Friday, July 21, 2006

It's good to be home!

I love to travel, to see new places, meet new people, see family and friends...but no matter how much fun I have, it's always nice to be back home.

Lindsey and I just returned from 3 weeks in Europe. We went to Paris, Versailles, Lyon, Cannes, Nice, Monaco, Pisa, Florence, Rome, Pompei, Naples, Palermo, Catania, and Malta...PLUS lots of small towns...such as Eze, Erice, Cefalu, Orange (no, not the's French), Segesta, Caltagirone, Taormina...and we also climbed Mt. Etna, the volcano that erupted in 2002! It was a busy and exciting trip. I am writing about it day by day on my Heart of the Mediterranean blog.

Our delegation manager asked me towards the end of the trip what the best part of the trip was for me. There is not one thing...there's not even two things...I told her it was the 'package'...all of it combined. We traveled with some absolutely wonderful high school students and met some wonderful people in the process. In addition to that, we saw SO much...visited so many awesome places! Our last stop was in Malta, a small island country in the Mediterranean. Instead of staying in hotels, in Malta we stayed with families. Lindsey, Felicia, and I stayed with the Cassar family. What a treat it was! Maria and Joseph speak Maltese and English, as most of the island does. They have two children, Claire is 16 and beautiful...and Keith is 18 and exactly what you would expect a model from the Mediterranean to look like! The picture I took of him doesn't do him justice!

It's interesting in Malta. There are no house numbers. You give your house a name. The Cassar's named their house 'Eden'...You pick out a name, and then go to register it...kind of like we do for an internet name. If no one has it, you can have it.

The Cassar's opened their home and themselves to us. I felt so comfortable and right at home. Maria and Joseph took us out two different nights. The first night we went to the walled city of Mdina. We had been there with our group during the day, but it was magical at night. St. Paul's Cathedral is there...on St. Paul's Square. This is the bridge into the town of Mdina and St. Paul's Cathedral lit up at night.
This is St. Paul's Cathedral in the light...and the street sign for the square.

The second night, Antonio and Marsett(Maria, is this spelled correctly?) came over and we all went walking along the Promenade. Now this was interesting. In Malta, I guess because it is SO hot during the day, everyone comes out at night. Even at 11 p.m., the walkways were crowded, young kids were out playing...that's just what you do in Malta. It was wonderful. About every 5 steps, Antonio would see someone he knew, stop and visit a while. It was great! The Maltese are so very friendly. Maria told me we were like the Maltese! That was certainly a compliment.

Visiting the Cassar's was certainly one of the highlights of my trip. And...they have a beautiful, but not very friendly to Americanos, cat...Bella!

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