Sunday, August 03, 2008


Our visit to Valletta, Malta was very enjoyable and educational. We saw the Grand Harbour (photo above) as the ship approached the island. Located midway between Europe (Sicily, Italy) and North Africa, Malta was ruled by many foreign conquerers such as the Phoenicians (Canaan, an ancient civilization similar to Greece, the modern day Lebanon, Syria and Israel - the Bronze Age maritime power), Romans, Arabs, Normans (the Normandy from France), Castilians (northern Spain), French and Britains. The island is well-known for its oldest free-standing prehistoric temple structures in the world. In the center of the Mediterranean, Malta has no rivers. The island water supply comes from natural underground such as wells and desalination plants (modern technology provides extraction of salt from sea water before it is pumped into a reservoir).
Malta gained independence from the British in 1964. Valletta is Malta's capital city. The above photo was a view from the Barraka Gardens overlooked the Grand Harbour. Malta's official languages are Maltese and English. Italian is widely spoken and Arabic language has influence on the Maltese pronunciation. Our tour guide, Maria, and the driver, Mannuel, spoke British English. And people in Malta drive on the left as in England. It took awhile for me to get used to seeing traffic coming on the right or our bus driving on the left as if going in the wrong direction, without screaming outloud :)
My husband had a special reason to enjoy being in Malta as the parents of his best friend, AC, from the 5th grade were originally from Malta. CP and AC were childhood friends and they used to live on the same street in Detroit, Michigan. AC was the best man in our wedding. AC was born in Detroit and his family moved to Malta for a few years when AC was about 6 years old. The parents decided that America was much better for the family and the children, so they moved back to the States permanently and only visited Malta on vacation. We thought how surprised AC would be when he received a postcard we sent from Malta as we did not tell AC in advance of our trip.
It would be interesting to watch the movie, Gladiator, and see familiar city walls and recognize fortifications in Malta as the island was a substitute location when it was supposed to be Rome. The colosseum in the movie was built with plywood and temporary building materials plus computer graphics. This is nothing new in the movie industry as most of Rambo movies were filmed in Thailand and the people who were supposed to be Viet Cong or Vietnamese all spoke Thai or non-Vietnamese language.

Photos (above & below) showed the great legacy of the Knights of St. John starting with the fortified city of Valletta and the unique design and architecture of many cathedrals and churches. These deep walls that were built in the 15th century, despite heavy bombing during World War II, still stand today.

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