All posts by brucegk

Happy Birthday, Ignacio!

Our home in Mexico is San Miguel de Allende, named after Ignacio Allende, one of the heroes of the Mexican Revolution who was born in a house across from the Jardin. Tuesday was the 251st anniversary of his birth which is celebrated over a two day period with parades, concerts in the Jardin, and fireworks. a distinguished military career where he was the Mexican hero of the campaign against Texas in 1801. After 1806 his sympathies aligned with the conspirators behind the independence movement. He was a Lieutenant General and led a resounding victory in some of the battles for independence. He was promoted to leadership of the insurgent army but was betrayed shortly thereafter. He was sentenced to death by a military tribunal and was executed on June 2, 1811.

The bandstand in the Jardin was decorated in Allende’s honor. Our Minnesota friends, Jean and Ron are visiting this week. That’s Ron on the left and Susan and I on the right.A man dressed as Allende drew the most applause from the crowd.There were several beauty queens in the parade.A cleanup crew followed all the horses.This appeared to be the senior queen of the parade.Every school in San Miguel seemed to have a spot in the parade.This school group carried a large Mexican flag.Most of the students must have been told not to smile as they had very serious expressions.This youngster was dressed as Allende.A culinary school in town participated in the parade.All public service organizations such as the army, police, ambulances, fire department, etc. participated in the parade. We had an appropriate spot to watch the parade, across the street from Instituto Allende, an art and Spanish school near our home.We watched the end of the parade from another location to facilitate the girls shoppin for San Miguel Sandals. The parade lasted about an hour.

Canada de la Virgen

This blog has nothing to do with the country north of us nor the maturing of youth to adulthood. Rather it is about a pyramid built by the Otomi people about 15 miles from what is now San Miguel. Tuesday, Laura and I took a tour of the site led by Albert Coffee, a graduate in archaeology from LSU. He was persuaded by a friend to move to San Miguel, despite there being no developed archeological sites in the area. Shortly after moving here, he learned of the discovery of Canada de la Virgen and the plans to restore it. He decide to do whatever it took to be part of the team. It is very interesting taking a tour led by one of the people active in restoring the site. When restoration began, the site looked like a small hill with trees and shrubs growing on it. The smaller vegetation was removed, but some of the bigger trees were left as they help to hold it together.The Otomi are believed to be the original inhabitants of this area. They were avid skywatchers and in particular worshiped the sun and the moon. They passed their knowledge and observations from one generation to the next. The location of the pyramid was based on astronomical criteria, religious beliefs, and agricultural cycles. The site was occupied from 540 CE to 1050 CE.Evacuation of the site began privately in 1995 and officially in 2002. Public access was first allowed in 2011. The site is located on private property, so admission is strictly limited.The House of the Wind is a unique structure that has a square base and a round top.The House of the Longest Night has a sunken patio that could be flooded with water in the rainy season. It is believed that this was useful in studying the stars as they could look down at the reflection rather than looking up at the stars.The main structure, The House of the Thirteen Heavens, was built in two and a half phases. The first phase was built with these large rectangular blocks. These blocks came from “beyond the horizon” and had to be carried to the site on the backs of workers.The second phase was built on top of the first using locally available stones. A third phase was begun using smaller locally available stones as shown on levels one and two, but it was never completed.This is the main structure viewed from its entrance. The site faces celestial north so the stars spin around the top of it. The moon aligns perfectly with the notches of the pyramid at key times in the lunar cycle and at the equinox. There is a nineteen year cycle, so the Otomi had to study and record lunar data for a nineteen year period to design and build the pyramid.This gives you an idea of the steps you have to walk up to the top of the pyramid. If you walk up sideways, your foot fits pretty well. I brought my walking stick for the occasion,Other than being narrow and uneven, the steps were really pretty easy.The view from the top overlooks another sunken patio they could flood with water and the ceremonial entrance road. Going down was much more nerve-wracking than going up.

Dr. Rossana Ennis has studied and photographed the relationships of the sun and moon with the pyramid for ten years. After completing our tour of the site, we visited her museum and restaurant, which served a prehispanic lunch featuring native, seasonal ingredients based on the symbolism of the Aztec calendar. The lunch was delicious! My main course featured rabbit.One thing I had never seen before was a decorated tortilla. I asked about this and she said it was a traditional thing to do before the Spanish arrived.It was done with a carved wooden mold which she covered with a red plant dye using a corn cob.

