Sunday, October 26, 2008

Photos of Sicily

Here are the photos taken from our trip to Sicily. Click on the image above to take a look.

Olives

I wrote about Sammy and Matty Cremona last year after the lovely evening at their olive plantation. This year, we planned a day full of olives ... Terry, Alex and me, plus a handful of other intrepid do-it-yourselfers arrived at the Ambassador's residence around lunchtime and got olives off the trees. Sammy had said he thought it would take a few hours and we scoffed - yeah, it took a long time. Their trees are very very tall so we used these jerry-rigged poles with little rakes taped to the top to shake and scrape olives off their branches. With about 6 of us rotating time on 2 rakes, everyone else gathering the dropped olives off the ground, we acquired 3/4 of the olives our DCM managed to pick by hand by himself (with some help from the rest of the family) in an hour.

We called it quits around 2:30 because we had to head over to the Cremona's. We were met there by about half the embassy who had decided that although the picking was too strenuous, learning about indigenous maltese olives and the pressing process was just their speed.

Once again there was a delicious spread of brick oven foccaccia , fresh olive oil, sun dried tomatoes, gbejniet, and bigilla (olive paste). In addition they quenched out thirst with Maltese wine. We have been advised to expect about 3 liters of oil for our efforts, I'll find out on Monday when I go back to pick it up - our olives hadn't gotten pressed yet by the time we departed around 5pm.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Maltese cuisine

Friday night we went to a restaurant that specializes in Maltese cuisine, and that has performances of traditional folk dances on Friday and Wednesday nights. Terry and I had been there once before, this time it was a group of 19 of us from the embassy. He of course jumped at the chance to have rabbit again; I tried their steak Diane - the place had been a chop house decades ago and still prided itself on its meats.

Wine flowed, hearty portions were eaten eagerly, and wandering musicians serenaded several different members of the party. The dances were accompanied by explanations of both the type of dance and the context in which they were traditionally performed, and also the dancers' costumes. At the very end of the night, Terry's boss performed the quintessential Sinatra karaoke.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Sicily

For Alex's first birthday we got her ... a trip to Sicily and a 5th country visited in one year. Our little world traveler did marvelously, actually sleeping in her pack n play for naps and at night. The downside was we had to have the room completely dark for her to sleep, so mom and dad also went to bed around 8pm - but we needed the rest!

Photos and more commentary to come. Highlights include her first "real" steps (2 at a time!), Alex NOT sleeping through major tourist attractions, and a trip to the naval base commissary where we reveled in USA prices and goods we can't get in Malta. An ode to kielbasa may be created the next time Terry gets into the Glencoe.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Trackless train


The new touristy schtick in the Mdina area is the Trackless Train (read: tram-like vehicle that is designed and painted to look like a train.) You can see in the photo.


We went on a sunset tour ... it has good and bad points. The trip is nice, pretty scenery and it takes you through parts of Malta you wouldn't ever have reason to visit otherwise. BUT the automated tour spiel was difficult to hear from some parts of the train and there would be a several minute history of a building but no explanation of which of the 50 buildings you drive past during the spiel it's talking about. All in all it was a fun time, and doing the tour plus taking some time to see Mdina is probably a good way for a tourist to spend some time.

Farsons Brewery

There is one brewery on the island. At a few different times a second upstart came by but each time it was decided that there could be only one and in each case the two merged. On Labor Day we took a tour of the brewery - Simonds Farsons Cisk. In addition to seeing the beer brewing, fermenting and the fun Rube Goldberg example of bottling we also got to see the boardroom - that contains a priceless antique tapestry - and examples of old adverts touting beer as something healthy and nutritious.

It was long for being un-air conditioned but Alex did remarkably well for being out and about at naptime, even managed to fall asleep in her Snugli.

Photos will be posted when I can get to them.