#1 Sardinia/Malta, Oct. 8, 2016

Dear Everybody,

What a hassle flying is getting to be; still I made it to Caglieri, Sardinia, my first Cagliaridestination. This lovely island in the Mediterranean is part of Italy. Its capital, Caglieri (pronounced Cull’-yer-ee—-roll the ‘r’) is a beautiful city.

The waterfront Waterfronthas lots of big cruise ships and many yachts.

The main piazza houses the train station, the City Hall, and the bus station, where you buy your tickets in a booth in the local McDonalds!.Town Hall

I’m staying in a very nice hostel near the main piazza; they serve an Italian breakfast of a croissant and all kinds of coffee. Yes, the coffee comes out of a machine with buttons, so it’s not perfect, but what is?!

I spent most of my first full day getting organized. I had forgotten my electric adapter so I had to chase all around to find one to buy. Then I bought train and bus tickets for some day trips, and also for when I leave, next week.

Spaghetti with ClamsFor linner, seafood rules, here. I had spaghetti and clams and VERY good wine at a restaurant down the street. There are sidewalk restaurants every 30 feet here—-the locals must eat out a lot!

I popped into the San Sepolcro church right next door, visiting a 4th century Baptistry in the crypt.4th C. Baptistry

 

 

 

On the Piazza San Sepolcro, just down some steps from my hostel, it’s fun to watch the locals at rest and Piazza San Sapolcroplay.

The next day I took a walking tour mapped out in the Lonely Planet to see the sights. Unfortunately it was the first hot, humid day, and the tour meant climbing up and down—-it kind of wore me out! Still there was lots to see. I’ll spare you all about the churches, except the Cathedral of Santa MariaCathedral of Santa Maria had two wonderful marble pulpits carved by Guglielmo da Pisa in 1312. Several of the buildings had been rebuilt after World War II—-I hadn’t realized that Sardinia was bombed.

2 Pulpits-Guglielmo da Pisa-1312Of course the Romans were here, too, Roman Amphitheaterand built an amphitheater but it had been badly pillaged for building materials so was barely recognizable. Still they have concerts in this place in the summer!
Lion on Lion GateFrom he Castello, way up high, with its thick walls, Cagliarione has marvelous views of Caglieri. And the Lion’s Gate does have a couple of lions on it.

The next day I tackled the museums way up high in the Castello. Just walking up is a chore! The Archeological Museum was a gem! Neolithic-3200-2600 BCEThere were some beautiful cross-shaped females faintly reminiscent of the ones in the Greek Islands. Then there were the bronze figures that go back to the Neolithic time—-6000-3500 BCE. There are lots of them, all interesting. DSC03561Most are about three inches high, but some are as large DSC03555as eight inches. These nurighic bronzetti have been invaluable for archeologists to learn about the lives in this era.

 

Of course the Romans were here—-Roman-Antestook over the island in 227 BCE. They, too, built temples and left their mark.

DSC03571

 

Following that museum I went to the Pinacoteca, which had art from the 1400s to the 1800s. Prominently displayed
Cavaro-St. PaulCavaro-St. Peterwere four works by Pietro Cavaro who founded the Stampace School of art and is Sardinia’s most important artist. I did think the St. Peter and St. Paul paintings were special.

Van Gogh-The GardnerBut wait! There was More! In the San Pancrazio building they had a display of ‘recovered’ art. All of this art had been stolen or illegally excavated. The Italian police did an investigation and found over 5000 pieces in Basil, Switzerland, which they confiscated in 2013!. Included were many nurighic bronzetti, as well as a Gaugin and a Van Gogh! There was some wonderful old religious art, too, by some of the Florentines.

MusselsI staggered back down the mountain to a good restaurant where I had great seafood for my linner. My ‘starter’ was mussels—-well now I’m spoiled and won’t want the ones I buy at Whole Foods. These were so good! I suppose they were harvested that morning. I followed this up with pasta (with local sausage) and King Prawns.

Oh, I forgot—-the night before last I had decided to getEvening Stilt Walkers-Piazza San Sepolcro some air and as I headed down the steps to the Piazza San Sepolcro I heard music—-it was a free amateur show with stilt walkers, dancing to recorded music. So I had a small beer as I watched the show. Yes, Caglieri is a lively town!

Today I took an 8:00 bus to a town called Pula. On the way there I saw flamingoes in the backwater from Flamingoes on the way to Pulathe Mediterranean.

From Pula I got a shuttle toRoman Baths go to Nora, which has lots of layers of history. Nora was founded by the Nora-Roman Site-250 BCEPhoenicians in the 6th C. BCE; the Romans took over the island in the 3rd C BCE.  Virtually all of what I saw dated to Roman times. There were Roman baths and mosaic floors and there was a Roman Mosaic Floorsmall theater.

Small Roman TheatreUnfortunately the shuttle bus returning to Pula wasn’t coming for two more hours, and then, if I waited, I would miss my Caglieri bus. The Lonely Planet book said it was four km—-easily walkable but when we came, I noticed that it seemed much longer than four km. Then which way to go? I started walking and wondering if I were on the right road. Yes, I finally came to a sign that said, “Pula.” I kept going but it WAS more than four km and it was getting late. So I stuck out my thumb to hitchhike. I know, Europeans don’t hitchhike (nor any more do Americans, I think) and several cars went by. Luckily one stopped—-an older couple from Milan—-who didn’t look like ax murderers! They dropped me at the Piazza, but it was still an hour until my Caglieri bus. So, even though it was too early to eat, (only noon), I did anyway. I had a small draft beer and roast goat cheese. Was that good! On the way home I stopped and bought more fruit—-the cheese and bread with olive oil was pretty heavy!

After I got off the bus I checked into renting a car for a day, since an important World Heritage Site of a Paleolithic Nuraghe settlement—-in fact the most important one on the island—-isn’t reachable by bus with any good timing. I’ll probably do this on Saturday. However, the Sardinian drivers (like the mainland Italians) are skilled but aggressive. The way those cowboy bus drivers were slinging those buses around in the bus yard—-some were even double buses with the accordion connection—-didn’t bother them. They backed them up very fast, right up to a building, two feet away. I hope they don’t sling me off the road!

Anyway, all is fine and I’m enjoying Sardinia. I’ve been mostly alone in my dorm (I think the lady is ‘protecting’ me) so I’ve been kind of isolated. That’s why I stay in the dorms—-to interact with other travelers. I finally had three roommates last night, of which two were from France and one from Germany. Everybody is surprised when they find that I’m American. I think not many come here.

