#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.DSC05073  I went looking for some good coffee and found it, but ordered a baguette with it——a mistake.  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.

Our Lady of Assumption Cathedral-VictoriaSightseeing was walking up, up to the Cathedral of the Assumption.  They are working on the area around it——all stone walls, etc. so I had to navigate between huge pieces of machinery.  The cathedral was fine—-similar to the one in Mdina.  I also lookedCathedral Entrance in on the Cathedral Museum, which was unremarkable, and the archeological museum, which  was good.

More fat ladies, Xaghara Circle-4000 BCE
more figurines, and a female bust from the Gigantic After 535 AD
Female Bust-Ggantija TemplesTemples, which are 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. View From Cathedral Walls It also isn’t as built up as Malta, so more pleasing, in a way.

DSC04966I found a good restaurant and 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, Ggantija Templeand certainly the biggest, in all of Malta. Unfortunately in the 18th and 19th 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.

Altar in NicheThey 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 holes were for ropes to Rocks Have Holeshandle them?

There was a DSC04999lovely museum in connection with it, too.  Two ladies sitting on a couch; several other ‘fat 3600-3000 BCE
ladies;’ then some cow toe bones (tiny) made into figures 4100-3700 BCE-Cow Toe Bonesof men; and a ‘family’ of stick figures, quite DSC05001
DSC05002beautiful.  My guidebook listed several of these figures as being in the Archeology Museum, but they must have 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.

Walk in CountryA nice long walk early one morning, after my nice cappuccino and croissant, that took me out of town in beautifully 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 exterior Gharb-Church of the Visitationwas 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 Manattention 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 main road, and Basilica of Ta'Pinuthen 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 Holy Water Fontcelebrate a local woman hearing the Virgin Mary speak to her in this location.  Since then many miracles had happened and so the14 Marble Stations of the Cross 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.

House IdentifiersIn Victoria, the biggest city in Gozo, they don’t use DSC05083house numbers. Each house has a plaque—-often religious—-which identifies the house. I guess you’d tell someone that “We’re in the Sacred Heart house on Kercem Street.”

Grinding WheelI 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.

DSC05148A beautiful sunny day was the right one for going to Comino, 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 DSC05152clear—it looks funny to see a boat floating in that water when you can see the whole bottom of the boat.

16th C. Flight of the Holy Family to Egypt Churc hI hiked around part of the island to a small 1618 church with the name of Chapel of Our Lady’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” beingPointsetia Plants DSC05170sung on a recording. Already??  Since there were pretty flower beds with two kinds of poinsettias there, I photographed the Christmas flowers.  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.Nadur-St Peter and Paul Church Peter and Paul.  There were big statues of them 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 HMS Victory
Maritime MuseumMaritime Museum and photographed a small replica of the HMS Victory.  Of course I saw a picture of Louis Mountbatten from World War II— his nephew, 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!

Back on the bus to the next town over, called Qala (pronounced aa-la) which has a couple 18th C. Windmill in Qalaof 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 Church-1894was 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 5:30 AM-Leaving To Go Homeand then three flights took me home.

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

DSC04749I 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, of DSC04747which there are hundreds! I asked a tour guide one day if the people here on Malta are very religious, and she said 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 topHypogeum 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 looked 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 Lady Sleeping Lady 3000 BCEwas 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.

Returning to Valletta, I went to the St. James Cavalier, part of the fortress structure, but the Annunciationnow 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 Roll.”'Rock and Roll'

The next day I decided to tag along with my hostel friend, Gregor and his classmate on an all-Moska Dome Churchday tour. Our first stop was the Mosta Dome, 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 Replica of Bombit did some damage to the dome and the tomb. We saw a replica of it in the church.

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.

We stopped off at San Anton Palace and Gardens, which is now the official residence of thePresident's Palace 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 Having a Cappuccinosince I left Italian Sardinia!

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 burials. There was a DSC04786myriad 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 pressure Glass Blowing Worksto buy. Glass-blowing is always fun to watch.

Then we walked up an old (2,000 years old) Roman Tour Guide and Roman Roadroad to a Roman Apiary where they raised bees.

There is some relationship between the word DSC04807‘malta’ and honey.

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.

Pull Down SeatsAnd 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!

St. Paul StreetIn Rabat I found St. Paul Street and followed it to Pope Alexander VII 1655-1667the Wignacourt Museum. One interesting thing in this collection was a pair of red shoes worn by Pope Alexander VII in the 1660s. Did you know that Popes wear red shoes? Anyway, this Pope had been the Malta Inquisitor before he became Pope.

St. Paul's GrottoConnected to this museum was the St. Paul Grotto. This is actually a cave where it is believed 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 roomsWignacourt Museum-World War II (like catacombs!) to be safe when there were air raids. I walked a long 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, Drinking Doveswhich was a house built in the 1920s to house remains of a Roman 1st C. townhouse11th C. Islamic Cemetery Goods that had been found 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 Roman 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 Dining RoomKitchen1962. 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.

My Bus StopMalta has a wonderful bus system. There’s nowhere 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.

Ghar Dalam CaveTuesday 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 hippopotami that eventually became diminutive, as animals on islands Neanderthal Teeth?often 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 Stalmites and Stalagtiteswere Neanderthal teeth, but others learned that this particular kind of tooth was not limited to Neanderthals.DSC04925 Of course there were stalactites and stalagmites.

Today I set out for Gozo, the smaller island, part of the country of Malta, but north of the bigger DSC04938Malta island. On the bus I met a lovely 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, and also of Mgarr, the town where DSC04940the ferry arrives. There is no shortage of beautiful views in this area. Also, the weather has been perfect, the last few days.DSC04939

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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#5 Sardinia/Malta Nov. 5, 2015

Bay At NightI did get to the Maltese Home Cooking restaurant one evening at 5:30—-the earliest they open. The rabbit with sauce was excellent, but the rest of the meal was pretty much ice berg lettuce and French Fries—-not so ‘home made,’ I’m thinking. On the way back to my hostel after dark, the bay looked pretty.

