Travel Summary July 2008 to December 2008

July 2008 to December 2008 — Egypt to Monaco

  • Suez City, Egypt
    29°56N by 32°34E
    Jul 8 – Jul 17, 2008
    Giza Pyramids, Cairo Museum, transiting Suez Canal
  • Aghios Nikolaos, Crete, Greece
    31° 11.2N by 25° 43.0E
    July 26 – Aug 26 & Sep 3 – 9 & Oct 6 – 7, 2008
    Monasteries, Sheep Party, Knossos Minoan ruins, trip to Athens, Delphi, Meteora & Thermopalye on mainland, visit to towns of Rythmeno and Chania on Crete, SCUBA diving, cave, olive oil factory, trip to Santorini, repairing exhaust leak
  • Kos, Dodacanese Islands, Greece
    36°53N by 27°18E
    Sep 10 – 17, 2008
    Ruins, Trip to Rhodes medieval city
  • Bodrum Peninsula, Turkey
    Turtugreis 37°0N by 27°15E
    Yat Lift 37°0N by 27°27E
    Sep 17 – Oct 6, 2008
    Haul out & accompanying work, underwater archeology museum, trip to Izmir & Ephesus
  • Bali, Crete, Greece
    35°25.0N by 24°46.5E
    Oct 8 – Oct 9, 2008
  • Pylos, Peloponnese, Greece
    36°54.0N by 21°40.5E
    Oct 10 – Oct 14, 2008
    Visit to castle/fort & bird sanctuary
  • Siracusa, Sicily, Italy
    37°03.0N by 15°17.2E
    Oct 16 – Oct 23, 2008
    Trips to Catania & Mt. Etna, Il Duormo church, kayaking
  • Vittoriosa, Malta, Malta
    35°53.4N by 14°31.2E
    Oct 27 – Nov 5, 2008
    Patron saint celebration, archeology & maritime museums, spectacular churches & accompanying museums, grandmaster’s palace, medieval citadel, Ggjanta Temples, maintenance work, blue lagoon
  • Yasmine Hammamet, Tunisia
    36°22.3N by 10°32.8E
    Nov 7 – 18, 2008
    SCUBA diving, Medina, Ramadan dinner, Bardo museum, riding the sand dunes in the Sahara, set of Star Wars, traditional indigenous housing
  • Trapani, Sicily, Italy
    38°00.5N by 12°31.1E
    Nov 18 – 21, 2008
    Trip to Palermo
  • Stromboli, Sicily, Italy
    38°47.5N by 15°14.2E
    Nov 21 – 27, 2008
    Volcano hike, emergency rescues
  • Lipari, Sicily, Italy
    38°28.4N by 14°57.5E
    Nov 27 – Dec 2, 2008
  • Rome, Italy
    41°44.3N by 12°14.6E
    Dec 4 – 16, 2008
    Vatican, ancient ruins, Pantheon, Vatican fort
  • Monaco
    43°44.0N by 7°25.3E
    Dec 18 – 31, 2008
    Hiking in the Alps, underwater museum

The Maritime Museum, The Blue Lagoon and Passage to Tunisia

Yesterday Eric was up early to work on the generator. He added more coolant. He took apart the intake hose to see if maybe something was stuck (or maybe even growing) inside it. It was totally clear. Then he tested the flow of the water from the through hull. It seemed slow. Hmmm. Something was stuck on the intake under the boat. We did a quick check on that before, but did not find anything. Something to check again when we get to cleaner water.

The streets were again decorated with banners, different from the ones we saw last week, and also with flags. The fireworks started at 0800. By 1000 we could hear several marching bands playing in the street.

We were in no rush to leave, so we decided to make a stop by the maritime museum before heading out. Like most of the buildings in the area, the museum is made of limestone and each level has crazy high ceilings. The museum is fairly large, and it has a nice collection of the standard maritime museum stuff. There are all kinds of old navigation instruments, uniforms, weapons, anchors, fenders, amphoras, really early inverters, and other accoutrements for life at sea. In a room of more modern equipment, there were even some missiles. There were models of all kinds of boats throughout the display, and one entire room was turned into a full scale model of the engine room of a real Maltese dredging ship, the Anadrian. There is an exhibit on the history of the steamship, as well as an exhibit on the era when the British turned Malta into a major naval base. And, oddly enough, there was a traveling exhibit featuring clown art. It was kind of random to walk from the life-size replica of a work ship into a room full of clowns.

