Malta – Hypogeum, Tarxien, The 3 cities, Sliema and Valetta

Well, HELLO again!!!

It’s been a while!! Haven’t been traveling lately, just enjoying spending some time at home in Stockholm, Sweden. But as we say in Swedish ”det kliar i fingrarna” (sort of that my fingers started itching) meaning that I really wanted to do just a little trip to someplace new! So I gave my boyfriend this gift for his birthday – a trip to Malta! (He didn’t know anything about it until his birthday :)

So the 20th of may we flew to Malta – an island in the mediterranean sea, somewhere between Sicily and Tunisia. Malta’s location has given it great strategic importance throughout history. Phoenicians, Romans, Moorish, Normans, Aragonese, Habsburg Spain, Knights of St. John, French and the British have ruled the islands during different periods. Malta gained independence from the United Kingdom in 1964 and became a republic in 1974.

Malta is a quite big tourist destination because of its warm climate with crystal clear water and architectural and historical monuments. It has plenty of UNESCO World Heritage Sites and temples.

We landed in the evening, took a bus from the airport to our hotel in Gzira close to Sliema. The bus really went everywhere and we didn’t understand at all were we were, but we arrived well. The bus ticket fare is 1,50€  for a day, as many trips as you want, so it’s really nice!!

Arriving in Sliema!

Arriving in Sliema!

Our room!! :)

Our room!! :)

Our ”room” was much better then expected – I thought it was only going to be a hotel room, but it also had a living room, a kitchenette and a balcony, and bathroom of course. So we were happy! And really hungry. After packing up we went to find a restaurant which the receptionist had recommended, called ”Ta Kris”.

The entrance to the restaurant, it's in Sliema close to Zara.

The entrance to the restaurant, it’s in Sliema close to Zara.

The prices are ok, a little bit expensive at first. We chose the little cheaper options, I had a pasta with basil and tomato and Duilio had a maltese cuisine called ”Dad’s Famous Braggioli”….  and the food….. AMAZING!!! It was sooo goood. Fresh local food, and I don’t know what the heck they had done – but it was the greatest pasta sauce I’ve ever had. We spent about 20€ for two meals with a beer each and it was totally worth it.

Check it out – Ta Kris Restaurant – 80 Fawwara Lane, Sliema, Malta.

Duilio looks forward to eat his plate! Cheers with the local beer Cisk!

Duilio looks forward to eat his plate! Cheers with the local beer Cisk!

The greatest pasta I've ever tasted!!!!!

The greatest pasta I’ve ever tasted!!!!!

Having a Cisk at the balcony!

After dinner we enjoying another Cisk in our balcony! Cozy!

Day 2

Enjoying the breakfast buffet! Haha. We ate all we could!

Enjoying the breakfast buffet! Haha. We ate all we could!

View from the restaurant at our hotel

View from the restaurant at our hotel

We started early by enjoyed the hotels breakfast buffet – yummi yummi. Had everything. Then we went to the Hypogeum which I had booked tickets for long before. You have to be about 2 months ahead to get tickets there, and they cost 30€ each. :/
The Ħal Saflieni Hypogeum is an underground prehistoric burial site. Earliest remains at the site date back to about 4000BC, and the complex was used over a span of many centuries, up to c. 2500 BC. Cool place sure, but you couldn’t take any pictures and only walk around were they had a pavement, and also they only lit up only a few places at a time, if someone was in the way for you to see you missed it. So to me, it wasn’t really worth it.

Picture of the Ħal Saflieni Hypogeum from Malta Heritage Site. Didn't look like this while you were there though since only a few parts were lit up at a time.

Picture of the Ħal Saflieni Hypogeum from Malta Heritage Site. Didn’t look like this while you were there though since only a few parts were lit up at a time.

Went to the hypogeum. You are not allowed to take any pictures inside. :(

Went to the hypogeum. Just there, in the middle of a neighborhood! Haha

After the visit we went around in the streets in Paola and went to the Tarxien Temples that are quite close, thanks to a map. A funny thing here, nothing is marked out well! We got to the bus station closest to the hypogeum, which is a mayor site of interest, and there are no signs of where it is, you have to ask around how to get there. People here are super friendly, and everyone speaks english! Old ladies, men, teenagers. But there are not really any signs on the street of where the site is until you get to the same road where it is located.

They drive on the wrong side of the road!! Haha. Looks crazy!

They drive on the wrong side of the road!! Haha. Looks crazy!

Walking around on the streets

Walking around on the streets around Paola

We figured we would ”win” on buying a Malta Heritage Multi Ticket for 35€ each with entrances to all the places/museums/temples by Malta Heritage, instead of buying ”loose” entrances to the places we wanted to visit. Very good decision!!! All entrance fees are between 6-10 euros, and I would have gone quite mad at some sites since they didn’t live up to my expectations, but since they entered in the multi ticket (which as a value of 95€ if you visit all the places) – I didn’t mind so much. Hehe.

The Heritage Malta Multi Pass

The Heritage Malta Multisite Pass

The Tarxien Temples was built between 3600 and 2500 BC and re-used between 2400 and 1500 BC. It’s a UNESCO World Heritage Site, one of six inscribed as ‘The Megalithic Temples of Malta’ in the World Heritage List and one of the largest and most complex of the prehistoric sites on the islands. Home to some of the best examples of prehistoric art which have survived the millennia. Sure a nice place, but much smaller then I thought, took less then 30 minutes to walk through.

The Tarxien temples, a UNESCO world heritage site, dated to approx 3150 BC.

The Tarxien temples, a UNESCO world heritage site, dated to approx 3150 BC.

Old water hole from 3150 BC, nowadays you can throw in a coin and make a wish :)

Old water hole from 3150 BC, nowadays you can throw in a coin and make a wish :)

Some nice engravements

Some of the parts left. Cute little whole there, looks like the big entrances to temples, but a mini version.