Following lunch, she made a fascinating presentation of her work studying the relationship of the pyramid with the sun, the moon, and the 260 day Myan Calendar. She has documented her work with numerous pictures of the sun and moon at key points on the pyramid at important times in the calendar and agricultural cycle. She said they could not predict when an eclipse would occur, but the position of the moon on the pyramid accurately told them when an eclipse was impossible. While I can’t say I fully understood her work, I left fully amazed that the ancient people were able to design and build the pyramid to achieve all these relationships with the sun and the moon. She believes that Venus entered into their design and she plans to continue her studies to prove that. I highly recommend this tour to anyone visiting San Miguel.

The Mask Museum

Monday, we visited the Mask Museum, which is located in a bed and breakfast part way up the hill overlooking San Miguel. It is operated by a couple from New York City. He visits indigenous villages in Mexico where he collects masks that have been used in ceremonies, and she collects Mexican folk art as well as selling the works of seven artists.There are beautiful views of San Miguel from the roof of the B&B.

Masks were used by the indigenous people as a part of their religion. When the Spanish conquered Mexico, they destroyed all the old masks that represented what they considered to be the wrong god and created new masks to teach them the Catholic religion. The Europeans brought many diseases with them that the indigenous people had never experienced resulting in widespread disease until some natural immunity was developed. Due to the sudden loss of workers, the Europeans brought slaves from Africa who had already been exposed to their diseases. This is the reason for a significant number of black masks in the museum.

Today masks are used in performances to celebrate holidays and events in numerous indigenous villages predominantly in southern Mexico. There is usually a couple of mask makers in each village. They are made predominantly of wood with some being made of leather. He has approximately 600 masks in his collection and each one has been worn in some performance. No pictures were allowed in the museum, but he has masks displayed throughout the B&B.

There are a number of Catrina dolls, symbolic of the Day of the Dead, scattered around the B&B.

There was also an extensive collection of folk art.

In building the B&B, they used doors recovered at salvage yards.

I particularly liked the design of the floor in this courtyard.

I had to try on one of the more attractive masks in the sales room.

Our daughter, Laura, is visiting us this week. The picture is from Taco Don Felix which you may remember for its giant margaritas from last year.

The Fancy Hotels of San Miguel

Tuesday we spent much of the day at Aurora Fabrica, a former cloth mill that has been converted into a collection of artist’s studios. We decided to go there the back way by the house we rented two years ago. We expected the route to cross a busy street and then pass through some large undeveloped areas. To our surprise there was a beautiful new hotel where the undeveloped area used to be. As always in San Miguel, it pays to walk through any open door and check it out.This unusual sculpture was in front of the hotel. We walked in through the lobby to explore the grounds.There was a nice swimming pool with an abundance of unused lounge chairs.They had a row of basket chairs which I could not resist trying out. They were as comfortable as they looked. We talked to some of the staff, and they claimed the hotel was doing well, but we saw two customers the whole time we were exploring. The listed rates at the front desk were $600/night and way up. When we looked online at home, you could get a room for as little as $300/night.These ruins were located right next to the hotel grounds.

You have heard us talk of our friends Jean and Ron from Minnesota, who are coming to visit us in a week. Wednesday, we met their friends, Kathy and Steve, who are visiting San Miguel for a week. We had lunch in the courtyard of the Santa Monica Hotel and then explored some of the city highlights with them. We ended the day with frozen mango margaritas at a rooftop bar.

Thursday, we joined Kathy and Steve again for drinks on the rooftop of the other luxury hotel in town, The Rosewood Hotel, directly across the street from where we are staying. We hear the music from the rooftop in our home. The Rosewood rooftop is well known for its sunset views. When we looked over the hilltop area known as The Balconies, we saw the moon rising.When we looked the other direction, we saw the sun setting over the area known as San Antonio.Finally, after the sun set, we saw the Parroquia lit for the night. The Rosewood seems to be more expensive than Live Aqua but it is much busier.

Our daughter, Laura, is arriving Friday evening to spend the next week with us.

At Home in San Miguel’s

We continue to feel at home when we return to San Miguel. Our home this year is in a gated complex across from the Rosewood Hotel, probably the most prestigious hotel in town. It is on the other side of Centro from our previous homes here. This means we are closer to Parque Juarez where Susan likes to walk, to Instituto Allende for Lifelong Learning classes, and to the pocket theater. Most things in Centro are a similar distance, but the Shelter Theater and Fabrica Aurora with its many art galleries are further away. So far we are averaging about four miles of walking per day.

