First We Shopped
Since we arrived in Malta we’ve struggled to find a big supermarket. We know they exist in the larger cities, we found a great one in Victoria on Gozo but we couldn’t shop then. But, where we’re staying the shops are much more akin to a corner shop and little convenience stores. They are fine for milk or teabags but not so great for me, finding gluten free or dairy free options is a bit hit and miss and they have limited fresh fruit and veg.
Every day when we drive away from Marsaskala we see a car park that looks suspiciously like it should be for a supermarket but there’s no shop. Today we stopped to investigate and well! Of course we found a huge shop, with perhaps the biggest selection of gluten free foods I’ve seen in any supermarket! Gerry stumbled upon the loveliest of cheese counters and we discovered many goodies that would have been perfect for our stay. But we leave in a few days and so we had to contain ourselves and not buy too much. Sadly though still no fruit or veg but the shop is new and in places it’s still being put together so perhaps that will come; I do wish we’d stopped sooner!
We put the shopping in the car and continued on to Pretty Bay. We stopped just short of the main bay in St George’s Bay in the area called Birzebbuga.
Birżebbuġa is famous because it’s very near Għar Dalam and Borġ in-Nadur, where the earliest evidence of human presence on Malta was discovered, with 7,400 year old neolithic artifacts.
There is a cave at Ghar Dalam which is 144m deep. The lower layers of the cave, more than 500,000 years old, contain fossils of dwarf elephants, (Gerry asked how do they know they weren’t just baby elephants!) hippopotami, micro-mammals and birds. Another layer which has been dated to 18,000 years ago and a top layer dated to less than 10,000 years old but which shows evidence of perhaps the first human settlers on the island. Scientists suggest that the older fossils add weight to the argument that there was once a land bridge that connected Malta to mainland Europe. At near by Borġ in-Nadur, there is another prehistoric site which dates from the Bronze Age. The settlement was fortified with a large stone wall and as the wall faces inland historians suggest it’s purpose was to defend the village from land attacks and not the sea.
Sadly the museum and cave weren’t open for visitors today so we had to contend with walking around the bay.
St George’s Bay
We parked near the harbour and watched the boats on the calm sea. A few days ago we drove by and whilst the storm raged further out to sea, these boats bobbed in relative calm, which really shows how protected the boats are in these little inlets and harbours.
As we walked there were signs directing us to Neolithic grain stores. The stores and cart tracks carved into the rock are now underwater and historians believe that the shore line 2000 years ago was much further out than today, we’ve seen similar sites in Portugal and Spain where the the same has been said.
It’s impossible not to look out to sea here without spotting the enormous container port here. You can see these gigantic ships queuing out to sea, waiting their turn to come in and unload. They come in quite quickly and you can watch them with their little pilot boats leading them safely in. I felt sad for the little town and the pretty harbour but Gerry said it was really interesting to watch, and of course it must bring work to the town. Indeed, historically this port was the main port of Malta and is seen on old maps as San Giorgia.
We wandered around to the older edge of the port and were sad to see that under closer inspection many of these old buildings are in a state of ruin and disrepair. We wondered if with rising sea levels it was really no longer practical to care for them and I suspect in time they will all collapse and fall into the sea. Gerry searched for fish and I took photos of the amazing clouds and once we’d walked as far as we could we turned around and walked back.
No Cake Today
We were hoping for a coffee but there was nothing. It wasn’t just that it was closed season but there were no bars or cafes along the harbour and waterfront. We both remarked that this was surprising and in other parts of the world the front would be lined with shops and eateries tempting you in.
Instead we headed back for the car and drove home; after all we had a bag of goodies in the car and we could have a coffee looking out at our own Marsaskala harbour instead!