montenegro.

Before we get to the next stop in the line up from our Adriatic cruise last November, I have to tell you guys about the sea day in between.  When I originally posted about this trip I mentioned that we were going to be on the smallest ship in the Princess fleet, the Pacific Princess.  This ship only holds around 680 passengers.

Here’s a photo I borrowed from the web to give you a visual.  That is the Pacific Princess in the front and the Grand Princess in the back.  The Grand Princess holds 2,590 passengers.

There are definitely some pros and some cons to being on a small ship.  First the biggest pro of all in my opinion, there are no crowds.  Pretty much ever.  No crowds, and no lines for anything.  As far as I recall we never waited in line for anything, even at embarkation.  No lines at the buffet, and it was rare to have to wait for an elevator.  We never had to arrive early for entertainment, there were always plenty of seats available.  There were also always plenty of chairs available around the pool.  This is definitely not the case on the larger ships.

And this also translates to the ports of call.  There is a big difference between a ship unloading 680 passengers into a small medieval walled city like Kotor, and a ship unloading 2,590 passengers into that same small area.

Another pro, less tendering.  Some of the bigger ships are too large to dock in the smaller ports so your ship drops anchor and you shuttle to land in little boats called tenders.  Tendering can be time consuming, and a lot less convenient than being able to walk right on and off the ship.  On this trip we were able to dock in every port, no tendering at all.

There are some cons though too.  For one thing, there aren’t nearly as many amenities on board the ship.  There is no rock climbing wall, water slide, ice skating rink, giant movie screen under the stars or zip line.  There was only one small pool, although we never went in it so we weren’t missing anything there.

That being said, the Pacific Princess is a beautiful, if somewhat more traditional, ship.  The cabins were all refurbished about two years ago and the new design was by none other than HGTV designer Candice Olson (I always loved her show).

The other con to the smaller ship that I want to point out is that you can definitely feel a bit more movement.  Which brings me to our day at sea.  We crossed the Mediterranean from Malta to Montenegro during a bit of a storm with 50 mph winds and 15’ seas.  I’m sure we would have felt those waves on any size ship, but on this small ship it was pretty significant.  Fortunately I had taken some Bonine when we left Malta because the captain had warned us that the seas would be rough, so I didn’t have a problem with sea sickness at all.  But it was a bit difficult to get around.  Having lunch in the buffet was quite the experience as dishes were crashing to the floor right and left, and it was tough to get to your table with your plate of food intact.  In addition, all of the exterior decks were closed for the day.  But that was OK.  We were worn out from constantly being on the go, so a day spent reading in bed was perfectly fine with us.

By evening things had calmed down quite a bit and there wasn’t any dish crashing heard at dinner, but there were quite a few empty chairs due to people who weren’t feeling all that well.  There were only 5 out of the normal 8 at our table.

By the next morning when we sailed into the Bay of Kotor the water was as smooth as glass.  The difference was night and day.

Much like last week when I didn’t precisely know where Malta was located, the same was true of Kotor, Montenegro.  What can I say, I skipped geography in school (really, I did, it had to do with moving from Minnesota to Florida between school years, long story for another time).

But I know where it is now!  And just in case you don’t, here’s another map to put it in perspective for you.

According to Wikipedia, “Montenegro has both a picturesque coast and a mountainous northern region. The country was a well-known tourist spot in the 1980’s. Yet, the Yugoslav wars that were fought in neighboring countries during the 1990’s crippled the tourist industry and damaged the image of Montenegro for years.”  However, the tourist industry has been recovering steadily over the past 18 years and seems to be going strong now.

Sailing in to Kotor reminded me a lot of sailing through the Sognefjord and the Aurlandsfjord to Flåm, Norway.  I can’t really do justice to describing the feeling of waking up in your cabin and seeing mountains slipping silently past as your ship glides through the water.  We sleep with our curtains open just so that we can wake up and see our surroundings without even getting out of bed.  It really is a spectacular way to start the day.