Posted in Sardinia/Malta 2015 | 1 Comment

#4 Uzbekistan, (Final) June 7, 2016

Dear Everybody,

The train to Samarkand was fine, and I gather that ‘Business Class’ meant that there were TVs in our compartment. There were six of us, three of which were children. One little girl offered me a cookie, which I accepted and enjoyed. The ride lasted over three hours, but Offerning Me a Cookiethen, there we were, in Samarkand. As the taxi drove me through the town to my hostel, I could see beautiful facades and towers of madrassas very near my hostel. And a surprise when I got to the hostel—-there were four parties that I had met at previous hostels. The Japanese dentist woman was there; also the American girl and the Swiss boy; the Italian and the Brit; and an older Taiwanese man I had met at breakfast that morning. This often happens.

When I was getting on the train, it seemed that the train pulling in just then was not the right one. I asked a porter who was handling six bags. He looked at my ticket and indicated that I should follow him. (No English) He proceeded to put all six bags up into the train; then motioned to me to come up; and then he went down the other side, hauling all six bags with him on to the platform on the other side—-so I did the same. Yes, OUR train was on platform two, and now we could board.

Uzbek Women in SamarkandWhen I got off the train it was raining a bit, but it quit about the time I met these women, who were full of high spirits. I took a picture of them and so they all had to see that (on the back of my camera) and again, were very excited by my being American.

This brought me to three Madrassas that are very near my hostel. The one on the left was built in 1420; the other two in the 1600s.  I was excited to see them in more detail the next day. And, of course, there are many more of them. Look at the size of them relative to the people that are standing near.The Registan

My second day in Samarkand I really covered a lot of ground. I saw a ton of mosques, madrassas and mausoleums. This mausoleum was built in the 15th Century for the main Double-Dome Mausoleum for Wet Nursewet nurse at Timur’s (Tamerlane) Court. It has a double dome.

 

 

All of these have been restored, of course. There were pictures of how they looked before work was done.

Before Restoration

30 m. curved track from Observatory

 

Ulugbek, Timur’s grandson, was a ruler, but also a scientist. In the 1400s he built an observatory to follow the stars and planets. The curved arc of the astrolab of the observatory was uncovered by archeologists some time ago.

DSC05046The Hostel life is always fun. Here is the portal to my Bahodir B&B.

And the breakfast is huge! The group all assembles in the courtyard. There were Chinese, Europeans and one American! Me. Eating breakfast together and trading stories is a big part of the fun.Breakfast at Bahodir B&B Samarkand

 

Interacting with the people is a fun part, and they are pretty open to being photographed. Here it looks like Grandpa is taking his grandson Grandpa and Grandsonfor a stroll.Barefoot Trash Collectors

These little girls weren’t so lucky. They were barefoot, and seem to be foraging in the trash for salvageable items.

On the other hand, these girls are looking pretty Uzbek Gilrs in Blue JeansWesternized, although they are the only ones I’ve seen in blue jeans, so far.

 

 

Setting out one morning to see some more, this is the view of the Registan from my B&B. I had looked at these three madrassas on my first day here, but this day I took the time to enter them and see what they were all about.View of Registan from My Hostel

The third madrassa in the Registan had a carpet operation going inside of it. Two young women were tying knots a mile a minute, and three men were overseeing the operation and trying to sell the carpets.Carpet Procudtion and Sales

 

 

 

Then I took a city bus going in the direction of the statue of Amir Timur. Timur, is who we call ‘Tamerlane.” He was a successful warrior and On The City Busconquered much of Persia (now Iran), Turkey, Uzbekistan, and even India. Samarkand was his home base. Clearly he is respected in these parts. The statue of him is a focal point of the city. I got off when I saw the statue, and took a bit of time photographing and studying it. The bus leading to it was pretty full, but fun.

Amir Timur

 

 

 

 

 

From the statue, I walked to Gur-E-Amir Mausoleum, where Timur is buried, along with two sons and two grandsons (including Ulugbek). There are also a couple of teachers buried there, too. These mausoleums are really gorgeous, and have been beautifully
restored. This one was built in 1404 by Timur for his grandson, and prospective heir, but the grandson died in 1403, DSC05056.jpginitiating this building. The following year, Timur died unexpectedly in Kazakhstan when he was on his way to invade China, and so was also buried here.

Black Jade is Timur's Stone

 

Honoring Timur

 

The dark green (looks black) jade sarcophagus is Timur’s; the
others are the sons, grandsons, and teachers. Several people were saying prayers here, considering it a holy place.

At another of the madrassas, a restorer was diligently working his trade, with a tiny paintbrush.  Can you imagine what time and resources go into keeping up all these monuments? But clearly the local

Restoration Workpeople appreciate them, also, and pray when they’re in any of the mausoleums.

My last day in Samarkand, I hired a taxi to take me 90 km to the town of Shakhrisabz, Timur’s hometown. When I offered $20 American, lots of drivers wanted to take the job—-maybe that was a bit generous?

We started out; the first stop was the bread ladies. Six women swarmed around me opening the car doors; the driver bought two loaves. On to the next—-he had been making phone calls all along; we stopped right along the highway and a man jumped over the median divider—-my driver got out and the other man gave my man some money. On to Snow-Covered Mountains
Shakhrisabz. On the way I caught this view of snow-covered mountains, which was a surprise because the area around Samarkand is very flat.

In Shakhrisabz, the first sight was the Ak-Saray Palace, or what was left of it. It was Timur’s summer Ak-Saraypalace, built in the 1300s. It’s HUGE, and most of it doesn’t exist anymore.

From there I got an electric little bus to see the Kok-Gumbaz Mosque and Dorut Tilyovat. There are some more notables buried under the two smaller domes; the bigger dome is Kok-Gumbaz Mosque and Dorut Tilyovat with Poolthe mosque. This was all built in 1437.

There were more tombs and a crypt—-this time I made it down and up under my own steam, unlike the other day when it looked too scary and I went and got the young man ticket seller to take Down Into the Cryptmy hand going down, and also to help haul me out! The Crypt was built for Timur, but he died unexpectedly and is buried in Samarkand.

A big statue of Timur was the centerpiece of the whole Amir Timurcomplex. I’m told that usually on weekends there are lots of bridal parties lined up to be photographed in front of this statue.

There were hedges of—-either basil or Picking the Basilmint, I couldn’t quite decide which. There were women picking the leaves (or grooming them?) and it lent a lovely aroma in the 100-degree weather.

When I was through ‘looking,’ I walked back to where I had been dropped off. There was a row of cars, and the first white car seemed like ‘mine,’ with the driver smiling at me and greeting me—-I assumed it was he. I got in and at that point the driver put out his hand to shake mine; I did, but then he leaned in for the cheek-left and right greeting and that didn’t seem like my driver! And the interior of the car didn’t look quite familiar either. So I got out and walked a bit further down the way and there was my driver with the green shirt and white car! Well, you don’t get a very good look at the driver when you’re sitting beside him.

