Near far, wherever you are, I believe that the heart does go on
I very gingerly I got out of bed to try my leg this morning. It was very stiff and sore but manageable. The biggest problem was still my knee and also a real problem with my hip. A good soak in the shower along with some painkillers though and I was confident we would be able to visit Valletta.
After what is now becoming a quite repetitive breakfast, we headed on shore about 10am to explore. Now this is not our first visit to Malta. We were here for a break in February 2015. It had always been high on Karen’s list of places to visit. Sadly, though we had a dismal time. The weather was freakishly cold and we hadn’t brought enough cold weather clothes. Everywhere we went seemed to be shut for the season or the weather. We had so much trouble finding places to eat that most nights we ate in the National Aquarium café as it was the only place still serving food in the evening. On the day we caught a bus to visit Valletta it rained hard all the time we were there and so we didn’t see anything.
Today we had higher hopes and the weather was beautiful as we walked along the Valletta waterfront in the wrong direction initially trying to find the lift up the cliff face. Everyone else walking made the same mistake; I think there must have been a misleading sign as we exited the port.
Eventually we found it and paid the 1 Euro each to ride it up to the City Centre. It was well worth the money. We came out at the bustling Saluting Battery which fires cannons off twice a day. The view from here was stunning looking out across the harbour. We loved it already.
We then wandered along the bustling streets amused at all the shops we recognised. It felt as though it was still trying to be a bit British but there was an underlying continental influence. Certainly, many of the locals were not speaking English. There were many American tourists from not only our ship but many other cruise ships that were also docked. They were all taking advantage of the ‘British’ shopping opportunities.
By chance we came across Starbucks first and Karen was keen to have a coffee so we stopped for a while. Eventually we carried on until we came to M&S which Karen just had to explore as well. It was a real mish mash of a shop in the style of Thorns in Norwich with half floors on different levels and bridges you had to cross. I managed to navigate our way out with our credit cards still intact.
Outside one of the cathedrals we bumped into the dancers from the ship. I wanted to discuss their Interpretative Dance show with them but Karen wouldn’t let me. Instead, she wanted to head to the other cathedral which apparently has the biggest and best Caravaggio painting in the world. There was a very large slow-moving queue. I was not keen especially as standing still would have do nothing to help my leg. but Karen joined it.
After 5 minutes I joined her. At that point I saw the sign saying it was 15 Euros to go into the cathedral. 15 Euros for a church and a dark miserable old painting of which I had now looked up online depicted the beheading of St John? It wasn’t even a nice picture. Even Karen agreed that was extortionate and not worth it and so we left the queue and instead had a cold drink in a café next to the cathedral. We debated how much we would have been prepared to pay and concluded 5 Euros for both of us would have been our limit but certainly not 30 Euros.
Anyhow after chilling for a while we explored more alleyways and streets before heading back to The Saluting Battery to get the lift back down to the harbour.
We headed back for a late lunch. Karen hadn’t been feeling too well all morning. She thought she might be going down with something. I thought it also might have been stress worrying about me but also that she is still in so much pain with her arm and feels it should be getting better by now. Certainly, we are both concerned about next week where we need her to be able to drive herself as I cannot be at both her appointments and mine at the same time.
So, we headed back to the cabin where she had a sleep for a hour whilst I sat on the balcony and read whilst lots of small boats went by.
Once Karen had awoke feeling brighter, we went and sat up on the back pool deck where we had some cold drinks and read some more. It was quite busy as many people had gathered ready to watch the departure from what is considered to be one of the most iconic ports in the world. It certainly was a sight as we sailed away.
Back in our room we chilled again before going out for dinner. It was all really quite lovely yet again. After this we headed to the Piano Bar for a while before walking to the main stage theatre to see tonight’s show which was a British comedian. He did make me smile. He had a tricky job appealing to all nationalities and did very well. He did it all without using one profanity. The piece that tickled me most was something he called the Cruise Walk. It’s when you get out of the lift on board and walk the wrong way because everywhere on the ship is very disorientating. If you are still in the lift, you invariably see people walk one way and then have to turn and walk back past the other before the doors close. Well, it made us laugh before we seem to have to do that several times a day.
Finally, we headed to watch the end of the bands R&B set in the Rolling Stone Lounge. The more I see of them the more I am impressed by them. Anyhow although my leg had just about held up today it was getting stiffer the longer I sat, so coupled with Karen still not 100% we had another reasonably early night.
I also have to finally admit that we are actually enjoying this trip. I still wouldn’t say we are cruise people. We are never going to be absolute advocates but we will certainly look at other possible cruises should they be going to places we fancy. Karen is talking about rebooking our original Alaska trip and if not perhaps Norway in a year or twos time. It is though tiring getting off every day then traipsing round and we have to admit some of the places are now feeling a bit samey. I think it is almost time for us to go home.