ANOTHER SIDE OF MALTA: DAY ONE

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AT TWO MINUTES BEFORE SIX IN THE MORNING, the steeple bells on the Lunzjata Parish Church chime ten times. I make a mental note: “What the…?” I am holed up in a 500-year-old house with stone walls two feet thick, tiny windows to contain the weather outside, an arched vaulted ceiling 25 feet high, and staircases chiseled by hand from massive slabs of stone. The double front doors, a thick wooden affair meant to keep out more than merely weather, seals itself with a massive steel rod which holds the door shut, that no SWAT team could ever penetrate (without using C-4). And just inside those doors is another set of glass doors: these, meant to allow light when the wooden doors are left ajar, and also to contain the weather—heat in winter, a cool breeze in summer. All the windows, as well as other doors that lead to outside areas, like the walled courtyard or the rooftop terraces, have wooden shutters on the inside. It can get pretty dark in here.

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Security rod on front door

 

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Vaulted Foyer

 

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Window shuttered from inside, sealed shut by a metal rod with latches

 

At some point in the decades I’ve been traveling the world, I made the decision to rent houses instead of hotel rooms—this was long before there was an AirBnB. At first, it was mainly because I wanted a fridge, to store cold drinks and make my own meals instead of spending the fortune you needed in places like Amsterdam or Paris. Sure, eating out is great if you’re on a two-week vacation, who wants to cook on vacation. But if you travel long-term for three months or six months at a time as I do, some days you just get tired of trying the nasi goreng or local specialty in one more off-the-beaten-track or TripAdvisor-reviewed café; some times, you just want to make a peanut butter sandwich, pop open a frosty brew, and down them while lying on your own sofa, maybe naked, maybe watching an episode of Downton Abbey.

After a while, I realized the extra living space a house affords was a nice feature. Once on the Ille Saint-Louis in Paris, my travel buddy Nina and I rented a room the size of my bathroom in the house where I’m presently staying, and paid three times what I’m paying here (well, it did sit right in the middle of the Seine with a view of Notre Dame—I’m not bitching, you understand, about that fine room with its fine view, we loved it, I’m just saying I now appreciate more space and a fridge, and I like to get as much bang for my buck as owners will give).

This house offers a pretty big bang. The place is huge, actually way too huge for a solo traveler with one carry-on: a long entry foyer with arched ceiling, three stories, five bedrooms, four bathrooms, U-shaped with a stone wall fence in back for complete privacy and safety inside a central courtyard. It even has a shower outside in the courtyard, which you can use because nobody outside the compound can see you there. I sleep in a bedroom on the second floor, the only room in the house with a/c, but I’ve pretty much limited my personal space while awake to the great room with the 25-foot ceiling. The dining table sits in here, so I have a place for my computer. An old wooden chest holds my bags beside the stone stairs leading up to a loft where a couch and a couple overstuffed chairs sit in front of a TV that I cannot figure out how to work—but, thank you god…I just know I’d be wasting time watching reruns of Californication or Keeping Up with the Kardashians or European football in a language I don’t understand. I don’t watch TV at home, and when I travel, I get hooked if I turn the thing on, which I usually do (which is why I don’t have one connected at home). I do like watching Wimbledon, which is usually happening by late June when I travel in summer. I missed it this year. But one year, I sat in a houseboat right on the Prinsengracht canal in Amsterdam watching Federer and Williams kick butt at Wimbledon while tourist boats cruised past the houseboat’s floor-to-ceiling windows—right, not a good place to lie naked eating your peanut butter sandwich. But I would sometimes fill a crystal flute with apple juice and pretend it was champagne and sit on the boat’s porch and let tourists believe I was Dutch and lived on the boat—odd what your ego will let you do some times, eh?

