Friday, December 10, 2010

Valletta Harbour by sunset..

I am a sunrise person and love sunrise however I think being in Valletta lower gardens at sunset was pretty magical.  The more the sun was setting the more spectacular the scenery was, with lights becoming stronger and the sky going from light blue to pink and finally settling on the night.  I tell you I am so glad I was were I was and had my camera.  More photos of these magnificent surroundings to come. 

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

Christmas decorations - Valletta

Here's a short supply of photos taken a couple of weeks ago.  The decorations here look a bit scarce however believe me they are not , this year I think they did a pretty neat job with the decorations.  I just need to get some more streets to show you. Wish you all a wonderful season.

Friday, November 12, 2010

San Martin / St. Martin

St. Martin's Day (Jum San Martin in Maltese) is celebrated in Malta on the Sunday nearest to November 11. Children are given a bag full of fruits and sweets associated with the feast, known by the Maltese as Il-Borża ta' San Martin, "St Martin's bag". This bag includes St. Martin's Bread (Ħobża ta' San Martin), walnuts (ġewż), hazel-nuts (qastan), almonds (lewż), chestnuts (ġellewż), figs (tin), oranges (larinġ), tangerines (mandolin), apples (tuffieħ), pomegranates (rummien) amongst other things. There is a traditional rhyme associated with this custom:

Ġewż, Lewż, Qastan, Tin
Kemm inħobbu lil San Martin.

(Walnuts, Almonds, Chestnuts, Figs
I love Saint Martin so much.)

A feast is celebrated in the village of Baħrija on the outskirts of Rabat (Malta), including a procession led by the statue of St. Martin. There is also a fair, and a show for local animals. San Anton School, a private school on the island, organises a walk to and from a cave especially associated with St Martin in remembrance of the day.

Several places in Malta are named after this saint, including San Martin on the outskirts of St. Paul's Bay, and Ġebel San Martin outside of Żejtun.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Public Gardens around our little island.......

This is one of the five public gardens found in the village of Zejtun.  Gnien San Girgor was built in the early 70s. It's the biggest garden found in Zejtun and enjoys one of the most magnificent views of the southeast of Malta. In this garden one finds an open theatre.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Autumn views from the southern village of Birzebbuga

The first people who inhabited Birzebbuga were the Phoenicians. They chose this part of Malta because the southern part of the island was the first land to be found when coming from the east, and the bay, which is called Marsaxlokk offered substantial sheltered inlets for their ships.

Birzebbugia is a flourishing, but small, seaside resort not far from Marsaxlokk.  It has been a popular bathing spot for Maltese holiday-makers for decades.  In more recent years, the bay was artificially filled with sand recovered from the sea during dredging works for the nearby Freeport. Pretty Bay is now considered a sandy beach. It lies right in the town centre so there are plenty of shops and restaurants along the coastline. Outside Pretty Bay, towards St George's Bay, you'll find a rocky shore ideal for sun bathing and snorkeling. St George's Bay is a lovely inlet used by local fishermen who moor their boats there. The bay is a good venue for water sports such as windsurfing.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

On the look out....

 for the arrival and departure of airplanes.  This as you can see is a great look out location.  It is found on the opposite side of Malta's International Airport. Click on the above photo and at the far end you can see the main building of the airport and also one of the  many Ryanair planes that flies in from all over Europe to Malta on a daily basis.

Sunday, October 03, 2010

Malta's annual airshow

This was the 18th edition of the Malta International Airshow.  Participants for this year's airshow were Belgian air components (2 x F16), French Air Force, German Navy, Greece Hellenic Air Force, Italy - Agusta Bell AB212 , Royal Netherlands Air Force, United Kingdom Royal Air Force, US Navy, and  last but not least the Maltese Air Force.

If you would like to read more about the whole show and the planes here's the link 

These shots were taken by my husband while we were on the beach enjoying the last days of swimming :)

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Mediterraneo Park

Mediterraneo Marine Park with its  variety of marine species has been one of Malta`s leading entertaining attractions for tourist and locals alike. In a tranquili setting offset by Mediterranean sea and gardens, Mediterraneo has created the right environment to reveal “the secrets of the sea”.
Sea Lions and Dolphins' shows

Besides Dolphins the park today boast a large selection of different species including Sealions, Parrots, Greenwing Amazons, Cockatoo, Snakes, Tortoises, Turtles and Lizards as well as a new collection of insects.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Citta Beland - Zejtun

Żejtun is a medium sized town in the south of Malta. Żejtun holds the title of Città Beland, which was bestowed by Ferdinand von Hompesch zu Bolheim, Grandmaster of Knights of Malta in 1797, Beland being his mother's surname.