Mattia Prati-Martydom of St. CatherineThe next morning I took the bus to Valletta (very easy to do) to visit the National Art Museum. Their Star was Mattia Preti, who did lots of the decorating in the Cathedral, too. The building was beautiful, also, but the lighting left something to be desired. Maybe cataract surgery will help!

Pinocoteca Building

When I came out of the museum, there was a British Military Drill going on. What a holdover from the past!

Drill CeremonyThe next day I again went to Valletta to see the interior of St. John’s Co-Cathedral. (Co- because there is another one at Mdina) I’ve seen a lot of churches in my life, but never have I seen one this elaborate! DSC04455There was gold on the gold. Each ‘language’ (country) had a side chapel. Most of them had paintings done by Mattia Preti, who also was in charge of all of the decorating of the DSC04458church.

Even the marble floors were gorgeous.

Marble Floor

Here’s a picture of how it normally looks from the exterior when it’s not all scaffolded—-quite a plain Jane. Picture of St. John's Co-CathedralBut the interior is jaw-dropping! Most of this was done in the 1600s. The price of the ticket included an audio tour.

And the Rains Came! Sunday I took a bus to Marsaxlokk to see the Sunday Fish Market. Not only fish, but if you could wear it, cook in it, eat it, or listen to it, it was in this market! (I’ll have to admit to buying a tablecloth.) Rain was predicted and it was dripping a bit when I left but it got no worse Sunday Fish Marketwhile I perused the market. There were lots of boats bobbing in the water that I assume had just returned with their catches. –

It was fun seeing the variety of seafood that had just been caught. Most of the seafood eaten in MaltaOctopus and Cuttlefish DSC04506DSC04503comes through here. And many families were making a Sunday outing of it.DSC04516

However, just as I was about ready to return and had gotten on the bus, the skies opened up. Something tells me this island really isn’t equipped to handle this kind of rain. Back in Valletta on one low spot-street, cars were plowing through water above their hubcaps. Clearly the storm sewer system wasn’t handling all the water.

When I got back to the Valletta bus station and had to change buses, that’s when I really got wet, including water running over my shoes. But once on the last local bus, it quit raining and by the time I got off, all was fine. Except that I was soaking wet.

I went to have linner even though it was only 12:30—-a little early for me. I had some really good lentil soup (warmed me up) and then some lamb, with potatoes and grilled Lamb, Potatoes, Grilled Veggiesveggies that was VERY good. That particular restaurant is a sleeper. It just doesn’t look like it’s going to have good food, but it does. I’ve had two meals there, and both were excellent. Then back to the Corner Hostel—-Corner Hostel-Sliemawhat a nice place to stay, although the roommate that I had for two days left today.

Monday looked a little iffy about the rain, but I left on a bus for Mdina (Arabic for ‘walled city,’) which took me through the center of the island. Goodness, It remained strictly urban until we were almost there. They must import most of their food.

Gate to CityMdina is a fairyland of beige stone and narrow
streets.Mdina Street

It has the Co-Cathedral to St. John’s in Valletta—this one in honor of St. Paul.

St. Paull's Co-Cathedral

They believe that the Bible story about St. Paul being shipwrecked on an island happened here at Malta. They show that in a fresco above the altar.

Paul Shipwrecked on Malta

If anything, the tombs of marble in the floor
Tombare even more elaborate than St. John’s, and maybe more ominous!

There was a Cathedral Museum, too, which had a big collection of Albrecht Durer etchings. Not my cup of tea, but they are Etching-Albrecht Durerconsidered masterpieces. I did visit the Museum of Natural History, but didn’t find it very interesting. Two that I would like to have seen weren’t open on Monday.

St. Agnes' Chapel-1410I did see St. Agatha’s Chapel from 1410. An interesting note on that—-it served as a home for two refugee families during World War II.

I caught my bus to return to Sliema, then ducked into not-my-favorite-restaurant—-the good ones aren’t open on Monday. But what I had was fine, and it’s not going to be my last meal! I did stop at the grocery store to buy some eggs. Now I can have eggs for breakfast, which I make at the hostel. They provide coffee, butter, jam, and I provide the bread for toast, eggs and fruit. I miss my good Italian cappuccino and croissant that I always had in Sardinia.

There is another person in the hostel, a young man from Munich here for a week of a finance seminar—-not bad duty! And the staff are good company. There are two young women that rotate, with which I enjoy interacting.

Entrance to Hagar QimWell, no rain on Tuesday so my extensive busing was fine. It took two buses to get there and two to get back—-the ‘there’ being two wonderful old temples on the southern coast. These temples, Hagar Qim and Mnajdra are from 4000 BCE. They only discovered them in the 1800s as they had become Two Altarscovered with sand. They’re kind of ‘stonehengie’ with huge stones that one wonders how they could handle way back then. They’re not sure that they really were used as temples, but they’re calling these two things ‘altars’ as a likely use.

The two temples are about a half km apart, Mnajdra down at the water’s edge, Hagar Qim up higher on a rise. They have put a protective covering (like an awning) over each of them Found at this Sitewhich I appreciate needs to be done, but it does spoil the effect. This is the site where they discovered many of the ‘fat ladies’ with the thunder thighs and one that they are calling the ‘Venus de Malta.’ I guess you do have to take Venus de Maltainto consideration that she is 6000 years old!

The entrance to Mnajdra looked similar, and I kind of rushed through that as I DSC04626wanted to catch the next bus since they only ran hourly.

