CSLI

Investitur Malta 2014

The Hospitaller Order of

Saint Lazarus of Jerusalem

United Grand Priories of Malta and Gozo

Investiture ceremony inMalta

2. to 6. May 2014

(Where there still are true knights)

 

 

 

A report by Hans-Rudolf Gries, Captain Retd.

Pictures by Hannes Hochmuth, Ludwig Brunner, Hans-Rudolf Gries, and Wolfgang Steinhardt

 

Organised and directed by President  and CSLI Union Commander Senator h.c. Wolfgang Steinhardt this wonderful trip and ceremony was attended the seventh time already.

The rest of the team was:  Martha Fichtl, Michaela Matzka, (we had to faithfully promise her parents to look after her, so she was considered our baby), Johann Hochmuth, Ludwig-Lui Brunner, Monika and Hans-Rudolf Gries.

Chaos check-in at the Air Malta counter as some passengers with problems blocked the check-in for almost 40 minutes. After some complaints we were allowed to use the business class counter.

The flight was smooth, after 2 hours we landed in Malta-Valletta. Mark and Garry already expected us and took us to the Hotel Imperial Superior in Sliema with their private cars. Ludwig and I inquire about the night life and they tell us, just 5 minutes up the road. Somehow it all looks quite deserted and so we postpone our plans.

Day 2

Investiture

Breakfast at 7.30, it is raining cats and dogs. Somehow my inner self welcomes this rain,Maltaalways does have a water shortage, and it helps keep the temperature down. At 9 sharp a bright red bus picks us up and takes us to the church,Saint JosephinRabat. After a little small talk everybody gets lined up for the marching in. International participants fromSouth Africa,Sicily,Germany,Scotland, theUkraine,Hungary, and the large Austrian team. We managed to get noted immediately in our naval uniforms, not only our German neighbours noted us. Obviously, these Austrians…

After the marching in the Holy Mass was celebrated. At the investiture awards, promotions, dames and knights were appointed.

One should also mention the great pleasure and joy among the members of the Hospitaller Order to give and donate, 16,500.- Euros were collected and distributed among children‘s homes, churches, and welfare services. Thank you very much. Then the church event ended, albeit all of a sudden.

Only a few steps away a gala dinner awaits us at the restaurant. Aperitif Prosecco and cactus liqueur, various appetisers, main course steak or fish, sweet cookies. This was followed by various speeches, Max presented the special program for 2014 and 2015, all events especially for children. We were able to present our Sept. 2015 International Hospitaller Symposium event and gave away copies of the flyer.

Steve provided for the shortest thank you speech as the raffle had yet to take place to provide for fresh money. Our baby won two main prizes – champagne, what else? Ludwig won a picture from a local artist. An art auction was to follow which provided for a slow start but thanks to Ludwig finally was a success. He now owned two pictures which would not fit into his suitcase, so I jumped in.

After many good-byes and promises to meet again soon we returned to the Hotel Imperial to refresh ourselves. At 17:00 we met again in the hall to go to Valetta where international fireworks with a choreography and public voting took place, a three day celebration inMalta. After a short discussion we decided against a taxi and for the bus, very cheap at 1.50. We participate at the celebrations and do some souvenir shopping, stopping off at our favourite Italian restaurant.

St. Publius Church is festively lit and so provides a fulminant background for the fireworks. But this is not with rockets as usual but instead shows works of art made from fiery wheels, cubes, flowers moving in sync with the music. What a show! Being flabbergasted we miss the last bus and have to take a taxi back to the hotel. Tired to death we long for our beds.

Day 3

Despite the rain and black clouds we start at 9:00 to reach the ferry boat to Gozo. The rain stops but it is very windy and there is a heavy swell. Noted some Japanese jumping up and heading for the deck. The CSLI naval group consists of only old salts and they take it in stride…

In Mgarr, Gozo harbour, we hire two taxis for the full day, 1st station Viktoria Citadel. As it is Sunday and the Holy Mess ongoing the lift is closed. Fortunately our Senator Wolfgang is acquainted with the church‘s padre who bends the rules for us and unlocks the secret staircase after we promise to be quiet and so we reach the upper floors. The obligate picture of the CSLI troopers, Hannes the photographer works hard to position everyone in perspective for a perfect photograph. We thank the padre with a generous donation and continue to the Azure Windows. But this time the sea is very rough and a boat trip way too dangerous. So we stroll to a tiny Cafe, owned by a Swiss lady. Really good espresso, small talk, it‘s funny.