Here, a wood-burning stove sits against one wall of the great room, its long black pipe attached directly to the stone wall, apparently for a bit of passive heating in winter. Overhead, ceiling fans right out of the movie Casablanca (a relatively new addition to the house, along with indoor plumbing and electrical wiring) move the air to cool things off nicely. Malta can get fairly warm in summer, and a bit humid as it is an island sitting at a latitude below Spain (and Italy and most of Greece), maybe about the same line as Tangier, Tunisia, Iraq, Death Valley. Marcelle, the lady who rented me this relic, warned me to remember to duck my head when entering the kitchen because the door was “carved” out of rock and meant for a shorter clan of people living here centuries ago. Marcelle also warned me about the floors—no two are the same level, so you have to step up, or down, when going from one room to another. So far, I haven’t busted my head open on the two-foot-thick solid rock doorway, stubbed my toe, nor tripped and fallen on my ass yet. Knock wood.

5a MedMap
Malta, just below Sicily

Click for Malta MAP to see my route so far–all 7 kilometers of it

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Front door: notice the various levels of floor in the house

 

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From the “great room” looking into the kitchen: watch your head

 

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Double doors, and shutter in a bedroom

 

On the plane to Malta, I read a travel article by a woman who took a break from what she called “the hurly-burly” of her city life and boarded a freighter and sailed across the Atlantic—with no Internet, no phone, no email, no 6 O’clock News, no shuffleboard. I could relate because I was coming to Malta for pretty much the same reason: I wanted to relax while in a foreign land, and did not want the hurly-burly of either ordinary life or the travail of traveling. When I feel I need this in my life, I usually end up in Amsterdam or Bali—where I can live in an exotic location but still relax and feel at ease and maybe watch Serena kick butt.

 

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Large niche in foyer displaying an odd array of antiques

 

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View from my bedroom window

 

I truly don’t need the 6 o’clock news or shuffleboard while traveling, but of course, I did expect the Internet and email—who can live without those for more than two days? Marcelle also warned me that because of the stone walls and floors, you have to be in the same room as the router to get wifi. I don’t take my laptop to the john or use it in bed, so fine, no worries there. The house has a number of routers in different rooms, and one router sits in the loft of the great room, so I’ll get the connection in there.

 

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The great room from its loft

 

I’m calling it the great room not only because it is large but also because it’s just so damn great: stone walls and ceiling, arched roof, skylight, candelabra, stone stairs, tile floors, double doors leading to the courtyard outside, atavistic windows and shutters, oddly appointed quirky antiques and oozing with history and untold life stories and secrets. The room is maybe 40 feet by 15 feet, and of course, that 25-foot ceiling.

 

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Candelabrum with 8-point Maltese Cross (that key actually fits a lock here)

 

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Angels in the architecture

 

The cherry on top of all this, however, is that the wifi is not working at all. In the icon on my laptop that displays how strong the signal is, it shows I have no connection, but it also displays an exclamation point. Uh-oh…what’s up with that! But I just can’t be bothered to get bothered about it—this is how I know I’m in the right place at the right time, that I’m living in the groove, and flowing. Hit a brick wall…don’t care…pass me another ice-cold brew from my fridge.

 

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This is what a stone staircase turns into after 500 years of family, lovers, and rug rats

 

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Security latch on window held shut with steel rod and plates

 

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Stone floor in the bedroom, note the size and unevenness of the stones

 

Tarxien (to my ear, it sounds something like Tarj-zheen), the tiny village where my house sits, is a solemn little burg and most certainly no center for tourists, such as coastal towns like Valletta or Birzebbuga or Sliema (all pronounced like they look). I did harbor the notion that I would obviously find a Starbucks here, but I now believe that doubtful unless, perhaps, I head for the tourist centers near the coast, which I decide I may if I start getting withdrawal symptoms—no one should go cold turkey alone, especially in a stone house with dwarf doors on a rock in the Med. However, there are two local bars within a one-minute walk on either side of my front door, where each evening you eye a pride of local men in shorts and loose-fitting tank tops gathered for lager and camaraderie, all barking loudly in a language with the lilt of Italian and the heft of Arabic. Tarxien has a tiny grocery store. A pastry shop. A paper/cell phone store. A dress shop. A mechanic working on motorbikes out of his home’s one-car garage. A bakery. The church with the odd chimes. And that’s about all I see that Tarxien has to offer. Oh, and two places to buy lottery tickets. This month’s prize is up to half a million euros. I may purchase a ticket—miracles happen remember, especially when you’re flowing along life’s groove. If I win, I’ll buy you a plane ticket to visit me in Malta.

