Sunday, 2 June 2013

Malta, National Museum of Archaeology, and Observations and Facts, Day 12, June 1

The museum was very interesting since we had already visited several of the Neolithic sites on Malta and Gozo.  We saw the fat lady sculptures which were found at many of them.  They were part of the temple society from 3600BC that worshiped the Mother Goddesses.  These temple builders mysteriously disappeared around 2500BC and several decades later Malta was settled by Bronze Age people who were not peaceful like the temple builders.

                                            These were found without heads

                                   The most famous of the fat women, lying down and thought to
                                         represent death since she was found in the Hypogeum.

                                               A model of one of the temple sites we visited

                                                   Spiral carvings common for the period

                                                      Common form of rock decoration
                              Interestingly, the 5mm deep holes were all made on a 45 degree angle

Observations and Facts:     
  • The Maltese are the nicest people we have experienced in Europe.  They are friendly yet reserved and very helpful. They are a very proud and resilient people. These are not just my observations but those from European travelers whenever we asked how they were enjoying Malta.
  • According to the ‘World Database of Happiness’ conducted by Rotterdam’s Erasmus University, the Maltese are the happiest people on earth! This may have something to do with the intimate size and complex history of their islands, as well as their attractive landscapes, good cuisine and generally excellent year round climate.
  • Getting around by bus is a dream and inexpensive with an all-day pass costing just 2.8 Euros.
  • Restaurants are very reasonably priced.  Two can easily dine with a local bottle of wine for 35 Euros all in, and tipping is not expected nor part of a credit card transaction.  
  • Restaurants do not try to get passersby into their establishments, unlike the constant harrassment we experienced in Greece.
  • VAT (value added tax) is included in all pricing.  Makes purchasing so simple.
  • Wine, beer, and alcohol is less than half of what we pay in Canada
  • No street people or begging
  • Almost non-existent police presence with a very low violent crime rate
  • Friendly police.  We asked one who was writing on a pad if he was giving tickets to the cars in the no parking zone near parliament house. He said he was recording their license plates so that he could get their phone numbers to call the owners and give them a chance to move their cars because parliament was sitting that evening. 
  • The unemployment rate is just over 6% and the 6th lowest among EU members
  • Traffic is controlled by roundabouts absolutely everywhere with a general courtesy letting drivers in to move cars along during high traffic times.  It may be viewed by outsiders like us as organized chaos.
  • You rarely hear a car horn blow and we did not witness any road rage or car accidents
  • In 2012, tourists from Britain represented 47%, Germany and France 15%, Italy 6%, Scandinavia 3.8%, and Austria, Switzerland, Ireland, Netherlands, Belgium, Spain ranging from 1.5 to 3% in this order.
  • Last year Malta had 400 mm of rain down from its usual 600 mm which falls mostly in autumn and winter between October and March
  • Tap water comes from three reverse osmosis desalinization plants around the island as there are no lakes or rivers.  There are a few natural springs.
  • Electricity is generated by oil-powered plants and is very expensive.  We were told that if we used our air-conditioner, we could expect to pay 20 Euros a day. Electricity is an extra charge at the end of our stay. 
  • The most common building material is limestone, both hard and soft, and is quarried on the island by cutting cinder size blocks with large saws. 
  • Rabbit is a very common meat, roasted, stewed, or in a pasta sauce
  • The Grand Harbour is one of the most spectacular ports in the world and can host up to four cruise ships with plans to expand facilities to accommodate up to ten.  It is one of the deepest natural harbours in the world.
  • During WWII, Malta was the most bombed Allied country with 3,343 air raids from 1940-1942.  In contrast, London was bombed for 57 days in a row while Malta was bombed for 154 days in a row. 5,524 houses and 111 churches were destroyed and 1,300 cvilians killed.  

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