COSTA CLASSICA 14th April 2013 MALTA
Sunday 14th April 2013
Another early start today, as we approached the George Cross island of Malta, the island situated between the North African coast and Sicily. I really want to visit the commemorative Bell and Memorial high on the cliffs of the Grand Harbour so that is one plan for today.
The Pilot arrived and we went in, turned and berthed alongside the Cruise Terminal quays. This area has turned into 'restaurant row' and I'm glad for the locals as it must bring in a lot of business, especially when cruise ships are in. KRISTINA KATERINA is also here, and looks like a ferry although she is a cruise ship of Kristina Cruises.
We set off after breakfast and walked first along the quay to the KRISTINA KATARINA. I walked up the gangway and again asked if it was possible to have a couple of postcards please, as we had heard of the ship and admired it. I came off the ship with two postcards in my hand.
Next we went to catch a Hop on Hop off red double-decker bus, on the blue route, stopping first at the Malta Aviation Museum.
There were very few of us there, but the big hangars were filled with all sorts of fascinating aircraft and remains. The first aeroplane I ever travelled on was a DC3, and there was the shell of one there, plus all sorts of other crashed bits that someone somewhere had saved. There was a 'Flying Flea' on display, showing a picture of it at Shoreham Airport in Sussex, England.
In one vast hangar the air was violently disturbed by someone sounding the extremely loud air-raid siren – it wasn’t me but I did see who did it….
We waited by the roadside and caught another bus, this time to the hilltop city of Mdina. Under a clear blue sky the hot sunlight made it look really appealing, especially from the open top bus, although the heavy traffic made progress difficult, especially with all the parked cars lining the last few miles of the route up to the city. We hopped off, and joined the crowds trying to enter the city through the main gate. All was hot, loud and fascinating.
Today is a special celebration day and everyone was out enjoying it. Flags were fluttering, or being tossed high in the air, banners were hanging around the ancient walls, local people were dressed in old-style re-enactment costumes, and it took some time to get around; we met a couple with a small boy having a wonderful time with his new bike without pedals and stabilisers, his Maltese parents happy to talk and explain what was happening, and finally we could reach the ramparts and enjoy the views over so much of the island as far as the distant sea.
We took another bus back to the city, and walked past one of the City gates being renovated, under the architect Renzo Piano.
For lunch we ignored McDonald’s and cafes offering horse meat, and found a little establishment offering local food and wine.
After this we could go and see the Operation Pedestal Memorial for the 1940-43 siege of Malta and I was so pleased and moved to see this beautiful Memorial, and of course it reminded me of the Union-Castle Line ship ROCHESTER CASTLE which was the lead Merchant Navy ship for the relief of the island. (see my blog piece Horizon Part 5, July 2012 for more details)
From the Memorial I watched KRISTINA KATERINA leave the Grand Harbour, and then it was time to return to the ship before our departure.
Once again we lined the rails to watch, and once again there was one couple who had not returned and the ship was slightly delayed in leaving.
Another evening on COSTA CLASSICA was enjoyed at sea, with Italian Prosecco and dinner with new friends.
Ships seen: Kristina Katerina, Sacro Cuor-1, something unknown in dry dock, Princess Ariel the cross harbour ferry, and various small vessels
Monday 15th April 2013
Another lovely day at sea, sailing back from Malta to Marseilles in France. I went to the early Pool exercise class and again enjoyed breakfast afterwards. Today’s choice of entertainment included Flip Flop throwing, quizzes, dance lessons, arts and crafts handicrafts, and super bingo, plus this evening’s Election of the Ideal Couple, in the aft Puccini Lounge. Gala Dinner was held at night, with the usual two sittings.
Tuesday 16th April 2013
Ships seen in Marseille: Napoleon Bonaparte, Princess Danae, Sadan Bayraktar
We are due back in Marseille at 8 a.m. after an interesting and enjoyable ten days on the COSTA CLASSICA. I like and admire the Costa product and itineraries, sailing with friends and in good company and this has again been an interesting trip.