 

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The front facade of my rental home in Tarxien

 

Some of the Neolithic (new stone age) and copper-age temples on Malta are fairly important as they are the world’s “oldest free-standing buildings.” And apparently, quite unique. Archaeologists are still arguing whether the island in those days was a “magic sanctuary” where pilgrims from foreign lands bought “religious paraphernalia” with gifts or fees, or the vast wealth simply accumulated locally. Recently, out of over some 300 sites selected as UNESCO Heritage Sites, eight sit right here on Malta—no mean feat on an island 27 miles long, and 14 miles wide at its longest points. The Tarxien Temples is one of those sites. Apparently, this island has been an important place for a very long time.

One reason the Tarxien Temples is unique is that there are four temples instead of the usual two or three found at all other sites on Malta and the nearby island of Gozo. Although they are not the largest nor the oldest of the over two dozen prehistoric temple sites here, the Tarxien Temples harbor large stone idols and more complex decorations, which archaeologists believe suggest that Tarxien may have been the most important site, and the center of their civilization, which lasted maybe 500 to 800 years, ending around 2500 BC. The temples at Tarxien were built over a number of centuries, the oldest was built around 3100 BC, which—get this—predates both Stonehenge and the Egyptian pyramids. Real-old stuff going down on this big rock in the water.

I decide to take a walk to see if I can discover the Tarxien Temples without a map. I have come to the island on a whim, a last-minute gut-level “un-decision”—without a guidebook, with no map, and knowing very little at all about Malta itself really—not much more than what you see in the movies with scenes shot here, like The Da Vinci Code, and Troy (the one with Brad Pitt and whatisname), and World War Z; and the filmset for Popeye was left standing and has become a tourist attraction. Hell of a landscape here, and when we say crystal clear blue water, that’s precisely what we mean—if you put on a snorkeling mask and free dive, you can expect to see for maybe 165 feet, (50 meters) even if you’re down 90 feet (30 meters).

At forty-five minutes into the walk, I’m lost. And I don’t remember the name of the street my house sits on. I don’t remember the name of the pub on the corner nearby. I don’t think I even know the name of the church whose bells I heard at six o’clock. I think of the lady riding the tramp steamer across the Atlantic—she’s lucky, she can hardly get lost on a ship that’s maybe two football fields long.

 

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Stone facade of house in Tarxien, no sidewalk here

 

I wander down some fairly interesting little roadways clustered with stone homes with wooden bay window structures, and I can’t quite imagine what it must have been like living here maybe 500 years ago—no roads, no coffee, no battery charger. And no selfies, unless you peer into a puddle of water. And how would you light a candle without matches is what I want to know. Many roads through the village are one-way roads now because they were first laid out as either footpaths for pedestrians, or for horses and maybe a wagon. Sidewalks are narrow if there is a sidewalk. All houses have heavy, wood double doors with huge knockers, or some, simply have large knobs to pull the doors open. Most have a large cantilevered bay window-balcony affair on their second floor or higher, to look out, but also to catch a breeze of fresh air. Apparently, the main architectural concern in those days was less about gingerbread fou-fou and more about keeping out unwanted visitors, and weather, and perhaps to see what your neighbor might be up to because you’d never hear them through your adjacent walls.

 

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Typical Malta home, and typical evening sitting spot

 

For awhile, I’m fairly confident that I know—if not precisely where I am, then—that I’m within a few blocks of the road home, but which direction is home? That’s still a mystery. I stumble across a café advertising that if you buy a pastry for two euros, you get a cappuccino for free. I push that door open. It’s a clean, tidy little white place lacking a soundtrack and a Starbucks logo, but that’s why you travel, isn’t it—to wallow in the horrid travails along the way. Turns out the pastry is huge, and probably a day old. The coffee is good (it’s difficult to manufacture a bad cappuccino), but the cup is small and the coffee is not steaming hot. Why can’t anyone, including Starbucks, make a piping-hot cappuccino is all I’m asking now? The barista does not know where the Tarxien temples lie. And it also turns out that I have wandered out of the very little burg of Tarxien and into the slightly-larger, neighboring little burg of Paola.

