Day 3 - Valletta, Malta and Gozo So, I'm not a morning person. Never have been. I knew we had an early meeting time for Malta, so I decided to set my "wake up" for fairly early. My preferred wake up on a cruise port day is the wonder that is room service for breakfast! It couldn't be easier to set up. They have a little tag that you put out on the outside of your door listing a time range for delivery, and selecting what you want for breakfast. A nice pot of coffee, cereal (oatmeal! I so rarely have time to make oatmeal!), plain yogurt and some scrambled eggs. Since the times were in 1/2 hour ranges, I picked a half hour before I wanted to get up, in case I was one of the last ones delivered to. This turned out to be unnecessary; they always delivered at the early end of the time range. They would call first to make sure you were awake (and/or not engaged in something you might not want to have interrupted!) Very efficient! So this first morning, breakfast was delivered over half an hour before I really needed to be up. I took my coffee out onto my veranda, and actually experienced something rare for me... Sunrise! I've seen tons and tons of very beautiful sunsets, but sunrise is a pretty novel experience for me! ;-) Malta is a very pretty, ancient looking place. Here we are, gliding into port... Our meet-up spot was at Animator's Palate, which was just above the debarkation area. Tina & Robyn checked that we had our ID and Key to the World (KTTW), and put a Donald sticker on those they checked. Most people kept the stickers on all day. I'm sure we didn't need to, but it was kind of fun. We disembarked (no lines for those on an ABD! Whoohoo!) and got on our motorcoach for the drive to the far side of Malta, where we were to catch a ferry to the island of Gozo. As I said, Malta is very pretty. We didn't stop, however, as our destination was Gozo, not Malta... But I did like what I saw from the motorcoach! It was really, really windy, which meant the water was really, really choppy. It was *beautiful*, but I was a bit worried that the ferry would make me sick. Fortunately, it was low & wide, and for the most part, very stable. I spent most of the ride up on the top deck, with LOTS of fresh air, talking to the father of the family on the last family vacation. Except for the wind, it was a GORGEOUS day. Brilliant sunshine, blue, blue skies (and water!), just a touch of a nip to the air. When we arrived on Gozo, we were herded to a group of jeeps for our jeep tour of Gozo. Gozo looked very similar to Malta, only much more sparsely populated. For such a little, bitty island, they sure had a *TON* of churches! Many of them were very ornate! We stopped at an area by the coast where they had salt pans. Shallow pits were dug, and sea water poured in, and left to evaporate, leaving the sea salt behind, which they sell. Normally, the tide never goes near the salt pans, but with the wind we had, well, the tide was all over them! Did I say it was REALLY windy? Our jeep driver was a native Gozoan. I had commented how lovely one area was we were driving through, and she smiled & said "This is *my* village!" Our next stop was in a Crafts Village area where we were *supposed* to see them hand-blowing glass. Unfortunately, they had some sort of issue that day, and had had to shut the ovens down. So no glass-blowing for us! :-( Our tour guide Fio showed us the sand they used, and we saw some of the finished products. It was very lovely glass... For instance, I'd never seen black & white glass before. But I had really been looking forward to the glass-blowing. Oh, well. Stuff happens... They gave us a free glass paperweight as a souvenir. I was drawn to a deep blue one with white & clear accents. We then were given some time to wander the other shops in the area & use the bathroom (always important to utilize those opportunities in the Med!) I ended up buying a very pretty small hand-made doily in a lace shop next door. We then got back in our jeeps, and headed off to an area called the Azure Window. They let us off in the parking lot, and we walked down some steps into a protected area. We all bunched up against the wall as Fio explained the geography of the area. She pointed out to us that the wall behind us was filled with fossils of sea life. The whole area had been under water, but techtonic movement had caused it to raise up out of the water! It was very cool. Then we walked out into the rocks, and saw that the Azure Window is a very dramatic, beautiful natural arch! The area is very rocky, so it was a bit precarious trying to get good pictures, especially with the wind. But that didn't stop me! :-D I grew up near the ocean, so it didn't intimidate me (much). Of course, even though I was no where near the water... THIS is what I got next! (Did I say it was really, REALLY windy?) I got a little spray on my camera, but other than that, I was fine. But I backed off at that point! After our orgy of picture taking & hiking around the Azure Window, we got back in our jeeps, and headed for lunch! We ate in a lovely little restaurant right on the coast, Il Terazzo (Restaurant, Wine Bar & Pizzeria). If you look at the picture below, we were *supposed* to eat where you can see the closed-up umbrellas. Yep. It was WAY too windy for us to eat out there, so we ate in the enclosed patio area of the restaurant, which still had a lovely view. This was my first encounter with a restaurant that totally didn't know what to do with me. Because the food they had was in a lemon sauce, and I try to minimize citrus because of my stomach (no tomatoes, citrus, cabbage or green peppers). It took them forever to come up with something else they could serve me. Oh, well. Better a late lunch than heartburn! And, of course, dessert was magnificent profiteroles. I *had* to eat them! I really did! Yumm! After lunch, we got back in our jeeps, and headed off to an area called Xlendi (no idea how it's pronounced!) There was a beautiful little protected area where we were *supposed* to go swimming in the Mediterranean. Unfortunately, even though it was protected, the wind had the water so whipped up that it was not safe to go swimming. Some folks ended up wading in, but I decided to take a hike up these very interesting-looking stairs. They just called to me. There were some really nice views from the stairs, and they came down into a little cave-like area where the waves were really hitting! It took a lot of running around to get a picture of this guy. Gecko? I'm not sure... After some free time to wander Xlendi, (the shopping was really pretty non-existent) we headed off back to catch the ferry back to Malta. I took this picture on the way back. That's the island of Comino in front, with the "Blue Lagoon" area with the turquoise water, and Malta beyond. On the ferry back to Malta Fio, our tour guide in Malta. The Magic (and Goofy!) in the Grand Harbour near Valetta, Malta. Sailing out of the Grand Harbour. Tonight's towel animal Before I knew to be paranoid about the weight of my luggage, I had really wanted to buy the large Captain Mickey plush that they had on the DCL website (you could pre-purchase it, and take your voucher to the shops to trade for a plush.) But it had disappeared off the website several weeks before the cruise. I went to the shops, and they did not have the large plush at all; all they had was a very few smaller plushes of Captain Mickey. The salespeople said they might just not be unpacked yet, so I should check back later in the cruise. But I decided I was probably better off just buying the smaller one, anyways. Turned out it was a good thing I did, because they did *not* have any more onboard, and the small ones sold out pretty quickly. Before dinner, I made the circuit of Character pictures. Some of them actually turned out! Me and Mickey! Me and Dopey. People seemed to really like these poses! There's just something about Dopey! Continued in Part 3.