A Travellerspoint blog

Winding down the Whirlwind...

August 25, 2008

This morning we did some final packing and then went over to Aunt Janis and Uncle Alfred’s for a quick visit. I had the opportunity to see their vineyards and beautiful home. We were also treated to homemade limoncello (a lemon liqueur) and lemon sorbet. I had tried limoncello on the cruise and was not a fan but Aunt Janis’ version won me over! It still left a warm (okay, very warm) trail down to my stomach, but smooth and delicious! Now that I have tried her lemon sorbet, I have no doubt that she will be able to concoct the lemon and ginger sorbet we tried in Gozo. No pressure! We returned home for a final lunch before packing up the cars and heading to the airport. We ran into several of Paula’s colleagues also returning to Brussels and sat around waiting for our flight to be called. It is the final part of Paula’s journey while mine ends tomorrow when I return back to Florida. We arrived to much cooler weather here in Brussels and went for a late supper before heading back to the flat so I could repack my luggage, enjoy some apple tea from Istanbul and trade photos. Tomorrow we buy chocoloate (the genuine Belgian article) before heading to the airport where I begin my trek home. Unbelievable…

Posted by Kelsworth 21:00 Comments (0)

Final Day in Malta

August 24, 2008

Today was our last full day in Malta, hence the end of our wondermous whirlwind. We did the bulk of our packing and headed over to Daniela and Jean’s to see their new condo at Portomeso before heading back over to the pool for some final swimming and sunning. I have been assured that I will see photos of their new home when the furniture arrives and it is all set up. We had what Paula and Daniela have described as a sort of Maltese kitchen sink luncheon which was a salad of sorts made of tuna, tomatoes, barley, olive oil, olives and beans (and more I'm sure I can't remember) served as a sort of sandwich on Maltese bread. Yum! While Paula, Benjamin, Daniela and I were in the pool, Paula discovered a racing pigeon that had gotten out of the neighbor’s yard and was struggling. Paula decided to catch the pigeon and take it back, which consisted of using the pool skimmer net to trap it before picking it up and walking it over. Quite the adventure! Considering that there were several instances during our trip cursing pigeons, I was shocked to see her save one, well done!

Late afternoon, more of the family arrived and we enjoyed the day with wines (Including my new favorite braquetto which I have learned is an unlikely acquisition in the USA.), snacks and great conversation. Dinner included unbelievable pork tenderloin marinated by Aunt Maryanne and grilled by Jean. I will be trying to duplicate this sometime soon in my own kitchen. With freshly roasted peppers, marrows and couscous it was a feast. All the while we were serenaded by fireworks which were more of a marathon on Sunday. Did you know that Malta is the 2007 winner of the Caput Lucis Fireworks World Championship held in Rome, Italy last year? So I’ll console myself that all of the banging and explosion is one big dress rehearsal for another competition even if it isn’t necessarily so. Fireworks or no, it was my great pleasure to spend time with the family and enjoy being part of their big family. With much laughter and love, it was the perfect way to complete my visit in Malta.

Posted by Kelsworth 20:56 Comments (0)

Valletta and so much more...

August 23, 2008 (Day Four)

We had a final day of touring today, and I was lucky to have the one and only Narcy Calamatta as my tour guide. It is truly amazing how much history and information he knows about Malta. His love of his country is evident, and I truly appreciate the time he took to share his country with me. We went to the capital of Malta, Valletta. We started on the waterfront at Upper Barakka before making our way to St. John’s Co-Cathedral which houses two of the few Caravaggio pieces of art in the world. An experience to be sure and an absolute must see if you make your way to Malta. It is quite overwhelming with at least eight different influences from around the world. The irony is that from the outside, it is a rather simple design in structure and in no way prepares you for the cacophony that greets you. We left and journeyed to Hagar Qim, an ancient temple dating back to 5000 BC. To consider how far back civilization takes us and wonder about the methods of these people, their worship and rituals is tremendous. Afterwards, we stopped by the Blue Grotto for another beautiful view of cliffs and the sea before rounding up our trip at the Chinese Garden of Serenity in Santa Lucia. I have to note that as I was checking to make sure that I had the right name on the Web, the site I found quotes Paula’s Uncle Peter as this being a noteworthy modern garden. We made it home in time for lunch and an extended siesta, which Paula and I appreciated.