I did have to wait a little while for the bus to take me back to Sliema. On the bus I had a very pleasant Carol Waiting for Busconversation with a Maltese woman. I had a little trouble understanding her as I think English was not her first language. And on the way back, too, everywhere I looked I saw beautiful churches in small towns. There is one church after another on the horizon—-all big, all rich. I think the St. John’s Knights were muy rico hereabouts.

My Maltese friend pointed out the new American New US Embassey BuildingEmbassy, which I quickly photoed.

Soon I was back in Sliema having linner. Then a nice visit with three young men that are staying in this hostel—-the German who is at the seminar and two Frenchmen.

Wednesday was a beautiful day with 74 degrees and only a few poofy white clouds. I went to Valletta to do a walking tour laid out in the LP guidebook. Valletta is one big museum Huge crowds-Valletta(kind of like Florence, Italy) and has the crowds to match. Even though there aren’t many people in Malta at this time of year as it’s too cool for the beaches, there are still lots of tourists in Valletta.

I saw many interesting buildings, including Palazzo Parisio-Napoleon Stayed Herethe Palazzo where Napoleon spent six days in 1798 when he was on his way to Egypt. He conquered Malta, left a 4,000 man garrison here, and went on his way. When the soldiers began looting the churches, the people rose up and killed them all. So that only lasted less than two years.

St. Paul's Wrist BonerThey’re very big on St. Paul, here. They do believe, as mentioned before, that the Biblical shipwreck happened here in Malta. So I visited the St. Paul Shipwreck Church where Half-Column-Paul BeheadedI saw a wristbone of St. Paul’s as well as half of the column on which he was beheaded. (The other half is in Rome) You see a silver head on the column. There is also a statue of him that is carried through the streets on his day, which is Feb. 10th.

Even with all these crowds and all the historical sites, there DSC04683are normal people carrying on normal lives here. This lady was calling her cat.

I carried on with my walk and went down to the harbor. Given all the huge happenings here, it was pretty calm today. In 1565 the
HarborOttoman Turks, under Suleyman the Magnificent, invaded Malta, as they had already pushed the Knights of St. John’s out of their former headquarters, the island of Rhodes. They mounted a siege that lasted from May until September of 1565, but the Knights prevailed and the Turks finally had to leave because winter was coming making for dangerous sailing. Still, Malta suffered severe losses of lives and property.

Casa Rocca Piccola-18th cI spent some time touring a 16th C house of one of the Knights, which was called Casa Rocca Piccola. The property was sold in the 17th. century to another family whose 9th generation still owns it today, and lives in it. They have opened part of the house to tourists. In the ‘30s the family built a bomb shelter which was used during Original Knight-Founder of FamilyWorld War II. There were underground tunnels World War II Bomb Shelterconnecting many of the buildings and churches so people could find secure shelters during bombing raids. However within the last 15 years they had to close up these entrances as criminals were robbing houses, gaining entrance in this way.

Today I took a couple of buses to see the Tarxien Temples, which are some old, old stones right within Valletta suburbs. Sitting on the bus behind me was a young couple from Russia that were looking for the Tarxien Temples, too. We set forth together to try to find Taxien Temple-Closedthem, and did, but unfortunately they were under reconstruction and so were closed. We got a tiny look at them through the fence, though.

Next door was a cemetery which we looked in on, too. Then we set about trying to find the Cemetery in PaoloHypogeum, a subterranean necropolis dated to 3600 BCE. For this one needs a ticket because of the CO2 exhaled by visitors, the numbers are strictly controlled so as not to damage the site. We did learn how to pursue getting a ticket. We parted and I went back to Valletta to see some other sites, and to see about getting a ticket to the Hypogeum. When I got to the Palace of Fine Arts, as instructed, they only had single tickets available for the next day, so two couples in line ahead of me didn’t take them. Lucky me! So I will see this unusual site tomorrow at noon, if all goes well.

DSC04737After that, I did go around to the Manoel Theatre, opened by the Knights of St. John in 1732. Some boxes, partially hidden from view of other patrons were used by the Knights, who were not supposed to engage in earthly pleasures like theatre, and who attended the shows by sneaking in from the basement a couple of minutes after the performance had started and sneaking out just before they ended. There were a number of costumes on display, and Costumeswe got a look at how it would have been to be in a box seat, when it was important ‘to be seen.’ –

There were mirrors in the boxes to help the ladies look their best, when they From a Boxwere ‘being seen.’

After that, I spent a little time in a Piazza in Valletta before taking the bus back to the hostel, where I now have two roommates!Piazza in Valletta

Hopefully I shall see the Hypogeum tomorrow, and pursue other sites after that.

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#4 Sardinia/Malta Oct. 29, 2015

Bringing Me My CoffeeFriday I made a big day of it, finding a bus to go to Arzachena, about 45 minutes away. I wanted to see some old stones there, but when I inquired, they were all too far to walk to. I tried calling a taxi number but no answer. So I went to the tourist information center and she put me on to a guide who would show me five sites with his car. Good Deal!

While I waited for him, I had a coffee, just like the Italians do.Then we set out for the DSC04242Tomba dei Giganti-Coddu Ecchjiu—-remember that name, there’s going to be a quiz! Hah! These tombs are from the same era as the nuraghes—-1600 BCE. They were a village tomb where they democratically put all the departed.

DSC04260Next we visited the Nuraghe La Prisgiona, kind of another one just like the other one. This was quite a big one, but they all seem to be on the same order, three towers, with a high one in the middle, and then rings all around, which are the base of huts.

Number three was the Necropoli Li Muri, which was much earlier—-4000 to 2500 BCE. Necropoli Li MuriThere were five rings, each one with a single tomb inside, probably for the chiefs. Admittedly there wasn’t so much left to see, but yes, one could make them out.

