WELCOME

This blog is dedicated to Malta - my island home. My aim is not to bore you with history but to share my thoughts and a few facts together with a photo or two. For a more in -depth background of the island please go here. The purpose of this blog is not to point out the short-comings of the island. There are plenty that do that already. My wish is to show you the beauty of an island at the cross roads of the Mediterranean, a melting pot of history; a place where fact and fiction are sometimes fused to create unique myths and legends; a country that has been conquered so many times that our culture is a mish mesh of the lands that surround us and of lands far away. I confess that my greatest desire is to make you fall in love with this tiny enchanting island.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Recycle. Reuse. Reduce.

I find that, whereas abroad, vintage and second hand shops are all the rage, here in Malta many people seem to have a hard time with the idea of re-using items that have been previously made use of by someone else. Thankfully, a few individuals have given up their time to start initiatives which will benefit both us and the environment. Today, I will highlight the ones that I am currently familiar with. However this article is by no means exhaustive and  I will definitely follow up with more posts in the future.

RECYCLE MALTA

Initially set up as a  Facebook page, Recycle Malta now also has a website: www.recyclemalta.org. The main aim of this group is to connect givers with takers. All items are given or exchanged for free. Guidelines for this group may be found on the  Recycle Malta Facebook page or in the About Us section on the website. One thing to remember in a group like this is that one man’s rubbish may be another man’s treasure. So before throwing anything away, and I really do mean anything, check whether someone else may have a use for it. You’d be surprised what some people may create out of what we perceive as junk. Registration for both the website and the Facebook page is free of charge.

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REUSE MALTA

On November 23rd Wasteserv, the entity responsible for re-cycling of waste in Malta, launched Reuse Malta. The concept is the same as above – instead of throwing an item away, list it on the website as someone else may get some more use out of it. Registration is free of charge.

 

WHAT BABY WANTS BABY GETS

This Facebook page is another great initiative. Administered by two mummies, it is a place where anyone can sell gently used baby items. Registration on What Baby Wants Baby Gets is free of charge. The cost of the item being sold is at the discretion of the seller. There are no fees to sell on this page. I have used it myself several times and can totally recommend it.

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BARGAIN BASEMENT MALTA

Also on Facebook (which, incidentally, seems to be the perfect platform for these type of transactions) Bargain Basement is a free place for people who wish to sell just about anything – from cameras to handbags, clothes, furniture – it’s all there. Registration is free and, again, there are no fees to sell on this page.

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MALTAPARK

Maltapark is a little bit like EBay – except that no bidding takes place. A seller offers an item at a cost and may be willing to negotiate on the price. Registration is free and there are no hidden costs to sell on this website.

 

PUBLIC AMENITIES

If anyone would like to get rid of any items that are not in a condition to be re-used or re-sold,  please make sure to go through the proper channels. All local councils offer a weekly collection of recyclable household waste (paper, glass, plastic and metal). Apart from this, there are bring-in sites in most localities. Bulky refuse (such as refrigerators or washing machines) are also collected by the local council but a prior appointment needs to be made. Apart from this service, Wasteserv offers 5 civic amenity sites, located at Mriehel, Hal Far, Luqa, Maghtab and Tal-Klus, which are open daily (including Sundays) between 7.30am and 5pm. These sites take in items such as computers, car tyres and other bulky items that may easily be transported in a family vehicle.

I hope that increased awareness and the recent increase in amenities will discourage people from throwing their junk out into the countryside. Unfortunately, it is a sad fact of life that, given all of the above,  this sort of problem still occurs. Hopefully we will see less and less of it in the future.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Snapshots of … Verdala Palace

I have written in detail about Verdala Palace and the ghost of the Blue Lady that  purportedly haunts it in Castle of my Dreams. This castle, the official summer residence of Malta’s President, is rarely open to the public. On those occasions when it is, I find it quite a  treat to walk in the footsteps of Knights, Governors, Presidents and even Kings and Queens. The architectural masterpiece of this castle is the main staircase. Verdala Palace boasts magnificent grounds, a small chapel decorated with paintings by Mattia Preti and a wonderful, uninterrupted view of the surrounding little wood and countryside.

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Location: Verdala Palace, Buskett

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Tigne Point

I am sure that many of you are wondering whether Malta is made up of a collection of old buildings huddled together on a largish rock in the middle of the sea. Well, it’s not. There are modern buildings too. But I don’t find them as appealing and as blog-worthy as the older buildings. They look so chiseled and clinical. I suppose I just adore the patina and character that come with age. But there has been plenty of that on this blog. So maybe it is time to  share a little bit of modern Malta. Welcome to Tigne Point.

