After our enjoyable but over filling breakfast we walked along through some of the shops including the islands biggest shopping centre which while being large was not the size that one may be used to in the UK or even in New Zealand main centres but having stores like M&S, Debenhams, Espirit, etc it was great to be able to choose products with English names and familiar brand names so we were able to stock up as we had a nice refrigerator in the room. It was great to be able to get a cool wine, milk or soft drink or even fruit we wanted.
As we were well stuffed with food from our sumptuous breakfast we both avoided lunch so were peckish by dinner time but still only went down to the outdoor eatery of the hotel and shared a delightful sea food mini salad along with an Asian tempter which was just delicious. An early night followed as we wanted to arise early for a swim as even hotter temperatures were promised and we wanted to do one of the “Hop on Hop off” bus tours to the northern part of the island before the heat got to be too much.
Malta is really made up of two islands, one being Malta and one being Gozo and really are of being of little more than large rocks with the main island being only 24 ks by 14 ks and Gozo being much smaller and total population of the two islands of approx 250,000 people. Apparently this very religious country houses a church for every 1200 residents so all day long there are bells ringing from the bell towers and steeples which dominate lots of the skyline. Every village or city as they call them seems to celebrate some festival or another so there is plenty of activities to watch or partake in. They love their fireworks so at any time of the day ones ears can be assailed with the sounds of huge bangers sounding like canons going off in the sky. God help the poor animals and pets who are afraid of these sounds. Each display goes on for several minutes at a time and can start as early as 8.00 am in the morning with the last being noticed at around 10.00 pm.
With beautiful deep water harbours it is quite understandable why seafarers from many nations have over run Malta since the first recorded landings in 800 AD by the Phoenicians over the Temple Builders who had been here since around 3600 BC and almost ever since the Romans, through to Bonaparte and on to Hitler to name just a couple of the big noters who led so many nations to over run these little dots in the charts of the Med and who had seen
Due to the fact that the islands are so small it means that the currents wash easily by so no rubbish or junk is apparent hence the water quality is beautiful even in the main harbours and one can see boats keels and props etc clearly from above and swimming can take place almost everywhere despite there being a lack of sandy beaches there are marked off areas for this activity in almost every cove so there is no shortage of designated swimming areas.
While the coast is just beautiful, the same can’t be said about the rest of the land as wherever you travel the buildings are colourless due to almost all construction being of a sandy coloured lime rock and in general the roads are in pretty poor condition and despite there being developments of new hotels and shopping areas this is minimal compared to the size of the dusty town places.
|Rhonda's Comment: They only washed it the day before!!|
With so many sieges having taken place over the centuries of Malta it is too much to even try to report on them here but one can of course relate to the horrific attacks which befell Malta during WW2 when it is recorded that more bombs were dropped on these islands than on any other place on earth during that period when Hitler wanted to have Malta under his control; and the Allies needing it to maintain control of the main Mediterranean shipping routes and to harbour major warships in these great ports and coves, so the poor civilians suffered enormously and seemed to spend half of their lives living in destroyed building remains or below ground in bunkers existing at little better than starvation levels. So severe was the bombing that King George VI awarded the people of Malta the George Cross for gallantry, this being the only time this highest award for civilian gallantry has been
awarded to a total population.
Having such a small land area any agriculture is carried out in the centre of the island where very small paddocks are marked out with the construction of dry stone walls so almost every sort of vegetable and fruit is grown in these plots but it must be hard, dry, hot work as the heat gets up to the high 30’s almost every day of the summer season. Lack of water is also a growing problem and while aquifers are to be found on the islands tops there will come a time soon when water shortages will mean shipping in water from countries near by. The towns due to their age have very narrow streets so the buses have a huge task of negotiating the turns and twists adding to the general discomfort of public transport travel. At one stage we travelled along a road in our tour bus for about 2 kms and were not able to exceed 10 kms per hour so dreadful was the surface. Taxis are plentiful and are available from many location points but are quite expensive to hire.
We met up with another English couple who were holidaying at the same hotel as us. Ross and Michelle also own a house on the island but chose to spoil themselves with a stay at the hotel. Michelle’s family all came from
The 4 hour flight to firstly was Larnaka in Cyprus where we had to stay onboard for an hour with no toilet use while cleaners rushed through and did a great job in cleaning before we loaded up for the final leg to Dubai. The Emirates owned aircraft was very comfortable but cramped so we were glad to land at Dubai to 39 degree temps at 2.00am in the morning. This airport is huge and amazing as it is super clean with magnificent tiling covering almost every surface and lots of cleaners scurrying about ensuring not a drop of dust or paper was left anywhere. From what we could see at this time of the morning it would appear there could have been 60 or more aircraft parked or operating on the aprons along the front of this huge terminal.
