Part 9 - Malta, Day 2
Part 9 - Malta, Day 2
Rays of sunshine woke us up this morning and there wasn’t a single cloud in the sky. It can be so easy to enjoy your vacation – and, of course, the obligatory abundant breakfast outside.
In the early moring, the Silhouette had docked on the other side of the port. The sight of her immediately brought up fond memories of the amazing Holy Land Cruise we had done on her. So far, she is still our favorite ship.
During breakfast we decided to take a HoHo bus to explore the southern part of the island – above all the pretty fishing village with the unpronounceable name of Marsaxlokk. As there was no bus at the exit of the ship but the shuttle boat in front of the bow of the Constellation seemed to be ready to leave, we got on the boat and enjoyed the ride across the sunny harbor.
On the other side we walked along the promenade and took one of the buses at the stop. This time one of the other bus company. Once again, we first passed through Vittoriosa, where we had been to a bar the night before. School children waved at us, the colorful porches of the typical houses were shining in the morning sun, and every so often we could see the bulging carts of mobile fruit and veg merchants as we were listening to the interesting explanations we were given through the headphones on the bus.
After crossing the island for a while, we saw the colorful fishing boats of Marsaxlokk, which we still rememebered from our last visit
It was still pleasantly quiet. The seagulls were screeching above the water, the air was filled with the unmistakable smell of a fishing port, and some locals were having their morning chats on the promenade while the fishermen cheerfully mended their nets and cleaned their boats.
We just walked along the waterfront and enjoyed the beautiful sight of the many colorfully painted boats.
On our way back to the bus stop we passed through the stalls of the daily market, which had just opened.
We didn’t have to wait long for the next bus. As soon as we had reached the parking lot, it already turned around the corner. It took us to our next destination – the Blue Grotto.
The bust stopped at a parking lot on top of the rocks, where there were also a few restaurants and souvenir shops. From there we took the steep downhill path to the water and reached a little pier. We bought our tickets at a small booth and with other waiting passengers boarded the next free boat, which left immediately with a loud, clattering noise.
At first we passed below the shops and restaurants before the first caves soon came into view.
Our skipper drove us directly into one of the caves and slowly turned the boat. The water below us was incredibly clear and, depending on the incidence of light, shone in the most various shades of blue. In addition, the walls of the grotto were covered in violet-colored algae on the waterline – a truly beautiful play of colors.
We drove out again and along further grottoes and rock bridges to another big opening in the rock.
Our captain steered our boat into the grotto again and slowly turned the boat inside it as the clatter of the outboard engine resonated from the walls.
After about haf an hour the tour was over and we walked back uphill to the parking lot. Since there was no bus waiting, we sat down in one of the snack bars and had a fresh wrap.
The timing of the bus coudn’t have been better. We had just finished eating when the next one arrived at the parking lot. Directly followed by one of the other bus company. For some of the waiting passengers this caused a little confusion, as some of them wanted to board the wrong bus when the driver sent them to the other one.
The next stop was the temple complex Hagar Qim & Mnajdra. We weren’t much prepared for the visit of these temples, so we were all the more surprised when we learned on our way there that they were over 5000 years old.
At first we reached a visitor center, where we could have learned more about the history of the complex. But in view of our time schedule, we bought the tickets and went directly to the first temple, the Hagar Qim Temple.
As the Methalithic Temples of Malta, Hagar Qim, together with other temple complexes of Malta from the Bronze Age, was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1992. In 2009, the Hagar Qim complex, built between 3600 – 2500 BC, as well as the neighboring Mnajdra were covered with a tent dome to protect them against harmful environmental influences.
Through an entrance from huge blocks of stone we entered the main building of the temple and immediately faced elaborately decorated sculptures.
Through the so-called „portholes“ we reached various side chambers.
Looking at the partially destroyed blocks of stone, we found it difficult to imagine what the complex once looked like intact. But it was unbelievable to imagine that these rooms and sculptures were in part created more than 5600 years ago.
We followed a stone wall and went down the hill to the neighboring temple complex of Mnajdra resting in the shade of the tent dome.
Here, too, the entrance was made from large blocks of stone. How did they move these enomous masses thousands of years ago? How were the people at the time able to decorate the walls and passages so evenly and artistically? It was impressive!
After visiting the lower part we definitely wanted to catch the next bus back to Valletta. Therefore, we gladly accepted the offer to hop on a golf cart “shuttle” which took us back uphill for only EUR 2.00. Once at the top, we waited a little for the next bus which took us across the island back to Valletta, where the facades of the houses with their colorful porches were already a familiar but none the less beautiful sight.
At the port we took the shuttle boat and transferred to the Constellation. Happy with this beautiful day in Malta, we stopped at Café al Bacio for a while, enjoyed a tea and an Igloo and listened to the string duo.
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