 

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Typical residential street in Tarxien, the streets and homes all look alike

 

After the wallowing and downing the tepid cappuccino, I wander around trying to find the temples and the road back home. All the streets look alike: row after row of connected stone homes with double doors and bay window-balconies above. I come across a playing field with some men deep into an intriguing game. They seem to be on two opposing teams. One man at a time steps inside a wire ring to take his turn. First, one guy steps into the ring and very intently and fussily tosses out a little red ball—maybe trying to land it a particular distance away? There are maybe three guys on each team, one with green blocks and one with red blocks. A man from one team then steps inside the wire ring to toss his blocks, apparently trying to get close to the little red ball. Then a guy from the other team steps in and takes his shots. The one guy who tossed out the little red ball has three of them, and every once in a while he tosses out one more. The guys with the blocks try to come close, or they try to knock the other guy’s blocks away. The players are remarkably accurate with their tossing and hitting the other guy’s blocks. After they’ve tossed all their blocks, they pick up the wire ring and all walk to the other side of the playing field, where another team member begins tossing in the opposite direction from where they just came. I feel like an intruder for some reason, and do not want to interrupt them to ask what the hell they call this game. So I meander on, in search of the illusive and atavistic Tarxien Temples.

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I’m going to call this game Jax, until I discover its true name, although it’s more like shuffleboard than jacks, but without the shuffle or the board; or it’s like horseshoes without any horseshoe stuff

 

I discover Paola actually harbors a main street with shops and quite a modern, if diminutive, shopping mall built where several homes used to sit. I ask a couple of shopkeepers where the temples are. They point me in different directions. I walk and photograph other people’s homes. It’s a nice evening for a walk. Local people sitting on benches or door stoops stare at me. People eating in sidewalk cafés stare at me. People drinking beer in doorways of local pubs stare at me. People buying lottery tickets stare at me. Apparently tonight, I am the odd roadside attraction here.

What I finally find is a sign in Paola for the temples that points in a completely different direction than where I’ve been walking—they lie back in Tarxien…duh. However, I now know where I am and how to get back home because I recognize a house with a particularly interesting balcony that I had photographed earlier—right, I’ve been walking in circles. I give up on seeing the temples today. I’m told they close at 7 pm anyway. So I will search for the temples tomorrow. I’m also told there are no bookstores here that sell guidebooks, the salesclerks suggest Valletta, the capital city and tourist Mecca here. This is definitely not your average tourist-hype village. They don’t even sell fridge magnets. But it is quaint, and photogenic, and exactly what you’d look for in a place if you wanted to escape your hurly-burly world.

DO YOU KNOW THE NAME OF THE GAME THESE MEN ARE PLAYING?

HAVE YOU EVER GOTTEN LOST IN A FOREIGN LAND, OR TOWN?

DO YOU HAVE SUGGESTIONS OF WHAT TO VISIT ON MALTA?

________________________________________________

Find more entries to DP Photo Challenge here: Cherry On Top

 

Find more entries to Lucile’s Rehab here:     Photo Rehab

Find more entries to Jo’s Monday Walk here:   Monday Walk

86 comments

  1. I love the house…reminds of a time many years ago when I spent time in Malta with friends who had a similar house, built over underground caverns full of water… looks like you will have a wonderful trip, look forward to reading more!

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    • Thanks so much for hanging here. A house over caverns with water, how very cool, eh? Could they drink that water? This house has a well, which I can’t drink from.

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      • The game might be “Bocci” pronounced ” Bo Chee” I played as a kid growing up in malta and we used both round and cylindrical bocci (bowls or boule). This is just a guess as there other forms of similar games. Regards Vic

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        • Vic…hey thanks so much. I’m pretty sure you are right, but it’s so cool that you played the game…on Malta! I love Malta, I could see going back there to live for a period of time.