On our way to Kotor we sailed past Our Lady of the Rocks (on the left) and St. George Island (on the right).

As well as Perast …

It was fun to see them knowing that we were headed back to these spots on our morning excursion.  Speaking of which, I’m going to wait and share that with you next week because this post is getting rather long and I still have lots of great pictures to include.

Instead I’m jumping ahead to the afternoon that we spent in Kotor after our excursion.

The old town part of Kotor is a fortified city and no one knows the exact timing of the first settlement there.  It was first fortified in the early middle ages, 535 A.D. and it is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Our Rick Steves’ guidebook said that the old town part of Kotor was very small and it would be easy to do a self-guided walking tour in only a couple of hours, and that was true (his book on Croatia & Slovenia also includes Montenegro).

There isn’t a ton of stuff to see, but if you enjoy wandering around narrow, cobble stone alleyways admiring ancient buildings then you would love Kotor!

And if you’re a fan of the amazing patina on old painted doors, then this is definitely the spot for you.

And finally, if you are a cat lover you will enjoy this town as well.

Kotor is known for having a large population of stray cats.  Apparently many of the residents and shop keepers leave food out for them.  Kotor even has a Cat Museum.

The cats make themselves at home everywhere, including snuggling up for a cat nap on a park bench.

Strolling around Kotor was a perfectly lovely way to spend an afternoon, but would not have been enough to keep us occupied all day.  Be sure to check back next Wednesday to read about the tour we took in the morning!

step one.

I’m sure that many of you are familiar with Liz Galvan’s blog, Liz Marie Blog.  If not, you should definitely check it out.

I’m obsessed with her style.  I mentioned last week that I wish I had a magic wand for decorating and could just wave it and magically transform my house.  If I had that wand, I would wave it once and my whole house would now look like Liz’s house.

Not only do I love her style in general, but I also admire her bravery when it comes to things like painting all of her floors white.  I love that she doesn’t aim for perfection, or feel the need to spend a lot of money on every project.  Her recent staircase makeover is a case in point.

Well, as we’ve already established, I don’t have that magic wand so I’ve decided to start transforming my house in a more practical way, one step at a time.

Item no. 1 on my to-do list was repainting and restyling the built in bookcases in my living room.  I’ve totally taken my inspiration from Liz’s home office built in bookcases.

After all, my bookcases already had the bare bones in place.  They even have the same bead board backs.  They just needed a fresh coat of paint.  Here’s how they looked before.  White on the outside, and a blue green color on the inside.

By the way, have I ever mentioned that my handyman/neighbor Ken built these bookcases?  And he did it for the previous owners of my house.  I didn’t even know that until after we’d lived in our house for 20 years or so!  I always just assumed they were original to the house.

Anyway, they’ve undergone a couple of transformations since we’ve lived here.  The last one was a coat of blue-green paint on the insides that would showcase my pottery collection.

To prep the shelves, Mr. Q sanded them lightly all over for me and vacuumed up as much of the dust as possible.  Then I wiped them down with hot water and a cloth.

Next came two coats of Fusion’s Raw Silk (thank you Fusion for supplying the paint needed for this project).  It took most of two jars to paint the insides of the shelves along with the long shelf that sits on top of the radiator under the windows.

Fusion Mineral Paint is always my go-to paint for things like shelves.  It’s extremely durable and washable once cured.  It doesn’t require a topcoat, so less money spent on products and less time spent applying them.  I painted the plant ledge in my dining room window in Raw Silk two years ago and it has held up beautifully, even though it frequently gets wet and dirty.

I also decided to remove the wood corbels at the inner corner of each shelf and replace them with a rusty, crusty pair of metal brackets that I had on hand.  I found these at a garage sale several years ago and always intended to use them somewhere in my own house.

Luckily my bff was here helping me paint this weekend so I was able to have her and Mr. Q hold them in place so I could see how they would look before we installed them.