On the way back to Samarkand we again saw my five hostel mates that were on bicycles, which we had seen on our way to Shakhrisabz, bicycling up those big hills. When they left the hostel during breakfast, I didn’t realize they were going my way. So they had been pedaling all the time we drove to Shakhrisabz and were still pedaling to get there when we were driving back. They were a Dutch middle-aged couple, a German, a Frenchman and an American girl from Indiana.

Yesterday morning I took the train back to Tashkent, did a bit of shopping at the Chorsu Bazaar, along with linner, went to bed early, got a 4:45 AM flight out of Tashkent, and now (Tuesday evening) I’m Home!!

Yes, it’s always fun to go, but it’s always fun to get back home!

Posted in 2016, Uzbekistan | 3 Comments

#3 Uzbekistan, June 1, 2916

Dear Everybody,

Is it hot? Well, the car thermometer registered as high as 44 degrees C (112 degrees F) although mostly it stayed around 38 C (100 F). Still, the car had A/C so I couldn’t Camels with Ayar-Qalacomplain. However, climbing up the three forts that I visited out in the desert was hard work. This one is the Ayez-Qala, where the driver and I stopped for a cup of tea at the Ayaz-Qala Yurt Camp. The camp provides camels if you care to go for a ride. We were content with just having tea and visiting the fort, which had its heyday in the 6th-7th centuries. Still, staying overnight in the yurts would have bFamily Walking to Towneen fun.

A family walked by, headed for the town. I suggested we could fit them into our car, but my driver didn’t seem to want to.

By and by the car needed gas. We stopped at a sign saying ‘GAZ’ and it Proopane Gas Pumpturned out to be propane. Most of their cars run on propane! While the driver was paying, the attendant was running the propane into a ‘holder.’ Then he hooked a hose up to a funny place at the back of the car and ‘shot’ it into the car. All done, quick as a wink!

After visiting the three forts, we drove on to Bukhara, arriving at 5:00 PM, a very long day. Here I stayed in the Rustam & Zukhra hostel, opting Checking Into Rustam & Zukhra, Bukharafor a single room rather than the dorm bed I had reserved. Over dinner, which I could buy in the hostel, I had a nice conversation with an American young woman (first American on this trip) and a Dutch young man. Morning’s breakfast was a treat: good roll, triangular meat and onion dumpling, cheese, sausage, barley??, overcooked egg and potato; Breakfast at Rustam & Zukhrathen yoghurt with raisins in a sweet sauce to put in it; and tea. There was also bread, but their bread here isn’t as good as most countries’ bread.

The next day I did some sightseeing, but only the close-by area. It was again 100 degrees, so no fast moves! A beautiful ninth century mosque, the Maghoki-Attar, had an interesting history, with a 5th C. Zoroastrian9th C. Maghoki-Attar Mosque
Temple under it; under that was a Buddhist temple, plus until the 16th C. the mosque was used in the evenings by the Bukhara Jews. The excavated courtyard, with wall around it, is about 12 feet lower than the level of the city today. Many of these madrassas have excavated courtyards, as much has filled in with dirt over the centuries, raising the ground level of the city.

Nadir Divanbegl MedressaThe Lyabi-Hauz was a wonderful pool of water around which were three madrassas, and a beautiful restaurant, well shaded by two big trees, where I ate linner. Clearly this pool area is Bukhara’s Living Room, as local people were hanging out here, too.

The restaurant was right on the water, but there were no vacant tables next to the Restaurant Where I Atewater, so I asked a single woman if I could join her at her table. She quickly assented, and turned out to be an American. In fact she was here with a NYTimes travel group, as an ‘expert,’ who gives lectures on Uzbekistan. Today the travel group was going into Turkmenistan, and journalists are not permitted to go there DSC04701so she was waiting for her group to return. So we had a wonderful lunch of plov (their most popular national dish) together, and talked our heads off! She also turned out to be a best-selling author, named Laura Shaine Cunningham. What fun!

More and more madrassas here in Bukhara—-here’s one from a Old Turkmen Madrassalong time ago—-note the street level is several feet above where it was when it was in use. You can just see the top of the door. Many Madrassa Entranceof them have beautiful entrances. At first I tried to identify each one, but there are simply too many for that! So I just enjoyed each one, with their similarities, but small differences, too.

The beautiful Kalon Minaret along with the blue-domed Mir-i-Arab Medrassa, built in the 16th century, make a beautiful sight. The minaret was built in 1127, and at that time at 47 meters (about 150 feet), was the tallest DSC04727building in all of Central Asia.

 

 

 

These street sweepers were taking a short break from their duties. They do a Street Sweepersterrific job; everything is very clean, here.

With this 100 degree weather, I could only sightsee for a limited time before going back to my hostel, which is very near all the madrassas, to rehydrate and cool off with the A/C.

Then I visited the Art Museum, which was stifling, but had good paintings—-here are a Kurzin -Mirboboev Saidcouple: “Mirboboev Said” by Kurzin and “Holiday” by Mirzaev. Kurzin was one of the Russian artists that was actually sent to Siberia for being ‘politically incorrect’ Mirzaev "Holiday"and whose many paintings Savitsky rescued and put in his museum in Nukus.

I again ate my linner next to the pool, but in a different restaurant. I noticed that this restaurant had almost all locals and no tourists. I had a helpful waiter that pointed out a lamb dish, which I was hungry for, and I had a nice salad to go with it. ItEating Linner was fun to watch the families with the little ones jumping around. Several seemed to be with their grandparents—-maybe the parents were working and the grandparents babysitting?

I had been looking DSC04723for barberries to bring home for my new friend/partner, who is a gourmet cook. He had been researching the cuisine and asked me to look for them. I had searched quite a few shops/markets but to no avail. Well, here in Bukhara I found them, and bought a small sample. By the way, those metal design things at the bottom of the picture are stampers with which to make patterns in the bread. There are so many items that one would like to bring home as souvenirs from Uzbekistan, but they would be pretty hard to fit into my backpack, and into my condo too, for that matter—-it’s getting pretty full!

Tuesday morning I had breakfast with a couple who were leaving for Samarkand by train. I got some good information from them about where to buy a ticket and went to pursue that after breakfast. It was quite a long walk, which I’m beginning to mind because of the heat. Even at 8:00 AM, it’s 90 degrees! They didn’t have any thing but ‘business class’ (I wonder what that will be?) which still only cost $14 for a three hour train trip.

