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Valletta Grand Harbour Cruise in Malta

As most of my readers know we recently were lucky enough to have a long weekend visit to Malta. I have to admit that before I went there I didn’t know very much about Malta. I knew it was an island state in the Mediterranean Sea, and that was about it. When I began researching this lovely island online I knew instantly it would be something very special.

threecities1

Three Cities viewed from the Harbour

The island is surrounded by crystal turquoise-blue waters and has sunshine throughout most of the year. I think what impresses me the most – besides the beauty of it all – is that amount of well preserved historical sites. Despite many wars which changed control over the island, and bombing in World War II many historical fortresses, churches, and buildings remain intact and one can wander in living history.

Ft St Angelo

Fort Saint Angelo with roots back to the Arabs in 870 AD

I used the time I had in Malta to see as much as I could manage in compact site seeing trips. I took a bus trip called the North Trip, which took me long inland into the countryside to see the oldest town in Malta, along with many charming villages and coastlines. Then I took the Grand Harbour Cruise in the capital area of Valletta.

Valletta1

The Capital City of Valletta built largely of the Order of St. John of Jerusalem, also known as Knights Hospitaller

I think that the best way to see the beauty of Malta is to see it from the water. The limestone buildings do a wonderful job of combining different periods seamlessly so that architecture from different periods, including modern times passes wonderfully together.

Fort_St_Elmo

Fort St. Elmo built from 1530 and onward

Our trip to Malta was much too short. This lovely island deserves another visit, and I really only saw about one third of what I would have liked to have seen. None the less I am thankfull to have had the opportunity to travel with my husband RennyBA when buisiness took him to this magical place. We will have to plan a return trip to see the rest of it. My next post will show a bit of the beauty found on my trip inland!

Scenic countryside in Malta from the walls of Mdine

Mobile blogging again from beautiful Malta! The weather is awesome and I am doing a good job of soaking up the much needed sunshine. I will be paying for that later. Totally white and going around the mediterranian without sunscreen is not advisable. Especially after a dark Norwegian winter.

To make the most of a short trip I took the tourist bus around the island. Stopping for a while in the medieval walled village of Mdina. I chose the North trip of the countryside because the cruise covers the sea towns quite well. It was the right choice. The countryside was amazing!

Travel is addictive – flying off to Malta

Traveling is addictive. As I am writing I am flying over Italy and have just seen the Alps from above breaking light clouds with snow covered peaks. The earth is really beautiful from a birds eye view. Soon we will see Rome and after that Sicily on our way to Malta.

Renny has buisiness in Malta and I did’nt want to miss out on that one. To be honest Malta was a country I had to look up. I knew it was little and in the Mediteranian. Thats about all. But what I found was a virtual paradise. The weather is supposed to be sunny and in the 70’s. A trip to the beach is a must. Which will be no problem since the Westin Dragonara resort has it’s own. Plus three swimming pools.

Whoops there goes Europe! We flew off the edge. Goodbye Italy, you are definately on my list of places to go. Next stop Malta. Hope my computer catches up with me so I can send photos! Shining off from my Nokia somewhere over the mediteranian.

Round and about Lisbon

On the first day of our tour in Lisbon RennyBA and I explored the city on our own in the daytime, and later met up with Lele Batita and her husband for a memorable dinner together. The dinner has been well documented by RennyBA and I recommend you visit his post. We went to a unique restaurant and had a meal we won’t soon forget.

Our first day on many of our trips we find a tourist bus which can give us background information and show us around the local area. We joined the local hop on hop off trip of Lisbon’s center which gives us a panoramic sightseeing tour of all the major tourist attractions, and helps us get a taste of what we would like to see more of. We could easily spend a couple weeks in Lisbon, having only five days we can’t see it all, so here you have to pick and choose and remember that you can always come back another time.

Renny carried away
RennyBA Carried Away onboard our Bus

Here is just a little bit of what we experienced the first day discovering Lisbon on our own! The bus tour took us first up the “Champs-Elysees” of Lisbon Avenida da Liberdade which is crowned at the top by Marquês de Pombal Square, a monument to Lisbon’s rebirth, the statue of Marquês de Plombal honors the prime minister who was responsible for the rebuilding of Lisbon following the Great Earthquake in 1755. The Great Earthquake did extensive damage to Lisbon, and we can enjoy many of the older sites today because of the choice to rebuild them and keep their heritage rather than destroying and replacing with new structures. So we salute the Marquês de Pombal as well.

Marquis of Pombal
Marquis of Pombal

Opposite the statue Parque Eduardo VII, a park named after Britan’s Edward VII who visited Lisbon in 1903 and reaffirmed the Anglo-Portuguese alliance. Typical for this park is its neatly clipped box hedging flanked by mosaic patterned walkways. The park stretches uphill from Marquês de Pombal Square to a belvedere at the top with fine views.