Our home is rather plain on the outside. It sits on a small parking area for the complex. Inside, it has a lot of architectural interest.This is the living room with the fireplace on the left and the patio to the right. The bright spot on the left of the ceiling is an opening to the second floor.The dining room and kitchen are off the living room. Like all houses here, there is no central heat, so the fireplace is the only source of heat. The days have been mostly pleasant with temperatures in the low 70’s in the afternoon, but the evenings are in the 40’s and 50’s so the fireplace is needed.The guest bedroom is the other room on the first floor.It has been a little cool to enjoy breakfast or lunch on the patio so far.Our bedroom is on the second floor.There is a terrace off of our bedroom. The terrace overlooks our patio and the surrounding buildings.There is a small alcove on the second floor which makes a perfect knitting area for Susan.The second floor hall has a skylight above, an opening to the living room below, and a circular window to the terrace.Our favorite part of the house is the rooftop terrace with its abundant sunshine and view of the Parroquia in the background. This house is quieter than the others we have rented in San Miguel. There is no traffic noise, no roosters, minimal dogs, and minimal fireworks – even on New Years Eve. The main noise is the music from the Rosewood roof top bar, and that could be considered a feature if you like the music.

One thing we miss here is Leo, our friendly grocer who gave me a hug and Susan a kiss every time we came in his store. We learned last year that he is no longer in business. The best we have found nearby is a Farmacia that has a grocery section. Friday, we decided to walk a mile to La Comer, the Costco of San Miguel.It is a large store with TV’s, tires, refrigerators, and clothes. But mostly it is a huge grocery store with some Kirkland products but not the large package sizes you would find in Costco. Three Kings Day, the twelfth day after Christmas, is widely celebrated here. It is the day when children receive their presents. The traditional food is hot chocolate and Rosca de Reyes, a sweet bread shaped like a wreath, with candied fruit on top, and a figurine of a baby Jesus baked inside. They were being baked on the premises and most shoppers were buying one.Walking a mile to the grocery was OK, but walking a mile home lugging two big bags of groceries was not. La Comer had a helper outside with a whistle to summon passing taxis and load your groceries in the trunk. The taxi home cost $3 which seemed high compared to last year. When we made our first grocery stop at the Farmacia, they told us they didn’t have any bags; so we had to carry our groceries home in our arms. When we got to the check out at La Comer, they didn’t seem to have any bags either. We were able to buy the green bags you see in the picture. I thought they were just like Aldi’s where you have to buy reusable shopping bags. I have since learned that Mexico has outlawed plastic bags. Good for them!

In the short time we have been here we have enjoyed chamber music, blues music, and the movie Judy at the Pocket Theater where you can enjoy a pirated movie, a drink, and popcorn for the all inclusive price of $6. I think all the Golden Globe nominated movies are playing now. The movies change daily. At the blues show at the Shelter Theater, they sang a song I had never heard before, Take Me Back to San Miguel. For those who have been here before and are missing it, here is a link to a You Tube video with the song and a lot of pictures to make you nostalgic to return: https://youtu.be/VMZL2__b2ok

Happy New Year from San Miguel de Allende

We began the new year in one of our favorite cities which many of you know from previous blogs. On 30/Dec we flew from Wilmington to Atlanta (you get one guess of which airline), to Mexico City and to Leon where we took a shuttle to the home we have rented in San Miguel for the month of January. Our travel day began at 5 AM when we awoke for our airport taxi and ended 15 hours later when the shuttle dropped us off at our rental home. Other than being a long day, everything had gone smoothly with all transportation on time.

I knew that our rental home was located on a gated alley and that I would need help getting through the gate. The address I was given was Tenerias 33-2. Never having seen a hyphenated address before, I interpreted it as Tenerias 33 with an apartment 1, 2, etc. The shuttle dropped us off at Tenerias 33 which had a sign in front saying welcome Liza and Bruce. I was very impressed by the welcome sign, but didn’t know who this Liza was. It turns out that Tenerias 33 was a banquet hall and Liza and Bruce were coming from Texas for a destination wedding the next day.

We quickly learned that San Miguel does indeed have hyphenated addresses and ours was a big locked gate several doors down. There was a key pad and a box with several other buttons but nothing that we could read in the dark. Fortunately, our T-Mobile cell phone was working in Mexico, so we called the apartment manager’s office, and the maid who was waiting in the house for us quickly unlocked the gate and gave us a tour of our beautiful new home. I will give you the tour in a future blog.