Żejtun takes its name from the Sicilian Arabic for “olive”- zaytun (comparable to the Spanish and Portuguese, "aceituna" and "azeitona" respectively), which was one of the main productive industries in Malta.  It is also known as Ħal-Bisbut, or Casal Bisbut.

In Medieval times the whole district around Żejtun, that is the southern end of Malta, was known as le Terre di Santa Caterina, ( Italian for 'the lands of Saint Catherine', Italian being the official language in the period). During this period a number of new villages such as Ghaxaq and Marsaxlokk emerged from parts of the Parish of Żejtun. In the medieval years Zurrieq was bordered by Zejtun because Birzebugia was part of Zurrieq and thats why they share the same patron Santa Katarina. most of these are today separate parishes.

The local militia regiment of Żejtun was one of the first to engage the Ottoman forces in the initial stages of the Great Siege of 1565, but the town continued to suffer attacks by Turkish pirates up to 1614, when an attack by the Turks was repulsed without aid from other militias.[citation needed] The town served a minor role in the French Blockade of 1799/1801 as a depot for soldiers. It was one of the first towns in Malta, outside the main fortified areas of Malta, to boast a Public Garden. This garden, the Luqa Briffa Garden, still stands today. It is named after a famous cavalryman during the Great Siege of Malta.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Birzebbugia -

Located in the Southern part of the Maltese Islands, the seaside resort of Birzebbugia has long been a favourite get-away for the Maltese. Since 1436 Birzebbugia fell under the jurisdiction of the Parish of Gudja and it was only in 1913 that Birzebbugia was recognised as a Parish in its own right. It also incorporates the nearby villages of Hal Far, Binghasa and Kalafrana.In 1913 when it was established as a Parish, the population was around 1,000 people and by 1961 this had grown to 5,239 and current estimates of the population of Birzebbugia stand at C. 8,000.

The name "Birzebbugia" is related to the olive trade since in Maltese, olives are called "zebbug". Since the Middle Ages, olive groves were abundant in this area. Many maintain that 'Birzebbugia' is the result of the transformation of the words "Bur" "Zebbug" - which means land of the olives. Another interpretation is that 'Birzebbugia' meant 'Bir Taz-Zebbug' i.e. a well of olive oil. Whatever the real reason, it is clear that Birzebbugia has always been associated with olives although today the olive trees are noticeable by their absence!

Sunday, September 05, 2010

Views from inside the silent city ....

Behind those handsome bastions sprawls a graceful and elegant city.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

‘Pitrolju’ - Kerosene


IMG_4206 Stitch

This Kerosene seller has been coming  to our street  for more than 36 years .  Selling Kerosene, sometimes spelled kerosine also known as paraffin  commonly used as a heating fuel.  Nowadays he also sells household detergents such as bleach and toilet paper.  He comes nearly twice a week and with a hoot and a signature shout calling ‘Pitrolju’  you’ll know he has arrived.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Mdina by night

I love this medieval walled town, especially at night time.

Mdina was inhabited and possibly first fortified by the Phoenicians around 700 BC. The Phoenicians called it Maleth. The region benefits from its strategic location on one of the island's highest points and at maximum distance from the sea. Under the Roman Empire Malta became a Municipium and the Roman Governor built his palace in Mdina. Tradition holds that the Apostle St. Paul resided in the city after his historical shipwreck on the islands. Much of its present architecture reflects the Fatimid Period which began in 999 AD until the Norman conquest of Malta in 1091 AD. The Normans surrounded the city with thick defensive fortifications and widened the moat. The city was also separated it from its nearest town, Rabat.

Today most of Mdina's palaces serve as private homes. The impressive Cathedral of the Conversion of St Paul is fronted by a large square. Only a limited number of resident and emergency vehicles, wedding cars and hearses are allowed within Mdina.

Monday, August 02, 2010

Friday, July 09, 2010

Kalkara - Malta

Kalkara is situated at the south of the Maltese island adjacent to the three cities,known as Cottonera and part of the Grand Harbour. Kalkara was named after the 12th Earl of Kalkara and British Secretary of War in 1859.