After collecting our luggage we fronted up to one of about 20 immigration counters where immaculate white robed officers sat and with the slightest wave of hand we were summoned to stand before him and to stare into a lens camera. Not a word was spoken by him as he examined our passports and then just stamped the appropriate page and waved us away without comment at all. Quite scary really. We took a cab into town to our hotel named the Movenpick at Jumierah Beach. Not a speck of graffiti to be seen anywhere and the numerous tall buildings looked really impressive even at this time of the morning.
|Rhonda's Comment: It was so lovely but arriving at 2.00am it didn't stay on the bed very long!|
|Rhonda's Comment: That sand was soooooo hot.|
|Rhonda's Comment: Ken and his new found best friend - hope he's rich!!|
This mall offers a huge skating rink which looks really cool as it is surrounded by heavy duty acrylic walls and the skaters can have a wonderful time. Just further along was the world’s largest indoor aquarium housing 30,000 fish of seemingly endless varieties and with having appox a 20metre high acrylic viewing wall to watch nature at her best along with the divers who enter to feed and check on the fish, one could spend hours witnessing this splendour.
As if this is not enough, just further along the mall interior is a 30m high waterfall which has sculptured divers attached to the wall. The width of the display would be about 50m wide and is just amazing and you get such a feeling of movement due to the thousands of litres of water falling down these huge faces.
Apart from spending hours at the pool we made one visit to the nearby beach which was not fun at all. The walk over the burning sand was cruel even at 7.30 am and the water temp being 33 degrees was like trying to swim in a heated spa pool. Not cooling in any way at all and then we were faced with the trek of about 400m back over the burning fine soft sand to the hotel pool entrance, a cool shower and straight into the pool and aaahh that feels good again. No more visits to the beach but in winter months here it must be very nice. Even the cold water taps run warm due to the fact we think we are on the 23rd floor of this tower block and it is not easy to get a cold shower either. Still the families seem to arrive in the late afternoon and stay until the beautiful sunset sends everybody home. I guess that as it is free the local poorer folk make the most of the opportunity to let the kids have a gallop and so on.
Just to give an idea despite the huge multi storey tower blocks and sky scrapers we are used to seeing pictures of all lined up along the waterways, the business sectors are huge with every name brand you can possibly think of having main offices, warehouses and even factories here. Every media organisation has huge studios and production houses ranging from CNN, BBC, SKY, NBC along with every country from China to Russia and so on is here with huge buildings and premises standing proud. It is too difficult to describe the wonders of this place and while I have always been very sceptical as to how will it keep going if the world trend away from tourists carries on, the Arabs sure don’t see it in this way and are currently building five more huge 5 star hotels alone on the base area of the Palm sand development. Everywhere you look huge building and road developments are underway as are additions to the new Metro type rail which runs entirely without drivers. Every station is air conditioned with escalators and travelways linking foot paths to platforms.
The entire place is throbbing with vitality and maybe the Development Cities contained within the main city where overseas businesses are welcomed with minimal trading, tax and employment restrictions ensuring that every country in the world is scrambling to get to Dubai and to start doing business. With only 1.8million residents they welcome 20 thousand tourists per week so it seems as though the money will keep on rolling in. With petrol currently at 40 cents per litre it is cheap to run a car. No income or sales tax is applicable either so other countries sure have a lot to learn.
|Rhonda's Comment: You can just see the Atlantis Hotel through the heat haze.|
|Rhonda's Comment: Raffles Hotel in Dubai|
|Rhonda's Comment: Dubai Marina|
A couple of days spent in Singapore was very pleasant and after the heat of Dubai we found the 23 to 25 degree temps to be very nice and even slept without the aircon going for most of the time. We did some last minute shopping at the huge shopping malls where we were amazed again at the volume of people making Sunday their big day out for shopping and socialising in these areas. The shop keepers are very keen to make sales and have all the answers and often it is hard to get away from their approaches but we did manage to get what we wanted and then packed our bags for the last leg to home. Another swim in the lovely pool and it was time to get to the airport for our respective flights.
|Rhonda's Comment: The building in the background is a new hotel in Singapore. Ken sat next to a fellow on the plane who hired the whole penthouse apartment for $10,000.00 for 3 nights!!!!|
|Rhonda's Comment: Reunited again|
|Rhonda's Comment: Back home again to be with our great grandchildren and beautiful daughter. Happy Days|
|Rhonda's Comments: The flagpoles go up and The Blakies are in residence.|
|Rhonda's Comment: The wine is on the table, the TV has been put in place and the sign has gone up on the wall.|