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  2. I totally don’t have time to read and enjoy this right now- darn, why does life have to intrude?- but I wanted to say mega-thanks for the link (again!!!) and I’ll be back to pull up a comfy seat later. 🙂 🙂

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  3. Wow, you’re on a tiny island and you’ve managed to be living and wandering away from the sea? I understand that fridge magnets and a good signal might scare you away, but… it’s the SEA. Think of all the little crabs. (Nah, that’s just the dog in me talking. We like water. Saying that – I live 1,8 km away from the sea and have not seen it for about a week.) This is a lovely, full report with excellent transporting images. I really really hope that you win that lottery, even though the “you” might have been specific. But I can’t complain either – going to my old country next week, to check out my people and the Castle. (When I moved to Tuscany, rumours started to circulate in my old hometown that I’d inherited a castle here. Still choosing.)

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    • If I would have thought about it, I would probably have wanted to stay by the sea. If I would have investigated at all, I probably would have stayed on one of Malta’s other, less touristy, islands. But the island is small, it’s not far from the sea, and I’ve been on water most of the summer, so no real problem.
      I heard there actually was no castle there now…it’s all just holograms!

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  4. Great account. Malta has always fascinated me for its role in the Crusades and the Knights Templar. I’m sure there must be a lot of that brutal history in evidence. I have to read this again. I’m hoping you’ve given some hint of how you found the house you’re renting and some notion of its cost?

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    • The “brutal” part does not actually seem so brutal these days. You see forts everywhere, so you know some heavy stuff was going down. But then you spot a Tommy Hilfiger store in an ancient building. the house actually belongs to a friend who doesn’t want to stay here in summer!

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      • Tim Willocks, author of Green River Rising, wrote a novel called The Religion, set in the 16th century. It’s set in Malta, in the time of an Islamic siege on the island to destroy the Knights of St John of Jerusalem in their island stronghold. It’s worth a read, if you come across it.

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  5. It was a good read with my favourite bowl of cereal to keep me company. It’s lunch time but I wasn’t very hungry and my son’s arriving tonight. He’s like a human hoover when it comes to food and I know there will be none left tomorrow. Of my favourite cereal, or anything much else 😦
    Now how can I help you? I can Google Malta. I might even find a guide book on said island kicking about upstairs. How about Mdina, the walled city, since you’re into walls? Not much choice with those you’ve got there! Lost? I don’t think I’ve ever been anywhere that I didn’t get lost. I usually get found again eventually. The game? Sorry, I’m not an athlete and the only sport I follow is tennis (coincidentally 🙂 I watched Murray win Wimbledon at a neighbour’s house in the Algarve because we don’t have t’Internet either) But that is one wicked house! It doesn’t look much from the outside but never judge a book and all that. I want that porch with the curlicue stone and the rocking horse in my next life please. I shall leave you to play Knight’s Templar. Thank you so much for the link. Have fun! 🙂

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    • A human hoover…eh! Hide the cereal woman.
      Yeah…Mdina, I’d like to see that town. No cars allowed there. Did Murray win THIS year?
      And right…most houses here don’t have much style besides flat stone walls, and that balcony thingy. But they are sturdy, eh?

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  6. Renting out a house makes a lot of sense to me. The great room in the one you found in Malta looks and sounds bigger than my entire apartment. Incidentally, if you win all those Euros, I prefer an aisle seat not too near the back of the plane. Thanks. 🙂

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  7. Like you, we have stayed in houses for a number of years when travelling & much prefer this to a hotel. The home you are currently staying in looks fantastic & I love that you just got lost in the wee village. The best way to get to know a place!

    I googled game played in Malta with rings & wooden blocks and the game Kubb came up. Not sure if this is what they are playing but perhaps next time you could ask the question when you pass by!

    I so enjoyed reading about your experience. Do you hope to explore more of Malta from this spot or are you moving around?

