CSLI

Investitur Malta 2013

Hospitaller Order of Saint Lazarus of Jerusalem

of the United Grand Priories

 

Investiture ceremony in Malta

from 18th to 22th April 2013

 

 

 

 

A report by Captain (naval) redt. Hans-Rudolf Gries

 

 

 

 

Pictures by Hannes Hochmuth-Press photographer

 

 

 

 

Translated by Col CSLI Dipl.Ing. Herbert Paulis

 

Day 1

Organised and managed by President  and CSLI Unions commander Senator h.c. Wolfgang Steinhardt this wonderful trip and ceremony took place.

Also part of the group were: Josef Maria Gebel, Col.retd. Reinhard Wassertheuer with his wife Theresia, Johann Hochmuth, Peter Jung, Dr. Oswin Hochstoger with his wife Bettina, and Captain (naval) retd. Hans-Rudolf Gries with his wife Monika. 

After a short and comfortable flight we landed in Valletta-Malta. The pre-arranged transportation was already waiting and safely got us to the Hotel Topaz in St. Paul‘s Bay. After a short refreshing we visited the Archbishop‘s cathedral in Mdina, a highlight.

Before we had a stop in Mostar at the cathedral with its dome made from stones, third-largest in the world. In WW II a wonder took place here when a bomb dropped from an enemy aircraft penetrated the dome and landed among almost 5000 praying worshippers but did not explode. The bomb as well as the hole it made can both be seen today in the church‘s registry.

After a stroll through the old town, watching a move about the history of Mdina and Malta we got rather hungry and found a nice restaurant. With new strength we continued to Valetta and finally back to the hotel.

Day 2

Josef Maria was late again so I without further ado I renamed him to JM but mother Theresia and assistant Monika took him under their wings and so that was taken care of. Trip with the ferry to Gozo.

The first place of interest was the newest church on Gozo, devoted to John the Baptist, with its start of construction in 1951 and final completion only in 1972, huge just like a cathedral! From the tower terrace of the church we could enjoi the wunderful few over the island of Gozo.

On we went. In Il-Qawra, a small inland lake, we rented a nutshell they called a boat and passed a small cave which after some 500m led into the ocean where we could see additional caves and grottos. Troubled sea did not amuse everyone but the many sights made up for a lot.

We continued by cab to Marsalforn, a small idyllic fishing village at the north-east coast of Gozo into Neptune‘s Restaurant where a wonderful fish barbecue was served, with all the extras. After we were filled up the next points of interest in Rabat (Victoria), the capital of Gozo, were tackled.

The fortress and the old town brought a medieval crusader‘s flair. A lot of shopping was done on the market. Tired but satisfied we made our way back to our hotel.

Day 3

At  9 o‘clock already a bus was waiting to bring us to Valetta for the investiture ceremony. There was international participation from America, Germany, Scotland, England, South Africa, Belgium, Hungary, Montenegro, Ukraine, and Austria. (hopefully I did not forget anyone).

Our detachment dressed in white gala uniforms and full ornate was good for many an admiring look, especially Peter with his red sash reminded me of Emperor Franz Josef of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. The other members of the Hospitaller Order of Saint Lazarus of Jerusalem and those of the CSLI delegations from other countries gave us a warm welcome, as if we would be old friends.

The investiture in the venerable Dominican Church in Valetta was a wonderful ceremony with a Holy Mass and the following investiture where Josef Maria Gebel as Chancellor and representative of the Grand Priory of Austria was appointed as a Commander did not take all too long. For me the ceremony finished somewhat abruptly and without a common march-out.

A gala dinner in the Westin Dragonara Hotel, some speeches and a lottery completed the programme. Back to the hotel in St. Paul we had the afternoon for ourselves and I used the time to examine the small town. A nice beach promenade, lots of souvenir shops, nice restaurants, and the smell of the sea, what more can one want? Back to the hotel we had dinner, actually I was already full but could not resist the sweets. Some others had two servings of pasta, no comment …

Day 4

A cab drove us to Valletta harbour where we had the great harbour tour and thanks to Wolfgang‘s negotiation skills we had the boat just for our group (it was a larger vessel in old Maltese ways) and so were able to see all the attractions of the impressive Valetta harbour. The small and large yachts were quite impressive but thinking about their fuel bills left me completely free of envy.

In the open sea there was a great surprise. Monika received her decree as a CSLI member and “Commander of the CSLI Navy Corps“ by the president and Union commander. I also receive my membership decree and a nomination as “Captain CSLI Navy Corps.“ What a surprise! Fortunately Monika (my wife) did not get an Admiral‘s rank as this would have led to some problems at home.

Then we go to Marsaxlokk where they have market day. Lots of clothing market stands make the ladies‘ eyes shining bright but fortunately they revert to some moderate shopping only.

Next to the clothes they had fresh fish, something one has to come up with. In the restaurant which was recommended to us we had some Prosecco to have a toast on our new decrees but that was it all. After some two hours of waiting and several reminders there was nether food nor an excuse by the patron. 

Fortunately the drinks were paid already so bilking was out of question.

Hungry and somewhat “fed up“ we left the place when the patron all of a sudden did not want to let us go away, calling for the police and making a lot of fuss. The restaurant “Gente di Mare“ in Marsaxlokk should definitely be avoided as well as its patron, Mr. Darren Gegabrielle. Finally we managed to leave the inhospitable place.

Because of this we unfortunately missed a 5D movie on  Malta and its history. So we only had a walk through Valletta left when we finally found a shop with ties which seemed to be out of stock in Malta (in contrast to previous years). Now the gents had a chance to turn the tables on the ladies and do some shopping. Our bus was there on time to finally bring us back to our hotel.

The joint dinner was spent with lots of talks on the experiences before everybody left tiredly for their room.

Day 5

Wake-up call at 4 o‘clock, in words four, and departure to the airport at 5. The hotel management had some pity with us and provided hot coffee. Little traffic had us back at the airport quickly and after check-in there was finally time for a small breakfast. After an uneventful flight we arrived back in Vienna later in the morning.

For me and my wife it was a great experience, my personal impression respectively resumé: all of Malta is a live museum, most interesting. A short trip yes, a holiday rather no. We can not give any report on the night life as we always came back completely tired, other people need at least one week for this program, good food, some Maltese wines need to get used to, good prices. We‘d love to come back but please no more Toyota taxi bus. It was a little small for ten people but on the other hand we had to pay only 40€ per person for all five days.

Once again our thanks to Wolfgang for his troubles to provide only the best for his detachment.

Thank you also to the comrades for the warm welcome.

Captain (naval) retd. Hans-Rudolf Gries

PS: As tour guide and event manager we award to Senator Wolfgang Steinhardt 4 out of 5 stars.  He did not get all 5 because despite many protests from Bettina and also from my side he did not grant us many coffee and snack breaks, always stating “… the bus is waiting … no time… etc. etc.“ But as already stated we needed only two and a half days for what others usually need a full week.

 

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