Entrance RampI did more sight seeing—-more madrassas, more mosques, and then the ARK. This is a mighty pile that was originally built in the 5th century for Bukhara kings to be crowned in and live in. They used it up until 1920! Inside there is a mosque, living quarters, stables, etc., with many rooms made into little museums. They were busy redoing the RegistPlovan in front of the Ark, which is the big medieval main square where they held the executions.

I had plov (their national dish) for linner again. It has lots of lamb fat on/in it and there’s lamb meat under there, too. The little raisin things are barberries.

I had a nice visit with Sharon and her son, Richard from USA. When Sharon and son, Richardthey came in the restaurant they couldn’t find a table on the water as I couldn’t the other day, so I invited them to sit with me. They have a husband and sister who don’t like to travel so the mother and son go by themselves.

Today I made my final sojourn into this ‘city museum’ of Bukhara. There were more madrassas, mosques, and mausoleums. Additionally I saw thisCrying Mother Monument “Crying Mother Monument,” in Samani Park. I gather she is crying
over loosing her son/husband in war.

This little boy thought it just the right temperature to set up a lemonade stand. Lemonade StandActually I think he’s selling Iced tea.

I met a musician in Samani Park, who had Musicianplayed cello in an orchestra that presented a concert in Santa Fe, NM. He teaches music in an Art and Music school. He invited me over to a nearby building to hear some music, and I bought a CD.

In one of the mausoleums, there was a display of the Aral Sea tragedy. It’s amazing how much of it has now dried up, since 1960.

DSC04861I did peruse the local market, for which I either was too early, or too late, as there wasn’t much going on. I did find someone selling barberries so I bought some more, thinking that what I had bought earlier is not enough to make very much plov.

Leaving the market, were some women pushing a cart with lots of good-looking melons.Returning From Market

And somebody was firing up the bread oven. The ovens all seem to be on carts so they are portable.

Heating the Bread OvenThen being pretty tired and hot, I decided to take a taxi back to my hotel. It’s hard to tell who is going to be a taxi; lots of the time they are just ordinary people being a taxi. So I just hollered “Taxi” a couple of times, and two men responded. No English, but I understood that they were just going to give me a ride to be nice, for no charge! When I said the “Lyabi-Hauz,” (that’s the pool with the three madrassas where people hang out) they took me someplace else—-obviously bad pronunciation. I showed them the name on the map, and then they got it. How nice of them.

Tomorrow I shall take the train to Samarkand. I had always wanted to see that city since reading about it in Mitchner’s “Caravans,” which I read in the ‘50s. I think it will be as exotic as I think it is, having seen some pictures.

Posted in 2016, Uzbekistan | 2 Comments

#2 Uzbekistan, May 27, 2016

Dear Everybody,

Getting a bus to the airport was not easy, but finally accomplished. I was flying from Tashkent, the capital city, to Nukus, a city at the opposite end of this long skinny country. There are many guards at the air terminals; (actually they also are at the metro (subway) entrances and look in everybody’s bags); and no taxis, cars, or buses can go close to the terminal. The terminal building was large and modern. When I walked up to it from where the bus let me off, a guard at the door looked at my ticket and said that I needed to go to Terminal Three, which was five km away! Back to the bus stand with some nice help from a man that shook his head ‘No’ to several buses, before pointing out the right one. Same drill there—-got let off a block away from the entrance with guards all around. Terminal Three was also large and modern, with almost nobody in it. Clearly they are building for the future. The plane was a prop plane, which I haven’t been in since the ‘80s when I worked with rural hospitals and took prop planes to Watertown, SD and Thief River Falls, MN.

NodirakhonIn the airport a young woman approached me; asked me where I was from; if she could practice her English and if I would administer a ‘test’ from her computer. I get an interesting reaction when people ask what country I’m from; “America” draws a BIG positive surprised reaction—-one lady said her dream was for her and her children to go there. Anyway, Nodirakhon and I had the English lesson for more than an hour, as I had gotten there good and early. She is 22 years old, works at the airport, and plans to take an English test for teaching credentials at the British Embassy soon. A fun interlude.

The Savitsky MuseumNukus is a depressed town in the back of beyond. It’s huge main claim to fame (and the reason I came here) is the Savitskiy Art Museum. In the 50s a Russian named Savitskiy visited here with an archeological team (he was the artist sketcher) and he became enamored with this area. He returned to live here and established the Volkov 1930 Three Male Figures (Conversation)Savitskiy Art Museum gathering paintings that were Tansiqbaev 1931 Crimson Autumnnot well received by Stalin and successors—-not in the ‘right’ political mode. He collected and collected, raising money any way he could. The paintings Tansiqbaev 1934 Portrait of an Uzbek Manwere mostly in people’s attics and would have been lost if not for him. The museum now has 15,000 of them with only a small percentage on display at any one time. They are largely from the early part of the 20th century and most beautiful. He was a painter, too. In 2003 they opened a new building and since have built two more that aren’t open yet. I was exhausted after viewing all of these beautiful paintings!

The Dandelion Was For MeWhen I was sitting out in front of my hotel a little girl passed by with her mother, smiling at me. Her mother said something to her, and she returned to me and presented me with a dandelion. By the time I got to taking her picture, she had dropped the dandelion (it’s by her foot) and become self-conscious. However, it was a lovely moment!

Walking around Nukus brings one to Soviet-style grand Downtown Nukuspublic buildings/spaces. For a depressed town, there are signs of revitalization. There seem to be new apartments going up, and the new Savitskiy Museum was built in 2003—-it is a grand place. I do see a lot of building going on. The hotel people report that tourism is New Apartment Buildingsgrowing because of the Savitsky Museum. They say that many of the tourists are German tour groups. I have met one such group.

Here’s something I haven’t seen much of since my grandmother raised them on her Hollyhocks at Hotelfarm—-Hollyhocks. They were next to my hotel. And it’s always fun to see the school children on their way home from Schoolboysschool.

 

 

 

 

MizdakhanTuesday I had a taxi driver take me to Mizdekhan, an old city from the 4th C. BC that Timur destroyed in the 14th C. Tombs and Mosques continue to be built there up to today. The restored Mausoleum of Mazlum Khan Slu was sensational. It dates to the Entering the Mauloleum12th to 14th centuries. My driver led me down into it—-the exterior is non-imposing. Mausoleum with AliHe also said a prayer as it is considered a very holy place. Other buildings were some old and some new, all quite impressive.Long Structure

By the way, don’t worry about any terrorists doing me in; if it happens it will be a traffic accident! They drive with more abandon than ANY drivers I have ever encountered in any country. And, of course, there are all kinds of bicycles, pedestrians, and donkey carts on the highways. Interestingly, my taxi driver had a fuzz buster, which he made steady use of as we drove the 13 km out to At The Nukus BazaarMizdakhan. We were going very fast at first, but then slowed waaaay down as the machine started it’s mad bleeping and sure enough, around a corner he triumphantly pointed out the hidden police! The semaphores unfortunately have a yellow light which precedes green, so as soon as it turns yellow, the honking starts.

