Ghar Dalam and Borg In-Nadur

Stalagmite

Today we went to the Ghar Dalam cave and the Borg In-Nadur temple. Malta has an incredible amount of archaeological finds, from a number of different time periods. During the Pleistene age 1.8 million years ago, Malta was connected to Sicily via a land bridge. During this period elephants, deer, hippopotami, and other animals were common on Malta. After the land bridge seceded, the animals had fewer resources, so they got smaller over time. Thousands of animal bones from this period were discovered inside the Ghar Dalam cave. Shortly after humans settled on Malta, they hunted these species to extinction.

Much of the exhibit was done in a Victorian style, which showcases hundreds of bones all in one case. It was certainly the most bones in one room I have ever seen.

After we toured the museum, we continued down towards the caves. Along the way there were a number of different trees and plants, as well as the remains of a Roman villa.

The cave itself only requires a few minutes to walk through most of it, but it is labeled with the different layers of rock and sediment from which they discovered different types of bones and also human artifacts in the uppermost layer.

We also learned that the cave was used to house fuel for planes during World War Two, and there is still some barbed wire from that period. It is also surrounded by kilometers of rubble walls, which have been used on Malta for thousands of years for various purposes.

Borg In-Nadur description
Borg In-Nadur description

After Ghar Dalam, we stopped at Borg In-Nadur, which is another temple from around 3000 B.C.E. It is not as impressive as some of the other temples we saw, but it is still fascinating to see just how pervasive the temple culture was on Malta.

After the temple we tried to get lunch nearby, but we could not find much open, so we ended up taking a cab back to Sliema near our apartment. Spencer really enjoyed his double cheeseburger.

Alice and Clare excited for their meals
Spencer is excited for his cheeseburger

Gozo

Ggantija temples, Dibble-Feltys, St. John the baptist basilica

Saturday we had our second day of guided tour with Mona, our wonderful tour guide. She picked us just after 7 a.m. We drove to the north of the island to catch the ferry to Gozo, an island a bit north of Malta, which belongs to Malta. The main island of Malta has nearly 500,000 inhabitants, while Gozo only has about 30,000. It has a much more relaxed atmosphere.

Traffic was light and there was an extra ferry, so we got to the island even earlier than planned. We had a few minutes to spare before the temple visitor center opened at 9 a.m. so we made a quick stop to get a few pictures looking back at the island of Comino.

On Gozo, with Comino in the background

Our first main stop in Gozo was the Megolithic temples at Ggantija. Unlike the temples on the main island of Malta, the temples on Gozo were not as widely excavated during the 1800s. They were discovered then, but the farmers covered them up so they could continue to farm the land, and thus they were not fully excavated until the 1980s, which means that the technologies and tools used for excavation were able to better preserve the artifacts.

World heritage site Ggantija temples

The Ggantija temples were built between 3600 and 2500 B.C.E. making them the second oldest human-made religious structures. The visitor’s center focused mostly on the Xaghra circle, which was only more recently excavated, and is not open to visitors right now. Some of the artifacts were incredible though, especially the skull with all the teeth intact.

After the temples, we stopped at Dwejra, which up until a few years ago had an amazing arch rock structure called the Azure window, which unfortunately collapsed. The Blue hole and the inland sea were still notable sights to see.

The highlight of the trip was a visit to the citadel, which is near the center of the island, and provided protection from invaders for the inhabitants of Gozo for many years.

After the citadel we enjoyed a relaxing lunch along the coast at the boathouse restaurant in Xlendi. I had braised rabbit, which is a traditional Maltese dish. I was a bit perplexed when the waiter handed me wet wipes. I thought maybe I should eat it with my hands, but I wasn’t sure. After about 10 minutes of enjoying it with fork and knife, our tour guide informed me that normally it is eaten by hand, so then I dug in. It was delicious.

Malta sunsets

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I got some nice shots of the sunset from the terrace the other day, after we enjoyed some local Maltese red wine from the Antonin winery.

Waves crashing on the beach

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One of my favorite songs, American Girl by Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, has this line:

Yeah, she could hear the cars roll by

Out on 441 like waves crashin’ on the beach

Tom Petty, American Girl

This line came into my head as we were watching the waves crash on the beach on Friday. We had hoped to go swimming, but the sea was too rough. We enjoyed watching the waves crash on the beach.

Tuesday the beach at Ballutta bay was sandy and calm. Today, the rough waves were churning up the sand and bringing all sorts of drift wood up onto the beach, which was nearly gone.

Malta: main Island tour

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Today we took a guided tour of the main island. Our stops included Mdina, Hagar Qim, and Valletta.

Mdina is a walled city, the ancient fortress capital with winding streets. They were on a high point to keep an eye out for invaders coming to steal people into slavery. They would light a bonfire on a high platform and the surrounding villagers would come inside the city walls. We enjoyed the car free streets, gas lamps, and charm.

Hagar Qim is an ancient temple from 5700 years ago that also functions as a calander by aligning with solar and stellar events, like solstices and constellations.

Valletta is the modern day capital built in the 16th century by the Knights of St. John. in contrast to Mdina, it is a port city on a grid. The wealth of Malta, collecting something from all the civilizations that have come and gone, are apparent here.

It was a good day. Thank you to our hostess, Joan from https://www.maltatourguide.com/

Malta: exploring Valetta together

This morning, we watched the sunrise. After breakfast, we took the ferry to Valletta. There was a morning downpour, so we ducked into some shops for a bit. After it cleared up, we took the ferry into Valletta. We had lunch and wandered around. We stepped into St. Paul’s cathedral, one of the characteristic spires in our view from our vacation apartment. The view back to Sliema does not suck either. Spencer entertains himself with his Rubik’s cube in any downtime.

Sun, Clouds, Birds

This morning we set our alarm to wake up before sunrise so we could watch it from our rooftop terrace. The view wasn’t quite as nice as I had hoped, but it was still very relaxing. I really enjoyed watching the clouds go by. There were also several flocks of birds, which were really mesmerizing to watch, as they circled round and round, switching from white to black as they turned around.

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Mesmerizing birds