What's Wrong With Their Home?

That's the question people might ask if they took a look at our travel schedule in 2017! Luckily, we love our home...but we also like to explore the world.  We especially love to explore it with people we love and meet new friends all over the globe. Travel is all about connecting with people all over the world, and we feel very fortunate to have met and traveled with so many incredible people. We are grateful to all the people who followed our adventures and those who shared their corner of the world with us! We especially want to thank the folks who shared THEIR trips with us in our GoSeeIt People interviews. (You can find the interviews here)  We love hearing about your travels too! THANK YOU! We hope you have many safe travels in 2018 and wish the very best in the coming year!

Over the last year here are some of the places we've been able to explore.  Click on any link to see more photos in our posts and learn more about each destination! (Next week, we will share where we are headed next!)

What A Year! 

Shanghai, China

A trip to visit our daughter in NYC took us to some of the less visited places in NYC...Flatbush, Harlem, DUMBO. See our trip report here! And about the more popular places in  NYC here  and  here .

A trip to visit our daughter in NYC took us to some of the less visited places in NYC...Flatbush, Harlem, DUMBO. See our trip report here! And about the more popular places in NYC here and here.

Exploring Venice from the water

Exploring Venice from the water

This small country offers environment from coastal to alpine, as is seen here at Lake Bled, as well as one of the prettiest little European capitals, Ljubljana. 

This small country offers environment from coastal to alpine, as is seen here at Lake Bled, as well as one of the prettiest little European capitals, Ljubljana. 

Gentlemen outside a cafe in Cavtat

Gentlemen outside a cafe in Cavtat

The gorges leading to the port of Kotor in Montenegro. 

The gorges leading to the port of Kotor in Montenegro. 

Candles outside of the St Spyridon's Orthodox Church in Corfu, Greece

Candles outside of the St Spyridon's Orthodox Church in Corfu, Greece

A Maltese balcony on Republic Street flies the EU and Matlese flags. 

A Maltese balcony on Republic Street flies the EU and Matlese flags. 

An incredible day hike up Mt Etna with 3 mountaineers, wine and homemamde parmigiana!

A local character in Nocello greets visitors who hike The Path of the Gods on the Amalfi Coast

A local character in Nocello greets visitors who hike The Path of the Gods on the Amalfi Coast

Rome

Bernini Old Boat Fountain at the Spanish Steps in Rome

Montreal

Montreal put on a warm welcome before the Christmas holidays. 

How Malta Celebrated Our Wedding Anniversary

Valletta

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Malta was a unique and beautiful place to spend the day of our wedding anniversary, but we were really surprised when they really went all out to help us celebrate with cannon fire! 

We visited Malta as part of our Azamara Quest Cruise to celebrate our wedding anniversary.  One of those big ones with a "0" in it! Malta is a small island in the middle of the Mediterranean. Sailing into the harbor is a scenic experience itself, and our ship came in around noon, which gave us plenty of daylight to enjoy the dramatic lighthouses, St Elmo Fortress and beautiful city from the deck of the ship.  

Mouth of Valetta Harbor

Mouth of Valetta Harbor

Fort St Elmo

Fort St Elmo

Yachts in the Grand Harbour

Yachts in the Grand Harbour

Map from the Malta Expeience

Home of the Hospitaller Order of St John Knights, it's full of history and culture. After searching online for privately guided tours, we contacted Joan of Touring Malta for a half day tour, but she was already booked for a multi day trip and recommended we book through her brothers company. Chris Sheridan was responsive by email and we arranged a half day tour to start mid afternoon, when we arrived in Malta.  Our guide Flora met us promptly at the pier and driver Charlie, stopped to pick us up at the entrance of the port. 

We began our tour in the "Old City" of Valletta on Republic Street.  We were joined by throngs of tourists and sightseeing groups. 

Republic St in Valletta

Republic St in Valletta

What impressed us about Malta over the other old cities we had visited as part of our 10 day cruise, was that it was not just a museum to the past, but mix of old walls, and buildings and modern stores and buildings. 

New buildings and old horse carts demonstrate the mix of old and new in Valletta.

New buildings and old horse carts demonstrate the mix of old and new in Valletta.

Another mix of new and old- a Piano designed modern Parliament building and examples of the Baroque Maltese balconies.  (click an photo to expand)

The Knights of St John were known as Hospitallers because they ran hospitals for knights from the 16th - 18th century. The Knights in Malta were organized in Langues, based on their homelands and language.  The Knights were noblemen sent from their home area to defend and expand the Church.  Their families were wealthy nobles, so each Langue had an elaborate palace, called an Auberge.  Many of these still stand today, and can be seen from the street. Most are now private buildings with no public interior access. 

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Cathedral Of St John Malta

The Cathedral Clock Tower was behind scaffolding when we visited...much of Valletta was under construction while we visited because Valletta has been designated as Europe's Cultural Capital for 2018. It cost 10 Euro to visit the cathedral, which includes an audio tour.  You must dress modestly, with shoulders and knees covered to visit. Photography is allowed, except for in the room with the Caravaggio Beheading of St John painting, where no photography is allowed.    https://www.stjohnscocathedral.com/

 

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The spectacular gold nave of the Cathedral of St John. Below, details of art in the Cathedral. (Click on any image to expand)

The spectacular gold nave of the Cathedral of St John. Below, details of art in the Cathedral. (Click on any image to expand)

Grand Masters of the Knights of St John commissioned funerary monuments to be placed in the church upon their deaths.  Many of these were elaborate combinations of sculpture, mosaic, and frescoes made of the most expensive marbles by some of the top artists of the time.  And gold, lots and lots and LOTS of gold! The nave is surrounded by chapels representing the regions where the knights originated from.  The Knights were housed in Langues around Malta that were largely organized around the native language of the knights.

Detail of one of the funerary monuments

Detail of one of the funerary monuments

Republic Square

...Queen Victoria! Well, the British did leave their mark from the time Malta was part of the British Empire, Her Majesty presides outside the building that was once the repository of records for the Order of St John, but today it's a casino. 

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St Georges Square in Malta

The guards switch places, several times a day, but to see the real spectacle of the changing of the guard, the last Friday of the month, there is a parade and the whole guard is changed for the month.  More info about that here .

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Barraka Gardens and Saluting Battery

For the next part of our tour, we walked from the city center to the Barraka Gardens on the Grand Harbour. In early October, there was not a lot blooming to see, but we were just in time to enjoy the Saluting Battery, where twice a day, cannons are fired.  But because we were visiting on the day of our anniversary, we liked to think that they were firing the cannons at the exact moment our wedding ceremony started (EST) We like to pretend the Salute was for US!

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Cannon fire marks the exact moment of our Wedding Anniversary...coincidence? I don't like to think so!

Mdina

The last part of our Malta tour involved driving to the Old City of Mdina.  While Valletta is a modern city mixed with the old, Mdina has been preserved as the original city of Malta, from ancient times to medieval times.  Guests visiting are actually requested to be quiet when visiting to maintain reverence in an area still filled with monasteries and convents. 

Entrance to Mdina

Entrance to Mdina

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Maltese balconies in Mdina

Maltese balconies in Mdina

Post and Video By K.Klofft

Photos by J Klofft