This alter is believed to be the place where they sacrified animals, due tu the stone gravings

This alter is believed to be the place where they sacrified animals, due tu the stone gravings

After the Tarxien temples we took the bus to The Three Cities, the harbor in front of Valetta. We visited Vittoriosa, an old fortified city in Malta, very pittoresque and sweet with narrow streets and all limestone buildings here as well as the rest of Malta. We bought some stones there for future jewelry and visited the The Inquisitor’s Palace and the Malta Maritime Museum. The Maritime Museum is nice but nothing I would pay 9€ to see if it wasn’t included in my ticket.

Walking around in Vittoriosa

Walking around in Vittoriosa

The Borgo himself in Vittoriosa!

The Borgo himself in Vittoriosa!

Old diving equipment - omg.. scary!! I'm glad I'm living this decade and using the modern equipment! (At the Malta Maritime museum)

Old diving equipment – omg.. scary!! I’m glad I’m living this decade and using the modern equipment! (At the Malta Maritime museum)

The Inquisitors Palace is the only one open to the public in the world and an architectural gem, representative of the chequered history and European heritage of the Maltese islands. It’s a former centre of power accountable directly to the Pope.  At first a little bit of a deception too, until we got to the prison complex and the torture chamber – where you can see some ”grafitti” from old prisioners – day counting, names and some images carved into the soft limestone. They also have put up som printed stories from the old prisioners that were released. So it was quite cool after all!

Nice place to hang out (The Inquisitor’s Palace).

Nice place to hang out…eh?? (The Inquisitor’s Palace).

A old prisioner was counting the days in the cell in the The Inquisitor’s Palace

A old prisioner was counting the days in the cell in the The Inquisitor’s Palace

Nice bathroom. You can see old rests of excrements along the wall, from the cell window down to the well.

Nice bathroom. You can see old rests of excrements along the wall, from the cell window down to the well.

Duilio trying out the cells bathroom.

Duilio trying out the cells bathroom…

Then we took a boat taxi over to Valetta – the capital city of Malta. It only lives about 7000 people there, and it’s quite small with a couple of main streets.  The city serves as the island’s principal cultural centre and its unique collection of churches and palaces.

Taking a boat taxi with this man over to Valetta!

Taking a boat taxi with this man over to Valetta!

Enjoying our little boat trip in the harbour area for  4€ each!

Enjoying our little boat trip in the harbour area for 4€ each!

We arrived by the water and climbed up for maaaany stairs to get up into the Upper Barraka Gardens. You could also pay 1€ to take the elevator. Funny, a woman came to us and asked for money, we thought it was a beggar at first, but she only wanted to change because the elevator only took 50 cents-coins or 1€ and she had everything in 10 and 20 cents haha. Then I realized – there are no beggars here and you don’t see homeless people either. Weird!

View from the Upper Barrakka gardens

View from the Upper Barrakka gardens

<3

<3

At the upper Barakka Gardens we had a couple of Maltesean pastizzes and pies, filled with chick peas and Ricotta-cheese. Delicious, and the pastizzes only cost 70cents and the pies 1,5€. We sat there for a while and then started to walk around Valetta.

In the upper barakka gardens where we had some snacks and beer

In the upper barakka gardens where we had some snacks and beer

Enjoying some pastizzes and lokal beer with a nice view over the city!

Enjoying some pastizzes and lokal beer with a nice view over the city!

We visited the The National Museum of Archaeology. It serves as a good introduction to prehistory and early history in Malta and puts Malta’s archaeological sites in context, but we were a little bit tired of seeing artifacts and tools.

Very cool timeline at the National Museum of Archaeology, showing about 2000 years of Malta

Very cool timeline at the National Museum of Archaeology, showing about 2000 years of Malta

Old tumb at the National Museum of Archaeology

Old tumb at the National Museum of Archaeology

Instead we walked around Valetta, which is also a UNESCO world heritage site and plenty of films like Troy, Gladiator, World War Z have been filmed here. We even found a leather craftsmen who made the costume to all those movies! Hehe. This city is quite weird, there are totally abandoned buildings with a super nice sea view, just next to some church.

For a second Duilio thought someone had stolen his sunglasses, but then we walked back a block and they were lying there on the ground. Malta is actually super safe, you can easily walk around with money and phones and camaras, you don’t feel like a target for robbery. It’s one of the safest countries in Europe. 

We bought some local sweets (honey rings) and went down to the wall that surrounds Valetta and enjoying the last sun of the day.

Tourists...... hahah

Tourists…… hahaha. (how many people can fit in a phone cabin?)

Sitting on the wall in Valetta with a view over to Sliema.

Sitting on the wall in Valetta with a view over to Sliema.

Traditional honey rings! Yummi.

Traditional honey rings! Yummi.

Reminds me of Roma :)

Reminds me of Roma :)

Churches and saints in every corner!

Churches and saints in every corner!

Cats are everywhere in Malta! The locals give them food so they seem well, even though they are everywhere.

Cats are everywhere in Malta! The locals give them food so they seem well, even though they are everywhere.

View over a roof, the dog and the cats starring at us. hehe.

View over a roof, the dog and the cats starring at us. hehe.

View over the ferry terminal in Valetta, and the wall were we were sitting before

View over the ferry terminal in Valetta, and the wall were we were sitting before

We thought we were lost until we saw this sign to the ferry haha. Generally things are not marked out so well here! Very important museums and archeological sites are just next to total regular neighbourhood, without any signs pointing them out until you reach the same street the site is at. Haha.

We thought we were lost until we saw this sign to the ferry haha.

So, this was the first days in Malta….. More to come!!

 

 

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