I gave the shelves a couple of days to dry thoroughly before putting things back in.  You need to give any type of paint time to cure to reach maximum hardness.  I find that is especially important for shelves that you’ll be putting lots of stuff on.  Total cure time for Fusion paint is 21 days, but surfaces can be gently used after 24 – 48 hours of dry time.

Next came the fun part.  I pulled out all of my black and white vintage goodies and started styling.

I brought in quite a few of my vintage cameras, as well as a couple of my vintage alarm clocks.

I returned most of my white pottery to the shelves as well.

I purchased this gorgeous old scale at Reclaiming Beautiful a while back and hadn’t quite found a home for it until now.

I added a few old family photos too.

I absolutely love the new look of these shelves, and now I can check off the first project on my magic wand decorating list!

Next on the list is painting the walls in the living room and as I mentioned, my bff came over to help me with that over the weekend.  I’ll be sharing their new look on Friday, so be sure to stay tuned!

coloring as therapy.

I mentioned last week that while I was sick a while back my sister and niece brought me a get well gift that included an adult coloring book and some colored pencils.

As it turns out, I really enjoy coloring!

Did you know that coloring can be incredibly therapeutic?  Just google it, there are tons of articles out there about how it is similar to meditation in that it allows us to switch off our brains from other thoughts and focus on the moment .

According to this article, ‘researchers have discovered that coloring activities help relax the amygdala – the section of the brain that is activated in situations where you feel stressed or scared.’

Do you suppose people would look at me funny if I brought a coloring book to my next dentist appointment?

In addition, according to that same article, coloring ‘opens up the frontal lobe of the brain- the home of organizing and problem solving – and focuses the mind.’

I don’t know about you, but I can certainly use more of all of the above.  And I have to admit, I do feel more relaxed and less stressed while coloring.  I suspect that painting furniture has a similar impact on the brain.  It’s just a bit more physical labor than coloring.

Recently my niece got a new job as a manager at a Barnes & Noble, so last weekend my sister and I visited her at work.  While there I found some great coloring books, like the Secret London one pictured above (and below).

I also purchased a set of 75 colored pencils.  At 75% off, they only cost a little over $8 … a bargain.  Although to be honest, as I’ve been using them I think I got what I paid for.  The leads are broken in many of them, so as I try to sharpen them the points just keep falling off.  I think I’m going to have to invest in some better pencils if I keep this up.  After all, it’s supposed to be relaxing, not frustrating.

But meanwhile, the pencils came in a huge, tacky, molded plastic case.  Obviously that was not going to cut it for me.  So I pulled out this toolbox I picked up last summer at a garage sale.

It just needed a bit of a re-do to make it perfect for storing my ‘art supplies’ (I can call them that even though I’m just coloring, right?)

I started out by painting it with the same Homestead House Laurentien milk paint that I used on those adorable little folding chairs from last week.  I had a bit leftover from that project so this was a great way to use it up.  But first I added a bit of Miss Mustard Seeds’ Bonding Agent to make sure the paint would adhere well to the metal toolbox.  I wasn’t sure what kind of oily residue might still be on the box, although I did scrub it down with some grease cutting dish soap first.

Once it was painted, I sanded it down to both make it smooth and to distress the edges.  Then I pulled out the same Overflowing Love transfer that I used on the last toolbox I revamped.

I still had quite a few designs left in this set to choose from.

I added a section of french wording (at least I’m assuming that is French) to the front of the toolbox, and a little butterfly above it on the lid.

Then I wrapped a floral section of the transfer around the opposite corner of the toolbox.

Once I had the transfers in place I sealed the entire box inside and out with The Real Milk Paint Co’s Finishing Cream in Dead Flat.  Then I used some scrapbook paper to line the inside.

So much better than a molded plastic case, don’t you agree?

If, like me, you’re looking for a way to turn off the noise in your head for a bit, consider giving coloring a try.  You’ll probably need a cool toolbox to keep your supplies in too!

the rest of Malta.

