Just off the coast of Bugibba you can see the tiny St Paul’s island, notable for the statue of the great man which stands on its highest point.
Believe it or not, the island was inhabited in the not too distant past, when a farmer lived in what is now a ruined farmhouse right next to the statue. He packed his bags and moved off the island in the 1930’s, and nobody has had the inclination to make it a home since then. Not surprising, as a life being buffeted by wind and the hard-scrabble terrain make it a less than idyllic spot in which to live.
However you can visit the island, and we popped over there with the Seahorse cruise company. They do a boat tour which also goes around the coasts of Xemxija and Selmun, and gives you a different perspective on the familiar (to me at least) sights of St Paul’s and Bugibba. The best views of Malta are generally from the coast looking out to sea, or the other way around, rather than from within the sometimes claustrophobic inland towns.
When we told people we were leaving Malta, they said ‘You’ll be back’… and they are probably right.
But for now we are changing location, moving on to pastures new. In fact, and in the interest of full disclosure, by the time you are reading this we have already left, although I write this just before our move.
We’ve had a memorable 4+ years living on this little rock, lots of highs, some lows too along the way. We got sick of Sliema, but on our return after 6 months overseas we grew very fond of St Paul’s Bay and Bugibba. It is sad to be leaving – I feel like I know Malta better than I know my own country at this stage – but there are career opportunities elsewhere that we would be silly to ignore.
I’ve enjoyed (well, mostly enjoyed) writing this blog. (Sorry for banging on about English breakfasts all the time). I hope people have gotten some useful information if nothing else, as I started this because I wanted to write down the things that would’ve helped us out when we first arrived. Anyway thanks for reading, and thanks to all those who commented and emailed.
The site will stay up, and if you are reading this and would like to add an article of your own then email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I will be glad to publish your piece here.
That’s it for now… Grazzi hafna Malta!
So as a visitor to Malta, should you rent a car, or should you rely on the Maltese transport system?
This is sort of like asking whether you would prefer to be clattered over the head by a saucepan or a flowerpot. Neither option is wonderful.
However I think that most people would choose to avoid the infamous buses, especially during peak season when they are crowded to bursting, and when your journey may involve a lot of standing at bus stops waving feebly at packed buses as they zip past.
Listen, people get paid to write reviews of fancy restaurants. They tend to use a lot of adjectives to give the impression that the business of cooking food, serving food and eating food is somehow elevated beyond the fact that this is something you and I experience every day.
Anyway the Washington Post is probably not going to send it’s food critic to La Stalla (‘The Stable’) anytime soon, but don’t worry because we have been there and are happy to report back for you.
Not being particularly snobby eaters we decided to go for the set menu deal, which gives you a few variations on a three course meal. Drink not included but the set menu option only costs €13.50 so we won’t complain.
Just outside Birzebugga you can find the Ghar Dalam cave, Malta’s oldest prehistoric site. Evidence of human habitation dating back more than 7,000 years was found here, as well as the fossilised bones of extinct creatures such as pygmy elephants and hippos.
The museum is basically a large collection of bones and skeletons of deceased animals. For me, one ancient femur starts to look pretty much like another after a while, but the skeletons of baby hippos and elephants are pretty impressive.
As is the cave itself, when you make your way down there from the museum. Only about 50 metres is accessible for visitors, but that is enough to give you a real sense of the place, especially if you are lucky enough – as we were – to have the place to yourself in between coach-tours.
Most things about Malta are amazing, we all know that. However there are some people who just cannot be satisfied, and many of those good folk will go right to Tripadvisor to express their displeasure.
The following comments are all from the “1 Star” category of the Tripadvisor site, and while they don’t necessarily reflect the feelings of the authors, we certainly defend their right to an opinion!:
Blue Lagoon: “Not worth going to”
Travelled to the lagoon on a speed boat ,probably the best part of the trip. The lagoon itself is gorgeous, the colour of the sea is beautiful but it’s just packed with people. Deck chairs and umbrellas have to be hired if you are thinking of staying a while otherwise you would roast under the blazing heat. Nothing really to do there , half an hour is really enough, the area is rocky so you need to be careful where you walk as I did see some one being carried on a stretcher. Wouldn’t really recommend it just google the pictures . <Daksha-parmar (UK)>