I’m not a historian nor am I really interested in archeological ruins. However, I couldn’t help but feel awed as I stood at Hagar Qim and Mnajdra and saw what had been created there 5500 years ago. The chambers on the left are aligned so that the sun at midsummer, midwinter and the equinoxes falls on specific places in the temple.
Mnajdra from above
Malta is a country that I have intended to visit for ages but originally the idea was to do this in the summer. For various reasons it became a trip in late March. As with most tourists we booked a hotel in Sliema just opposite the ferry terminal. A ferry crossed over to Valletta twice an hour for the greater part of the day. Our choice of hotel location turned out to be a good decision as it gave us access to a great number of buses that traversed all over the island for the astounding price of €6.50 for a weeks whole island coverage. In fact on some busses the drivers didn’t even want to see the ticket.
It took us all of fifteen minutes from checking in to finding the first cache – Sail Away – it was literally less than 70 m from the hotel, just on the water front. The majority of the vacation was actually spent doing tourist stuff such as sightseeing, shopping (not me but my partner) and dining. I can’t say that I was overly impressed by the local beers but the locally produced Merlot was quite drinkable.
The blue boat is the ferry between Valletta and Sliema
View towards Valletta from hotel balcony
We decided to visit Valletta starting with St. John’s Co-cathedral and of course the close-by Little Johnny’s Co-Cache
Interior of St. Johns Co-cathedral
Detail from gravestone in St. Johns Co-cathedral
It is obvious that the country has had a strategic military position in the mediterranean sea for a few thousand years as there is great evidence of fortifications all over the place.
Cruise ship passing Valloriosa
Typical street in Valletta
When we got to the Lascaris War Rooms we decided to pass by as it was considered of no interest to my partner. As a consequence we ended up in the huge “ditch” between Valletta city and the rest of the peninsula. After a little detour we found ourselves in the basement of the newly built government building much to the mirth of the construction workers. We were shown the way back out to street level where we promptly stopped at the nearest cafe for refreshments.
Walking along the trench outside Valletta city
Getting out of the fortifications of Valletta
New government building being built
We went for a walk down at the bottom
As we had unlimited access to busses our next tour was to the Maltese Island of Gozo and to the earthcaches Azure Window and The DWEJRA – GOZO. Both were excellent places to study and admire. The walk up to the top of the 100m high cliff above the inland lake was invigorating and the views were astounding.
A fossil in the rocks at the Azure Window
The Azure Window on Gozo
Inland sea at Dwerja. Note that there is light at the end of the tunnel.
A big wave nearly filling the tunnel
Wave crashing through the tunnel
View from the top of the cliffs at Dwerja
From here we took the bus back to Victoria and visited The Citadel which was a fascinating place with great views over most of the island.
View from the citadel in Victoria
The day after we took the bus to Mdina and Rabat on a sightseeing trip. Mdina was worth the visit but what we saw of Rabat was not so interesting. Maybe the catacombs would have been worth a visit but it felt better to be out in the sun. We found the cache Knights’ Wash Room just outside the walls of the Mdina.
A clock showing the seasons on a church in the Mdina
From Rabat we took another bus to Dingli and walked along a stretch of the cliffs passing by rosie’s magnetic geocache at a miniscule church on the edge of the cliffs and Faqqanija a little further along the road. It was a great walk back to Dingli where again we hopped on the bus back to Sliema.
View along the Dingli cliffs
Our final day was again spent on a number of busses getting to the Blue Grotto, Hagar Qim and Mnajdra. After logging The Blue Grotto – Il-Hnejja I noticed a guy on the cliff edge. I wonder if he knew how high up from the sea he was?
Small boat leaving the Blue Grotto
Guy standing on the cliff above the Blue Grotto
The busses on normal routes were modern, with the exception of the X1 – X7 buses that trafficked the airport. They were tatty old UK coaches from the seventies and eighties that were completely unsuitable for their purpose. How their owners got the contracts to traffic the airport is a mystery. It was a shame that all the quaint old busses have gone though. This one was turned into a souvenir shop.
A bus in the old colours
I was pleased to find three earthcaches as they were at really interesting and scenic spots on the islands. Otherwise, we only found six traditional caches but that’s OK when much of our time on the islands was spent doing other things than caching.
Next week I will be making another trip abroad and I hope that a lot more caches will be found.