San Miguel is a popular destination for Mexico City residents on weekends and holidays. We walked on quiet streets to the Jardin late Tuesday morning to get the Attencion newspaper so we could begin planning the rest of this week. We then walked to several venues to purchase tickets and had lunch at one of our favorite ceviche restaurants. By the time we headed back to the Jardin, the streets were filled with people and cars.

The Christmas decorations were still up throughout the city.Poinsettias were a very popular part of the decorations.A couple of the large puppets known as mojigangas walk the streets to observe the holidays. They are dressed as Catrinas, which were made popular in the Diego Rivera mural, Dream of a Sunday Afternoon in Alameda Central Park.A large stage with a live band was set up in front of the Parroquia.It was standing room only in the Jardin which was decorated with poinsettias and lights.A nativity scene filled the bandstand in the center of the Jardin.Lights festooned all the streets leading to the Jardin.

There was a beautiful fireworks display over the Parroquia at midnight. These pictures are taken from our rooftop. Every roof top in view had spectators watching the fireworks. Liza and Bruce’s wedding party was on one of them. Like so many people, we love San Miguel!

Malta Today

I’ll conclude the Malta posts with some pictures from wandering around the city.

Upper Barrakka Gardens These are the Upper Barrakka Gardens located a few blocks from our hotel.From there, you can get views of Valletta like this.The walls around the city of Valletta are very imposing. This is the elevator to get from sea level up to Upper Barrakka Gardens.

Valletta at NightTriton Fountain at the entry gate to the city.The town walls near the entry gate. We ate at a restaurant on the terrace where the lights are between the walls on the upper right. That terrace was a artillery bastion to protect the city gate in more dangerous times.This building looked more interesting at night than it did in the day.

Harbor Cruise

We took a harbor cruise to see Valletta from the water. Valletta is a peninsula with three small peninsulas (known as the Three Cities) pointing at it on one side The main harbor is between Valletta and the Three Cities. Following are some pictures from the cruise.The sphere is the most modern looking structure in the area. It is a planetarium.There is a lighthouse on each side of the harbor entrance.A whimsical giraffe crane in the port.

Malta Has Steps Also

We saw a lot of long steps in Sicily, but Malta wants to be part of the competition.

Food

The food in Malta is pretty similar to that in Sicily. However, we never saw donkey or horse on the menu here. Instead, virtually every restaurant in Malta had a rabbit dish on the menu – mostly rabbit stew. By the fourth night, Susan decided she had to try the rabbit stew. She loved it!!! Does anyone know a good rabbit restaurant in Wilmington? I had a sample of hers and I was not as enthusiastic. On our last night in Malta, we ate at a pasta restaurant.The concept was that you choose your sauce from a list on a chalkboard and you choose your freshly made pasta from this selection in a case at the back of the restaurant. The person behind the case fills a container with the chosen pasta and passes it to the kitchen to finish the preparation. I had “Norma” pasta, which is popular in both Sicily and Malta with the green spinach pasta. Norma is a special spherical shaped eggplant. Susan had the pasta behind mine with a pesto sauce. They were both delicious!

Next Trip

Our next trip will be to San Miguel, Mexico from December 31 to January 31. I know some of you are San Miguel people. If any of you are going to be in San Miguel during this period, please contact us so we can get together.

Wrap Up

We really liked Malta on our Viking World Cruise and we still like it after this visit. It is still a place we would like to come back to. We were a little concerned about whether we would still like OAT after enjoying the luxury of the Viking cruise. The answer is “Yes!” We thoroughly enjoyed Sicily and part of that enjoyment came from doing things with OAT that would never happen on a cruise.

As always, we want to thank all of you for following our blog. We particularly thank everyone who took the time to comment. Good, bad, or indifferent – we really enjoy hearing from you. Until next time. Safe travels.

Malta A Long, Long Time Ago

History doesn’t get much older than the history of Malta. It is believed that humans first arrived here about 5200 BCE. By the years 3500 – 2600 BCE the Temple Builders of Malta we’re building megalithic structures that are the oldest surviving structures in the world. And we are not talking about one such structure, but six UNESCO recognized sites and several others. This makes the oldest Structure here a thousand years older than the pyramids and 600 years older than Stonehenge. It kind of boggles the mind!

