To say we touched the shores of five different countries on three continents during the 2009 cruising season sounds like a lot, but while we were underway, it just felt like we were slowly island hopping our way from Italy to Turkey. What was impressive is that this year’s cruising grounds happened to take us through the crossroads of the eastern and western basins of the Mediterranean Sea and across the cultural divide between Europe and Africa, and Christianity and Islam.
Our first impression of Valetta is that this is a heavily fortified place! When we arrived this afternoon after sailing 145 nm from the island of Pantelleria, it seemed that every landmark was a fortress. It was either that or one of the large, modern hotel or apartment complexes lining the coast, including a towering, iridescent blue Hilton Hotel. Here in the harbor, we can see a fortress wall everywhere we look. We were also impressed by the limestone formations and quarries along the coast of Malta and Gozo, the island which lies just to the north. The use of both the natural and man-made barriers provide evidence of the long history of defending this piece of rock located off the south coast of Sicily.