Bluer than blue and older than old
Trip Start Sep 12, 2006
100Trip End Sep 08, 2008
It took only 50 minutes to travel from Sliema to the tiny harbour of Wied iz-Zurrieq, with a change in Valletta. Most buses in Malta terminated their routes in Valletta, which meant to get anywhere on the island you usually had to go via Valletta. Less than an hours travel time was quite short though, given I had crossed the entire country!
I departed the bus at the top of the cliffs near Wied iz-Zurrieq and found a small path with a spectacular view down to the Blue Grotto, a huge natural arch in the sea cliffs below. Further out, beyond an old watchtower was the small, uninhabited island of Filfla, which was once used for target practice by the British Navy. I walked about 500m down the hill to the small harbour, where I boarded a colourful small boat for a 20 minute trip out to the Blue Grotto, as well as some of the other caves in the cliffs.
The caves were quite amazing, but it was the pristine clear blue colour of the water that I'll never forget. I'd never seen anything like it! I'd read that mid morning was the best time to visit, and even though I arrived a little later than I'd hoped, I wasn't disappointed. Furthermore, I could clearly see the seabed, and was told the water was about five metres deep! Our little boat weaved its way in and out of about six caves, passing beneath the huge arch in the cliff and into the Blue Grotto, which was a very apt name given the colour of the water.
After my all too short boat trip finished, I began to make my way 3km up the coast to my next destination, the megalithic temples of Hagar Qim and Mnajdra
Dating from the period between 3600 and 3000 BC, the megalithic temples of Malta are the oldest freestanding stone structures in the world. Hagar Qim and Mnajdra are two of a number of these temples situated in Malta and Gozo, and supposedly the best preserved. It's thought their south easterly orientation signifies a relationship with the winter solstice sunrise, but unfortunately I missed the big day by some months.
I spent about half an hour wandering around the first temple Hagar Qim, before making my way down a 500m path to Mnajdra, which had a spectacular setting overlooking the coast