It is believed that the Kalkara area is one of the oldest inhabited zone, due to the fact that accessible creeks have provided the then Sicilian seamen shelter to settle in Malta.

Old maps and documents always referred to Kalkara, (earlier known as Calcara) a suburb of Vittoriosa city. As a matter of fact the Capucchin Convent and St Liberata Church have always been referred to 'Fuori la Mura' outside the bastions surrounding the city. The findings of Egyptian Columns in the area known as 'Ta Bighi' in 1830 and the building of Is-Salvatur Chapel in 1650 indicates the various interest in Kalkara. Among the historical buildings in Kalkara one can find the Wied Ghammieq Cemetery, purposely built during the Cholera epidemy in 1837, Fort Rinella, Fort Ricasoli and Villa Portelli which served as a private residence for the Flag Officer in Malta during the British rule.

Monday, July 05, 2010

Valletta Waterfront

With its strategic location within Malta’s historical Grand Harbour, the Valletta Waterfront has been brought back to life with the award-winning restoration and development works. With its nineteen historical 250-year-old sumptuous warehouses, built by Grand Master Pinto at the height of the baroque period in Malta … stretching along the water’s edge and the historical Quay Wall where the Knights of St John and European merchants used to unload their wares … the impregnable Old Power Station that serves as a testimony to the eclectic and heroic history of the Grand Harbour … the Forni Stores, dating back to 1626 and constructed by Grand Master de Vilhena.

Wednesday, June 09, 2010

Ghar Dalam

The Ice Age had a great impact on Malta not only in shaping its topography but also on its flora and fauna. The climate in those days was milder and much wetter, almost tropical. The vast amount of water from heavy rainfalls was responsible for carving up the landscape and forming the valleys, as we know them today. Underground caverns and caves were also hollowed out. One such cave is that of Ghar Dalam, perched on a low cliff-face at the mouth of Wied Dalam at Birzebbuga on the south of Malta. It is good example of the KARST phenomenon erosive process within the Lower Coralline Limestone layer. Today Għar Dalam is considered to be one of the oldest caves in Maltese Islands. Evidence of its remote antiquity are the huge stalagmites and stalactites located in the first quarter of the cave. This cave was formed by the action of rushing waters that eroded the soft limestone forming a long phreatic tube. An overlaying river running down towards the sea gradually ate its way into, through, and well beyond the subterranean tunnel, reaching ultimately the level of the present valley bed. The two ends of the tunnel were thus left perched high on either side of the valley. One end is now Għar Dalam, whilst the opposite end is known simply as 'the Second Cave'.

Cave deposits.
The overflowing river, running at right angles to the tunnel, gradually “ate” its way deeper and deeper into the limestone until it reached the tunnel's roof and breached it. This formation of the cave happened in the early periods of the Pleistocene, but the collapse of the cave’s roof happened at much the same time when herds of hippopotami and elephants roamed the southern European shores. The opening of the tunnel roof acted as a swallow-hole. In this way soil, pebbles, stones, carcasses of dead animals, dismembered skeletal parts and other debris dragged by the river were sucked into the tunnel and deposited within. The pile of soil and bones gradually spread laterally but never reached either end of the tunnel. This explains why most of the organic remains (bones) are limited to the outermost 75 meters.

The lowermost layer inside the cave is made up of dissolved clay and is devoid of any animal remains, but in the second lowermost layer known as the “Hippopotamus layer", thousands of molars (teeth) and other skeletal parts had been discovered. Two species of hippopotamus have been identified as well as two species of elephants, and a variety of micro-mammals including dormice and bats. What made all these animals special was the fact that while some become stunted in stature, others turned into giants.

Monday, May 31, 2010

Travelavenue favorite blog 2010

The editorial team of has selected my blog to be a part of a program “Travelavenue favorite blog 2010”

Travelavenue want to reward the work of bloggers who provide the travel community with a different perspective on destinations and they really liked my vision of travel.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Malta Maritime museum - Birgu

The Malta Maritime Museum is housed within the Old Naval bakery in Vittoriosa, it drafts Malta’s maritime history which is tightly bound to Mediterranean Sea. It also illustrates the global nature of seafaring and its impact on society from July 1992[1].
The museum houses numerous artefacts highlighting different epochs, shaping Maltese seafaring trough paint, charts, evidence and sea technology evolution. So it shows Malta’s maritime history from prehistory to the present day[2]