Onward we move to the basilica and the bastion. The old pillory is already waiting for Wolfgang, Ludwig, and Hannes the photographer. Fantastic view over the whole island, stroll down into the old city, storming a delicatessen shop and buying local delicacies including jam. A whole year‘s supplies were bought.

Finally we head for my favourite fish restaurant in Marsalform.

Neptune‘s chef is very pleased as we order a large platter with various fish, scampi, shellfish, fried vegetables, and potatoes. This can be recommended to everybody who is visiting Gozo. At this occasion Col. Hannes Hochmuth awards the Platinum Maltese Cross to our Senator Wolfgang for his excellent leadership, Ludwig and myself receive a Maltese Cross pin for excellent comradeship. Would have liked to stay longer but ferry boat won‘t wait. Still heavy swell, so what? Our driver already expects us and we race back to our hotel, reviewing the day at the bar before sinking into our beds. No night life.

Day 4

Good weather, sunshine. First we visit Mosta Rotunda church. In April 1942 four bombs were dropped onto the ground during an air raid, one breaking straight through the cupola, but neither of them exploded. No one of the people striving for shelter in the church was hurt, rumour says 5000 souls were present. This event was considered divine intervention. We are good boys and girls and hold in, donating a large candle everyone.

Medinais entered via a beautiful large main gate, Mdina Gate. The gate was erected in 1724. Next to the entry the Mdina Dungeons are located. In a former dungeon cruel torture scenarios are modelled. Not for the faint of heart. Bad air, very uncomfortable, I urgently need some coffee. To the amusement of the group Ludwig puts on some parts from a suit of armour, then all are ready to see Palazzo Felson. Thereafter we take a walk on the bastion, find some more souvenirs and taste some liquor which is also purchased.

Popeye Village with CSLI on Stage , also known asSweethavenVillage, is a film set for the production of the 1980 live-action musical feature film Popeye. Today it is open to the public as an open-air museum and family entertainment complex. The film had mixed reviews despite Robin Williams played in it. The set is very nice, some animators tried to persuade us to play a part in a short movie but all of us refused. Inspected all the huts and houses, some folks disappeared in the sailor‘s tavern. Big photo session with Hannes.

Next highlife event in the late afternoon: The Hard Rock Cafe. Tried several drinks, enjoyed the happy hour: pay for the first drink, get the second one for free. Not really hungry, yet we had a snack. Then Wolfgang suggests to walk back to our hotel, it is only a 10 min walk. I don‘t trust him, check back with Google Maps. Lo and behold! Car 10 min, walk 35 min. Wolfgang gets voted down, taxi. We happen to get a race driver and are the first to arrive at the hotel although we take the last taxi. 130 km/h in the city, the others arrive 10 minutes later. We let the day fade away at the outdoor bar.

Day 5, the final day, sunshine

9 o‘clock, we walk down to the harbour in Sliema, beautiful colourful old houses with wooden balconies and oriels, tiny lovely shops, everything very charming.

Harbour tour, we take the same boat as last year, past the yacht harbour, the docks and shipyards, Malta does have the second-largest shipyards in Europe, where even  oil rigs get serviced and repaired. Most impressing sailing boats and motor yachts, in which I would set sails immediately. Among others the “Black Pearl,“ also a movie requisite. We pass large forts and defence installations before returning to our starting point. The tour took approx. 1 ½ hours.

Our bright red fun bus in the meantime picked up our luggage from the hotel and took us back toVallettaOldTown.

Now we visitMalta5D, an adventure movie theatre. We get headphones and glasses and see a most fascinating 25 minute presentation. The movie is in 5D, which is 3D video with moving seats, water spray fog and odours, so real you want to jump into it.   The fascinating history ofMaltagives an impression to the visitor from ancient times until our days.

Most impressed we leave the movie theatre and stroll to the UpperBarrakkaGarden, enjoying the harbour view. Final pictures are taken, then the bus brings us back to the airport. Check in, all in good time which allows us to have plenty of time for coffee and cakes before boarding and landing in Viennaon schedule. Return the baby to her parents, all fine, she was a good girl. Large good-bye as we will meet again in Langenlois on May 18th.

My thanks to all participants for their comradeship, especially to Senator Wolfgang Steinhardt  for planning, organising, and leading the trip, which is no easy job. Five stars this time.

Hans- Rudolf Gries

Captain Retd.

PS: Sore muscles from the lot of walking, but I was not the only one. Next time I will provide my sneakers.

Pictures of day 2:

Pictures of day 3:

Pictures of day 4:

Pictures of day 5:

We hope that You enjoyed the Pictures and You will be with us next year!

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