A road less travelled
Trip Start Jun 12, 2007
129Trip End Ongoing
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John is a real fish lover, so it was only natural that we should head to Marsaxlokk today - the main fishing village on the south coast where they have a market - part of which is fresh fish caught that morning - we're staying in bed and breakfast, so we've nowhere to cook it, however, this is apparently THE place on Malta to get tucked into fresh fish in one of the handful of fish restaurants scattered along the front.
So, we get in the car and head off in the only direction we can - south - as we are staying up on the furthest northern tip of the island. The journey is interesting - as much as weaving in and out of cars is acceptable here, so too is not giving way on a roundabout and squeezing up the tiniest of gaps, that isn't a gap to undertake on the inside - it really is no surprise at all to see the state of all the cars. Before long, John is joining in and driving like a local, he seems to enjoy the new found freedom of doing exactly as you please on the roads and noone bothering about it. These moves made at home would be met with aggression and tooting horns, here, they really don't care, its just part of life - I like that.
The harbour in Marsaxlokk is alive with brightly coloured Maltese fishing boats (luzzu) bobbing up and down and is a hive of activity with people mending and stowing their nets, and sanding down and painting their boats alongside the market which lines the quayside. We walk from one end of the market to the other, passing through the fish part where we saw the catch of the day being displayed and sold - there was a tray of octopus in some water and on closer inspection they were actually still alive! We stop at a stall selling imqaret (pastries, filled with mashed dates, fried and served to you hot, it was our first one, it won't be our last - yummy!! Further down there is a seating area in the market, directly in the sunshine where drinks are being sold, so we order a coffee and a hot chocolate, sit down and relax, watching the world go by.
Loud music is emanating from somewhere, so we go to investigate - it turns out to be a carnival and the main square is now filled with dancers and singers, we linger a while to watch the goings on, then decide to stay, find ourselves a couple of seats - again in the lovely sunshine - and end up watching for a couple of hours. Finally hunger gets the better of us and we go in search of a somewhere that serves fresh fish for John and something else for me as I'm not a great fish lover. Rabbit is the national dish of Malta and we come to a place where they are serving fish and rabbit and as I've never had it before I thought I'd give it a go. We sit down and John is presented with a tray full of fresh fish that he can make his selection from and I order the rabbit. We share a pudding, which the lady suggested and said it was very traditional for Malta - it was a bit like cheesecake but without the biscuit base and wrapped in cake instead.
After this we go back to the car and head further up the coast to the Hagar Qim and Mnajdra temples. In truth we felt totally ripped off by this visit - there was hardly any information at all on site, so we learnt nothing and the Mndajdra temples part was actually closed, so you could get a small glimpse of it through a fence and that was about it. It only took around 10- 15 minutes to look round and that was doing it at a very slow pace - and having just been charged 10 euros, we were very disappointed. Oh well, time to move further up the coast. We spent the remaining couple of daylight hours driving round and stopping in various places to take in the scenery, slowly making our way back up the island towards our apartment.
The road signs on Malta are far and few between on the back roads, so a lot of it is left to general guesswork as to the direction you are supposed to be heading. We were on this road and I could see what looked like a main road in the distance and I thought it was probably the road we needed in order to get back, so I mentioned this to John and the fact that I wasn't sure how to get to it - "we could take a short cut across there" he says to me, pointing out this opening that leads to little more than a track across a field and joins up with said road the other side. If anyone else had said this to me, I would have thought they were joking, I start to laugh, not because I think he's joking, but because I know that very shortly we are going to be thrashing about down that track - I know him well and he didn't disappoint, the very first opportunity he got, he U turned the car and sure enough we're headed down it, the cars bouncing around like a rubber ball - as we whizz across rocks and holes, through a stream and the only thing that seems to put him off slightly is a huge grate that we have to cross - as he's 'not sure that's safe' which creases me up given where we are - then to get up the other side of the valley onto the main road, I kid you not it was like a vertical drop to climb, I can hardly breath for laughing now as he says he thinks he needs to do a run up and we do eventually charge up the other side and out onto the road. He turns to me wide eyed and says "blimey, that was steeper than it looked wasn't it" - urm, no John, it always looked that steep to me!! - it did turn out to be the right road too - which made us laugh even more.
A brilliant start to our trip, we had so much fun today.