Presently, the museum covers over 2,000 sq. m., some 30 per cent of the total floor area available. An ongoing building rehabilitation and restoration programme is linked with the opening of the new hall or sections devoted to specific maritime themes or chronological periods. After the museum’s inauguration in 1992 by means of a hall of 600 sq. m, another 800 sp. M. hall was inaugurated in November 2000 dedicated entirely to the Royal Navy in Malta. The former hall was then dedicated to the Order of St. John period. In October 2003, another section was opened spread over two levels of 250 sq. m. each dedicated to marine engineering. Five smaller halls and sections are devoted to ancient shipping, navigation, the merchant navy, Maltese traditional boats, and Maltese customs and water police. These are just token displays of the museum’s collection on the subjects, which will eventually move to larger halls when rehabilitation and restoration works are completed. Other halls would be dedicated to port facilities, maritime-related sports, and the Armed Forces of the Malta Maritime Squadron.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Whales ? where in the Mediterranean sea?? YES!!

Many may be surprised to learn that sperm whales can be found in Maltese waters, albeit in depths of close to 1,000 metres, and have been sighted within the 25-nautical-mile zone

University lecturer Adriana Vella, who is also the founder of the Biological Conservation Research Foundation, can consider herself lucky enough to have spotted various species of cetaceans, including the 16- to 20-metre-long, toothed sperm whales and the 20- to 27-metre-long fin whales, given that the former, in particular, is a deep-diving creature that can spend up to an hour under the water.

The study of these cetaceans took a lot of time and huge effort, Dr Vella said, adding that the process was facilitated with equipment such as the hydrophone, an instrument that picked up whales' biological sonar system.
We are surrounded by a beautiful sea that still is home to thousands of species, which we need to learn more about and conserve for future generations."

Dr Vella said sperm whales could be spotted alone, or in twos, but rarely in groups. Like dolphins, they surfaced to breathe.

Once they are sighted, normally through the spray from their blow hole and using binoculars, a distance of more than 100 metres should be kept for their safety.

"You need to give whales, dolphins and turtles that come up to the surface to breathe and bask, space and time to behave normally. When turtles are basking, they need time to go back in the water," Dr Vella said, expressing her fear of jet skis and power boats that go far out and at fast speeds, disrupting animal activity and causing injury.

The sperm whales are distinguished from others by their different behaviour, including the time they remain on the surface, she explained.

In 2007, Dr Vella had spotted fin whales, the second largest in the world, in local coastal waters. Located only four kilometres off shore, the proximity was considered a record. Both the fact that the whale was approached by another, presumably in attraction to its mating song, and that they stayed on for a few days were equally unique, Dr Vella recalled.

information and photography taken from the times of Malta.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Birgu - Citta' Vittoriosa

Birgu, is a very old locality on the south side of the Grand Harbour in Malta with its origins reaching back to prehistoric times. The town occupies a promontory of land with Fort St Angelo at its head and the city of Cospicua at its base.

Birgu is ideally situated for safe anchorage, and over time it has developed a very long history with maritime, mercantile and military activities. Prior to the establishment of Valletta as capital and main city of Malta, military powers that wanted to rule the Maltese islands would need to obtain control of Birgu due to its significant position in the Grand Harbour. Phoenicians, Greeks, Romans, Byzantines, Arabs, Normans, the Angevines, the Aragonese and the Knights of St. John all contributed to the development of Birgu.[1] But none more so than the Knights. Being driven out of Rhodes by the Turks, the Knights were granted Malta as their new home. When the Knights arrived in 1530, they made Birgu the capital city of Malta, since the former capital, Mdina, was inland and did not suit their naval requirements. Almost as soon as they took up residence, the Knights undertook a series of works designed to improve the fortification at Fort St Angelo and of the whole area of the three cities. These works give Birgu and for that matter the whole Maltese island its distinctive architectural character that can be seen today.

Birgu was never captured during the hostilities between the Knights and the Ottoman Empire. After the Siege of Malta in 1565, support for the previously impoverished knights flooded in from across Europe. As a result, Grand Master Jean Parisot de la Valette was able to implement a long held goal of the knights: the building of a new fortified city on Mount Sceberras, the peninsula opposing Birgu from which the Turks had bombarded Birgu. The new capital city, bore his name, Valletta. In 1571, they transferred their convent and seat to the new capital and Birgu lost much of its importance. After the Siege, the Knights also gave Birgu the title Città Vittoriosa, Italian for "victorious city".

