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Malta to Barcelona
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Vallarta, Malta
30th July 2004

Cons: None

Well, it's been a couple days. Day before yesterday was a much needed "day at sea", spent mostly getting in some serious sun and pool time. Tough work... That night, we went to Karaoke in the Savoy Nightclub here on the ship. Caroline and Jeff both sang -- Caroline did "Somewhere Over the Rainbow" and the crowd started cheering for her after the first four notes she sang! Jeff did "Pretty Woman" (Roy Orbison style). Caroline is now a finalist in the "Celebrity Idol" Contest tonight! The crowd loved her. They told Jeff he "came close" (riiiiight)... But we are all rooting for Caroline tonight, and we just know she's gonna win!

Yesterday we toured Malta. What a beautiful place! We saw the cities of Vallarta and Mdina. The architecture is pale yellow, limestone-based with a lot of Moorish influence, colorful banners everywhere, quite striking. The churches are overflowing with Baroque detail. Our guide told us of a lot of the incredible history of the island, ruled by just about everyone over the past 5,000 years, with the final one (pre-independence) being Britain, so they still drive on the left here. Again, the tour was well-organized and they packed a lot in.

The Orion Restaurant still impresses. A totally different menu every night - incredible. Every night, they have a trio (piano, violin, and bass viol) playing very sophisticated but light arrangements of everything from classical to show tunes to pop standards. The staff is excellent, the service is impeccable. And the food - whew! Vegetable terrine, gallantine of duckling, spicy gazpacho and various bisques, rack of lamb, astounding steaks, various ways of doing shrimp appetizers, a different type of fish grilled every night (last night it was "Wahoo" - no kidding!) And the desserts are stellar, with torts, tarts, cremes, and ice cream. Plenty of options for kids and adults, and we all leave very happy!

As we left Malta last night, the view was wonderful and impressive. Vallarta is a fortified city (back from the 16th century when the Ottoman Turks were bothering everyone in the Mediterranean) and so the ancient battlements surrounding this medieval city were gorgeous in the early evening light. Everyone gathered on the aft deck to watch the sight as it faded off into the Mediterranean mist and we headed off to Barcelona. The captain took a course around the north side of the island, so as we ate dinner at the Orion, all of Malta cruised by our window.

The shows have also been a lot of fun, with terrific singing and dancing, very professional. The shows are usually "revues", plotless series of production numbers, with lots of flash and glitz and spangly costumes, but we all enjoy them nonetheless.

So, next stop Barcelona! We're doing about 19 knots/hour across the Med, it's 11,000 feet deep but calm, and overcast but warm today.

More later