The  Point (14)

The  Point (18)

In the 19th century the British military built a series of barracks at Tigne Point close to the old Fort Tigne which had been built by the Knights of St John in 1793. The barracks remained in use until 1979 when the British forces left Malta. Subsequently, many of  the barracks fell into disrepair and were heavily vandalized. In 2002 the area was ear-marked for development and, ten years down the line, this is almost complete.

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The  Point (5)The  Point (4)

The Point shopping complex was built on the site of the old British barracks The façade was retained but the interior was gutted to create the largest shopping mall on the island. Complementing the shopping mall are a number of apartment complexes that boast a wonderful view of Marsamxett harbour and Valletta. Personally, the lovely view and the old barracks’ façade are what appeal to me. The rest I just tolerate (although the shopping is fun). As with a piece of art, everyone has a certain architectural style that they prefer. I just happen not to prefer the modern style.

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The Point (15)

Location:  Tigne Point, Sliema

November 2012

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Snapshots of … An Island

Snapshots of … is a weekly series where the focus will be on the images. Each week I will choose a different place or theme and you will see it through my lens. Some weeks it will give you a better idea of ‘the big picture’, while on other weeks I might just zoom in on the details. So, without further ado, here is the first installment in this series. It will take you on a small tour of Malta – the must-see places if you are here on a very short visit. Although by no means an exhaustive list, it will give you an idea of what the island has to offer – apart from the sea and sun.

The capital city, Valletta, is a  UNESCO World  Heritage Site and there is plenty to discover.

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Grand Harbour, Valletta’s natural harbour, has been fortified over many centuries. It is a place of unparalleled beauty and the best way to experience it is on one of the many harbour cruises that provide a commentary about the history and main landmarks of the harbour.

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In the centre of the island, Mdina, the old capital city, sits proudly on its lofty bastions. This little walled city is a maze of winding streets, Baroque palaces, and a medieval core that has withstood the ravages of time.Winter countryside (14)

A few kilometres away from Mdina, the cliffs at Dingli have always provided the island with impenetrable natural fortifications.

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In the ancient past, Malta was thought to be the religious centre of a temple-building community. Hagar Qim (Mighty Stones) temple is one of the best places to learn more about Malta’s Neolithic past.

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In the south of the island, the ancient harbour of Marsaxlokk , studded with traditional Maltese boats, is always a colourful sight.

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San Anton Palace is the official residence of the President of Malta. The chapel and the gardens surrounding the Palace are open to the public and are a haven of tranquility.

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Without hesitation I would say that the most beautiful beach is not found in Malta but on the neighbouring island of Comino, a short boat trip away. The beach, known as Bejn il-Kmiemen and re-named the Blue Lagoon, has the most wonderful crystal clear waters. Unless you love crowds, avoid the Blue Lagoon between the months of June and September. The place comes into its own when it can be enjoyed in relative solitude. Comino itself is worth a visit and a walk around the tiny island offers the visitor the opportunity to explore its many cliffs and secluded coves.

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Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Maltese Traditions (3) – San Martin

This coming Sunday, the feast of St Martin will be celebrated in Bahrija. For this feast, it is traditional for children to receive a cloth bag filled with various types of nuts, an apple, an orange, figs and  a small sweet-tasting bread known as the bread of St Martin.  It is also customary for children to recite the following rhyme:

Gewz, lewz, qastan, tin

Kemm inhobb lil San Martin.

Which roughly translates to:

Walnuts, almonds, chestnuts, figs -

I sure love St Martin.

Borza ta San Martin (2)

In the past, these bags of healthy goodies would be left at the foot of a child’s bed -  much like we do today with Christmas stockings. This tradition was  slowly dying out but is now enjoying a revival – mainly because children are being taught about this tradition in schools and the ‘borza ta’ San Martin’ (as this little sack is called) is usually sold by schools, with the money collected being donated to charity.

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This weekend, people will descend on the village of Bahrija in droves to participate in the feast to honour the saint and also for the annual Turkey and Agrarian Festival. Since 1953, turkeys are raffled in preparation for the Christmas festivities and proceeds go towards the village and parish of Bahrija.

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Location: Bahrija, August 2011

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