its hold as well as passengers on the upper decks back and forth between Gozo and Malta several times a day.

Day 4:  Another walk along the sea took us to an experience we won’t soon
Getting our pedicures at the Fish Lounge
forget. We had a foot massage and pedicure…sort of. We dropped our feet into a tank where over 100 tiny little fish suck away any dry skin. My Florida family will remember minnows similarly nibbling away as we dangled our feet off the dock. Anyway, it was fun and actually fairly relaxing. Best of all my feet felt soft and smooth when the thirty minutes were up. This is apparently quite popular in Turkey.

We then caught a bus to Mdina, also known as the Silent City. It wasn’t all that silent…tons of tourists and at least one wedding, but for a good reason.  The walled city with its stone streets and winding passageways is stunning. And the view from the top of the Fontanella Tea Garden? Spectacular. You can see all of Malta from the balcony setting while enjoying great food and freshly baked specialty cakes. Sorry if I’m beginning to sound like a tourist magazine. 

That evening we flew back to Skopje in Macedonia. The flight was only about an hour and forty minutes. It took us a bit more than that to taxi back to Prishtina.

I grabbed my backpack, said goodbye to Grace and headed up to my apartment. A vacation is great, but its always good to be home. 

That’s when it hit me. 

Prishtina is like coming HOME.

Join me in Kosova (the Albanian pronunciation for Kosovo) in Southeastern Europe. Each week I share my experiences. Leave your comments and questions below. I’ll try to address each as best I can. And if you don't want to miss a post, simply add your email address in the box on the right where it says "Follow by email." 

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