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    • Lynn, well, this place is pretty cool, but it’s way bigger than I need. And right…I do know how to find my way around this burg now.
      Kubb seems to be a related game! It has more sticks and things, but I think it’s the same kind of thing/game??
      I’m staying put in this house, but yes, I will take day trips…the island is small. If I visit another island, I may spend the night

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  8. Love, love, love your stories! Although I rarely tell you so. I’ve become less of a blogger/blogosphere participant and more of a blogstalker. The introvert will out, despite my attempts at an electronic social life.
    The game sounds and looks a bit like bocce, but bocce’s usually played with round balls trying to get as close as possible to the little red ball. Tossing blocks seems like a caveman version before the invention of the wheel….but hey! Malta’s civilization is old, right? Maybe this was the bocce prototype?!?
    Thank you for being so very Badfish~
    Cheers…

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    • Paula…well, I’m so glad to hear you like this stuff, and you don’t need to feel like you have to comment, although I love it when you do!!! Being here and reading is what it’s about, so feel comfortable being a blog stalker, and stalk me any time! And I do believe you are right…the game…and here in Malta, they spell it Bocci, and use something like 6-sided blocks. And right…old civilization, a prototype maybe! Welcome out of your shell, lady!

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  9. I was going to say a version of Bocce as well. Many cultures have a version of Bocce/lawn bowling. The house is truly the “new” stone age! Hey – we lived in caves for centuries, so it stands to reason that the first places we built were Prefab Caves. Can you image what these people would think of our buildings? Flimsy houses of straw! Your lost hours walking in circles reminds me of a thing I call “adventure dog excursions.” Too long to explain here, so maybe I’ll write a post about it. In the meantime, if you figure out how the TV works, enjoy your hurly burly escape to peanut butter enhanced naked Downton Abbey reruns. You’ll need a cold brew or two for that experience, I assure you. In fact, you better make it three.

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    • Stone, right…and “prefab caves” that’s exactly right!! We want a house right here, but there’s no cave. So fine, we’ll build us a cave.
      I’d love to read about Adventure dog excursions…sound like my way of getting to know a place–get lost, find my way out. Peanut butter and a cold brew…you’re making me hungry. But the TV still can’t figure it out!!!

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  10. I have no answers to your questions, but I do have more questions/comments:
    * That chariot thing in the hallway takes hobby horses to a whole new level!
    * Why is there a snarl of sticks *inside* that latched window?
    * Those varying floor levels are absurd, from what I can see! You could invent a game to play in there (and call it Jax, if you want).
    * Like that angel in the architecture, nearly everything in that place seems to be spinning in infinity; it’s cool, but a little eerie, too.
    * Love love love the photo of the security latch on the window.
    * Happy meandering! I’m off to Seoul tomorrow and then on to Mongolia!
    P.S. I have no TV either and I miss it during Wimbledon – I knew we were odd birds of a feather.

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    • *Snarl of sticks: that window sits near the wood-burning stove, there’s a pile of wood, and those sticks for kindling.
      *Angel…spinning in infinity: you got that one right. The place is cool, but it is also a menagerie of the inside of someone else’s head, personally I like a more minimalistic and subtle furnishings…and here, eerie…yeah, in a way

      *Seoul and freakin Mongolia … LexKlein RULES! Alone or with someone? Who else would go to Mongolia?
      *Wimbledon…yeah, odd birds!! I never see it at home

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        • So…it’s two feet out the door. And no chaperone. Korea–when I was there, there were literally no signs anywhere in English. That bothered me. Is Korea a jumping off (or into) spot for Mong-freakin-golia? I remember buying fake (or real since they’re made there) Reebok trainers for pennies.

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  11. Badfish, your house is amazing. We always stay in houses too. They beat hotels hands down. It sounds like you are getting to know the area quite well and next time you step out the front door, you’ll have a better idea of where you are. This reminds me of the time we stayed in a house in Bruges. It’s like a rabbit warren there and the streets go in all directions with no discernable pattern. On our first morning, we set off and Mr ET said, “Follow me. I have an uncanny sense of direction.” Ten minutes later, after wandering all over the place, I asked him where we were and his reply was “I have no idea!” Your photo of the eight pointed Maltese cross reminds me of another story. I once met a man whose wife had a Maltese father and Papuan mother. He delighted in telling people he was married to a Maltese Cross!

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    • I know, I love that photo of the steps, too! I took about 10 shots of the thing. They all looked alike for some reason.
      Downton Abbey: I could not relate to that family, but did relate to the chauffeur!

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  12. What a great blog! I love the house you’re in and the town is gorgeous. I bet the food is good as well, but then you aren’t that keen on the food thing, right? The game looks like lawn chess and as someone else mentioned kubb. I found a fun video on it: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=liMZ-dFMJSc Can’t help you with what to see. I’d be on the water, myself. I hope you find the temples and report back! Enjoy.