Tomba dei Giganti Li LoighiThe last was La Lolghi Tomb, similar to the first one and from the same era.

I did see one more old stone, called Il Fungo, because it looks like a Roccio il Fungomushroom. Back in the day people actually lived under this overhang as there were many artifacts found to show that. It was right in town, so after seeing it, my guide dropped me off at the bus and I was back in Olbia by 1:30 PM. A nice day.

We had a nice visit about Sardinia’s languages. As I had partially learned before, they have their own Latin-based language that my guide said he could speak. However, there are many dialects of that and he speaks the one in this area. Then near Alghero, where I was earlier this week, they speak Catalan, or a mixture of Sardinian and Catalan because of the Spanish conquest in the 13th C. He said they also have many arabic words in their languages—-I guess everybody has been here. In school now, My Guideit’s strictly Italian, and then English.

When I got back to Olbia there was a rally going on, which I had seen them preparing for the day before. Now the cars—-there must have been 50 or a hundred—-were DSC04293lined up on the main drag near my hotel. For whatever reason, these motors make LOTS of noise, but everybody was enjoying it. There was also something going on with people
DSC04294and a microphone by the Town Hall. There were signs on the cars saying “34th Rally Costa Smeralda Sardegna.”

I saw them because I was on my way to the Archeological Museum, mainly to see the remains of ships that they From Hulls of Shipsfound in 1999 in the harbor here at Olbia. There were remnants of eight Roman ships and five medieval ones. From all of this they realized that Olbia was a very important trading city in Roman times. Model of Roman ShipFrom the remains of the ships, they could deduce how they looked and functioned. Why did all eight ships sink right in the harbor? They think it was because of the Vandals invasion in the 5th C AD. That put an end to Olbia’s big trading business until the 13th C. when they again were thriving in the trading business, this time in connection with Pisa. It is unknown yet, why the medieval ships went down in the harbor. Probably another invasion.

The next day I got the bus to Nuoro, a 2 1/2 hour ride. Interestingly all of the people
getting on the bus (there weren’t very many as this was Saturday) all greeted the driver with a ‘Buon Giorno.’ When they got off they either said, “Gracie’ or ‘Ciao.’ The driver responded in kind. A week ago when I got on a city bus I just said the name of my destination to the driver with a question mark. He responded, ‘Si.’ As I sat down, a woman passenger sitting in the front seat said to the driver in Italian, “Not even a ‘Buon Giorno.” Bad manners. I should know better as years ago I learned in Partina that you never start asking the grocery store clerk for what you want. It went like this: “I’d like some prosciutto (in Italian)” and she responded, “Buon Giorno.” Oofdah—-bad manners.

DSC04323On the bus we went through beautiful country side and many pretty little towns. Things were kind of quiet, though, this being Saturday.

Morning Chores

When I arrived in Nuoro, I was quite sure I could walk to my B & B (no hostels in this town) as I had the idea it was located in ‘centro.’ Well, it wasn’t. It was quite a ways up on a mountain on the edge of town. When I finally arrived about 1:30, the lady said I couldn’t check in until 4:30 but I could leave my pack. It said in the booking information that check in time was 2:00.

So I left my pack and went looking for a restaurant. I finally found one that was wonderful! I had excellent linguine with mussels and a tomato/rucola salad. I hope I don’t OD on mussels, but they are so good! These last two days I had beer to drink as I’m not sleeping well, and I’m wondering if it’s all that good red wine I’ve been drinking. Anyway, after climbing up the mountain and then five stairways near and in the B & B to leave my pack, the beer did taste good!

DSC04331To kill some time after I ate, I hung out in sort of a piazza on the mountain. I bought some mints in a tabachi (little store where they sell tobacco products) and listened to a book on a park Tabachibench with my iPhone.

At 4:30 I returned to the B & B and got checked in.
Hey, you know how I said it was hard to find poor food in Sardinia? Well, I found it. The B&B that I stayed at in Nuoro had everything bad for breakfast. Cool, poor coffee (unforgivable for Italians), store-wrapped poor croissant, and more! So it goes.

When I woke up that morning I discovered that my iPhone and my watch were not in agreement. Apparently here we went back on standard time last night.

I went exploring Nuoro, and found two museums. One was to open at 10:00—-it didn’t I waited until 10:10 and went to look for another. That one wasn’t open on Sundays. I had a coffee and then decided to bag it and go back to Cagliari that afternoon. I was planning to take the morning bus the next day, but it was to leave at 7:10 and it was an hour’s walk to the bus station. Besides, there was no reason to hang around for the breakfast!

The view from Monte Ortobene, where my B&B was located was beautiful, though.

View from Monte Ortobene

And Sunday Sunday Coffee Bar in Nuoro

seemed to be a time for socializing with friends over coffee, but maybe every day is!

I got the late afternoon bus back to Cagliari and got settled back into the same dorm, same bed.

The next day I, and the hostel lady, worked our heads off to get me checked in to my flights on Ryan Air to go to Rome and then Malta. Ryan Air is a cheap airline, but apparently causes problems for people. For example, if you don’t check in ‘on line,’ you have to pay 40 euro to check in at that airport. And we couldn’t get me checked in. It took a couple of hours of working on it, and finally we succeeded. How nice of the hostel lady to help me and to print my boarding passes, eventually!

DSC04339I celebrated my last day in Sardinia and also getting checked into my flights by having su proceddu for linner. This is roast suckling pig! It had been recommended to me by my Italian son-in-law, Roberto. What a smashing success! It was way more than I could eat (and wine than I could drink) but what tender morsels! After the main course, there were fruit and sweets, with a small digestif, too. What a lovely meal!DSC04341

I got a roommate later that day—-an American! Alexa was from Texas and had just finished her undergrad degree and was taking four months off to travel before getting a job. The next morning we were both going on early flights so we walked together to the train station at 5:00 and got to the airport on the train. She was going to Napoli, I was going to Malta. It was nip and tuck if I were going to make it in time, as the security lines were a mile long! I made it with six minutes to spare and off I flew to Rome. There I had time for a cappuccino and croissant before taking my next flight to Malta. Arriving at 11:45 AM, I got the bus as the directions on how to get to the hostel told me, and rode for 45 minutes here and there to get to Sliema, where the hostel is located.

