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Wednesday, 30 May 2012

Saturday 12th May

We decided to do the HOHO (hop-on-hop-off) south (red) bus tour today.  This was booked through Malta Sightseeing whose buses run every 30 minutes.  There's another company called City Sightseeing who run a similar service, but their buses are not so frequent and you cannot use Malta Sightseeing tickets on these other buses (and vice-versa).  The routes however remain (I think) much the same. 

Here is a copy of the HOHO bus route for the south/red tour courtesy of the Malta Sightseeing brochure:

On boarding the bus you are supplied with earphones that you can plug into sockets on the seats which gives you a running commentary in various languages, so you get a history lesson as you drink in the scenery.  We passed through the pretty fishing village of Marsaxlokk but we didn't get off here as we intended visiting here via the local bus service.  Our first stop was the Blue Grotto and we made our way to the little boats that take you through the caves and sparkling blue water (I think it cost 7EU per person).

You can use these steps or walk down the hill


Inside the caves

Calm blue water

Stunning blue

The boats that ferry you to and fro
After the trip we stopped for a while for a juice at the cafe then hopped back on the bus to go to our next stop, the Hagar Qim and Mnajdra Prehistoric Temples.  These are just superb and well worth a visit. They are older than Stonehenge in the UK and the Egyptian Pyramids. The visitor centre and cafe here are just excellent.  Now, you need to be prepared for a long walk!  The first temple (Hagar Qim) is around 100 metres away from the visitor centre and you produce your ticket at the booth to gain entry.  The temples are now protected and covered by large sail type structures and are just fascinating.  You can then walk down a slope for around 600 metres towards the coast to visit the second temple (Mnajdra).  Remember to keep your tickets with you as you need your other ticket to produce at the security booth.  Our friends didn't walk with us to the second temple and it was fortunate that we had our own tickets with us as, if we had walked all the way down to the temple to find that our friends still had all the tickets in their possession would have been just awful!!  It's a gentle downward slope on the way there, but it's an uphill climb on the way back to the visitor centre, gentle or not!!  Thankfully, there's a lovely cafe where you can quench your thirst.

Some photos of Hagar Qim Temple:

On the way towards the Mnajdra there are also some nature walks marked out that you can take.  Some of the flowers that I spotted were recognisable as some that also grow in the UK.  At one part, there were some thistle type flowers that I decided to take a photo of so, I put the camera on macro mode, held it down near the flowerhead, focused and took the photo.  I didn't have my glasses on at this point so had no idea if the photo was even clear never mind anything else!!  It's only since I got home that I have discovered a little 'extra' in the picture - a flying wasp-like creature to the left of the flowerhead!!  Now, had I known that was there, I would have run a mile and the following picture would not exist!!

Some photos of Mnajdra Temple:

After a very welcome refreshing juice at the visitor centre we all hopped back on the bus to Valletta.  There was a Fair Trade Fair taking place in the Upper Barakka Gardens, so we had a look round that and a refreshment at the cafe before taking in the breathtaking views once more.

There were still crowds in the streets celebrating the football, and we actually saw the team on the open topped bus with their cup - more of that in a later post!!  It was soon time for dinner then back to the hotel to prepare for another busy day of sightseeing.

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