Friday, 21 April 2017

The Blue Grotto (and it is very blue) and the Ħaġar Qim and Mnajdra Temples

Once again we walked to Birgu to take the ferry to Valletta so we can get on a bus at the Valletta Bus Terminal to visit the Blue Grotto. On the walk you can see some of the old properties in Malta, some in a state of ruin but still beautiful.

This is the Notre Dame Gate, it seems to mark the change from Zabbar to Birgu.

Gorgeous views from the clifftops looking down at some of the caves and rock formations.

The boat we took for our trip to the grotto.

World War II fortifications on the cliff side

The water is absolutely stunning - the Blue Grotto is a very beautiful place.

No editing was done on these images - the water really is that colour.

After the Blue Grotto we headed to the Ħaġar Qim and Mnajdra Temple Complex, one of the oldest ancient religious sites in the world. It has been recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It is covered by a large roof to protect it from further environmental damage until a more permanent solution can be found.

Beautiful field of wild flowers near the temples.

The Island of Filfla off the West coast of Malta, this is now a nature sanctuary and home to a large colony of European Storm Petrels and a unique subspecies of lizard called the Filfla Lizard. In early days it was used as a gunnery target by the British navy and hence fishing within 1 nautical mile of the island is prohibited as there is still unexploded ordinance in the sea.

The British Governor of Malta Sir Walter Norris Congreve requested to be buried at sea halfway between the coast and Filfla. The channel is now named the Congreve Channel and a headstone sits on the clifftop to commemorate this.

Thursday, 20 April 2017

A busy day - Marsaxlokk, Gar Hasan & Valley of the Thieves

First stop the quaint fishing village of Marsaxlokk. I am sure this place has featured on jigsaw puzzles as it is very colourful.

Bronze statue of a fisherman coming home to his son that is on the harbourside.

Lots of boats painted in the traditional colours. These boats are called Luzzu and Marsaxlokk is particularly famous for them.

I think this one needed more than a lick of paint!

These smaller boats are used to get to the fishing boats that go out into the Mediterranean to catch swordfish and tuna amongst others.

This is one of the bigger ones and looks like it is undergoing some remedial work.

We decided to go on a trip around the harbour for 8 Euros, the trip took about an hour so great value for money and our guide was very knowledgeable and pointed out lots of things to us.

The boats have eyes on them, this is a tradition meant to bring good luck to the fishermen.

Bigger fishing vessels.

This is the Delimara Power Station - i think it's the only power station on the island.

Small caves in the cliff side.

This is Malta Freeport at Birżebbuġa

One of the many forts on Malta, the British built enough so that you could always see two other forts from the top of each one!

This ship was supplying gas to the Delimara Power Station.

This enclosures are for young tuna caught by the fishing boats to be raised to maturity.

After Marsaxlokk we decided to try to find the Ghar Hasan cave - which is now closed to the public but there is apparently a way to get it, so we take a taxi from Marsaxlokk and get the driver to deposit us in the middle of nowhere!

Great view from here, and it was a beautiful warm day.

There were some thistles that grew in beautiful circular patterns.

On the cliff top were more great views, including this (almost) stack formation.

I'm not sure what in use means in this case, clearly not in the recent past.

Better view of the cliff stack and caves at the base of the cliffs.

This was the path to Ghar Hasan Cave. The cave is said to have been the home of a Saracen called Hasan, who may have imprisoned females and thrown one of them from the cliff top.

Down some steps with a rusty guard rail but the steps seemed solid so we sallied forth.

Fabulous views. This one is looking straight down from the mouth of the cave to the sea.

The mouth of the cave, we didn't venture past the metal grating though I believe it's quite safe, we just didn't have a torch with us! It does extend almost 400m though I'm not sure how much is easily navigable. If we go back we'll bring torches and be more daring!

Plant growing on the roof of the cave.

Steps back up to the cliff top.

And back out the way we came in.


Onwards to try to find the Valley of the Thieves. Our Airbnb host said this was a particularly beautiful and isolated part of the Maltese coast.

And this is the place we found, it was indeed beautiful and isolated.

Some of us take selfies to a higher level.

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