April 2, 2008

Naxxar and Mosta

Posted in Exploring, Food, Travel, Visitors tagged , , , , , , , , at 3:56 pm by Lauren

This pitiful blogger has almost gotten you caught up to a month ago! So, here goes March 8. Pictures to come soon!

(By the way, I have been “blogging” but just saving posts in Microsoft Word – so that way when I finally catch things up chronologically, I’ll be adding a ton of blog posts from the past month. All is not lost!)

So, let me take you back to March 8. Still on vacation in Malta, we had another day where we slept in a bit later than intended. For whatever reason, no one set an alarm, so we got up at our leisure and decided that visiting Gozo was out for the day. So then, what? Someone suggested Mosta because it has a huge church where a miracle occurred. A quick check in the Top Ten Malta guidebook revealed that the Palazzo Parisio (another of the overall top ten) was in nearby Naxxar.

We took the bus to Mosta. Fortunately, Mosta is a stop on the main route from Golden Bay to Valletta, so we arrived there very quickly. We took off on foot for Naxxar, walking the few kilometers between the two towns. Since we didn’t have a proper map, we just walked and walked and walked, wondering when we’d arrive at Palazzo Parisio. We asked an old woman for directions, and she didn’t really speak English. She gave us some directions that indicated we go straight and then “church” and then left.

(These directions reminded me of my visit to Venice with Debbie. We had taken the boat to the island where we’d be sleeping for the night – a convent. We got off the boat and had no idea where to go. We asked a woman for directions, and her English too was limited. However, she knew the word “straight.” She directed us with hands and words. First, we were to go straight; her hand indicated the same. Then we were to go straight; her hand made a long squiggly snake. Then we were to go straight; her hand went up and then down and to the right. Perfectly clear. But we did find the nunnery.)

Eventually, we saw the church, veered left, and found Palazzo Parisio. Directly inside the entrance was a giant lion (or other mascot-style animal) statue representing Cisk Beer, which the owners of the Palazzo also owned. We purchased tickets for a tour of the apartments and were sent upstairs with fact sheets to guide us. The apartments were beautiful. There was no one thing that stuck out for me (maybe the chandeliers in the ballroom), but the furnishings and decorations were exquisite.

But the best part was when we went back downstairs and decided to have lunch in the Cafe Luna. Cafe Luna serves the best lentil soup, I have ever tasted. I only wished I had ordered it. (Mom and Dad had, so I had a few spoonfuls of theirs.) What I did order was a fresh tomato and goat cheese carpaccio, drizzled with honey. The thin slices of tomato and goat cheese were heated until the peppery goat cheese was gooey and slightly toasted on top. For dessert, Mom and I shared a trio of sorbets: green apple, pineapple basil, and something else that has since slipped my mind. It may have involved ginger (or I may have made that up).

After lunch, we walked back down the long slope from Naxxar to Mosta. But when we got to the Mosta Dome, mass was about to begin. We went inside and peeped at the church for a moment while people were seating themselves, and then we left without going to see the bomb at the back. The miracle at Mosta Dome was this: during World War II, a bomb dropped through the ceiling of the Mosta Dome in the middle of mass. The bomb tore a hole through the dome, ricocheted off the wall, and slid down the aisle of the of the church. The bomb neither detonated nor harmed any of the hundreds of people in church that day. I believe the bomb they have on display in the church now is actually a replica.

After our visit to the Mosta Dome, our troubles began. Rather than take the bus back to Golden Bay like sane folks might, we decided to walk. (Admittedly, I was fully behind this idea. I’m not trying to suggest it’s my family or my husband who are insane.) We walked out of town, following the tracks of the bus. At first it was pleasant enough. I even noticed a few almond trees and plucked the green, raw almonds as we passed. (Raw almonds, when they still resemble a green fruit, are one of my favorite treats in the world, ever since we used to pluck them off the trees during my childhood in Turkey.) But then a cold rain began to fall. There was little shelter, and we didn’t check the signs properly when we hit a roundabout. We ended up taking the wrong turn and skirting Mosta instead of walking away towards Mgarr.

A taxi driver stopped (after we stopped at the bus stop that we thought lead to Golden Bay) and tried to convince us he’d take us back for 15 euros total. We could get back for 2 euros on the bus, so we declined. Still, I didn’t believe him when he said where we were and that we were on the wrong side of the street for the bus to Golden Bay. We kept walking after a while, and it was only when we came to another roundabout with more directional signs that it became clear we weren’t going the right way. Rather than walk back up the hill to the bus stop, we turned and headed back into Mosta, eventually completing the circle right back at the Mosta Dome.

From there we boarded a return bus to Golden Bay, where we were able to have a comfortable view of just where exactly we’d gone wrong. We also had a comfortable view of just how far it was back to Golden Bay. But despite being soaked and trudging about in the wrong direction (something we all know I don’t like, as I normally pride myself on my sense of direction and ability to use a map properly), we were in good spirits by the time we returned to the hotel that evening. Unfortunately, we all felt our vacation in Malta was ending too soon, and we were mentally preparing to leave in just two more days.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: