We drove out to find the places on the red route of the hop-on hop-off bus. First off the rank was the Tarxien temple – a Neolithic megalithic temple. We fairly whistled round this site as we were somewhat illegally parked in the coach zone, but fortunately no coaches turned up and demanded droit de seigneur with our little Peugeot, so we got off scot-free on that one.
|Neolithic temple carvings. More modern liths in background.|
Next stop was the picturesque fishing village of Marsaxlokk. We found a parking space pretty easily, and walked down to the tourist information office to get a map. We walked around a bit and decided it was very picturesque in one direction, but less so in the other, as there were all the signs of a large working port in that direction. Studiously keeping our backs to that side, we took lots of pictures of the picturesqueness. There was also a market, where we bought some table furnishings, and succumbed to the requirement to buy an “I’ve been to Malta” polo shirt – suckered in by the smooth-talking salesman who offered us two for €15.
|Some of the boats are smaller than the others|
We drove up the coast road towards the windmill at Zurrieq, but failed to find it. Instead we found ourselves on a an increasingly narrow road, along which I seriously worried about our ability to get back out again, as the wing mirrors were literally millimetres from the walled sides of the road. At one point I had to get out and clear a minor rock fall from the wall so that we could pass. Thankfully we managed to get back to a “normal” road, and then back onto the more main roads.
As we drove along, there was a sign for a lookout point. We parked, and had a look around, and found the Blue Grotto. This is different to the Blue Lagoon, except in colour. We were quite high above it, but able to see tour boats going in and out. There was also a chap there hawking a falconry show (do you see what I did there? 😉), and we put on the glove and had a falcon stand on it, whilst we took pictures. A little further up the road was the turn-off to the Blue Grotto itself, so we went down there, and booked ourselves onto one of the tour boats. There was one waiting to leave, they just need another two people, so the queue meister beckoned us forward, and out to sea we went! Our captain took us around the various grottoes – others called temple, circle, and cat-trap were also included, and demonstrated the cyanobacteria which cause the blue glow. The water is very clear and despite being several metres deep, the sandy bottom is clearly visible. Groups of scuba divers were also expediting around the rocks. On the way back we were sailing into the wind so it was a little choppier, but we made it back to dry land without mishap. We debarked and walked up the hill a little way to get pizza for lunch.
|The Blue Grotto from above|
|Disapproving falcon disapproves of you|
|Do not underestimate the blueness|
Our next destination was more Neolithic temples, at Hagar Qim. There is a new complex here, with a “4D” experience film, which promises 3D film and strobe lighting, water droplet effects, sight, smell and sound! I didn’t notice any smells, but the water droplets (during a huge thunderstorm) were welcome – in fact we could have used a few more of them to help us cool down! After the show, we walked around the two sites of the temples, learning about how hey were aligned to the solstices and equinoces, carvings of fat-bottomed girls, and the inevitable ritual objects.
Final stop on this Cook’s Tour was the Limestone Heritage Centre. An unlikely venue, I’ll be the first to agree. It did seem to be enormously popular, however, as there was no room in the substantial carpark attached to the place. We parked along the side of the road, emulating a couple of others, and walked in through the open gateway. There didn’t seem to be any kind of ticket desk, so we wandered around and looked at the exhibits. It was only as we approached the end that we realised that in fact we’d gone in the back entrance, and that we should have walked all the way back to the front to buy a ticket! I think what had happened was they were hosting a function in the venue, as there seemed to be a lot of people crowded into what appeared to be a dining room as we entered.
Phew! That’s enough adventures for one day! We drove back to Gzira, and had an idea to check the pool. You’ll remember that the first day we did this it was overflowing with Italian adolescents so we beat a hasty retreat. On this occasion, however, there were but two German couples, so we got changed into our togs and headed back for a short swim again.
In the evening we went out along the seafront to look for another Sicilian restaurant from the panoply available to us. Unfortunately the one we decided on had no tables left outside, so we gave the Indian restaurant the pity vote. Turns out we needn’t have pitied them, as they turned away another family while we were there, “as they were fully booked”. So far as we could see we were the only people in the place. Weird.