The parish church is dedicated to St. Lawrence. The saint's day is celebrated on August 10. This church was the conventual church of the Order when the Knights settled at Birgu. The Order settled in Birgu until 1575 when the Knights moved to Valletta. As a matter of fact in Birgu one can still find the old Auberges which were all located (except for the Italian Langue) in the Collachio. The Collachio was a confined place where only the Knights were allowed to enter. All these aspects and more can only be appreciated if one visits this unique city which is surrounded by fortified walls and high towers known as St. John and St. James Cavalier, and which are similar to the same named high towers at Valletta. During the visit one should not miss taking a look at the Inquisitor's Palace and the Guva in St.Angelo where Caravaggio was arrested.

Also in Birgu is the Church dedicated to Our Lady of the Annunciation run by the Dominican Order. This church is also known as St. Dominic's Church. The feast of Saint Dominic is held every last Sunday of August. It is organised by the Dominican Friars, the St. Dominic External Feast Committee and the Prince of Wales' Own Band Club of Birgu.

After the taking of Malta by Napoleon in 1798, and his eviction by the Maltese, the British were invited to Malta and the British Navy made Birgu its base in the Mediterranean, and remained there until 1979.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Pope Benedict in Malta

Pope Benedict's 27-hour visit to Malta came to an end yesterday evening. Here you can see the Pope in the Pope mobile going through the village of Gudja just before he left Malta. I couldn't get a good shot for two reasons : a) baby was sleeping on me b) I only had my point and shoot with me :( but alas it was a nice experience.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Buskett Gardens

Buskett is the only woodland area in Malta. Located in the fertile valley of 'wied il-luq' and overlooked by the VERDALA PALACE these gardens are at their best in spring, but offer shade from the harsh mid summer sun and are a beautiful place for a walk in the winder months or a picnic on Sunday afternoon.

These gardens were planted by the knights hospitaller as a hunting ground. Buskett has vineyards, oranges, olives and lemon groves and is heavily wooded with native hardy species such as Mediterranean pines.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Zabbar Sanctuary Museum

Żabbar Sanctuary Museum

The Sanctuary Museum was opened to the public in 1954. Up to this day, it remains the only building in Malta which was purposely built to house a museum.

Throughout the last 51 years, no more artefacts have been lost, indeed the collection has grown by donations from devout and public spirited persons. Along the years more exhibition space was created but still the Museum was too crammed. About 15 years ago, serious faults developed in the top floor ceiling. In spite of several attempts, the damage could not be contained and a decision was taken to replace the roof. The opportunity was taken to modernise and expand the exhibition area and make the place more accessible to people with special needs. The Parish Priest of Zabbar at that time, Father Anton Cassar was the driving force behind the completion of the structural changes. The costly operation took two years to complete and the Museum opened its doors again in September 2003. Although the facade was not touched, the Museum's interior is now entirely different from what it used to be. The main new feature of the Musem is a massive elevated platform (gallerija) erected on the first floor to facilitate better viewing of high hanging paintings. Further furnishing and displays are in progress.

The most important exhibits of the Museum are a large number of votive paintings, the majority connected with the sea and the Knights of St. John. Other exhibits include sedan chairs, portable altar, unique large painting of the Gran Carracca Sant Anna, model ship of the line (1767), former titular paintings, religious paintings, medieval frescoe, complete ceremonial suit of armour, statues, silverware, documents, coins, medals, sculptured wooden fixtures from the ship R.M.S. Alcantara, plague hearse (1813), large Maltese clock mechanism (1753) and an exhibition on the R.A.F. Vulcan Bomber which exploded over Zabbar in 1975.

The paintings include works by Rocco Buhagiar, Gian Nicola Buhagiar, Rafel Bonnici Cali, Michele Busuttil, Tousaint Busuttil, Giuseppe Cali, Giuseppe Maria Caruana, Gian Battista Conti, Giuseppe D'Arena, Stefano Erardi, Rafael Gagliardi, Tommaso Madiona, Mattia Preti, Italo Horatio Serge, Filippo Venuti and Francesco Zahra.

The Museum is Church owned and is run by a commission of eight members and a small group of unpaid volunteers who keep the place open to the public daily seven days a week from 09.00 to 12.00.