Malta is kind of exotic! It’s very ‘built up,’ pretty much all with light brown local stone. i’m eager to explore it. In the meantime, I found my hostel and checked in. Then I walked on the promenade along the water to a restaurant to have linner. How pretty! The sun shone DSC04343intermittently, and the view from the restaurant was lovely. I had bruschetta and then more mussels with proseco wine. Wonderful! That’s a little balsamic on the plate under the bruschetta. Not as good as yours,DSC04345 DSC04347Roberto, but good.

The next day I used the hostel washer to wash clothes, but unfortunately it dripped on and off all day, so finally I hung them around my room to finish drying, since I’m alone in a four-bed dorm.

I walked a long way on the promenade to find some cosmetics that I needed to buy. On theSt. Julian's Tower-1658 way, I passed St. Julian’s Tower (1658) and Il DSC04362Fortessa. I could also see the rocky Swimming Pools for Maltese Ladiescoast, which had pools cut in the rock in the 19th century, for the use of Maltese ladies.

There are lovely vistas as one walks. Later I went to have DSC04366linner at a restaurant that said it had “Home Made Maltese Food” and their menu looked scrumptious. Unfortunately it didn’t open until 5:30, so I couldn’t partake of their food that day. So I went to an LP-recommended restaurant called “Mint,” but the ambience was so frantic that it practically gave me a stomach ache. So it goes.

I made good Italian coffee in the hostel this morning, and there was enough food for me to make a good breakfast, too. I had scrambled eggs, cold cereal and juice.

Then I went exploring. I walked a long ways through Sliema and then to St. Julian’s, photographing as I went.

Sliema-Spinola BaySpinola Bay was pretty; I looked for the Spinola Palaccio, but didn’t find it. Eventually I wound up at the ferry that goes to Valletta, which is the ‘downtown’ capital city—-I’m in sort of a suburb. Leaving Sliema on the ferry gave a nice view of the marina.Scene from Ferry

The ferry gave all kinds of beautiful vistas of Valletta as Approaching Valletta From Ferrywe approached it. Once there I walked up to the city center, where there were boodles of tourists. I didn’t realize that there were so many at this time of year. I saw the Co-Cathedral St John's Under Reconstruction

of St. John from the outside—-it’s under reconstruction. It’s huge, and was built in 1573 by the Knights of St. John.

Then I went to find the National Archeological Museum, Sleeping Lady 3000 BCEwhich was great. One of the old-old pieces was “The Sleeping Woman” from 3000 BCE. There were lots of Neolithic statuettes of rotund females——apparently the worship of females because of reproduction in those times. Why no heads? Some have holes cut to support a head. Maybe the face of the woman wasn’t important—-just the reproductive angle!

Female Figure 4000-2500 BCE

A reproduction of a rock-cut
tomb was pretty realistic. There are many on Malta. Apparently the first peoples here were from Sicily in about 5200 BCE. There was a Temple Period from 3600 until 2500 BCE, but those people disappeared. Gozo (the small island Rero of Rock Tombnorth of Malta) has one of the oldest temples in the world. I shall look forward to seeing that. Then the Bronze Age people left ruins of settlements with dolmens. (Big rock slabs)

The Phoenicians came about the 7th C. BCE, followed by Carthage in 400 BCE; followed by the Romans, who took over in 218 BCE, until 870 AD when the Arabs (Fatimids from North Africa) came. In 1091 the Norman, Count Roger I of Sicily invaded, followed by Spain in 1479. Then we have the Order of St. John—-the Knights of Malta during the Crusades—-1530-1798; a brief French occupation led by Napoleon in 1798 until 1800—-he was on his way to Egypt. Then the British made them a protectorate from 1800-1964 when they became independent. They have been in the European Union since 2004. Whew! Here’s a Phoenician coffin that was in the Phoenician Coffin 700 BCEmuseum.

I didn’t have a lot of time today to look at all the landmarks, and there are many, but I have about two weeks here, so I will have plenty of opportunity to see them.

Now it’s almost 5:00 so I can get ready to go to the Maltese Home Cooking restaurant that opens at 5:30. I have HIGH expectations, so I hope it doesn’t disappoint!

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#3 Sardinia/Malta Oct. 22, 2015

Mediterreanan near BosaI got the bus to B0sa, a pretty town where I spent from noon until 5:10 PM when my bus went to Alghero. Along the way we eventually skirted the coast and went through many pretty villages. A couple of DSC03923them had murals on the walls—-what a nice alternative to graffiti.

In Bosa I searched out the museum, which was a Melkiorre Melis1700s house, all furnished, and also an art gallery for their favorite son, Melkiorre Melis, who painted in the early 1900s.


DSC03944 (1)

There was a castle way up high—-

too high—-that I didn’t visit, but it made lovely photos.

By and by I found a spiffy seafood restaurant and DSC03956 (1)had their meal of the day along with a bottle of wine. I asked about a half bottle, but they didn’t have any, and I have learned not to order the house wine here—-the bottled is much better. And since it’s cheap, I splurged, being careful not to drink more than I should.

Bosa was a nice stop——the bus ticket seller in a coffee bar let me store my pack in his closet while I did the sightseeing.