I had the driver drop me at the Nukus Plastic Tomatoes?  No!Bazaar, a lively place as they all are. The tomatoes are unbelievable, they are so red and the stems so green—-they look plastic. Do you suppose this man has puckered up for a kiss?? Anyway, everyone was friendly. Cleaned Chicken For SaleOne woman was walking around with a cleaned chicken partially inside a plastic bag, trying to sell it.

Wednesday I hired a taxi to take me to Khiva. I had planned to take a shared taxi, but things didn’t work out in even ‘fours’ (four share a taxi) so it was kind of “The cheese stands alone” thing, where I wound up on my own. Anyway, it worked out fine. On the way we crossed a rather Bridge Towrad Urgenchrickety bridge, but got across in Hoeing Cottonfine style. They raise a lot of cotton hereabouts and people were hoeing the cotton—-what a job on a very hot day! Apparently in Stalin times when Uzbekistan was part of the Soviet Union, Stalin diverted much of a river’s water in this highly desert area for irrigation so they could raise cotton. Unfortunately this river fed the Aral Sea, a huge inland water which ships could ply. Since that time, the Aral Sea has almost dried up, quite a tragedy. They are still growing lots of cotton here. In the harvesting time, they compel everybody to turn out to pick cotton. It’s kind of slavery, I guess.

Khiva has a very old fort in it, with the walls and many old buildings still standing. I’m Hotel Mirzoboshistaying in the Mirzoboshi Hotel within the fort. It’s a cute little place. I have a dorm room in a 2-bed dorm (!) with a bathroom. The first night I had a young Japanese man for a roommate, who often talked in his sleep, but he left the next day and then I was alone in the room. The (narrow) mattress had been pretty well beat down on the side facing the room (no chairs so people sit on the beds) so the next day I took all the bedclothes off and turned the mattress over so the saggy part faced the wall, and wasn’t so saggy, either.

Carol at Khorezm Art RestaurantI had linner at a really nice restaurant. I had their ubiquitous dish, plov, along with a beet salad. It was very good, but didn’t look as authentic as the food in the Chorsu Bazaar. As you can see, I’ve been getting some sun—-it’s very hot here, but all the rooms that I’ve had have had A/C.

I’m surprised that all the hostels that I’ve stayed in so far have had wifi. I shouldn’t be surprised—-everybody is walking around with a cell phone, yet much of the women’s clothing is traditional. The young girls don’t wear blue jeans very much—-mostly feminine dresses. But I suspect that they are getting ‘Westernized’ very fast. There is a TV in my room, but it only has four channels, and they are pretty ‘snowy’ anArabxon Madrassa-1616d none are in English, as one would expect.

I really enjoyed exploring Khiva. Lots of old madrassas, mosques and mausoleums. I started by using the Lonely Planet map and Kalta Minor Minaretinfo about which madrassa was which, but do we really care? They are all spectacular, with their minarets and tiles. Many of these are from the 12th to 14th centuries, but restored, of course. The people are interesting, too. They all ask DSC04476where I’m from and give a BIG reaction when I say I’m from America. One old man wanted to take my picture with his friends after I had taken their picture, so we did that.

Uzbek TouristsMany Uzbeks are also being tourists and looking at all the sights, too. Most of the older women are dressed traditionally and even the younger ones rarely wear blue jeans, but usually wear feminine dresses.

Of course there was a camel on deck for To Have Your Picture Takenpeople to have their picture taken ‘riding the camel.’ I guess I don’t need to do that anymore!

This morning when I got up there was no water coming from the faucets, no electricity and no wifi connection. I haven’t had any ‘bars of service’ for my iPhone in quite awhile. I’ve got my iPhone ringer turned off, since earlier when I did have ‘bars of service’, they would call in the middle of my night from the USA for phone solicitations, as there is a 10 hour time difference, and that’s particularly annoying to roommates if I’m in a dorm.

I had an especially nice restaurant yesterday, called Vasavul Boshi, made out of one of the Restaurant Vasavul Boshiold madrassas. I had a good waiter with good English—-I think he was the manager, as the other wait-staff didn’t want to wait on me, as all the other patrons were in tourist groups and they each have a local guide to help with the ordering. I told him I wanted authentic Uzbek food, so he recommended the green noodle with diced meat, Uzbek "Green Noodle" diishpotatoes and veggies dish with some ‘cream’ on the side (with an impossible name) and the eggplant salad.  Both were good. The food is not highly spiced here. They use some cumin and some black pepper, and that’s about it. For dessert, I again had fresh cherries and apricots.

I’ve had three conversations with youngish people about whether they (or really their parents, as they’re too young to remember) are happier now that Uzbekistan is independent after the breakup of the Soviet Union. Surprisingly, all three have said the older people wish they were back in the Soviet Union. One said that upon finishing the University now, it is doubtful if one could get a job, where in the old days, one knew they could somewhere in the Soviet Union. He did say that they have more freedoms now, but is it worth it without the opportunities to earn better money? Interesting! I gather their form of government isn’t very democratic.

I looked in on the Music Museum, bought a CD of Uzbek music and had a young woman Musical Instrumentsdemonstrate some of the Uzbek dance steps to the music. She wouldn’t let me photograph her while dancing, though.

An English teacher with all gold teeth spoke to me. She had a dozen boys about 12 years old who were her pupils. I asked where the girls were, thinking English Teacher With Pupilsthat they were not allowed to attend, but the teacher said they were visiting the museums while she and the boys waited here! When I asked each their name, each responded, “My name is ___.” When I repeated each name, corrupting the pronunciation, I’m sure, they all thought that was hilarious.

I stopped by the market again, and now they were using the clay ovens to bake the bread. Bread in OvenA young woman had just finished plopping the handfuls of bread on the side of the inside of the oven.

Then I had linner at a non-tourist place, although I’ll have to say that my ‘tourist’ place yesterday had better food! Still the atmosphere Linnerhere was fun. I had a plate of stuff that I had pointed to of another diner’s. It was mostly meat and potatoes and some rice. I also got a fresh tomato and cucumber salad that had lots of fresh dill in it.

Tomorrow I’m off to see some old forts out in the country a long ways, and then that driver will take me Bukhara, my next destination.