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    • Kubb…yeah, it’s probably a version of that ancient game! Here, they call it Bocci…I’ve just discovered! They use a few less implements in their version of the game. Just the “skulls”!!

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      • I guess there are variations in these games. I’ve always seen Bocci played with balls, but the way they were playing was basically Bocci–just with the pieces from the other game….Enjoy your stay!

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  13. Reading the history of Malta is like reading the history of mankind, well kind of. The island, despite its size, is so rich in historical and archaeological sites, just like how you described. It sounds like you’re really having a great time in Malta, Badfish. And the house you’re staying at… wow, it looks pretty and cozy! The vaulted foyer somehow reminds of a Hobbit house. Maybe Tolkien found his inspiration here?

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    • Bama…you are absolutely spot on about reading the history of Malta being the history of mankind, because a whole lot of mankind’s history happened here and around here, and the civilizations who ruled the world also ruled here…lots of good stuff to see here! This is where Calypso kept Odysseus for all those years! I photographed the hotel where Napoleon slept.

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  14. oh I do love these posts about your travels. re getting lost in a strange location, I haven’t, but I am reminded of a dream I have quite often, where I dont recall the name of my hotel, or the street….I have my cell phone, but it has no place to dial…when I borrow someone’s phone, the dialing mechanism is strange, and has no numbers to go by.

    thanks for the virtual tour….and the fabulous house. 🙂

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  15. The game? Looks like a variation of the universal game (played with varying equipment and rules) HOSS. Hangin’ Out Shootin’ the Shit. My personal favorite.

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  16. Man, do I feel weird when I read what your clever and clearly well-travelled commenters have to say. I have not travelled very far, very often. I’ve been to Mexico, Canada, Jamaica, and Fiji. Oh, and Europe that one time…for the 1992 Para-Olympics in Albertville, France. I did get lost in Tignes after the Olympics shut down. Well, not exactly lost…more like “left behind”. Long and very existential story. It took a $500 cab ride to Geneva to find my way back home to the US.
    So I love travelling with you Mr. Fish. I especially love to see what you see (though I have to admit, I still search every photo for accidental Selfies). Elevator shot, reflection in window, you in the 70’s, and now, in this post, maybe your wrist (cool bracelets) and your foot (is that a “surfer’s knot”?)
    If you win that lottery, you’ll then have to make your own lottery for all of us who want to come see you in that amazing house! You are so much closer now to my very best friends who live in Madrid. Maybe they should come to see you!
    Thanks for the vicarious trip.

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    • I know, some very clever and well-traveled people say some pretty good stuff here, eh! And you are actually more well traveled than most Americans, most of whom rarely get out of their own state!
      $500 cab ride…I’d like to hear that story!
      Surfer’s knot…funny thing. The one on my right foot disappeared, on my left…still there. Those were the good old days!

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      • As a teenager, I left for the deep South just in time to prevent my own San Diego Surfer’s Knots! As for that $500 cab ride to Geneva, there’s a whole chapter on it (well, on the winter Olympics in 1992) in my book. “A BOOK, you say?” No, I’m not published but have written 52 chapters over 11 years or so! Apparently, I like to drag things out…

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  17. I think this ramble in and around Tarxien just gave me travel envy – the leisurely pace, in a lesser known town where there few tourists, the beautiful old house, the whole town redolent with history, herstory, stories. The staircase alone! The number of feet that have passed over them feels beyond imagining to have worn stone down that.much. I love your rambling style filled with little facts and anecdotes. Don and I like to get lost, but never really really lost. Besides Don is . . . . . Mapmaaaaaaaaaannnnnnnn . . . . . Now I’m rambling. A bee stung me yesterday right under my left eye and it is all swollen – not painful but makes me feel weird.
    Alison

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    • I’m not sure but I think some of the stone they used in these houes was fairly soft stone, so maybe the stairs got worn down more easily than we might imagine.
      Every traveler…or at least me…needs a Don along for the ride to take care of map stuff. And money stuff. I’ll give you $100,000 for him.
      Gawd, I can’t remember last time a bee stung me. What were you doing trying to photograph its bottom?