I got back on a bus at 5:10 PM to go to Alghero, arriving at 6:30, just as the sun was setting. I learned that I had to take a city bus about 4 km to Fertile, a nearby village, where my hostel was located. When I asked a lady where to get the bus, she said she was going there, sat with me and directed me where to get off.

The hostel was nice; the first night I had three roommates—-two from France and one from Croatia. And the hostel furnished a typical Italian breakfast of big, fresh roll and real cappuccino. How nice!

Alghero-Bastions of FortressThe next morning I took a bus into Alghero to start exploring. The weather was none too warm and the sky was overcast.

I walked along the bastions of the fortress walls for a long ways. Alghero is a very pretty DSC03978town, as many of them are, especially along the water.

Then I explored a number of churches. I thought the cloisters of the San Francesco Cloisters of San Francescochurch were lovely.

Remember those Syrian refugees? Well, African refugees are here and DSC03988some look very unfortunate.

Eventually I bought some provisions for linner at a supermarket—-prosciutto, pecorino cheese, bread, melon and some DSC03996local wine. I ate it at the hostel. They have plastic bins in this hostel in which to put food in the refrigerator. That’s a good idea because people often check out and leave stuff in the fridge.

Here was my first visit to a nuraghe. They are DSC04002ruins of settlements from 1500 BCE! I walked about 40 minutes to this one, the Palmavera Nuraghe, which is just outside of Fertilia, the little village where my hostel is located. I had a nice bicycle lane to walk on, which kept me out of the heavy traffic on a road with no shoulders, at least until the last half mile.

It’s surprising how much is left of these settlements. Of course there has been some restoration, but still they are quite remarkable, given their age.

I walked down to the water in Fertile. Even though there was no beach there (there are Coast at Fertilia
zillions every where else) it was a beautiful scene.

I was having trouble with my computer (my new one has been nothing but trouble) and so was on a chat line for three hours that morning. Finally I had linner in a restaurant in Fertilia (lasagne al forno)Margaret and David-England and then had a cuppa with my English friends that are staying in the hostel, Margaret and David.

I got Franco, the local taxi-man, to take me to the Necropolis di Anghelu Ruju, a burial place that was used from 3300 to 2700 BCE. Yes, this is OLD! Not too much is known DSC04112about these ancient people. An interesting note: Franco told me that many of the older generation around here speak Catalan, a hangover from the Spanish conquest of Sardinia in the 1300s. He said that during World War II Mussolini imprisoned people who were heard speaking it, since their national language, Italian, was to be used. And many of the people speak Sardinian, their own Latin-based language. I think the younger generation speaks Italian and some English. Anyway, the necropolis was pretty interesting.

Tuesday was my day for bussing. I took a bus from Fertilia to Sassari, the second largest city on Sardinia. I didn’t get to see much of it today, though, because I took another bus to the town of Torralba. From there I walked out into the country for an hour to see the Nuraghe Saantu AntineNuraghe Santu Antine, another old nuraghe from 1600 BCE. This one was quite spectacular and allowed one to go inside of the towers. A woman and Inside the Towersher daughter were just leaving when I was, so I asked if I could have a ride back to Torralba, which they obligingly did. How nice. The lady was half Sardinian and half German, living in Frankfurt. After they dropped me off I had a nice linner in a small restaurant in this pretty little town,Torralba which was very good. It’s pretty hard to get bad food here. Then back on a bus to Sassari, taking a few minutes before the next bus to buy my train ticket for tomorrow, and then my last bus of the day back to Fertilia and the hostel. The weather was a little threatening and just as I got back to Fertilia it started dripping a bit, but all in all, a very good day.

The next day another bus ride to Sassari, to see their Museo Nazionale Sanna. It was a long walk from the bus station, where I left my pack with the ‘man’ for 1 euro 50—-hoping that my computer would still be there when I returned. The padlock that I had brought had gone bad early on, so it was unlocked.

13th C Santa Maria di BetlemI first encountered an old, old church—-from the 11th and 12th C—-and HUGE. It was called Santa Maria from Betlem and there was a statue of the same name—-obviously the honoree of theSanta Maria di Betlem 14th C church. She, too, was from the 12th C.

The Sanna Museum was great, although there were some Nuraghe Bronzetticases that were not well lit, so a little troublesome as many of the object d’art were the small bronze nuraghe statues. They also had lots of Roman stuff—-some gold earrings were especially pretty I thought, and from the 3rd C BCE! It was Roman Earringsraining a bit, too, when I did the long walk back to the bus station to collect my pack and then head for the train station to get a train to Olbia.

In Olbia I have a hotel, rather than hostel (there weren’t any). It is well located on their main drag. And yes, my computer was safely in my pack! Again, it was raining a bit, but DSC04200with an umbrella from the hotel I sallied forth and walked down to the pier. On the way, in spite of the rain, I photographed their lovely Municipio. (Town Hall) and then had some pizza and wine.

Olbia BarThe next day after a very nice hotel-provided breakfast, I walked around the town of Olbia, a very nice exercise. The coffee bar workers were right ready to provide coffee;

at the pier a BIG ship was in—-it seemed to have German Big Ship at the Piertourists aboard;

on the pier also, race cars were being assembled for a race that apparently starts later today. So Italian!

A Race Started Today
Old Stones in FacadeI had my usual look at the churches—-one was really old from the 11th C. It was called Basilica San Simplicio and had interesting old stones incorporated into its facade as well as medieval columns in the interior.Medieval Columns

The tourist season is winding down now, as most of the Europeans that come for the beach scene have gone. Still there is enough activity with those of us who like the old stones and the food/wine.

The rainy weather seems to be over for the moment and now we have bright sunshine, although the highs are only about 73 degrees. I did walk down to the bus station to find out about buses for tomorrow and the next day. How odd. There is no central bus station. There are bus stands along the main roadways that have electronic signs giving schedules. I went into a coffee bar to inquire. Yes, he had the schedule, which I copied for the next two days for where I’m going. One buys a ticket at the coffee bar and waits on the street for your out of town bus! It’s a little easier with a central station, but I guess I can make this work.