Last Wednesday I shared just the morning of our recent visit to Malta.  After enjoying a little coffee break at Caffe Cordina, we met up with our driver and headed toward Ħaġar Qim next.

We made a quick pit stop along the way to see the Blue Grotto, a collection of sea caverns on the south east coast of Malta.

According to Wikipedia, ‘the location of the caves, combined with the rays of sunlight, lead to the seawater mirroring and showing numerous shades of blue on the cave walls and ceilings.’

Several caverns also mirror the brilliant phosphorescent colors of the underwater flora and fauna.

Even just looking down from above we could see the brilliant blue color of the water.  You can take a boat into the caves and I imagine that is quite beautiful.

But we didn’t have time for a boat ride.  We were headed to Ħaġar Qim.  By the way, Ħaġar Qim has an interesting pronunciation.  The “Q” is silent.  Mr. Q got a big kick out of that for some reason, apparently he thinks the “Q” should be silent more often 😉

This megalithic temple complex is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and dates to 3600 to 3200 B.C.

Obviously no records exist that explain how these temples were used, but it seems to be widely accepted that rituals of some kind took place in them whether they were fertility rituals or some other sort of ceremonies possibly involving animal sacrifices (numerous bones of animals have been found, but I like to think that they were just having lots of barbecues!).

 One of the prehistoric chambers at Ħaġar Qim contains an elliptical hole which is hewn out in alignment with the Summer Solstice sunrise. At sunrise, on the first day of summer, the sun’s rays pass through the hole and illuminate a stone slab inside the chamber.

So maybe they weren’t just hosting barbecues after all.

It’s fascinating to see these sort of structures and to wonder how in the world people managed to build them without any sort of power tools whatsoever.  Compared to that, my little home decorating to-do list from Monday seems like a cake walk, right?

Leaving the temples behind, we next headed to the small, traditional fishing village of Marsaxlokk for lunch.

Unfortunately, the day had been growing steadily more overcast and it started to rain just as we arrived in Marsaxlokk so I didn’t get very many photos.

Their traditional fishing boats called luzzu were very brightly colored.

We had lunch with our guide in a local restaurant and of course we had to order the fish.  I’m not usually a fan of fish, but this was delicious.

After lunch we headed to Mdina.  Mdina is a fortified city that was founded in around the 8th century.  It was the capital of Malta until 1530.  We entered the city through the Mdina Gate, designed by the French architect Charles Francois de Mondion in 1724.

 

Once again, since I don’t actually happen to have a drone, I am going to borrow a photo from the world wide web to show you just how amazing this walled city looks from above.

The church that you can see on the right hand side of the photo above with the big dome and two belfries is St. Paul’s Cathedral.

You may remember that last week I wrote about the Co-Cathedral in Valletta and explained that there was already a cathedral in this diocese which is why that one is called a Co-Cathedral.  Well, St. Paul’s is the first cathedral.

Mdina is nicknamed The Silent City, and according to Wikipedia that may be partially because the number of vehicles allowed inside the city walls are limited to residents, emergency vehicles and ‘wedding parties’.  I found it amusing that the Wikipedia entry specified ‘wedding parties’, and thus I’m guessing that St. Paul’s Cathedral is a popular spot for weddings.  Can’t you just imagine the gorgeous wedding photo ops in this lovely place?

OK, just for fun I had to google some.

Yep, just as I imagined, gorgeous.

I didn’t happen to see any wedding parties while I was there, so my street shots are mainly empty.

Between being there in the off-season, and in the rain, Mdina certainly deserved its nickname of The Silent City during our visit.

While wandering around the labyrinth of passages we passed a door with this absolutely amazing knocker …

That patina is so fantastic, I just had to share it with you guys.

We thoroughly enjoyed our tour of Mdina, and the rest of Malta.  Now that you all know where it is, maybe you’ll put it on your travel bucket list.

