Eine Kleine Nichtmusik

Witty and pertinent observations on matters of great significance OR Incoherent jottings on total irrelevancies OR Something else altogether OR All of the above

Sunday, April 18, 2010

....and Benedict the Vicar of Chris

Well, here we still are, stuck in Malta by Iceland's tedious cloud of volcanic ash. Our flight yesterday was cancelled, but in plenty of time so we weren't trailing around the airport but could extend our hotel booking and book onto another flight on Thursday. OK, so it's to Manchester, but it's off the island! (We worked out that to get home without using planes would take four to five days and cost an obscene amount of money.)

So our stay here has been extended. We had to get a room upgrade as our old room was taken but they gave us a discount so who's complaining? Yesterday and today the Pope was in town and we actually saw him from quite close (not really trying but it's a small place and he's a big event somewhere this Catholic).

What else have we done apart from eating and drinking? (When life hands you lemons, squeeze them onto your carpaccio of swordfish.) We went to the Three Cities (Birgu, Cospicua and Senglea), where the Knights of St John lived before Valletta was built after the Great Siege in 1565. Wonderfully atmospheric, and has a little museum in an old chaoel just round the corner from St Lawrence's Church. The guidebooks tell you it contains relics of La Vallette, on of the famous Grand Masters, and so it does. What they don't tell you is that it's one of those amazing museums of all kinds of stuff tumbled together. It has La Vallette's sword. It has the battledress of an anti-aircraft gunner killed in the 1940 air raids, next to an SS cap badge and armband. It has medieval music manuscripts and early printed books. It's one of those wonderful places which at first sight seems a normal kind of dusty old museum but where every case contains something amazing.

We had a boat trip round the harbours, and we also visited some more spectacular stone age remains, one of which (the Hypogeum) is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. We went round St John's Co-Cathedral (I so want to call its other half, St Paul's in Mdina, the Pepsi-Cathedral) and saw its many treasures including some terrific Caravaggios. There is also the reliquary where they used to display the forearm of John the Baptist. When Napoleon invaded, the Grand Master fled with the holy relic to save it. We wondered whether he checked it in, or more likely took it as hand baggage.....

Malta's buses continue to delight. They often have religious or other slogans on the back, and Hilary spotted this one today. I leave it to you to decide whether it is a misprint or someone's idea of humour....


At 18 April, 2010 23:52, Blogger Eddie Louise said...

Volcanic ash extends holiday in Malta?!?!?!

Sounds like a dream come true! Make the best of it!!

At 19 April, 2010 21:54, Blogger Rob said...

Well if our flight leaves on Thursday we'll be awfully relieved. We're hoping not to be reduced to ferries to southern Italy then hiring a car to get to a Channel port and then up to Scotland. 4 days or so of driving.... So let's hope airspace stays open. Extra holiday is OK until you start having to take it unpaid.....


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