Punic Walls 750 BCEI had stopped in at the Tourist Information Center located in the beautiful Municipio and gotten a map and other information. It seemed that there was an archeological site right in town. So I walked there and found that it was the remains of Punic Walls from 750 BCE for when this town was first founded by Carthage.

After that I kind of just wandered. It’s interesting to see the art on the street here. I’m not Many Muralssure what this mural means, but it certainly was eye-catching!

Moving on I came to a vegetable seller that prominently had displayed fresh porcini mushrooms, which are Fresh Porcini Mushroomsonly available fresh at this time of year. I had them the other day in pasta as they are a favorite of mine, but they didn’t seem to have the rich flavor of the ones in Tuscany. Maybe they are a different variety.

Then other interesting art—-this fountain caught my eye. Imagine bringing a sketch of this to the City Council for their approval?DSC04229

Tomorrow I’m going on a bus (if I’m standing in the right place on the sidewalk) to Arzachena to see more old stones. One also gets to see the countryside from the bus window. It’s pretty rugged looking. I was thinking that it resembled scenes in old movies set in the late 19th C. Then on Saturday I shall move to Nuoro.

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#2 Sardinia/Malta Oct. 15, 2015

Well, my iPhone predicted it—-yes it rained for two days. However, when I got up on Friday morning, it was only sprinkling so I decided to take the train to Iglesias to see a Roman Temple. The train ride was pleasant, took 50 minutes, but when I got there it was raining quite hard. I didn’t think I wanted to wait in the rain for a bus so I talked to a taxi. However, then I would have barely missed my 1:22 return train and would have had to wait two more hours in the rain. So I packed it in and went back on the 1:22 train, and then to linner (wouldn’t want to miss that!). Yes, sometimes things just don’t march.

I have had some very nice roommates lately—-one a young woman from the Czech Republic; another two from France that were here until Sunday.

The second rainy day I spent in museums that I hadn’t seen earlier. You’ll remember that I Raccolta di Cere Anatomichesaid I like funky museums—-well here was the funkiest. It was called the Raccolta di Cere Anatomische. It had about 23 very realistic-looking wax anatomical displays with muscles, nerves, etc, of various parts of the human body.

The second was the Museo Etnographico Regionale, apparently Luicia--1867new as it was not mentioned in the LP. It had a very nice collection of lots of things including hand woven/embroidered rugs from the 19th and 20th C. One was ‘finished in 1867 by Luicia,’ according to the Rosaryembroidery on the rug.

There was jewelry and there were rosaries; even a few 19th. C. photographs, which show a pretty hard life, I think.Photo from 1800s

On the way back past the Cathedral I heard some J. S. Bach being played on the Wedding in Cathedralorgan so, wanting to hear it, I strolled in and came upon a
wedding. It’s a big cathedral so the wedding people didn’t know I was there, but I, standing in the dark at the back of the church, did manage to photograph the wedding in progress.

Later in the afternoon I went to see Santa Eulalia church, a very old church built on foundations of an even older church, built on foundations of a temple. There was a very extensive museum under the Old Ruins Under St Eulalia Churchchurch, which also had a room of religious art. They had incorporated some old stones in the walls.Old Stones in Walls

Oh for heavens sake! I just discovered that I have been spelling Cagliari wrong—-I had put an ‘e’ in place of an ‘a.’ Therefore it should be pronounced Cull’-yar-ee. My spelling was always bad, but now it’s abysmal.

Moving on, I took a train to Oristano, a pretty little town, where I stayed in the big hotel-ey-looking Hostel Rodia. It’s called a Hostel Rodia-Oristanohostel and maybe in the high season they fill up, but I had a two-room suite for four, sharing a bathroom in between. But since I was again alone, it was more like a hotel. The website said it was “situated in the center of Oristano”—-hardly. There were fields right up to the hostel. The clerk agreed it wasn’t ‘exactly’ in the middle of town but she assured me Torre di Mariano IIit was only a 10-minute walk to the Piazza Roma. Man, that would be some pretty fast walking! Still, I needed the exercise.

I started by doing the ‘walk’ arriving at Piazza Roma with its 13th C Tower of Marianno II, which was the northern gate to the town in those times.Led Resistance to Spanish Control

I moved on to the Piazza Eleonora d’Arborea, named for a woman who became head of the

Piazza Eleonora d'Auboreagiudicato in 1383 and led some very strong resistance to the invading Spanish. She also established a ‘Code of Laws,’ which dealt with land and property and lots of women’s rights. Go Girl!!

There was a sun dial on the Town Hall, which was off by an hour, except I finally Sundial-11:35 AMfigured out that sun dials don’t change to Daylight Savings Time! (My watch read 12:35)

From there I went to Oristano’s only museum, but what a good one! It was the Museo Antiquarium Arborense. Even the small regional museums in Sardinia are great because there is such a wealth of material here.

Here was a 7th C BCE Knight; 9-8th C. BCE-Nuragic7th C BCE Knight-Tharrosthere was a 9th C BCE Goddess. This museum also had a wrinkle that I’ve never seen before—-a museum for the blind. They had made Braile Museum with Copies to Touchcopies of many artifacts that unsighted persons could pick up and touch along with reading the Braille explanations of the material.

Linner was at Trattoria Gino, dishing the dishes since 1930. It was totally full with locals, always a good sign, and my spaghetti with clams along with a salad and wine filled the bill, and filled me.

