Experiencing Malta

Trip Start Dec 19, 2006
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Trip End Mar 03, 2007


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Monday, February 12, 2007

On Malta

My friends Alison and Jim and I sailed overnight from Marsala on Sicily to Malta on Dec. 18. I had night shift from the time we sailed around 8pm til around 6am. Was exhausted and got to sleep for 4 hrs that morning. Our friend Douglas from days teaching in Tokyo joined us for five days over Christmas. We really had a good time exploring Malta together while they were all here. Everyone left before New Year's and I rang in 2007 at a fun gay bar nearby called Long Island. A few days later Nick, son of other owner of the boat, came down from England and has also been staying on the boat.
Nick's parents, Stan and Sarah, came down for 2 weeks at the end of January. We explored a bit of the island together and had some nice dinners around town.

So, I'm in Malta. Where is it and what's it like, you ask? It's an island nation consisting of three relatively small islands just south of Sicily. The official languages are Malti (a mix of N. African Arabic, Italian and Sicilian) and English. It joined the EU in 2004 but still has it's own currency, the Maltese Lira, until Jan. 2008. It has some of the oldest ruins in the world. Some temples date back over 5000 years, before Stonehenge. Though small it has played a pivotal role twice over its long history. The first in 1565 when it helped the 500 Knights of St. John defend the island from 40,000 Ottoman Turks. The second time was during WWII when it helped maintain the Allies stronghold location within the middle Mediterranean against the Nazis and Italians. When Malta gained independence in 1964 it was the first time since prehistory that the country had been ruled by the native Maltese and not by outside powers. Many places, especially the area around Valletta, are heavily fortified. Sold fort walls abound. Most buildings on the islands are made from sandstone, a material in abundance here. The island is strongly Catholic, due to the arrival via shipwreck of St. Paul in around 60 AD. Oddly enough he was on his way to being tried as a heretic and only stayed on the island for 9 months or so. Just goes to show that we all have the potential to change the course of history, whether we realize it or not.

Lucky for me, January in Malta was the warmest it's been in 84 years. It's been mostly sunny, with temperatures generally between 50-68F.

I've been working on writing about my travel experiences and overall it is going well, but it's a long, slow process. In the meantime I have made a few friends and have been taking breaks from time to time to explore the island more.

As for what's next with me, I've decided to leave Malta and the comfort of the boat where I've been living for the past 3 months to venture into Eastern Europe for about a month. Then considering returning to the US around mid-April.
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