This evening, Chef Lauren introduced me to my first meal of rabbit which was a complete pleasure. Cooked as a stew in a fantastic combination of onions, carrots, tomatoes, red wine and more, I cleaned my plate! Marrows, a member of the squash family, have been a wonderful accompaniment to our dinners, simply cooked as a sauté with oil and light spices. Full, as always, we visited friends of Paula’s, Sarah and Tristan in their new house for a few hours. They treated us to a tour of their home and treated us to some tasty treats. Who am I to turn down the opportunity to continue trying new foods and tidbits? I was also able to see some nice fireworks from their rooftop although Tristan let me know they were just okay and there were much more beautiful fireworks to be seen there. Next time!

Posted by Kelsworth 20:53 Comments (0)


August 22, 2008 (Day Three)

Today was a full day! We started our morning at Uncle Peter and Aunt Simone’s pool, and got to spend some time with Daniela and her boys, Jacques and Benjamin. It was wonderful to take a dip and relax by the water and take in that Mediterranean sun. We were back to the house for lunch and siesta before catching the ferry to Gozo. It was only about a 25 minute boat ride and we were able to load the car and enjoy the trip over up on deck. When we debarked, we had a quick drink with a family friend and then made our way to the Azure Window for one of the most spectacular views I have ever had the privilege of seeing in my life. The history of this landmark literally goes back millions of years and we had the pleasure of arriving just in time to catch the last of the daylight and see the sun set. I will remember it forever, and I’m thrilled that I was able to capture some great photos. A bit of trivia is that it was where part of the film The Clash of the Titans was filmed. We then drove back to the harbor for another traditional Maltese meal at Manoels. This evening I had Braġjoli, a beef dish filled with all sorts of good things including cheese, ham and curry powder cooked in a red wine sauce. With full bellies and a fantastic evening with Paula and her parents, we caught the 11 pm ferry home and headed to bed. By the way, did you know that Malta has their own fireworks factory?

Posted by Kelsworth 20:51 Comments (0)

Malta -Mdina and more!

August 21, 2008 (Day Two)

It turns out that fireworks begin their ascent somewhere around 8 o’clock in the morning, even though they cannot be seen in daylight. However, they make a lovely alarm clock. Paula and I had breakfast before heading out to begin my Maltese experience. First, we visited Paula’s grandmother and were able to show her some of the photos from our cruise. After a nice visit, we drove over to Mdina, the former capital of Malta and believed to go back to over 4000 BC. I also did a little shopping and fell in love with Medina glass. I managed to ration myself, but I am really pleased with the pieces I purchased and they will be a wonderful reminder of this time and country. We then stopped for another traditional Maltese tidbit, pastizzis. They are pastries with two kinds of fillings, cheese and peas and holy smokes are they fantastic. They accompanied a delicious summer lunch. Since afternoons are so hot in Malta, many residents take siesta from 2-4 and we were no exception. Then it cools off relatively by that time and you resume your day. We then visited Paula’s grandfather, a fascinating man who treated me to an autographed copy of his recently published book. A true treasure to a librarian! We then visited the tailor and met with Aunt Maryanne to walk around and find a shop that offered some lovely Maltese filigree jewelry, one of the items on my shopping list. We had dinner later in the evening, another phenomenal meal (Basmati rice with star anise and coriander, roasted peppers, curry chicken and marrows). Then we headed over to the waterfront to meet up with Paula’s friend Marika for a drink and to enjoy the sea breeze and some late evening gelato. A perfect way to enjoy the evening and appreciate the sea.

Posted by Kelsworth 20:48 Comments (0)

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