From the south and diary 1, I now explore the western coast.
27. The forecast is not that good - unless you like showers and clouds, accompanied with low temperatures and harsh winds. It should especially be the afternoon that get spoiled, and I gamble on the morning for the days experiences. Again, I pick-up the scenic western trail where I left it yesterday.
After I pass Mdina with its fortress and potatoes fields, I find the sea at Gnejna Bay. Again, the last bit of the road is real narrow, but the views from the sandy beach make it worth it. It is high tide, added by the hard wind, and I manages to find some quicksand. The huge waves occasionally floods the entire beach, and the fishermen's caves on the southern part of the bay can't be accessed. I return to the car when it start to rain.
A lop inland brings me through quite some plastic tunnel nurseries and some fields with vegetables. Then I reach the beautiful Fomm ir-Riħ Bay. I try to walk along the edge, but my knitted hat and sunglasses blows off, and I feel like a kite in my voluminous raincoat. I might return another day and do the walk down to the water over the low meadow.
Next planned sight is M'garr to see the famous "Egg Church". Build in the '30'ties, financed by the locals selling eggs! It is a pretty building, but the town does not have much to offer. I do a loop around the centre, and unless you like plastic Christmas stuff, here are not much to see. Should you be interested, there are a large shop under the square in front of the church.
Quite close is the little Skorba Temple, build around 5600 years ago. Not really that impressive, but the little wild park next to it have some nice nature. I get close to a red dragon flue; Broad Scarlet; Crocothemis erythraea, see a new type of land-snail; Goat snail; Cantareus apertus and here are some almond bushes with nuts. I almost get close to a Moorish Gecko; Tarentola mauritanica.
Out at the windy western coast again, I find Ghajn Tuffieha Bay. An old guard tower sit high on the cliffs, and a bit inland are a little olive garden. Apparently it is a popular summer beach, but this is not the right day to explore the slopes leading down to it.
I try the nearby Park tal-Majjistral, which is reached on the other side of a ghost town. Again, the bay offers some great views - and harsh winds. A little trail leads down to the water, and I plan to return a calm day. The park covers a huge area of the highlands, and I do a big loop around it. By now, I only see familiar plants.
Reluctantly I must admit; I was not built for the harsh weather, and I seek shelter on the other side of the island. Here, Il-Xemxija should have the Is-Simar Nature Reserve. I grab a bruschetta and find the closed gates to the marsh lands. Apparently, they are only open on Sundays.
A bit up the road, I find a small and real steep trail
leading into the Roman Road or Xemxija Heritage Trail. It leads
through a melon and kale field, then some limestone slopes, which might have
had terraces in ancient time for vine or olive?
I do not see many plants, but many like the fennel; Foeniculum vulgare are flowering. It seems like there is winter-growth, caused by the rain and relatively mind weather. Actually, many areas with grass and herbs look way more like spring than autumn, all over the island.
It is not three o'clock yet, but I better save a bit for a sunny day. I find a cafe with several real nice looking cakes, and go for a pecan tart. I sit outside and watches the bay while enjoying the cake, but even on this side of the island, it is quite windy. Then I head home, just in time to avoid a intense shower.
As I now have described the general things about Malta, the diary tend to be a bit too short for the photos I want to display. On the other hand, the work-evenings shortens, and I don't complain - except over the temperature in the evenings. At eight, I'm finish, and head out in the dark for a bite to eat.
All the photos of the day is in the slideshow Day 3.
the forecast predicted storm, I have no rush leaving my room in the morning.
I figure I might as well head for the airport and extend the lease of the
car. Despite it is almost eleven, the traffic is still rather intense.
The wind is strong, and I am so much not going to pick-up the trail on the north-western coast today. I am close to some temples and underground caves within the city of Rahal Gdid/Paola. I park right in-between them and head for the ancient temples of Tarxien.
It cosiest of four megalithic structures, build between 3600 and 2500 BC and re-used between 2400 and 1500 BC. It is excavated and now covered by a huge tent. Pathways circles it, and head right through it. The four individual temples consist of circular structures, each having four to six. Several nicely carved items are still found in some rooms. I do the walks, take the pictures and head on.
The other site in Rahal Gdid is the huge underground Hal Saflieni Hypogeum from 3600 BC. I thought I could get away with paying €20, but I have to book a tour and pay €40. I hope I won't get bored enough to pay that for seeing a hole in the ground.
I do a bit of walking around the nice town of Rahal Gdid, and find the large church; Kristu Re. It seems like most Maltese houses look just the same: Two or three floors, nicely decorated wooden balconies and the rest in limestone. A huge structure look like the base for a castle or fort, but it only holds a parkinglot.
It is only pass noon, and I head for the nearby Vittoriosa. It is on lee side of the island, although on its own little peninsula. I park near Il-Kalkara, and its great looking marina lures me in. Not the boats, but the houses along the pier. It seems like most of this area around the natural harbours along Valette is made up by some form of fortresses.
