Friday 4th May 2012
Our Internet Lodge Event in Malta didn't get going until 7.00 pm on Friday Evening. Before this, people had arrived in dribs and drabs over previous days, some at the stultifying time of 1.30 am (Malta time). But 6.30 pm saw the great majority of us crowded noisily and happily in the bar of the Victoria Hotel, which is twinned and joined to the Palace Hotel. At 7.00 pm we trouped equally noisily to a function room to be met by our hosts for the week, Jaqi and Larry Porter. After being regailed with 60 minute lively and informative presentation of the goodies in store for us we repaired to the roof restaurant of the Palace Hotel where we dined in noisy and regal splendour on a fine selection of Asian cuisine.
Saturday 5th May 2012
After much counting of heads outside the Palace Hotel, the coaches (one large and one mini bus) headed for Valletta. We were treated to a private showing of "The Malta Experience" an audio-visual delight charting the history of the island from circa 5,000 B.C. to the present day. Suitably informed we were let loose on the unsuspecting populace with the rallying cry of "The Worshipful Master will be lunching at Cafe Cordina at 12.30 pm", and "The coaches leave at 4.00 pm prompt". Left to our own devices after our return to Sliema, 10 of us elected to follow the "Guru of Sliema" Alan Tibbetts, and dined noisily and well at Geogio's on Marsamxett Harbour promenade.
Sunday 6th May 2012
An early-bird coach load-headed for Marsaxlokk harbour and market situated on the south east edge of the island. The market, reputed to stretch the whole length of the waterside was conspicuous by its absence. Unknowingly, we had chosen the one day in the year when the local "worthies" addressed the villagers and handed out awards. The absence of the market provided the bonus of being able to view, unobstructed, this pretty fishing village, with its host of gaily coloured craft bobbing daintily on sheltered blue waters. One had to ignore the power station which occupied one flank and the container port which occupied the other. We departed in due time after drinks and chat, to the brass band playing "Chitty Chitty Bang Bang" amongst other tunes of more elegant note.
Lunch was followed by one of the most hilarious "rehearsals" of the Second Degree ritual I have ever taken part in. I was still chuckling when we headed towards Hagar Qim and the prehistoric temples. Larry Porter assured us that they were NOT closed for cleaning and maintenance. After being suitably overawed by scale of the building materials we repaired to to northwest side of the island to dine at the Blue Creek Restaurant at Ghar Lapsi.
Monday 7th May 2012
The morning was taken up with a boat tour of the Marsamxett Harbour and Grand Harbour, the two waters being either side of the promontory on which stands Valletta. That morning a handful of Brethren were to witness Bro. Stephen Wall admitted to "Preceptorie Saint Frant le Vaillant, No. 15" as a Knight Templar at the Masonic Hall, Marsamxett Street, Valletta. The majority of the Brethren attended this Masonic Hall later that same evening where we were hosted by the Brethren of The Lodge of St. John and St. Paul, No. 349 (E.C.) and for whom a team of Internet Lodge Members were to perform at Second Degree Ceremony.
Meanwhile the Ladies had a coach trip to the Casa Rocca Piccola, followed by dinner at Trabuxu Restaurant.
Tuesday 8th May
The morning was taken up with a visit to the San Anton Gardens, being the official residence of the President of Malta, followed by a trip to the ancient fortified capital of Malta, Mdina. This treat of flora, fauna (the birds were very friendly) and history was followed by a short trip on a "Land Train" to the home of our hosts, Jaqi and Larry Porter who delighted us with a buffet lunch of fresh salmon and coronation chicken, washed down with liberal amounts of various pleasant liquids. Who would have thought that 60-plus people could fit into an apartment and still have room to move around freely! Heading back towards Sliema we stopped at Mosta Church which boasts one of the biggest domes of any church. During W.W. 2 was pierced by a bomb which landed amidst the assembled congregation but failed to explode. There were no casualties.
Wednesday 9th May 2012
This was to be a free morning and afternoon, so after a leisurely breakfast I took the large ferry across to Valletta with the express intention of visiting Saint John's Co-Cathedral, the appearance and content of which beggar's description here. It is simply the one place that anyone who visits Malta should visit as many times as possible. This and the treasurers of the adjacent cathedral museum are stunning, a true feast for the senses. I was not alone for long, others had the same idea and so formed a happy group for lunch, and where else but at the Cafe Cordina. A visit to the State Rooms and the Armoury completed a full but relaxed day. We returned via the ferry to gather our strength for the return to Valletta and the Masonic Hall by coach. Our hosts this evening was the Ars Descendi Lodge, No.6 of the Sovereign Grand Lodge of Malta. We were to be treated to their version of a Third Degree ceremony, which had a great deal of affinity to the American story. The ceremony was conducted by the Grand Master of Malta and the twelve members of Internet Lodge enjoyed the priviledge of taking part in the second half of the ceremony.
The Ladies' evening was spent at Palazzo Parisio at Naxxar where they had dinner.
Thursday 10th May 2012
This was to be my last day, having made a mess of my booking dates. I was thus unable to join in the farewell Gala Dinner. I am sure everyone who attended had an excellent time.
None of this would have been possible without the foresight and hard work put in by our W.M., David Starbuck and by Jaqi and Larry Porter who, without any coercion, readily agreed to arrange the trips and venues and shepherd us so joyfully each day. We owe them our sincere thanks for a week to remember.