      Liked by 1 person

      • Lol $100,00? Not on your nelly! 🙂
        Re the bee: I wish! – at least then there would have been a reason. I was watching a couple of people check a hive from what I thought was a safe distance when one of the bees literally made a beeline for me a got under my sunglasses.
        A.

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  18. Badfish we hope to be entering our phase of less hotel rooms and more houses in the future. We travel a lot but at a fast and furious pace due to constraints of vacation time. Settling into an ancient house such as this beautiful one is what future dreams are made of. Who doesn’t like a fridge for cool refreshments? 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • I know, you guys blow me away with all you can do in a short time! And with helmets! Or wetsuits! These days for some reason, I like to settle in to a place and hang there and try not to get lost when hunting for the Starbucks. I know where three Starbucks lie in Amsterdam, where I also like to simply slide through life beside the canals.

      Liked by 2 people

  19. We’ve been staying in apartments rather than hotel rooms for many years now whenever we travel. Like you, we prefer having a fridge and access to kitchen facilities. Eating out loses its appeal rather quickly.
    But never have we stayed anywhere near as grand as this place in Malta. The photo of the staircase is stunning. Whenever I see worn steps like this, I can just imagine all the footsteps over all those years!
    Now I want to run off to Malta!

    And have I ever gotten lost while travelling? Yes. Unfortunately. Most recently, last summer in Kalmar, Sweden. I was alone – trying to get to my husband’s race venue. It wasn’t pretty. I don’t do lost very well and I might have broken a few rules of the road and done some creative swearing 😦

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    • Right…eating out loses its appeal after a while. And I don’t think I’ve stayed in a place this grand, or large at least, either. I usually feel more comfortable in smaller spaces. But you take what life hands you, eh?
      I’d like to hear the story of your getting lost in Sweden and your creative swearing!!

      Liked by 1 person

  20. I love the house. I’m with you whether or not to stay in a hotel depends on how long you will be away. Makes a lot of sense. If I’m on vacation, I don’t want to cook because then the only one on vacation is everyone else but me when you consider prep, cook and cleanup which all take time and I never had much luck getting anyone’s help. Might as well have stayed at home. Longer stints I’d prefer to rent and get a feel for the local vibe. It can save money. Some times.

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  21. You’ve picked a great place to stay, what a fascinating house, and a town with no tourists – perfect. I’m not very good at getting lost. In that bigger island north of you, I FELT very lost driving up a single rough track of a road, stuck with sellotape to the side of a mountain, petrified of meeting another car or misjudging a curve.
    I hope you find a peanut butter shop, although I can’t decide if eating the ghastly gunge naked would make it better or worse! If all else fails go to Sicily, but don’t drive up any nasty hills.
    One of your very best travelogues Badfish, I love it!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Sometimes you luck out, sometimes, not so much. I feel pretty lucky today. And I bought a ticket for the lottery at 800,000 euros jackpot!! Let’s just see how lucky I am.
      I feel a little reluctant to drive here, don’t know why. They do drive on the wrong (left) side of the road. The Brits being here so long did that, but it also made English very common, a second language…so…take the good with the bad, I guess.
      I’m so glad you like this piece, but you like it as one of the best? Hmmmmm???

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  22. What a unique house ~ full of so much surprise and character! I love the thick stone walls and the stairs that have “dips”in the middle from so much use.

    During our six months or so in Europe last year we stayed mostly in houses using home exchange. We had some amazing stays in a wide variety of homes, saved a ton of money and lived like locals. Its definitely a great way to travel. I enjoy the combination of eating out and making meals at home, much like life when one is not traveling.

    Peta

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  23. Truly fascinating..I hope to visit Malta someday! Talking about no internet connection and away from hurly burly reminds me of my travel in Cuba and sailing in Raja Ampat…out of worldwide news for weeks!

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  24. Fabulous digs! Glad you were able to find them again. I often try to get lost on my travels and find my way back again for sport. Great way to see a city. However, once I really, really got lost in Liege (Belgium) and couldn’t find my way home until 2:00 AM.

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