If you are enjoying these travel posts, be sure to check back next week when we head to Montenegro!

magic wand decorating.

I don’t know that I’ve ever mentioned it before, but one of the reasons I started this blog was to provide myself with some accountability for completing projects.  Yep, believe it or not, I often struggle with ‘follow thru’.  You’re all probably shaking your heads and thinking to yourselves “but quandie, you get so much done, how is that even possible?!”

You know what that proves?  It proves that my strategy worked!

Knowing that I need to get something finished in order to have a post for the coming week is often the motivation that pushes me to complete a project.

Not only does this work incredibly well for my furniture projects, but it has also worked fairly well for my own home decorating projects.  So far I have shared home makeovers on the Q Branch

The dining room

The living room and piano room

The master bedroom

The photo cottage

The front porch

and the guest room.

And let’s not forget the pantry

or the front stairs.

But somehow in 2018 I totally lost my mojo when it comes to redecorating at my house.  It all just felt so overwhelming.  I have a long list of decorating ideas in my head, but whenever I would think about them I would promptly feel overwhelmed by just how long that list was.  I would often say ‘if only I had a magic wand’ that I could wave and have it magically finished overnight (much like it seems to happen on TV).

But this past weekend I came to my senses and realized that I don’t have a magic wand and I’m probably not going to find one anytime soon.  If I’m going to re-do anything at my house I need to break it down into smaller chunks that I can handle in a day (or maybe two).

So that’s what I’m going to do with my living room and piano room over the next couple of months and hopefully by spring I’ll have a new look in those rooms.  In case you’re curious (and to help keep me accountable), here’s the project list:

  1.  repaint the insides of the bookshelves in the living room
  2.  repaint the living room walls
  3.  replace the living room furniture
  4.  paint the baby grand piano
  5.  replace the ceiling fan over the piano
  6.  repaint the piano room walls

So, six projects that will probably take a week or so each and will also take me away from furniture painting for a bit.  But that’s OK, this is definitely the slow season for furniture sales anyway so it makes sense to focus on something else for a bit.

I hope you’ll stick with me on this journey and help keep me accountable.  Up first, repainting the living room bookshelves.  Be sure to stay tuned!

 

 

 

 

a colorful desk do-over.

Last summer I brought this desk home from a garage sale.

I loved the chunky knobs, and at just $5, the price was definitely right.

After my handyman Ken made some repairs to it, I painted it with Dixie Belle’s Drop Cloth and added a grain sack style stripe in their Yankee Blue.  You can see all of those details in my original post about the desk.

Unfortunately, here it is January and I still have this desk in inventory.  For whatever reason, I have not had any luck selling this piece.  Well, then again, I have to admit I’ve been a little slack about promoting it.  I took my remaining Facebook Marketplace and Craigslist ads down before I went on my trip back in early November, and I never re-posted this one.  So that could have something to do with it.

Never the less, I decided it was time for a do-over.

I started out by sanding down the grain sack stripes and painting over them with more of the Dixie Belle Drop Cloth.  Then I pulled out one of the new Prima Marketing re.design transfers called Passion Flower.

Isn’t that just gorgeous?  All of those vibrant colors!  This boho style is a bit outside of my normal comfort zone, but I’m hoping it will add that little bit of something special to this desk and help it find a new home.

Now before you get all excited and rush out to try and find this one somewhere, this is a sneak peek at one of the brand new designs coming out soon from Prima.  So it’s not available quite yet.  I’ll try to remember to give you guys an update when it becomes available.  But for now, this is just a tease.

I definitely wanted to use the entire transfer on this desk with the oval ‘free spirit’ portion on the top.

But I wasn’t quite sure at first how to make the other section of the transfer work with this desk.  Then I realized that it would look pretty fab if I just wrapped it around one corner giving the desk a more asymmetrical look.