Posted in 2016, Uzbekistan | Leave a comment

#1 Uzbekistan, May 21, 2016

Dear Everybody,

I arrived Tashkent, Uzbekistan on May 19th after traveling for two days! I had to transfer airports in New York, thenGulnara Bringing Breakfast had a 8-hour layover in Moscow, finally arriving Tashkent at 2:30 AM. My taxi tried to scam me (as usual) but it came to a good ending. I slept about an hour before it was time for breakfast, brought by Gulnara to each of us in the courtyard with perfect weather temperature. I had an omelet, bread (very tough) good butter, cheese and jam, excellent yoghurt and tea, since the coffee iFirst Day Hostel Breakfasts NesCafe

My first project was to get a train ticket to Nukus for Sunday, and failing that, to get an airplane ticket. The train ticketing was a trial in patience——maybe capitalism isn’t perfect, but this system is very frustrating! After waiting in two lines (first agent had to go to dinner) for two hours, there was no space on the RR to Nukus during the three days which were possible. So, on to the airline office with more waiting but FINALLY, after taking my papers and going to another cashier for credit card use, I got my ticket!

I had taken the Metro to the train station (cost about 30 cents) which has beautiful metro stops very much like in Moscow. When I came back I perused the Chorsu Bazaar, then ate at a hugChorsu Bazaar with Madrassae vendor place that also sold vodka and beer (I had one of each!) I ate a kabab and something else that my neighbor at the table was having, for an all around good lunch. My ‘neighbor’ was Malika, who was with her mother-in-law, anMalikad invited me to their home for the next day! How lucky for me! Well, not so lucky, as it turned out, as she wrote her phone number on a paper for me to give to the taxi driver and she would tell him where to go. The next day, I did that; the taxi driver called three times, but no answer. So I gave him the cake I had bought to bring to her, and had lunch at the Chorsu Bazaar again!

It was some kind of sausage thing with rice and meat in it. She cut it up, put it in a bowl,Buing Cherries and added onions and juice. It was quite good. I bought some cherries to eat later, which are gorgeous.

My Japanese RoommateI was still pretty tired from the trip, so just hung ouFine Arts Museumt at the hostel.  I had a lovely Japanese roommate my second night. She was a dentist, tired of her work, and so was taking three months off to travel.

The next day I took the metro to see the Fine Arts Museum. This was to be 15 centuries of Uzbek art, but most of the first 13 centuries were missing! Still there were some lovely paintings from the 19th and 20th centuries to enjoy. One was of their national game, which is throwing a lamb from horseback rider to horseback Uzbek Game---Throwing a Lambrider—-actually I had read that they throw it with spears, which aren’t shown here.

 

As in most third world countries, there is a lot of maintenance work done by hand. ThisPulling Grass By Hand woman was pulling grass along side an asphalt run-off.

Uzbekistan still has lots of Soviet remnants, as you would expect. They use the Cyrillic alphabet, too, so if the signs are in Russian or Uzbek, they are still hard to read! There is very little English spoken here, which makes it challenging.

I’m off to Nukus by air tomorrow. I can get a bus to the airport right from the Chorsu Bazaar.

Posted in 2016, Uzbekistan | 2 Comments

#7 (final) Sardinia/Malta Nov. 20, 2015

Gozo is small and pleasant.  My first day I went to the kitchen to eat the breakfast that was included with my room. It was all laid out—-instant coffee, canned juice, a loaf of bread, margarine, jam and tea bags with a kettle in which to heat water. I decided not to partake.
I went looking for some good coffee and found it, but ordered a baguette with it——a Morning Cappuccinomistake.  That turned out to be a cheese sandwich that she put in that toaster thing that smooches it together while it toasts it.  At least the cappuccino was good.  I looked further and found an Italian coffee bar for the next day with good-looking croissants.

Sightseeing was walking up, up to the Cathedral of the Assumption.  They are working on the area around it——all Assumption Cathedral-Victoria-Gozostone walls, etc. so I had to navigate between huge pieces of machinery.  The cathedral was Cathedral of the Assumptionfine—-similar to the one in Mdina.  I also looked in on the Cathedral Museum, which was unremarkable, and the archeological museum, which  was good.

 

 

More fat ladies, more figurines, and a female bust Zaghara Circle-4000 BCEfr535 ADom the Gigantic Temples, which Bust from Gigantic Templesare very old.  I also got good information as to which bus to take and where to go to the temples.

 

A walk around the walls of the church (old city) gave gorgeous views of the whole island, which isn’t very big.  It also isn’t as

Cathedral Wallsbuilt up as Malta, so more pleasing, in a way.

 

 

 

 

I found a good restaurant View   From Cathedral Wallsand had a good lamb shank for dinner.  I always mean to make that at home but I never do.  It takes a special trip to a special butcher shop, I guess that’s why.  I told the landlady of my hotel that she wouldn’t have to put out breakfast for me.

Friday I visited the biggest, oldest temples in Gozo, the Ggantija Temples.  They’re actually some of the oldest, and certainly the biggest, in all of Malta. Unfortunately in the 18th and Ggantija Temples 3600-3000 BCE19th centuries, much was pillaged and so the temples kind of disintegrated.  However, they are a UNESCO marked place, and so they have been working at restoring them.
Niche With Reconstructed AltarThey reach about 20 feet high, and some of the individual stones weigh many tons each. How did they handle these in the years of 3600 to 3000 BCE?  One can still see the several niches in each of the two temples.  Many of the big stones have holes penetrating completely through the rock.  Maybe these Rocks With Holesholes were for ropes to
handle them?

 

 

 

 

There was a
lovely museum in connection with it,

Ggantija Templestoo.  Two ladies sitting on a couch; several other ‘fat ladies;’ then some cow toe bones (tiny) made into figures of men; and a ‘family’ of stick figures, quitebeautiful.  My guidebook listed several of these figures as being in the Archeology Museum, but they must have 4100-3700 BCE Cow Toe Bones
Two Ladies on CouchDSC05002DSC05001

 

moved them back to this location where there were discovered when they created this museum. I wondered why I couldn’t find some of these in the Archeology Museum when I visited it.

A nice long walk early one morning, after my nice cappuccino and croissant, that took me out of town in Went Walking Out of Townbeautifully pleasant weather, and all downhill (!) was lovely, My, Gozo, like the bigger island of Malta, has a million stones that all look like they have been rearranged hundreds of times.

For my walk, what goes down must come up, but luckily for me, after about a half hour I came to a bus stop with a bus coming in 5 minutes that would take me back to the Victoria bus station.  So I escaped the uphill part!

