tuftears: Thoughtful Lynx (Thoughtful)
[personal profile] tuftears
I did not so much wake up as toss and turn all night, despite my determination to get to sleep. Partly travel stress and jetlag and being in a tiny hotel bed, partly my cold and drinking lots of fluids meaning that I also needed to go to the restroom frequently. It wasn't an awesome night.

Since we had taken showers immediately before going to bed, so we could get up and out the door bright and early in time for the breakfast buffet and tour group departure... we had pretty bad bed hair.

I should note here: we were strictly warned not to drink the water in Malta, and that goes for the showers as well. It was rather discomfitting. I was glad my older bro had provided me a large refillable water bottle that allowed me to stay hydrated, especially as I was fighting off a cold.

There are no pictures of this. Just the fact I had to ask for a comb from the hotel staff (and thanksfully they were able to provide one) is sufficient shame for me. x_x

On the other paw, the view from the hotel room balcony was amazing.

The buffet wasn't actually that inspiring. It was a European continental breakfast, lots of cold cuts and fruit and maybe cereal if you wanted some cardboard-y starches, with a separate room with BACON and sausages and some other hot dishes. They had a chef making, I think either crepes or omelettes, but I wasn't in shape to wait, so I elected for some scrambled eggs. There was a distinct paucity of tasty side vegetables. Still, it was food, and we needed nutrition to keep us going.

We left for the Palazzo Parisio, which was built by, Dracosphynx tells me, the richest man in Malta at the time. He had opened the first steam-powered ship trade to the island, built their first bank, and also their first brewery. Which may explain...

The brewery symbol/mascot. Lions were a running theme in most Maltese/Italian decor.

Ahem. Anyway, here, have a selection of pictures from the Palazzo Parisio!

Because if you have a lot of money, you want your home to *look* like you have a lot of money! So of course you festoon the front with ALL THE STATUES.

Just putting art on the WALLS isn't enough. You want the fancy pictures on the CEILINGS too. Your CEILINGS wlil be THE WORLD'S MOST EXPENSIVE PICTURE FRAMES.

A stairwell. I'm not sure whether the far wall actually has shutters that open outward or if they just decided they should continue the window treatment for the heck of it.

A sitting room.

Ceiling of the sitting room. I can only guess this is a skylight for people who don't want to take the chance the weather might ever be less than perfect. I noticed Dracosphynx greatly admiring the chandeliers as well.

Dining room. Notice the centaurs!

All the rooms seemed to have their own color themes. This particular room seemed to be just sort of in the middle, but even so, it had a truly amazing chandelier.

Behold the bed! Still small compared to a California King mattress, but you gotta admire the poshness of the headboard on that thing.

Now *this* is a fancy place to sit down and have a spot of tea with your friends. And the gilt will remind your friends that you have the money and they do not.

I think this was from the ballroom. It was covered in SO MUCH BLING. It was as if somewhere an architect had declared a vendetta against the concept of negative space.

I was curious about the bolts poking out of the marble. Turns out the place had had carpet added at one point.

Dracosphynx informs me that, since Malta has no marble quarry of its own, the owner had paid to import an entire staircase, carved in one piece, shipped in. The first ship sank... So he had to get another one. "First world problems," he jested.

I found this display of dolls interesting. I am not sure if this is supposed to be the Poshest Nativity Scene Ever.

Anyway, we finished the tour of the Palazzo Parisio with half an hour to spare before the tour bus would get back to us-- because there's limited space in front of landmarks, tour buses operate by dropping people off, then coming back to pick them up later. So, we went across the street to what I am informed was the 'Naxxar Parish Church'. The front door is mighty austere looking...

Austere, if you mean 'decorated to within an inch of its life, just that it's all in black ironwork', that is.

The inside is far from austere though. I have to admit, the white/red curtains/gilt edges really look good. There are a lot of domed ceiling pieces. Unique art in each and every one! I have to admit, that's one thing Renaissance architecture has over modern buildings.

This was a display within the church; I have no idea who the kid is supposed to be.

Looking across the side of the church, you can see lots of niches in the sides as well. Each niche had its own unique display. I am not sure if they all serve a function or if they're just the lateral version of fancy domed ceilings.

Another niche, another finely detailed bit of art!

Yet another niche in the church.

Coming up toward the principal altar. It turns out the line between 'tasteful' and 'blingtastic' is pretty thin, but I think we just crossed it.

Same place, just turned the opposite way, I think that's the organ loft up there.