Parque Eduardo VII
VII EduardoPark

Along the bus route we also saw Campo Pequeno’s bullring which was built in Moorish style in 1892. It features small cubolas atop its four main towers. The bullring accommodates up to 9,000 spectator, and I might add that the bull is not killed in the bullfights in Portugal as it is in Spain. The building appears quite modern, so I admit I was surprised to learn it was as old as 1892.

Campo Pequeno's bullring
Campo Pequeno’s Bullring

Mostly hidden behind its high pink walls we got a glimpse of Belem Palace. This is the official residence of Portugal’s president since 1910. It previously has been a royal palace built in 1559 and further altered and built out in the 18th century by King João V.

Belem Palace
Belem Palace

Crowning the river and facing out to see we find the famous Discoveries monument. A newer structure it was built in 1960 to commemorate the 500th anniversary of the death of Prince Henry the Navigator. The monument resembles a three sailed ship ready to depart and decorated with sculputers of important historical figures such as King Manuel I carrying an armillary sphere, poet Camões holding verses from The Lusiads, Vasco da Gama, Magellan, Cabral, and several other notable Portuguese explorers, crusaders, monks, cartographers, and cosmographers, at the bow we see Prince Henry the Navigator holding a ship in his hands.

Discoveries monument
Discoveries monument

At Restauradores Square we find an obelisk decorated with representations of liberty and freedom. Restauradores does not mean restaurants, although there are no lack of them here, it means restorer of the Independence. On the 1 of December in 1640, a group of nobles killed the regent of Portugal which then was under the control of Spain for a period of 60 years. In killing the regent at the time they restored Portugals freedom as an Independent nation. So it is called “restauradores” because they gave Portugal its Independence back!

Restauradores Square
Restauradores monument

Figueira Square we have a fine view up to St. Jorges Castle. Close to the center is a bronze equestrian statue of King João I, usually smothered by flocks of pigeons and surrounded by teenage skaters as it was when we visited it. Here on the south side we had a taste of some of Lisbons wonderful pastries at the charming Confeitaria Nacional, considered to be one of Europe’s most elegant pastry shops dating back to 1829.

Figueira Square
Figueira Square

Rossio is the liveliest square in the city, where people stop to sit and relax, or for a drink at the outdoor cafes. While we were visiting they were setting up the Christmas display which we would visit the last evening we were in Lisbon. On both sides of the square are baroque fountains, and in the center is a monument measuring 27 meters in height. It consists of a pedestal with marble allegories of Justice, Wisdom, Strength, and Moderation. The monument at the time was flanked by cranes which were setting up the decorations which is the reason why I don’t have a photo of the entire square. However I could not resist getting a close up of one of the gorgeous fountains, each figure on these was a work of art in itself.

Rossio square
Fountain figure.

Lastly I set in a youtube video which is sightseeing tour of Lisbon so you may experience for yourself. It is even accompanied by some traditional Fado music, which you may read more about at RennyBA’s Terella.

All of the sights on the video are places we have been. We did a good job with excellent hosts in such a short period of time. Some of them we will go deeper into, and therefore are not included now, but saving some good stuff for later!!

A dream of a trip to Lisbon

We have just returned from an indescribable experience in Lisbon. The word and photos don’t do it justice but of course you know I will try to give you an impression none the less.

Lisbon_from_the_park

Lisbon from the Park above our hotel

Situated on the north banks of the River Tagus, the charm of Lisbon exists in its strong links to the past as well as the preserved culture which is celebrated today. Its renovated palaces, magnificent churches and an impressive castle bring new life to the city’s rich cultural heritage. Its eclectic blend of neighborhoods, culture and architecture distinguish this capital city uniquely from the other European capitals and make it a truly fascinating city to visit.

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Lisbon from the Christo Rei statue across the river

We were hosted by our good friends and fellow blogger Lele Batita of Pèrole de Culture who visited us in August 2010 and now we are returning the favor. They were charming and wonderful hosts and really gave their best to share their beautiful city and culture with us. We really wish to thank Lele and Louis for their time and efforts and have had a truly amazing experience!

sunset_behind_Torre_de_Belèm

Sunset behind Torre de Belèm

A city set on seven hills, with its cobble-stoned pavements and narrow streets full of Art Nouveau cafés Lisbon offers a lot to discover. Five days were not nearly enough and our tourist activities took on a whirlwind tempo, but we have at least had a taste of Lisbon in all its richness and variety. Most popular spots in Lisbon are; located around Rossio and Praça do Comércio, Baixa; situated on the hill around St. George’s Castle, and the river area around Belém. We were able to visit all these districts, although some more than others and have had the highlights tour of the city.

Lisbon_bridge

Lisbon Bridge from the Christo Reo statue

I will likely be making several posts about Lisbon, but this is just the introduction with some viewpoints from our trip. We will share with you the food and some of our special adventures in the weeks to come, so stay tuned both here and on RennyBA’s Terella.