At the station, I figured out which bus to take to go to Gharb (pronounced ‘arb’), which left right away.  It’s fun to be out and about on a bus in the rural areas, although the whole island is very small, so one is rarely out of sight of the Mediterranean or of the city of Victoria.

When I got to Gharb, I was eager to see the parish church.  It wasn’t open but the exteriorGharb Parish Church
was interesting.  Three female figures on the convex front of the church represented Faith, Hope and Charity.  A sign on one of the bell towers meant something like, “Pay
"Pay Attention To Time, Young Man"attention to time, young man,”

Moving on, I wanted to walk out into the country to see Ta’Pinu, which was looming up, across some fields. I asked a young man to direct me, and he did.  I had to walk quite a ways up the Ta'Pinumain road, and then cut back to the left to get to Ta’Pinu.

The church was built in the 1920s (they didn’t have ENOUGH churches in Malta!) to celebrate a local woman hearing the Virgin Mary speak to her in this location.  Since then 14 Marble Stations of the Crossmany miracles had happened and Holy Water Fontso the need for this church.  It really is beautiful, both inside and out.  Across the road a track goes up, up with huge marble sculptures for each of the 14 Stations of the Cross.  Boy, somebody had a LOT of money!

Next to the church was a bus stop, again with a bus coming in a few minutes, that would take me back to Victoria bus station.  It’s quite fun running around on these nice buses that have good signage and many bus stops all over the island.  I also had a map of the buses.

In Victoria, the biggest city in Gozo, they don’t use house numbers. Each house has a House PlaqueDSC05083plaque—-often religious—-which identifies the house. I guess you’d tell someone that
“We’re in the Sacred Heart house on Kercem Street.”

Grinding StoneI spent another day doing museums in Victoria.  The Folklore museum showed lots of rural tools, including a whole big grinding stone set up to make flour.  Apparently in the 18th C. the government encouraged wheat and barley bread as the staple of the common folk’s diet, and set about creating lots of flour mills like this one.

The other museum, Natural History, was less interesting, as it always is.  Both of these museums were within the big walls of the Assumption Cathedral so the buildings they were in were fun to see.

Swimming in the Blue LagoonA beautiful sunny day was the right one for going to Comino,DSC05152 a non-inhabited island between Malta and Gozo.  It has a Blue Lagoon that is a must-see, and a few brave souls were swimming in it, in spite of it being mid-November and only about 70 degrees.  The water is crystal clear—it looks funny to see a boat floating in that water when you can see the whole bottom of the boat.

I hiked around part of the island to a small 1618 church with the name of Chapel of Our DSC05136Lady’s Return From Egypt.  The name was bigger than the church.  I thought it resembled our southwestern USA mission churches.  Maybe just a coincidence.

My last day in Gozo I was sitting at the bus station when I heard “Oh, Holy Night” being sung on a recording. Already??  Since there were pretty flower beds with two kinds of poinsettias there, I photographed the ChristmasPointsettia Pointsettiaflowers.  No, they’re not quite like ours.

I took a bus to Nadur, a very nice town with a beautiful church, called The Church of Sts. Peter and Paul.  There were big statues of Nadur-Sts.Peter and Paul Churchthem in front of the church, with a big black cannon under each!   There was a Mass in progress—the interior was beautiful.

 

 

I visited the Maritime Museum and photographed a small replica of the HMS Victory.

 

Of course I saw a picture of Louis Mountbatten from World War II— his HMS Victory
Nadur-Maritime Museumnephew, Prince Charles, resembles him more and more.  And speaking of royalty, Queen Elizabeth is coming to Malta in about a week in connection with a meeting of all the Commonwealth nations.  She’s still going strong—I think she’s about 91!

18th C. Windmill

 

 

 

Back on the bus to the next town over, called Qala (pronounced aa-la) which has a couple
of 18th C. windmills.  One was especially complete, but private, so I couldn’t enter it.  I guess a family is living in the windmill, just like in old times!

Qala also has a sumptuous church.  It

Qala Parish Church-1889was built in the 20th C. and I thought it very beautiful.  OK, OK, that’s all the churches, now!!

 

 

Back into town and to my usual place for linner. I’ve been having the BEST salad here. It’s simply baby greens, big chunks of gorgonzola, walnuts and pears, dressed sparingly with a little oil. I finally figured out that the reason it’s so good is the quality of the gorgonzola! I also had lampuki pie, lampuki being a local fish—-not terribly good, but I wanted to try it before leaving!

Wednesday I left Gozo by bus and ferry, returning to Sliema, Malta and my familiar hostel.Corner Hostel-Sliema

I had a nice conversation with a Mexican young man, who was my roommate. Actually he came in to go to bed about the time I got up at 4:45 AM.

 

 

 

I got a bus at 5:30 AM—- the promenade looked pretty at that hour! The bus took me to the airport
and then three flights took me DSC05207home.

It’s fun to go, but it’s fun to come home, too. I hit the cold Minnesota weather as I arrived, but when I got home, I turned on my electric blanket, which I had had the foresight to put on my bed before I left!

Until next time—-

 

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#6 Sardinia/Malta Nov. 11, 2015

 

I did get to the Hypogeum the next day, and, of course, arrived very early. While waiting for my 12:00 tour, I popped into the local church. Not a cathedral, but just an ordinary Parish Church in Paolaparish church, of which there are hundreds! I asked a tour guide one day if the people here on Malta are very religious, and she DSC04747said that they definitely are! Lots of resources go into churches, that’s for sure!

The Hypogeum was spectacular. It was carved out of the living rock starting in about 3600 BCE, but made to look like a built structure. This is a picture of a picture (no cameras allowed) that shows only a small portion of the whole huge complex. It was built on three levels, the top one exposed to the sky; the lower two levels about 40 feet down—-each of them. This ‘room’ also gives an idea of what the ceilings Hypogeumlooked like in the above ground temples. Nowadays the roofs have all collapsed, but apparently this is how they originally looked.

An estimated 7,000 people were buried here. The corpses were allowed to decay and then
all the bones were piled up to make room for new bodies. This is where the Sleeping LadySleeping Lady 3000 BCE
was found, now residing in the Museum of Archeology in Valletta. This complex was discovered in 1899 when workmen were installing underground cisterns in some new housing for dockworkers, and accidentally broke through to level two of this structure.

The tour was great, showing parts that had ochre designs on the walls; and many connecting rooms where they expanded the structure over centuries.

This structure is older than the pyramids of Egypt, a sobering thought. What happened to these people? They don’t know. All traces of them disappeared for centuries after about 2600 BCE.

the AnnunciationReturning to Valletta, I went to the St. James Cavalier, part of the fortress structure, but
now an art museum. There was a show by Maltese artist Antoine Camilleri, who died in 2005. I especially enjoyed his “Annunciation” and another painting, “Rock and 'Rock and Roll'Roll.”

