...or maybe Malta Teasers!
In the second half of June I spent a week in Malta and Gozo. If you've ever been there, you'll know the islands are small and incredibly built-up. After I returned home, someone emailed me and described it as being like 'Beirut without the bullets!' Think of the land area as being around the same size as the Isle of Wight, but with ten times the population, and lots, lots more visitors. It's probably not the first place you'd choose for a walking trip, but there are some incredibly scenic spots and more rugged terrain than you might imagine.
Anyway, I was there for 'work', which basically meant I was updating my Walking in Malta guidebook. (Or see here for a Google Books preview.) Given that the islands are so built-up, and given that they've recently joined the EU, there's a lot of construction work going on, and some of that gets in the way of walking routes. On the whole, though, I was surprised that most of my routes had not been affected.
One interesting new development is the designation of Il-Majjistral as a 'Nature and History Park', and some people are even going as far as to call it a 'National Park'. I'm still trying to come to terms with the loss of all the brightly-coloured ex-British public transport buses. They weren't up to EU standard, so a fleet of new Arriva buses, in the usual corporate aquamarine colour, have been shipped to the islands. On the plus side, they're air-conditioned, and I found that most welcome when the temperatures were creeping above 30C!
While I was checking routes and getting amendments made, I took a few short video clips, which should give some indication of what the place is like. The first one includes the view from the headland of Il Karabba, around Golden Bay. The next shot is of the curious 'Popeye Village', where Olive Oyl is making announcements for the tourists. The last shots are around the Hagar Qim/Mnajdra Temples.
Here's a short video of a really good little boat tour you can do on Gozo. It goes from the 'Inland Sea', though a cave out to the open sea, then along the base of the cliffs. It takes in the rock arch known as the Azure Window, at Dwejra Bay, and pops in and out of sea-caves along the base of the cliffs. You even get quite a handful of change from a 5 Euro note!
Awww, Paddy - I thought this thread would be about sweeties
Seriously though, I enjoyed the videos. Hope you had a grand time on your travels.
That bastard Skip wrote (see)
Hope you had a grand time on your travels.
Too hot for me in summer, Skip. I've only ever visited the Mediterranean in the winter and spring months, and even that's been too hot for me sometimes. (The exception would be places like Corsica, where you can get 1000m elevation with relative ease, and stay at that elevation for a couple of weeks!) I had to go to Malta and Gozo at very short notice because my guidebook suddenly had an unexpected rush of sales and sold out. I took the update material to the office today, and they must have been desperate to process it because they started work on it straight away!
Mike... according to the Cicerone website... the new edition will be published on 15th November 2012.
In most instances, the old guidebook is still OK in terms of its walking routes. The only major exception occurs near Xaghra, on Malta, where they are building a 'Smart City', which has resulted in a temporary, though extended, closure of a coastal route. On the island of Gozo, I had to alter a route to steer walkers off sand dunes that have been cordoned off for conservation, but it's easy enough for walkers to figure out the nature of the detour, simply by avoiding the roped-off bits.
The biggest changes to the information in the book relate to the fact that the old ex-British public transport buses have all been taken off the road, and the bus company Arriva transported an entire fleet of modern vehicles to Malta and Gozo. The bus stations have been overhauled, and new timetables are in operation, but the bus routes quoted in the book have all been re-numbered, and some of the routes have been changed. No big deal, so long as you get hold of timetables when you get there, or check in advance online.
I had to change some pictures because of obvious changes on the ground. For instance, in the old book I showed a crumbling tower at Ghajn Znuber, and this has been completely restored to serve as a visitor centre in an area that is about as close to a national park as anything Malta is ever likely to have. Even my picture of the world-famous Azure Window rock arch on Gozo had to be changed because a rock-fall had changed the shape of the arch.
Malta is a popular holiday spot, but most people wouldn't choose it as a walking destination. However, the odd thing is, once people get there, they can't help going for walks! The book exists simply to point out how to go walking when everything seems very built-up and inaccessible. There are always ways through!
Mike... if you get a copy of the old guide, then I'm happy to email you a list of things that have changed. I've arranged notes of changes by page number, so they only work if you have a copy of the book to hand. Without the book, it just appears as a random list of totally unrelated comments!
My wife & I stayed for 2 weeks in Malta in May 2012 our hotel was in Silema which is very central for the buses buy a week pass for 12 euros and the island is your oyster.
We used your guide book which is exellent but with the quality of the bus service you can tack bits on or shorten the walks, the best walking holiday we have had for a while we covered 130 miles of walking in 14 days.
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