On Sunday we visited two of these structures in Paola, Malta. The first one was the Hypogeum of Hal Saflieni. It is an underground burial chamber built in limestone on three levels more than 5000 years ago. It is estimated that 7000 people could have been buried within its chambers, but no one really knows since most of the bones had disintegrated by the time the site was discovered. The site was discovered in 1902 when digging a cistern for a building above. Visitation to the site is limited to ten people per hour and you have to reserve your spot several months in advance. That explains why we visited at 9 AM on a Sunday morning as it was the only time available during our stay. The presence of humans raises the humidity in a cave which encourages algae growth, which results in deterioration of the cave – particularly to the ochre paintings.This is the only picture I could take as we had to store all cameras and phones in a locker prior to entering the cave. They had to dig the rooms using only stone tools and beaks of a bird. It is believed they took advantage of natural cracks in the rock to dig the rooms. There is also evidence that they used the bird beaks to create holes in the rock to weaken the structure.This figure called The Sleeping Woman was found in one of the rooms. It is only about four inches long and is located in the Archeological Museum. For some pictures from the internet, click here. If that doesn’t work, Google “Hypogeum” and select “images” at the top.

About a ten minute walk from the Hypogeum, is the megalithic temple site of the Tarxien Temples discovered by a farmer plowing his field in 1914. It dates back to 3150 BCE. We were lucky in that the site was free today. We were unlucky in that the site was free today so it was jammed with people. There are three separate but attached temples on the site. There is evidence they were used for animal sacrifice, but there is no evidence of human sacrifice.This gives an idea of the layout of one of the temples. It is unique in that it has three pairs of apses instead of the usual two. The wall made of small pieces of stone is a reconstruction.This shows you the size of the stones they had to cut and move to make the temple. The decorated piece is a replica.These are some of the original decorated stones from the archeological museum.This shows how they moved the stones. They placed the sphere under the block and pulled it over the spheres. As a sphere became uncovered at the rear, they would move it to the front. Sounds like hard work to me! This room has a replica of the Fat Woman statue.The actual one is in the museum.This is another of the so called fat women statues. In reality, there is no indication of the sex of the statue. It is also noteworthy that they do not have heads, but do have a hole where the head should be. It is theorized that different heads could be added depending on the occasion.This statue is known as the Venus of Malta and is considered to be quite remarkable for the way it accurately shows the muscles of the body. It is only a few inches tall.

Well, that is enough of the really old stuff. We leave for home on Monday. We fly to Orlando and overnight there. On Tuesday, we will visit our friends Mary Anne and Steve from the world cruise before flying home later in the day. I will have a final post on more contemporary Malta ASAP.

Mdina and Rabat

Mdina is the former capital of Malta. It was first settled by the Phoenicians in 1000 BCE when they built a protective wall around their city. When the Romans arrived they enlarged the city and gave it the name Melita. It wasn’t until the ninth century when the Arabs arrived that it received the name Mdina, which means “walled city” in Arabic. They built a strong wall and a deep moat between the city of Mdina and its suburbs (rabat in Arabic. On Friday we took a public bus from Valletta to Mdina.There are only two gates to enter Mdina and this is the one most used.The moat is landscaped and well manicured. I never saw a way to get down to the moat.

The Cathedral.I personally preferred this building which was also located on Cathedral Square.

We toured the medieval mansion Palazzo Falcon, the former home of the artist and philanthropist, Olof Gollcher. His numerous collections including silver, rugs, and weapons were on display throughout the mansion. You see his studio and dining room above.

Mdina is a small town filled with narrow, curving lanes where the straight sections are said to be less than the length that an arrow can fly.

We also explored Rabat which had the same wooden window balconies as Valletta, but they tended to be more colorful.In Rabat, we visited Saint Agatha’s (I trust you remember her) church, museum, and catacombs. No pictures were allowed in the catacombs. They were difficult to walk through as they were dark with low ceilings and an uneven foot path. The rich were buried in structures in the middle of a room, the working class were buried in the walls, and the poor were buried in the floor. There were some small frescoes on the walls.And every town has to have a cathedral.