The next day I decided to tag along with my hostel friend, Gregor and his classmate on an all-
day tour. Our first stop was the Mosta Moska Dome ChurchDome, a church built in the 18th C modeled on the Pantheon in Rome. In 1942 during a World War II bombing raid, one of the German bombs went astray and pierced the dome, landing on a marble tomb. The bomb did not explode, although
it did some damage to the dome and the tomb. We saw a replica of it in the church.Replica of Bomb

Our guide, Victoria, had a wonderful story relating to this church. Victoria’s father was the youngest of 12 children. His mother (Victoria’s grandmother) wanted desperately for one of her sons to become a priest, but none were called. In fact, Victoria’s father ran off to Australia at age 15 to escape the pressure. So Victoria’s grandmother adopted a Pakistani boy who wanted to become a priest. She supported and encouraged him, and he eventually was successfully ordained. He returned to Pakistan to serve there, but made periodic visits to Victoria’s family and when he said Mass in this church, the grandmother sat proudly in the front pew. The last time he came was she died and he officiated at her funeral.

President's PalaceWe stopped off at San Anton Palace and Gardens, which is now the official residence of the
President of Malta. (There is also a Prime Minister—-the President’s job is mainly ceremonial) However, the President of Malta is a woman! Actually the second one.

We had a bit of free time and I got a cappuccino, the only good one that I’ve had since I left Italian Sardinia!Having a Cappuccino

 

 

 

 

We went to see St. Paul’s Catacombs in Rabat—-the only relationship to St. Paul was that they are near the Church of St. Paul. These were used from the 3rd C AD for about 500 years for DSC04786burials. There was a myriad of rock cut tombs that went on and on. They also used the area for church services at some point.

 

 

Next was a glass-blowing operation and some craft villages, but we didn’t spend long there, and there wasn’t any pressureGlass Blowing Works
to buy. Glass-blowing is always fun to watch.

 

 

 

Then we walked up an old (2,000 years old) Roman
road to a Roman Apiary where 2000 Year Old Roman Roadthey raised bees.

 

 

 

 

There is some relationship between the word

‘malta’ and honey.DSC04807

It was kind of a long, tiring day, and we made a few more stops that I haven’t included here. Still, I was glad I went.

Sunday I packed up my stuff and prepared to move to a different dorm room. I had a most unusual roommate for several nights. Starting about midnight, he would get noisily up, rummage around, and then go out. An hour later he would return and go to bed. He did this several times during the night so that made it difficult to sleep. The staff was sympathetic and so managed to change me to a different room. This is the first time this has happened in all my dorm staying. The usual is quiet, considerate people, and I’ve rarely had trouble sleeping because of inconsiderate guests. That night I slept well. I’m wondering if maybe this person has a disability—-his behavior was just a little off.

Sidewalk SeatingAnd then on Sunday I went back to Rabat and Mdina. There were several things that I had wanted to see that were either closed when I was there before (Monday) or I didn’t have time to see. When I got the bus I photographed some sidewalk seating. It had been days before I realized what these were! You just pull one down and sit down!

In Rabat I found St. Paul Street and followed it to the Wignacourt Museum. One interestingRabat-St. Paul Street thing in this collection was a pair of red shoes worn by Pope Alexander VII in the 1660s. Did Pope Alexander VII's Shoesyou know that Popes wear red shoes? Anyway, this Pope had been the Malta Inquisitor before he became Pope.

Connected to this museum was the St. Paul Grotto. This is actually a cave where it is St. Paul Lived Here 3 Monthsbelieved in Malta that St. Paul lived/preached here for three months after the shipwreck. Then in this same area, during World War II they dug underground rooms
(like catacombs!) to be safe when there were air raids. I walked a World War II Bomb Shelterlong ways through these, seeing the tiny rooms that were dug off this main corridor.

A change of pace, now ABOVE ground, was the Domus Romana,
which was a house built in the 1920s to house remains of a Roman 1st C. townhouse
that had been Drinking Dovesfound in 1881 while planting trees. There is a beautiful Mosaic floor showing two doves drinking. When they excavated this site, they also found an 11th C Islamic cemetery on top of the 11th C. Muslim GraveyardRoman townhouse. The house had many artifacts on display from both of these eras.

Then over in Mdina (Rabat and Mdina are really right together) the Palazzo Falson, a 16th C. house, preserved and lived in by an artist, who lived there until he died in 1962. All the rooms were on display—-I especially liked the kitchen and dining rooms.

And just roaming around Mdina is such a pleasure. It’s really a trip back in time. Apparently nowadays the people who live there are largely the aristocracy, similar to the artist who lived in the Palazzo Falson. Keeping up these ancient properties must be quite a challenge.
Malta has a wonderful bus system. There’s Malta Bus Systemnowhere you can’t get within an hour on a bus. The schedules are posted at each bus stop, and, for the most part, adhered to. I bought a ticket for 12 rides for 15 euro, which makes it cheap as well as convenient. When you transfer, the card knows automatically what transfers are permitted.

DSC04926Tuesday my destination was Ghar Dalam Prehistoric Cave. This cave had layers going all the way back to bones of animals that were from the time during the Ice Age when Malta was connected with Sicily and European land animals crossed over to Malta. There were elephants and Ghar Dalam Cavehippopotami that eventually became diminutive, as animals on islands
Ghar Dalam Caveoften do through natural selection. This cave also had bones from the earliest of people here, about 5400 BCE. There were some interesting teeth preserved and displayed in the museum, which some scientists think were Neanderthal teeth, but others learned that this particular kind of tooth was not limited to Neanderthals.  Of course there were stalactites and stalagmites.DSC04920

 

 

 

Today I set out for Gozo, the smaller island, part of the country of Malta, but north of the bigger Malta island. On the bus I met a The Ferrylovely British lady, who lives on Gozo, who helped me get on the ferry and also get the right bus after to go to Victoria, the main city on Gozo.

 

 

 

The ferry afforded lovely views of a Knight’s Tower,

Taking the Ferry to Gozo Comino Islandand also of Mgarr, the town where the ferry arrives. There is no shortage of beautiful views in this Mgarrarea. Also, the weather has been perfect, the last few days.

 

 

 

 

 

 

I managed to find my hotel, which was a bit of a miracle as I didn’t have very good directions. It’s a funny ‘family’ place, and I’m the only guest in the four rooms. I had a nice linner with some good pizza today. Tomorrow I shall start to explore Gozo in earnest.

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