Another day, through the hostel I made arrangements for a taxi to take me to some of the out-of-town sights. We started at the Cabras Museum seeing the Monte Prama giant sculptures. In the 9th C BCE these had been made as funerary statues, but then broken Monte Prama Sculptures 9-8th C BCEDSC03778apart at some later date. A farmer, while plowing in 1978 turned up a fragment that led to the discovery of 23 statues, although there were years spent reassembling them from 5200 fragments. They were first exhibited in 2014, so, of course, my Lonely Planet book is silent about them. The statues are each about 7 feet tall and really dramatic. I had already seen some at the Cagliari museum.

Next we stopped at the little village of San Giovanni di Chiesa di San Giovanni di Sinis 6th C.Sinis to see their 6th C Christian Church. It was so old and interesting.

From there I spent a rewarding Therros-Roman-3rd C BCE-3rd C ADtime at the old site of Tharros. This city was first formed as a Nuraghic settlement in about the 16th C BCE, followed by the Phoenicians in the 7th C BCE, followed by the Romans in the 3rd C. BCE. There was a big tower overlooking the site but conflicting information as to its origin. Nevertheless, it was an interesting punctuation mark on the site.

The site was marked for this and that Roman temple—-lots of old stones.

In the meantime, a beautiful beach with quartz sand (white and shiny) was nearby. It is against the law to take any of the Arutas Beach with Quartz Sandsand, it is so precious.

And among the old Live Faunastones was some new fauna.

The last stop for the morning was the village of San Salvatore with its 16th C. church. TheSan Salvatore Village 16th C Church
church had some unusual crucifixes in it, perhaps relating to the fact that all of the inhabitants were fishermen, but the DSC03832really special part was below the church. It seems the church was built Stairway Up To The Church
over an old Roman temple, which still had the remains of a well and a few ancient murals. Going down that stairway to the 3rd C BCE was a trip!

Charioteer and Horses-Ancient MuralThat afternoon I went back to Trattoria Gino and had the best meal that I think I’ve had here. I had a half-bottle of good wine (much better than the fresh house wine), a mixed seafood salad that also Prociuto and Melon, Mixed Seafood and Vegetableshad some beans and aubergine in it, and then prosciutto with melon, which was really generous and wonderful. What a lovely day, all around.

On my last day in Oristano, I walked into town and went to the bus station to inquire about a bus to Bosa and to Alghero for the next day. I bought a ticket, then moved on to see some items that I had not seen earlier. A fun place was the pinocoteca (art gallery) of the city that was housed in a 13th C.City Gallery Carlo Contini DSC03801hospital—-a nice way to preserve an historic building. The building was almost more interesting than the paintings. There was one painting that I really enjoyed that was a scene that I had photographed just the day before.

La Sartiglia Oristano, 1950Also in this building was a display of

La Seraglia, a festival that has been going on for centuries involving a horse parade in costume with masks. A picture from 1950 was interesting to see—-I was in high school then!

Then the Torre Portixedda (East Tower) of the wall fortifications was fun to see and Torre Portixedda (East Tower)photograph. Again, this was a 1300s tower built as part of the wall around the city.

I popped into the University of Oristano—-I was actually looking to get into a particular church that was closed but next door. It was fun to see the University students looking like U students everywhere. I think the University is housed in an old Carmine convent adjacent to the (closed) church. Unfortunately, as one sees often, many of the University of Oristanostudents were smoking. I guess they think they will live forever.

Since it was threatening rain, I didn’t walk back into town for linner, as I had planned, but tried out the dining room of the Hostel Rodia. At first we had some trouble communicating—-one waitress began bringing me the ‘meal of the day;’ another waiter brought me a menu, which I had requested. I gave up gracefully, though, to let them bring whatever they wanted. It was way too much, of course. I had some fried mushrooms; then three cold seafoods—-shrimp, octopus and something else on separate plates; then spaghetti with a sausage/tomato sauce; then a roast fish, which was carefully disected by my waitress. All in all, it was very good. It did require a nap afterwards.

Next I’ll be moving on to Bosa and Alghero.

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#1 Sardinia/Malta Oct. 9, 2015

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

DSC03392The waterfront has 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!4th C. Baptistry

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

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

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 Maria had two wonderful marble pulpits Cathedral di Santa Maria2 Pulpits-Guglielmo da Pisa-1312carved 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.

Roman AmphitheaterOf course the Romans were here, too, and 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!

From the Castello, way up high, with its thick walls, one has marvelous views of Caglieri.Caglieri  And the Lion’s Gate does have a couple of lions on it.DSC03519

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! There were some beautiful cross-shaped Neolithicfemales faintly reminiscent of the ones in the Greek Islands. Then there were
the bronze DSC03555figures that go back to the DSC03550Neolithic time—-6000-3500 BCE. There are lots of them, all interesting. Most are about three inches high, but some are as large as eight inches. These nuraghic bronzetti have been invaluable for archeologists to learn about the lives in this era.

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

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

But 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 Van Gogh-The Gardnerinvestigation and found over 5000 pieces in Basil, Switzerland, which they confiscated in 2013!. Included were many nuraghic bronzetti, as well as a Gaugin and a Van Gogh! There was some wonderful old religious art, too, by some of the Florentines.

I 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 Musselsspoiled 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 get some air Evening Stilt Walkers-Piazza San Sepolcroand 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 the FlamingoesMediterranean.

Nora-Roman Site-250 BCEFrom Pula I got a shuttle to go to Nora, which has lots of layers of history. Nora was founded by the Phoenicians in the 6th C. BCE; the Romans took over the island in the 3rd C BCE. Virtually all of what I saw Roman Bathsdated to Roman times.

There were Roman baths and Roman Mosaic Floormosaic floors and there was a small theater.Small Roman Theatre

Unfortunately 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 pecorino cheese. Was that good!Roasted Goat Cheese 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 2015, Sardinia/Malta, Sardinia/Malta 2015 | 3 Comments