I head back to Vittoriosa and follow the docks to Fort st Angelo. It sits on the outer end of the peninsula, and look quite intact. However, I guess you have to be British to really appreciate it... I enjoy the views to the other side of the harbours more. Here are a war museum and a maritime museum, but it is not that appealing to me. I find a little local joint, and enjoy a bruschetta and a cup of tea, while I listen to the beer-drinking local old farts. Quite cosy actually.
On the way back, I zigzag through the narrow streets of Vittoriosa. The marina have some huge and fancy yachts, while the buildings have lost their former glory by now. A few gondola-lake vessels offers tours around the harbour, but I rather walk. The Saint Lawence Church have a "natural garden" on front, dominated by American Opuntias. It would have look so much greater with native plants.
I see some more alleys of Vittoriosa, but the wind weary me down, and at three, I head home. I start working, but have to head out to the airport once again, a bit passed seven. The car was pretty cheap; €70, but the insurance of €178 turns out to be steep! Home to work on photos and find a few more sights to explore. The few photos of the day are found here.
29. On the way up to the northern peninsular, I do a stop at the Ta' Ħaġrat Temples. The wind is pretty calm, and it should be a day full of sunshine. The ruins of this 5600 old temple is not that fantastic, but ceramics found here dates back 7000 years. While the megaliths are not that special, the weather sure is.
I head straight on towards the northern peninsular. The area up here are significantly less populated, although the areas that can be farmed, is - or at least used to. I pass a long aqueduct, which seems to be in use today. This is the area with nurseries and vegetable fields.
After the narrow stretch, I head west, and find some real nice nature. One part is Foresta 2000, and I do a long stroll here. It seems to be ancient terraces, now abandon. Herbs and pines are not thriving, and a path leads all the way to the Red Tower. I however, turn around just before I reach it.
It is not only the plants that look spring-like. The European paper wasp; Polistes gallicusare are busy at their open hive, the butterflies like The Red Admiral; Vanessa atalanta and The Painted Lady; Vanessa cardui find the many flowers and I can hear several birds sing. It must look great when the large Sicilian Squill; Scilla sicula is flowering. The Carob Tree; Ceratonia siliqua is flowering in some places now - although not that impressive as the Scilla will be.
Here are some old huts, made from limestones, and they look like cylinders from the outside, but more like igloos from the inside. I had anticipated this, when I saw all the ancient buildings tend to be round. I am still baffled about the amount of walls that have been made here through time.
I head further out west, but as I aimed for the coat, the GPS leads me out of what probably is a private road. It is one lane - or at least 80% of one. It finds it way on the coast-facing slope, and the views down to the sea are fantastic - and a bit scary too.
I end up at a farmers lot, but only his guard dogs is home. After some time, they relaxes, and I can walk further out to the cliffs. This are the 129 meter tall Ras il-Qammieh cliffs, and a fantastic place. I slowly walk all the way down to the sea, where the rocks are barren on a huge shelf. I test some of the clay deposits, and yes: They are bottomless!
I see a few new plants, among them the endemic Maltese Spurge; Euphorbia melitensis. I find my way up to the car and the dogs have gone. It seems like the tourists are using another road, parallel with this, but on the top of the cliffs. On the way around to it, I pass The Red Tower or St Agatha's Tower. It was build in 1649 and have been restored recently.
The officer selling me the ticket is an retired Scotsman, living here every winter. He tell me the weather usually is like today during the entire winter, not as cold and windy as the recent days. At summertime, it tend to be too hot, and he returns home. Clever guy!
After a tour up the tower, I head out west again. It is kind of a plateau, and I see several African Wolfbane, Periploca augustifolia. Some are flowering, some have their characteristic fruits: Two horns. A great looking bench sits the right place to enjoy the sun a great views. It is made from one slab of brown marble, and only polished on the front. I drive and walk all the way out to the western point, and despite I don't find any shark toots, I sure enjoy the area.
I am getting a bit peckish, and head east. Here are hardly any settlement, but at a little harbour, I find a little restaurant, packed with local elders. The menu is large, and further more, I have to decide what kind of pasta and sauce I want with my olives, sweet corn, pepperfruit and herbs. And it is served with a large cup of fresh parmesan.
I head further east, and find the little chapel of Il-Kapella tal-Kuncizzjon on the eastern cliffs. I do another long walk, but the numerous and invasive Agavas; Agava americana spoils the feeling of undisturbed nature. Well, the amount of flowering Friars Cowl; Arisarum vulgare helps.
On the northern coast, I get down to the water on some low limestones. Here are a cave - or what use to be a cave and a blowhole. It is getting late, and the sun low, but I have to make a stop at the café with the great cakes. This time, I try a chocolate and orange cake, and it is absolutely perfect! When I reach my home, the sky is the most fantastic baby blue and pink. I grab something to eat for later, on the way home, and start working.
It is time to start on Diary 3