We had a very interesting evening back in Valletta where we attended a concert in the Manoel theater, one of the oldest in Europe. From the outside it looks like any apartment building in town.On the inside, it was a classic, old European theater. The concert was the Versatile Brass in concert with six soloists. The band had at least a dozen brass in addition to the percussion, bass, and guitars. The conductor (who looked like a taller version of Rudy Giuliani) was worth the price of admission as he danced around the whole stage leading the band, interacting with the soloists, leading the audience, and even singing on one song. He had a very expressive face. The music included La Vie en Rose, Frank Sinatra, 70’s disco, and several European songs we had never heard but the audience loved. It ended with a thirty minute non stop rock session with the audience dancing and singing. This music included Sweet Caroline, which we took as an honor to us since we sing it after every Panther victory, and several Queen songs. At the end of the show, we were exhausted!

The four masted sailing ship leaving the Valletta harbor is the Sea Cloud, a hand sailed ship which we sailed on about ten years ago in the Caribbean.

Good Bye Sicily, Hello Malta

We both felt that the Sicily tour exceeded our expectations. All the stops had attractive architecture spanning several cultures. Most of the island was very scenic with plenty of mountain and sea views. We liked the fact that there were no really long bus rides. The two big cities of Palermo and Catania had a lot of people strolling the streets, but they were mostly residents and not tourists. They both had interesting old buildings and numerous sites to visit. We highly recommend Sicily as a good European vacation destination.Catania has a botanical garden featuring plants from around the globe.

I haven’t mentioned the food of Sicily. The food is similar to the rest of Italy with pasta and pizza at virtually every restaurant. The typical meal consisted of a variety of appetizers served family style. There were typically six to ten appetizers which usually included olives and some sort of eggplant. The second course would be some sort of pasta. The portion of pasta was relatively small. The third course was the main course was either meat or fish. And of course every meal included a dessert, a glass of wine, and water. Needless to say we were never hungry. Donkey and horse were common on restaurant menus. While I had some donkey as one of the appetizers, I never knowingly had horse.For our farewell dinner, Laura had a tiramisu made featuring the group picture from our Fiat 500 ride including us and the drivers. The picture part was edible and it was a little unsettling eating a picture of your new found friends for desert.

On a totally unrelated topic, Susan’s San Miguel sandals were quite a hit with the women on the trip. As a result, I think at least two of them are going to order shoes on line.

On Wednesday, we flew Ryan Air from Catania to Malta. Ryan is a discount carrier similar to Spirit Airlines. I will have to say that I was pretty impressed with them. Boarding was chaotic, but once the last passenger was on the plane, they immediately closed the door; and once the last passenger was seated, they immediately pushed away from the gate for an exactly on time departure. What was more impressive to me was that the luggage was on the carousel by the time we got there. I also had more knee room than on Spirit.

We first visited Valletta, Malta on the Viking World Cruise and decided we had to come back and see it in more detail. After one day walking around Valletta, we decided that the four days we have on this trip is not enough. I am thinking an Airbnb for a week or two and Susan is talking about moving here.Maybe it’s because this is the view from the rooftop of our guesthouse and the temperature is in the mid 70’s with a comfortable breeze. The blue sky helps also.This is a typical Valletta street scene. The streets are narrow, there are hills involved, and all the buildings have wooden windows that extend out from the exterior wall instead of balconies.

We visited the Knights hospital from the 16th century.This is the ward for the wealthy, it is over 500 feet long, but we can only see half because of the curtain at the mid point. Note all the doors in the walls.There was a bed for one patient between the doors and the doors lead to a private bathroom for each patient. The toilets were Asian style or basically a hole in the floor. There was a ventilation system in the bathroom that led to an adjacent courtyard filled with orange trees. Thus the ward smelled like orange blossoms. Salt and honey were used to treat wounds and turpentine was part of the treatment for bullet wounds. The bathroom doors were covered with tapestries and the beds were color coded by disease of the patient. And by the way, this hospital only accepted male patients.This is the ward for the poor people located right below the other ward and showing its full length.In this case, there is still one bed between the two doors, but the bed holds four people who must each share the adjacent bathroom behind the door. There were two nurses per bed both upstairs and downstairs. Both wards are used for parties today. The lower floor recently was used for a 900 person wedding for an Indian couple.

We also visited the Church of Saint Paul’s Shipwreck. In 60 CE, Saint Paul’s ship wrecked in Malta and he brought Christianity to the island. The church was very plain on the outside, but the interior dating from the 16th century was spectacular.The church had a number of these double domes in the ceiling and each one was different. The smaller interior dome has windows in it, so it washes out in the picture.Part of the entry to the harbor. It was a wonderful first day followed by a delicious seafood dinner.