Dracosphynx informed me that pretty much all the churches we visited were still in active use. Just imagine what it's like to be a priest in a church like this. So much metal to polish...

It occurred to me that maybe I should try and get a better view of one of the domed ceilings. Unfortunately the lighting on the inside kind of washes out the picture a little.

We set off on a cross-country trip to Mdina, the Silent City! Here's a typical street view in Malta.

Oddly, in Malta, everyone drives on the left side of the road and steering wheels are on the right side. It's just the reverse in Italy, Italian cars have left-hand steering wheels.

Our first view of Mdina! It's a fortified city, built by the Knights of Malta.

If it seems rather monochromatic, all the stone in Malta comes from one quarry.

The bridge into Mdina! Yeah, THIS is the sort of architecture that I fly 13 hours to admire.

There was the option of taking a horse-drawn carriage ride. Dracosphynx and I opted to leg it.

A map of Mdina! It's deliberately built in labyrinthine fashion so if invaders ever penetrated the walls, they still wouldn't have an easy shot at conquering the place.

This is the other side of that arched entrance to Mdina. Pretty!

I don't think we actually went into any of the buildings; we just admired them from the outside.

Per Dracosphynx, the building styles tended to vary depending on which nation had been in power at the time the buildings had been built... Or in some cases, rebuilt. So, some had a Spanish feel, some had an English feel, et cetera.

I liked the way this arched ramp downward looked, it felt as if you might come out in a Ghibli-like fantasy land on the other side. Apparently there used to be a rail station.

This was built in what looked like it had originally been an arched passage; it felt like it had been retrofitted to add religious details. Maybe Dracosphynx can comment to explain what this was about!

Once we left Mdina and got back on the tour bus, we headed back to Valletta, where the Phoenicia Hotel was. This is one of the rare cases where I was able to recognize a picturesque view in time to get the phone out, unlock it, and take the picture. Malta and Italy, man, there's something amazing around every corner.

Lunch was a buffet served at the Phoenicia. I evidently didn't find the entrees inspiring enough to take a picture of-- Dracosphynx recollects them having offered swordfish filets that he found rather on the tough side. But I did like this dessert option: poached pear in red wine, with a small cream-filled pastry of some sort.

After lunch, we took a short walk into Valletta, to see the St. John's Co-Cathedral. Brace yourself, because we are heading into BLING CITY.

It was pretty crowded! A lot of people were basically in line, moving on one station at a time; we were far from the only tour group on the premises at a time. This is a pretty good overview of the general structure of the cathedral.

So. Much. Bling.

Remember those niches the Naxxar Parish Church had? It seems to be a common theme of these churches and cathedrals.

Overhead view of the ceiling. The pictures are subtly different; as I understand it, the idea is to tell religious stories in a panel-by-panel form, so a priest could describe scenes one at a time.

Another gorgeous niche!

This is probably a good time to comment on the floor tiles. Near as I could tell, most of them were memorials, or perhaps there were actually people buried beneath the church tiles, paid for by people who wanted to have even the slimmest guarantee of proximity to Heaven.

Yet another niche. If I had been paying attention to the tour guide, I might have been able to write something informative here, but as it stands, I had opted to just let Dracosphynx do all the listening for us both.

This is a really blinged out church, you know? -_-

I think we may have crossed the line on 'tacky and overdecorated' and gone straight into 'pointlessly decadent'.

Now this is interesting-- not so much the Crucifixion picture as the twisty columns next to it.

Yet another niche. You can see more of the coffin-sized memorial floor tiles, each naming a particular person.

Once we were out of St. John's, we were given a certain amount of time to meander around Valletta; being kind of tired at this point, Dracosphynx and I headed back to the hotel and shortly thereafter, we hopped on the bus that would bring us to the Le Ponant, our new home for the next week or so.

Behold! The sails aren't up, but I think this gives a generally decent idea of the size of the Le Ponant. It's four decks or so, sleeping like 75 people or so if you include crew. While it has sails, it also has an engine, which is what it used most of the time.

The menu for the first dinner on board the ship!

I unwisely opted for the "Supreme" chicken. Bad idea: this turned out to be a plain roasted chicken breast. I had expected there to at least be some kind of sauce.

Still, dessert was good! And thanks to the menu, you can identify this as "Flambed banana with rum, vanilla ice cream."

Dracosphynx is the one who took a picture of the menu first; I realized that this was probably a better option for remembering what I had had.
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tuftears: Lynx Wynx (Default)
Conrad "Lynx" Wong

August 2017

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