If you’re wondering about the logistics of actually applying the transfer, here’s how I did it.  I started by removing the knobs from the drawers.  Then with the drawers back in place I figured out the placement I wanted and taped the transfer in place over the front of the desk.  I used a razor blade to trim the transfer around each of the drawer fronts, then pulled each one out individually and applied that section of the transfer.  Next, with the drawers still out, I applied the sections of the transfer that went between the drawers.

Once that was completed, I lined up the transfer around the side of the desk and applied that part.

It took a little patience to do this, and my results are not 100% perfect.  I don’t think anyone would notice unless they were seriously scrutinizing the details though.

Applying the transfer on the top was much simpler.

Once that was done, I added two coats of The Real Milk Paint Co’s Finishing Cream in Dead Flat to the top of the desk.  Since this is a desk, and it’s white, I thought it wise to have a very durable and washable surface on the top.  The rest of the desk was already finished with Dixie Belle’s Clear Matte Spray Wax so I freshened that up with another coat of the spray wax.

At first I was completely at a loss as to how to stage this piece for photos.  I think we can all agree that my usual look is more vintage, farmhouse, neutral, or sometimes even more mid-century.  I don’t have very many boho style props … or more accurately, I don’t have any boho style props.

But as I was studying the desk with its new transfer, it reminded me quite a bit of a little gift my sister and niece brought over for me while I was sick.

Yep, it’s a grown up coloring book.  It was the perfect thing for me.  It allowed me to be creative without having to think about it too hard, nor did it require too much physical effort.  I colored quite a few of the pages while I was laid up on the sofa watching Outlander.

I added a couple of my favorite blue pitchers, a pretty plant and an old swing set seat turned into a magnet board and that was all it took to style this desk.

The Dixie Belle Yankee Blue that I originally used inside the drawers still works beautifully with the transfer …

as does the Yankee Blue chair …

Now, all that remains is to see if this version of the desk sells better than the last!

Hopefully there is a free spirit out there somewhere who needs a desk!

Fingers crossed!

Thank you to Dixie Belle for supplying the paint and spray wax for this project, Prima Marketing for supplying the transfer and The Real Milk Paint Co for supplying the Finishing Cream.

If you’re wondering where to purchase the Prima Marketing transfers check out their ‘where to buy’ page.

If you’re wondering where to buy the Dixie Belle Drop Cloth or Yankee Blue paint and Easy Peasy Spray Wax, you can shop with them directly online or find a retailer near you.

You can also order The Real Milk Paint Co’s Finishing Cream online here.

And finally, if you happen to be local (Twin Cities, MN) and in need of a free spirited desk, check out my ‘available for local sale’ page for more details.

a maltese morning.

Before I get to today’s travel post, congrats to Laura who is the winner of last week’s giveaway.  I’ll be shipping her prize off to Canada later this week.

It’s a tad embarrassing to admit, but prior to planning our cruise last year I didn’t exactly know where Malta was.  I’m pretty sure I didn’t realize it was an island either.  Just in case any of you are equally clueless about it, here’s a map to put it in perspective for you.

Malta is about 50 miles south of Italy in the Mediterranean Sea.  It’s only 122 square miles in size but has a population around 475,000 making it one of the most densely populated countries in the world.  There are also three UNESCO World Heritage Sites and nearly 8,000 years of fascinating history crammed into those 122 square miles.

Maltese dogs are thought to have originated in Malta, and there really is such a thing as a Maltese Falcon (Falco peregrinus brookei).  However, Maltesers (which are the British version of malted milk ball) are not related to Malta in any way.  They are one of my favorites candies though (and are much tastier than Whoppers), and did you know that you can get them at Target now?

Anyway, fortunately Mr. Q has a much firmer grasp on both geography and history than I do.  As soon as he saw that Malta was on our itinerary he suggested we figure out how to see as much of it as we could on our one day in port.  So once again we hired a private guide.  Joan Sheridan came highly recommended on TripAdvisor.  We booked both Joan and her driver, Chris (who as it turned out is her husband), for the full day.

