Malta

We are still in Malta and should be here at least until next Tuesday.  We decided to take advantage of the reasonable costs and lack of a language barrier to have some work done on the boat (fixing leaks) and that is scheduled for Monday.  After that we hope to move on to Malta’s little sister Gozo for a day or two and then it’s back to Sicily!

 

So far we have been working our way through Malta’s main attractions and especially enjoying the history and architecture.  The limestone building material gives everything a golden glow and the money that poured into the country after the Knights of St John withstood the siege of the Saracens meant that many fine houses and churches were constructed in the Renaissance or early Baroque style.  The main cathedral in Valletta is plain, even austere, on the outside, but you almost gasp as you enter as the walls and ceiling are completely covered in paintings and stone carvings and the floor is a patchwork of stunning coloured marble tombstones.   It sounds very over the top, but is actually rather wonderful!

 

Yesterday we hired a car so that we could visit some other must-see sites.  We walked around the tiny old walled city of Mdina in the centre, had a tour of some early Christian catacombs carved out of the rock in the 2nd and 3rd centuries and looked at two megalithic temples.  These are supposed to be the oldest freestanding stone structures in the world and date to 3600-3000 BC.  I first saw them 44 years ago and they made a huge impression on me then, not least because they stand on the coast backed by the deep blue of the Med.  Unfortunately they are now covered by a sort of open-sided tent to prevent them from further attack from the elements.  It is understandable, but it diminishes them too, which is a shame.  During the course of the day we also went to two good and out-of-the-way swimming spots on the sculpted limestone coast as we had packed our costumes in hope.  We did see one or two intrepid souls at the second site braving the rough water and big surge but decided not to join them.  It was a pity the seas had been churned up by strongish winds just that particular day.  Oh well, plenty more swimming to come this year I trust, if the jellyfish don’t spoil things too often.  We finished the day with a look at St Paul’s Bay where the apostle is supposed to have landed after his shipwreck in AD60.  It is still relatively peaceful just there, unlike around the next little bay where tourism has swallowed up the surroundings.

 

We delivered the car back early having done what we wanted to do and not wanting to spend too much time in the company of Malta’s anarchic drivers.  It’s not until you criss-cross the island like we did that you really grasp its miniature scale. Nothing is more than a few kilometres away!!   

 

A sea view from the temple, and the fishing village of Marsaxlokk.