Friday, December 12, 2008


We took the opportunity of a Maltese holiday on Monday to go away for a week. After a weekend visiting friends in Frankfurt, we headed to Prague - a destination I've been dying to see since I was 18 years old. Yes, that's a long time. Terry reveled in the cold - it hovered just above, or below (at night) freezing.

First, Czech Airlines rocks. They had toys for Alex. When was the last time an airline gave toys to a little kid? Or, did we not get any on previous trips because she was too young to play? hm....she did also get a little stuffed animal on Lufthansa ...

Second, we got to stay in an embassy owned (leased?) apartment, which is a huge benefit with a little baby who needs darkness to sleep and parents who would rather not hit the sack at 8pm. Some of the embassies that have apartments for the folks who come to work temporarily will rent them out to embassy folks who just want to vacation, and it turns out December isn't exactly high season. It's also a huge benefit because it was right by the embassy, which is in a very sweet location. We could have walked everywhere we went, and did walk everywhere except one place.

Third, wow they give Americans a run for our money in terms of turnover at restaurants. With Alex we are not lingerers anymore and really want to get our food FAST and be acknowledged when it is time to ask for the check. We were in and out of most meals within an hour.

I love the mix of traditional European but a nod to practicality - like most places in Europe, there was plenty of outdoor seating at the restaurants and cafes even though, as mentioned above, the temperature hovered around 0 Celsius. One place we saw actually had a blanket at every seat in deference to the cold. I still opted for the indoor cafes for warming up.

Speaking of warming up, I should mention gluvein, spelled the same way in Czech and Germany. It is very similar to sangria, but served hot. It was instrumental to getting me through several long spells outside. How did Alex stay warm, you may ask? Well, not gluvein! She once again showed up she's daddy's girl and was pretty content with her hat and mittens, sweater and raincoat. Yes, raincoat. In my defense, it is lined, and for comparison sake, Terry wore a T shirt and leather jacket.

Link to the Photos.

Sunday, November 30, 2008


Some very lovely embassy folks hosted Thanksgiving this year, so we were only responsible for bringing a dish - my apple pie, of course, as Terry only gets pie when I make it for others (sorry, but it's pretty busy around here!). For my job, though, I did conduct a relatively thorough search for fresh turkeys on the island, as I had located several vendors of frozen turkeys.

Maltese traditionally eat turkey for Christmas. So .... lots of places had small, live turkeys that were not ready for slaughter yet because it is still another month until their turkey season. Plan for next CLO - make nice with a butcher or 2, tell them about Thanksgiving, and convince them to get some turkeys fattened up in time for the American hordes.

Our next adventure is to find Terry a ham for Christmas. I wish him all the luck in the world.

We haven't been adventuring much lately between the craziness of managing Thanksgiving and Christmas as CLO (will never do this again, and I hear it is a common refrain) and the turning weather. Stay tuned though, as we head off the island on Friday for a week on the mainland.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Beating a world record

Tonight Terry came home and said he wasn't in the mood for the dinner we'd planned for tonight, instead he was in the mood for fried chicken after driving past a place on the way home. Once he said it, I immediately craved greasy fried yumminess so I agreed. We gathered food for Alex's dinner and left.

The place is in Birkirkara, so we had to drive. We left the house at 6pm. We got there, drove around the block to find parking, ordered, ate and returned home ... at 6:45pm.

Has such speed ever been met in Malta?? (OK I bet I could get a pastizzi in that time too). Even Burger King takes longer.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Amazing Alex

We try really hard to keep the blog about life in Malta (or, soon, life in St. Petersburg) but sometimes the antics of the diaper set just have to be described. Alex is just over a year old, and took her first real, identifiable steps the day before her 1st birthday. She is also very strong, has been pretty much always.

Last night, she took the empty laundry basket, walked it all the way down our hallway (yes she fell a couple of times but always picked herself up by herself), put it down near-ish to the washing machine, then went over and opened and closed the washing machine door a few times (it's a front loader, she isn't THAT tall). I started giving her small pieces of dirty laundry, a shirt of hers, a sock of Terry's and one by one she stuffed them all into the machine. A few times when i slowed down she would try to shut the door, then she'd open it again when i handed her another piece.

Yep, she's ready for her own set of chores!!

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.

Saturday, October 25, 2008


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.

Sunday, October 19, 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.


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.

Thursday, October 2, 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.