We’d heard that the sail in to Malta was quite lovely, so we got up early that morning so that we could watch it from the top deck.

We definitely weren’t disappointed, isn’t it a fascinating looking place already?

Joan and Chris met us just outside the pier area.  We hopped in the car and took a small driving tour around the perimeter of Valletta, the capital of Malta, where we were docked.  Then Chris dropped us off at the Upper Barrakka Gardens.  It was incredibly convenient having a driver and a guide, we never had to worry about finding parking and the car always magically appeared to pick us up after touring each site we visited.

Although the gardens were pretty enough …

Joan had really brought us here for the panoramic view overlooking the Grand Harbor and Fort St. Angelo.

From there we headed towards Saint John’s Co-Cathedral on foot.  Along the way, Joan took the opportunity to educate us about the Auberge that we passed by.  An Auberge was a hostel that provided accommodations for the knights of the Order of Saint John.

The Auberge de Castille was completely rebuilt in the Spanish Baroque style between 1741 and 1744.  Apparently the knights required some rather posh digs.

We also had the opportunity to check out some of the famous balconies of Valletta on our walk.

Ironically, even though I had no idea that Valletta was the capital of Malta (or even where Malta was), I had pinned a photo of the balconies of Valletta a couple of years ago.  It was totally cool to find myself seeing them in person.  If you want to learn more about these balconies, check out this link.

You can see a glimpse of the Co-Cathedral at the end of that street above.

I wasn’t terribly impressed by the rather plain exterior, and I have to say both Mr. Q and I were skeptical about spending much time seeing a cathedral.

And by the way, I had no idea why everyone kept calling it a Co-Cathedral so I finally asked Joan why that was.  Apparently when there is more than one cathedral in a diocese, the 2nd one is called a Co-Cathedral.  In this case, the original cathedral for this diocese is in Mdina (which we’ll visit in next Wednesday’s post).

I also have to mention that this was just one of many instances during our tour of Malta where it really paid off to have an experienced tour guide.  There was a long line of people waiting to buy tickets and get inside, and Joan took us to the head of the line and slipped us right in with pre-purchased tickets.  She knew that large tour groups would be showing up soon and she wanted us to see as much as we could before the church became crowded.

Clearly the incredibly ornate interior more than makes up for that plain exterior, huh?  That will teach me to judge a book by its cover!

The ceiling was painted with scenes from the life of John the Baptist by Mattia Preti in the 1660’s.

There are nine chapels around the perimeter of the church, each one was sponsored by a specific division of the knights, and each one attempted to out-do the others with ever more elaborately gilded decoration.  Those knights were a competitive bunch, always wanting to have the most impressive auberge or the best chapel.

However, the real pièce de résistance of the Co-Cathedral is in yet another room.

This is Caravaggio’s painting depicting The Beheading of Saint John the Baptist.  It was painted in 1608 and is the largest painting he did at 12′ x 17′.  Caravaggio was most famous for his use of chiaroscuro (the use of strong contrasts between light and dark) and this painting is brilliant example of that.  Honestly, this painting was breathtaking in person.  I know my photo does not do it justice.

While we studied the painting, Joan told us about the tumultuous life of Caravaggio.  He ended up in Malta in 1607 after fleeing Italy and a death sentence for murdering someone in a brawl.  He was hoping to secure a pardon for his crime.  However, he didn’t change his brawling ways and was arrested and jailed for assaulting someone else in Malta in 1608.  But somehow he managed to create that beautiful painting in between skirmishes.

After being rather overwhelmed by the interior of the Co-Cathedral, we needed a breather.  We stopped off at Caffe Cordina next for a delicious cup of coffee.

Believe it or not we weren’t even halfway through our day in Malta yet.  Chris picked us up at the end of the street (this cafe is in a pedestrian only area) and next we headed off to see the Blue Grotto.  But I’m going to save that, along with the rest of our visit to Malta for next week.

In the meantime, I have a desk do-over to share on Friday so be sure to check back!