After we left the museum, we headed out on Kosmos. We really didn’t need to leave for Tunisia until sunset, but we wanted to stop by an anchorage called The Blue Lagoon off the island of Camino, between Gozo and Malta Islands. We were told it is just beautiful and we would love it. Apparently, everyone in the entire country of Malta who owns a boat decided to go there, too. It was a zoo. We were pretty uncomfortable with how tightly packed the boats were, so we anchored out in the fringes, only to have some other boats drop anchor disconcertingly close to us. We were also shocked at how fast some of the boats were zooming around in the anchorage, weaving in and out of the anchored boats and getting much too close to hulls and anchor chains.

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Eric donned a mask and jumped in for a swim. He started checking under the boat and ah hah! He found a plastic bag stuck in the intake on the port side of the boat. It turns out we were mistaken about which through hull the generator was attached to when Christi did the quick check. Eric excitedly got out and turned on the generator. It was back to normal temperature and there was no white smoke. Yay! Generator mystery solved. Eric also cleaned the Continue reading The Maritime Museum, The Blue Lagoon and Passage to Tunisia

Maintenance at Manoel Island, Malta

Believe it or not, we need to get some more work done to the boat already. We had made arrangements to take it to the well reputed Manoel Island boat yard. So, yesterday morning we pulled out of Grand Harbor, went out to the ocean for a minute, and then pulled into the bay on the other side of Valletta’s peninsula. Manoel Island is a small island that sits in the middle of the harbor, connected to the mainland by a bridge. We pulled up to their dock and tied up.

The boat yard has a beautiful view of a part of town we believe is called Sliema. This harbor is night and day different from Grand Harbor. Most all of the buildings are new and modern, with mostly high rises all along the waterfront. The harbor is loaded with mooring balls, and every one of them taken, mostly with sedan cruisers. There are quite a few colorful little fishing boats, as well.

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The crew got to work right away. The first things were standard maintenance. The windlass and toilets were ready for some maintenance. Both are jobs that are probably better to let a professional do. They have the right tools and knowledge and can get it done properly and quickly. If Eric tried to do it himself, it would take a long time and there would be the risk of making things worse instead of better. The windlass was working fine, but it would be a tragedy if it died, so we needed to be good on the maintenance. The toilets were showing signs that they needed new joker valves (some water coming back into the toilet). The windlass and master toilet were done in literally minutes. The forward toilet is more difficult to access, and that one took quite a while, with almost all the time spent getting the toilet off and on the mounting. Continue reading Maintenance at Manoel Island, Malta

Welcome to Gozo, Malta

Today we went to the island of Gozo. The drive to the northwest tip of Malta island took a little over an hour. As the crow flies it is only about 10 miles, but we were following the coastal road that winds in and out of the numerous inlets that grace the island and make it so picturesque.

Outside Valletta, the buildings are scattered in and amongst farmland and raw land. The raw land looks much the same as Sicily, except with more agave plants. We wonder if they make tequila here. We are told that Sicily produces blue tequila, but we didn’t try it. And yes, we saw agave plants in Turkey and Greece, too, but they were few and far between. Other than grapes and olives, we couldn’t tell what the farmers produce locally. We like this shot because it gives you a good idea of what some of the vegetation looks like, not just in Malta, but Sicily, Crete, and Bodrum, although the assorted plants aren’t normally quite so close together. It is arid, so the plants need space between them. The cactus in the foreground of this shot is dominant in Sicily and Malta.

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Anyway, between the nice landscape, the stunning ocean views, and the occasional adorable little town, it was a beautiful drive. The ferry runs every 45 minutes. We found out that motorcycles Continue reading Welcome to Gozo, Malta

More Exploring Valletta

Today we took the scooter back to Valletta. We had lunch in a small café in what seemed to be the heart of downtown. The café had a food menu and a separate multi-page hot chocolate menu featuring flavors such as meringue, caramel, strawberry, banana, peach, whisky, hazelnut, white chocolate, pistachio, and more. We couldn’t resist, we had to try one of these gourmet hot chocolates, so Christi ordered one. What came out was not flavored milk, this was truly hot chocolate. It was thick and rich, the same texture as hot fudge sauce. We are guessing it probably is made just like hot fudge except using milk instead of butter. Eric got another beverage off the specialty drink menu, vanilla Italian crème. It was also a very thick, hot liquid, and tasted similar to crème brulee.

After lunch, we headed over to The Barrakka Upper Gardens. As far as the garden part goes, it was nice, but not impressive. There are more concrete walkways than garden, so while the plants are beautiful, there simply aren’t a lot of them. What is impressive, though, is the fabulous views of Grand Harbor. It is the best viewpoint we have seen yet in Malta, and there are fabulous views everywhere. In the first shot, you can barely see the marina in the left finger. The second shot is of the harbor entrance.

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From there we went to the Grand Master’s palace, the residence of the head of the knights back in the day. Now it is Continue reading More Exploring Valletta