It seems that no matter where you go in Malta, you are sure to see some Saint or another memorialized in some statue, shrine, or placard. I saw this Mary and Jesus in the suburbs of Mdina near the castle and thought that they would make a fine photo. The tour guides and the tour books all describe the Maltese as “fervently Catholic,” but I have noticed quite a few “under aged” young ladies at the night clubs. It seems that the drinking age is, well, there isn’t one. I’ve seen young women as young as 15 or 16 “hanging out” and dancing along with the rest of the 20, 30, and 40 year olds. What was it they said about the Catholic school girls in America? I begin to wonder if the stereotype doesn’t have some base in truth?
Next on the stop was the Museum of Roman Antiquities. I only took a few shots because as we pulled up and parked it suddenly started raining quite heavily. I tucked the camera away and did not take it out again at this stop. The ruins, of the Roman age have been weathered but some that were not exposed survived well. A large tile mosaic floor shows life scenes from the Roman times two thousand years ago.
By the time we got to this Cathedral, I asked the tour guide when were we going to stop at St. Paul’s Grotto? She looked surprised and said that we already passed it. I was a bit upset, I had been wanting to come to see the Grotto for many years. It is believed to have been where Paul lived (or was imprisoned by the Romans according to some accounts) and wrote some books of the New Testament.
She said that she didn’t think anyone would want to stop there because of the rain. Argh! Now I really have another reason to return to Malta. The Grotto and the countless number of archaeological treasures that are here, I plan to come back for two weeks on my next visit – but definitely during the summer so that I can enjoy the beaches as well.
I looked at this Cathedral and had no interest. As the tour guide went on about its importance I just sulked. So, I don’t even know the name of it today. I do remember one interesting tidbit of information that I gleaned from the tour guide’s speech. She said that to confuse the Devil, two clocks were kept; one clock had the correct time and the other was a decoy. I can’t remember why it was important that Satan couldn’t tell time, but it seemed to be important enough to buy two clocks instead of one. Sure enough, you can see that the clocks are off by about 4 hours and 15 minutes.
As we worked our way to the west coast of Malta, Manikata finally came into view beyond the rows of produce that were growing in the fields. Malta’s mild climate provides for growing opportunities year round and our tour guide told us that Malta is self-sufficient in the production of food. Only specialty items that cannot be grown here (like bananas) are imported. But, Malta’s food exports more than equal the imports and the island is a farmer’s treasure.
Manikata seems to be a thriving tourist area, especially for those who want a little peace and quiet compared to Valletta or the east coast. Manikata also has sand beaches and I did notice a few hotels under construction.
As we travelled back overland to the northeastern part of the island, we came to Saint Paul’s Bay where it appeared there was a thriving boating, fishing, and sailing businesses. The map says that there is a nature preserve at the end of the bay (just off frame to the left)), but it seemed hard to believe as the area was so developed.
As we traveled east along the north shore of Malta, we came across so many little fortresses. They reminded me of the forts of Bahrain, Oman, and in the Persian Gulf. I tried to imagine the soldier guards as they watched every day for ships who may be coming to prey on the coast of Malta. There are so many similarities with our soldiers today. One wonders if war will ever end?
Heading to Pembroke (just west of Sliema and Valletta) I took this photo and at the left edge of the frame, out on the finger of land, you can see another little guard fortress. I’ll definitely come back to Malta, but the next time, it will be in the summer time!
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