Monday, March 14, 2011

Jane's Day

Saturday the 12th was Jane's final day on Malta, so of course, we had a full day of exploration so that she (and us too!) could get maximum tourist action in a limited time. Our plan started out with an ultimate goal: to go and visit the Blue Grotto on the South Shore of Malta. We had read that visiting the Blue Grotto early in the morning was the most beautiful and most rewarding. As we began to plan our trip on Friday evening, a large list emerged: St. John's Co-Cathedral, Ħaġar Qim and Mnajdra Temples, the Blue Grotto, the Azure Window, shopping in Valletta... It soon became clear we had a lot on our plates and some changes would need to be made. Even though we had all hoped to go to the Blue Grotto to see the sunrise, we decided that making it to the St. John's Co-Cathedral was the most important thing to make considering it had a time constraint of being open for visiting from only 9:30am to 12pm, and since the temples and the blue grotto were across the island we could visit them second without the worry of making it back to see the cathedral.

We started our day by heading to Valletta to see the Co-Cathedral, we had been told by many people that the painting of the beheading of John the Baptist by the painter Caravaggio. The cathedral was spectacular, but I was most impressed with the story of Caravaggio and his paintings that lined the Oratory. After a few hours we hopped on another bus and headed towards the Blue Grotto.

The bus ride was a little bit longer, and we were able to see quite a bit of the Maltese countryside. We anticipated passing through the Blue Grotto to get to the temples, however, we must have mis-interpreted the map, because we arrived at the temples a stop earlier. After stopping by the cafe for a delicious pastizzi and coffee we went down to the temples. These temples were much larger than the Ggantija Temples we visited last week, and were more modern as well. It was still incredible to see such an incredible feat of architecture accomplished so so long ago.

After our long walk down to the second temple closer to the coastline we walked up to a nearby restaurant serving "authentic Maltese food." We ate a wonderfully tasty, and a little bit late lunch, joined by a few friendly cats who enjoyed some good attention from our table. Jane ordered a Maltese octopus dish, and the rest of us ordered various versions of pasta dishes. By the time we finished our lunch it was nearing the time the last bus would come by this area. We decided it was in our best interest to hop on this last bus to Valletta. We were all satisfied by our adventures for the day and headed back to the house. Although we didn't accomplish our initial goal, we had a wonderful day seeing many sites in Malta and got to spend a very awesome day with Jane before she left. We were all very sad to see her go, she always had interesting facts to tell us about the places we visited! Oh, and we liked her company too ;) Thank you Jane for all your wonderful conversations, insight, interesting debates, great planning, and never ending enthusiasm - you made our first two weeks here incredible.

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