Temples and Grand Masters Palace

Trip Start Oct 11, 2012
Trip End Nov 19, 2012

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Where I stayed
British Hotel Valletta
Read my review - 4/5 stars
What I did
Harum Qim Temple
Palace Armoury

Flag of Malta  , Island of Malta,
Sunday, November 18, 2012

My nights have been troubled here at times.  There is a mosquito that buzzes around my head at night.  I jettisoned the pillow because it is twice as high as I would want a pillow to be.  I have played with and without the comforter, used it as a pillow one night.  I do best with the comforter over me - I slept well for quite awhile and then the mosquito came to bother me.  I was up around 6:30 am when I heard a horn blow & I took some photos of a tanker with several tugs passing by my window.  It was quite exciting despite my slight sleep deprivation.  I lost another whole paragraph.  I hate this Wordpad. 

Oh, I went on about my breakfast and how I saved a cheese sandwich for later along with some banana chips.  Then I wrote about how I have a really efficient method for taking buses here:  I go to the bus info, they tell me the number bus and the station (where it stops) and I go there.  This time I had a connection to make:  the 71 to Zarriejk and then the 201 to Harar (sp) where the temples were.  There were some French-speaking ladies going to the same place so I was confident I would make it now.  They had such deep voices.  A lot of the women here have deep voices, even the little wisps of young ladies.  I am jealous. 

The timing was perfect.  I waited a few minutes for the first bus, got off and almost right on to the second bus.  I visited the temple sites.  There was a museum at the beginning and then off to the temple ruins themselves.  These temples are on the south shore of Malta and it is quite dry and rocky here.  There was a little nature walk that described the landscape and fauna and flora.  They call it garigue, a particularly Mediterranean landscape.  I walked around and probably spent as much time taking photos of the plants as the temples.  I found the little snails that were pictured in the nature trail guide - they were all over one patch of ground.  I even saw a lizard later near the road but didn't get a photo.  I chased some white butterflies all around, but they were big teases and I couldn't get a good photo.

The temples are protected by a canopy and held together in places with metal.  There are paths created by poles and ropes.  I understand that all this is done to protect the site and I respect that but it does really take away from the experience.  The guide mentions that these temples are special in that they are out away from cities and stand alone in their environment and that is definitely a plus.  It is amazing to see the huge stones formed into circles and to examine the carvings in the stones for the altars.  One spot shows where some of the human figure statues were found.  The statues and carvings have for the most part been removed to preserve them and been replaced by replicas.  It is nice to have the replicas to see how things were.   It is hard to say which of the temples impressed me the most - maybe these since there seemed to be more going on, but then there weren't as many carved spirals as at Tarxien.

There was one board in the museum that talked about the figure statues and how you couldn't really tell if they were male or female (or gods).  They even had a picture of a sumo wrestle next to a drawing of one of the figures...just as I speculated how one of these figures would look if it were a man.  Are there any female sumo wrestlers?

I may have taken too much time to see the site and the surrounding landscape.  I had planned to boogie so I could make it back for the Palace museums.  I walked back up to the road and the bus stop - checked the sign and found out that the bus I was intending to take - to Rabat rather than back to Zarriejk - was due in a little more than 30 minutes.  The bus back the way I came did not come for another 15 min. more.  I sat and read my site brochures.  A young woman and middle-aged man joined me in waiting for the bus.  We waited and waited.  Finally the other bus came and left....I realized after it left that I should have gotten on it because our bus (they come every hour) was probably not going to come until the next scheduled time.  After I realized this, I started to look for passing taxis.  After awhile one came and he said he would charge me 5 euros to go to Zarriejk.  I looked over at the young woman but she wanted to go to the Dingle Cliffs and the taxi driver wanted to charge her 10 euros.  I wouldn't have wanted to pay it either.  So we left her and the taxi dropped me off at the bus stop in Zarriejk.  After a while the bus to Valletta pulled up, right on time, and it was followed by the other bus - which would be on schedule after skipping one trip.  I had wanted to see more of the Southern shore, but by now it was after 2 pm and I needed to be at the Palace by 3:30 to get into the first exhibit.  I made it.

I wandered through the Palace State Rooms and took some photos.  These kind of make up for the days I lost the photos.  There was the usual over-the-top decoration with frescoes, coffered ceilings, portrait paintings, marble floors, etc.  What I liked the most, I think, was seeing all the Maltese crosses - in the shields, on the floors, on the chests of the Grand Masters, on the walls.  There were also a lot of armors standing at intervals in the long halls.  From there I went to the Armory.  Once I realized that this was weapons and not a treasury of gold and silver objects, I thought I was going to be bored, but I got the audio guide and pushed the buttons to find out all about the armor and weapons and it was rather interesting.  Of course, I was probably more interested in the photo ops and interesting patterns that the lances, pikes, guns and helmets themselves. 

Now I was getting very hungry since I only had the little sandwich for lunch.  This has been a recurring problem.  By the time I am ready to eat, the opportunities have diminished since lunch is over and dinner hasn't begun yet.  Plus, today being Sunday, I think there are even fewer opportunities.  So I looked around and found that the Hotel Castille Cave opens at 6 - nothing else interested me, so I went back to the bus station and got two pastries to tide me over.  I have uploaded my photos, put away another finished sd card, and worked on this blog.  I bet it is almost 7 now.  This is the latest I will have ever managed to wait for dinner here yet.  Of course, now that I am in my room, I am sort of feeling less ambitious and not so much wanting to go out into the rain and thunder.

I did manage to go out.  Sometimes the streets seem very deserted here, but I guess it is safe.  It isn't really that late yet.  I walked up the stairs and over a few blocks to the Hotel Castille.  I really liked the cave and wished I had gone there before.  There was a long table with a whole bunch of noisy teenagers on one side of the room.  I ordered my wine - a glass of local red wine - and the waiter approved - he said it was a good wine.  Then when I ordered the Maltija pizza, he approved again.  It was a lovely pizza - the olives were fantastic - baked into the pizza with the pits still in them.  The goat cheese was excellent too.  I liked the wine - it had a discernible hint of cherry I thought.  There are cats meowing outside - the Maltese are quite fond of their cats and have lots of feeding stations-- for strays I assume.

When I got back to the hotel, I got out my computer to come to the wi-fi area.  I had a little adventure in the elevator because I thought I forgot my glasses and went to go back, pressed a bunch of buttons, then realized I had my glasses, but was stopping on every floor anyway.  There was a lot of shouting and noise somewhere in the hotel.  Probably frustration over the elevator.  When I got to the wifi area, there were several young people running around the halls.  They seemed to be playing hide and seek.  I recognized two girls from the restaurant - I think there must be a school group of some kind on a trip.  Good, someone closed the door - now it is not so windy and chilly here.  I haven't prepared any photos for today's blog.  Maybe I will work on them in my room and post them tomorrow.

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