May 16, 2018 - Sea Cloud
Our first full day aboard Sea Cloud began with an early morning departure from the Grand Harbor of Valletta. Early risers enjoyed a beautiful sunrise over the 16th-century Fort St. Angelo, a structure that survived the Ottoman siege of the island in 1565. Light cloud cover filtered the morning sun as we maneuvered past the honey-colored stone walls of Valletta, but the sun reappeared as the crew hit the rig for a leisurely morning under sail.
After introductions of Lindblad expedition staff, an informative lecture by archaeologist Dr. Robyn Woodward set the stage for our afternoon visit to the Maltese island of Gozo. This is the second-largest island in the nation of Malta, but it is still relatively small, with a population under 50,000. Gozo nevertheless boasts some of the world’s oldest freestanding structures: the Ggantija Temples. After a brief inland journey through a hilly landscape adorned with wildflowers, grapevines, and prickly pear, we visited the medieval Ta Kola windmill and the Neolithic Ggantija Temples, the latter a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The massive stone slabs that form the temples, some decorated with intricate spirals, were moved into place with the help of rolling stones. When the temples were built around 3600 B.C., they were an impressive feat of engineering, created entirely with stone tools. Small figurines, like the statuettes of corpulent women or the toe bones of cows delicately carved with human faces, hint at the likely religious nature of these mysterious buildings. We returned to the ship in the late afternoon, in time for Captain Nemerzhitskiy’s welcome cocktail party on the Lido Deck, followed by a sumptuous four-course welcome dinner in Sea Cloud’s stately dining room.
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