Valletta, Malta

Tour Taken: Top 10 Best of Malta

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Marsaxlokk fishing boats


This tour was so long! One thing my sister and I wished we had were the whisper radios like we had for Athens. The guide gave great information—if you could hear it. While she repeated a lot of things back on the bus, we still missed a few history points. Plus, I felt rushed through the sites. We did, however, get a side quest to the cliffs in Malta. Absolutely beautiful as far as the eyes could see and another site where Game of Thrones was filmed.

A low light of the trip had to be candidates for the whiniest twats in the land. This lady who was with her husband on a trip … that required lots of walking. He has MS but since her knee was bothering her, she commandeered his wheelchair and acted like a total douche canoe the whole time. Everything was a complaint from her mouth. The icing on the cake was she complained that she couldn’t hear the tour guide—as if any of us could—and then said she could hear an ant crawling across the floor. So we named her the Ant Whisperer. Trust me, it wasn’t a fun jest. We got commentary from others in the tour group that had the displeasure of being on other tours with this couple.

First stop was Valletta which is also where we ended. The whole city was wall to wall limestone. So beautiful. Also visited was Mdina—the site of season one for Game of Thrones. Marsaxlokk was along the way and I saw vibrant fishing boats. We treated ourselves to coffee and let me tell you, I don’t think I’ll be able to stomach what we call coffee in America. It’s so velvety smooth and delicious without adding any sugar. Certainly not the bitter swill Starbucks pushes. I bought nougat in the market place. They had fig bars too but I abstained. My stomach wasn’t ready for food because at this point, ship crud had started to steel in.

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This is the place where St John was beheaded and his Knights lived. Amazing how this little island was used and abused over the centuries. The Romans, Turks, and French. Good gravy. This whole region is just torn from greedy countries and reigns. They all speak English because of the time the British occupied the island as well as their own language that is a mish-mash. We were treated to local wine and a light snack that was really a meal. I tried a local beverage called Kinnie. While I liked it at first, the bitterness of the orange lingered on the tongue too long.

After this trip, I’ve had to return the battery to my uncle as he didn’t want me to completely drain it. So tomorrow I will suit up with my mother’s camera. Good thing she’s been here before. St John’s Cathedral drained most of it with not being able to use the flash. I saw Caravaggio’s painting of the beheading of St John. At the end of the tour, I was so ready to leave Malta. Not because it was boring but because I had thoroughly exhausted my energy reserves. The tours don’t get any easier from here on out, lasting at least 8 hours. At this point, I’m going to have to beg off on France. Otherwise, I am going to get sick. It’s too taxing and I’ve been to France already. Italy is more important from a cultural standpoint.

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Athens, Greece

Tour Taken: Cape Sounion & Acropolis

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Getting a picture without people would be like not climbing a long distance to get to this point.

Athens was packed! The day before we docked, the public transit in Athens decided to strike. While that didn’t affect the tour, we barely made it out of the city before the strike blocked the main square. We cruised the coast. Beautiful blue waters greeted us and we wove our way to the Acropolis. First we stopped at Panathenaic Stadium, the site of the opening ceremonies in the 2004 Olympics. A few pictures and 50 cents in euros to use the bathroom, we were off. I feel like I should have left a lasting impression for forking over money to use a restroom.

Give me my medals ant fifty cents in euro. I have to pee!

Give me my medals ant fifty cents in euro. I have to pee!

Next stop was the Parthenon. I suggest not going here if walking up slippery marble steps isn’t on your adventurous list of activities. I wore my traditional excursion shoes which are hiking boots. It was a site to see these people in flip flops losing their balance. Herodes Theatre Stood about a shitload of steps up. Our guide—another A+ person—had us hooked to a headphone radio system to tell us about the site. My mother had gone on this trip on one of her numerous cruises she’s been on. Unfortunately for her, the guide was too robust to go up and give any information. Suckage. More marble steps and people ill-equiped to handle it later, we reach the top and wonder on our own. The ground had pockets of marble so if you didn’t watch, slippage happened. Several cats wandered around the top, including a black one. Friendly, of course. I haven’t met a black cat that wasn’t.

Our next stop was a traditional Greek restaurant. If I ever doubted anything in My Big Fat Greek Wedding, it was laid to rest here. The food was plentiful and served family style. We passed around plates and had the best tzatziki sauce ever! The lamb was unlike any I’d had and it turned on a spit in the front of the restaurant. The owner was very nice and our wine jug never emptied—even when we said we’d had enough. He seemed to take humor in bringing more out. His son was equally nice, pointing his nephews and cousins who also worked there. Our hearts and bellies were full when we left.

Off to the Temple of Poseidon we went! Another jaunt up a steep incline and some clicky-click of the camera. Did I mention I left my battery charger at home? Yeah, the camera died on top. Luckily my phone has a decent camera though not the quality my Nikon brings. No worries. I have a backup plan with my mother or possibly my uncle’s extra batteries.

Actual picture taken with my Samsung Galaxy S4. Boom.

Actual picture taken with my Samsung Galaxy S4. Boom.

On the way back, we passed where the Syrian refugees are being housed. An old airport no longer in use. Our guide told us they have a few weeks to figure out where they’re going before they’re sent back. It’s a little on how the states work. They have to have relatives somewhere to be released. Greece is poor and nothing is cheap. Their economy is shit but despite the troubles, I’d highly recommend visiting. Seriously … between the people and the food plus the rich history? It’s a goldmine of wealth.

Orange trees lined the streets which reminded me of people talking about the states putting fruit trees alongside city streets. Here’s the problem with that. Our guide said that though the oranges would be good for marmalade, no one would pick them because of the pollution from the cars. Think about that. Lovely fruit trees laden with the emissions from our cars. Would you want any part of that?

*special note: I meant to post this yesterday but my computer wouldn’t cooperate and as late as it was? Geesh. Mama needed some sleep!

 

Kotor, Montenegro

Tour Taken: Montenegro Highlights

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I can see my ship from here!

We were originally scheduled to visit Turkey but with all the unrest, it was cancelled. One thing that both tour guides mentioned was the political turmoil in the countries—especially in Montenegro. How their country tears itself from within over and over. A travesty that humans don’t seem to get all over the world–and I mean everywhere.

The first leg of the tour wound up this steep hill of serpentine roads fit for two mini coopers. Twenty-five of these OH MY GOD we’re going to DIE! in both directions roads. Not to mention that reaching the top wasn’t the highest point nor the end of the death-defying bends in the road. Couple that with it being two way traffic and we’re in a bus with buses coming in the opposite direction. I didn’t realize that I should have packed my rosary. Still, the rocky countryside was beautiful and our guide loved showing us her country.

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At a quaint little village, we enjoyed a small lunch of prosciutto and cheese on homemade bread with a choice of red wine, beer called Nik (local!), and grappa—a brandy and very high in alcohol content. I had the beer because the guide had me at beer, local, and lager. We didn’t have much time at the village, unfortunately, because it was back in the bus and praying to Jesus time. The next stop was the castle of Nikola Petrovic I. I couldn’t take pictures as it wasn’t permitted. Some douchebags did but I behaved. The history and the guns/swords—mostly for show—were beautiful. Our guide told us that women, in order to be married, had to hand make a dress for the giving away part. That tradition ended with her grandmother and she said if it hadn’t, there would be a lot of single girls in Montenegro. Thanks, Caroline, you were great!

 

Part of the road of DOOM

Part of the road of DOOM

We were supposed to get a tour of Kotor on the way back. An ancient city behind a great wall much like Old Town in Dubrovnik. Because of those torturous roads, we didn’t get that nor did I have the opportunity to get my shot glass souvenir. I wasn’t happy about that. All that rich history and I was going to miss it because of the time it took on that heart attack highway. The ship was delayed because of how late we and some other buses were as well. Trust me when I say the water was quite cold as the tender hauled ass to get us back to the ship.

While it was poor planning, I hope Carnival keeps Montenegro on their ports because it is a wonder. Our guide cautioned us that if you visit, rent a driver not a car. Those roads are not for the weak and neither is the grappa.

The castle that has a billion six steps that people paid to torture themselves on. NOT IT!

The castle that has a billion six steps that people paid to torture themselves on. NOT IT!