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Friday, November 26, 2010

High Quality Tourism in Malta


Malta is, in a nutshell, a concentrate of  some major contradictions affecting several contemporary societies. The former British colony (independent since 1964) hosts more than 400.000 people on a tiny area of 316 square kms yielding a density above 1300 inhabitants per square km, the seventh highest in the world.  Or rather the fourth, after removing from the top list of States,  Macau and Hongkong (now belonging to China) plus Gibraltar (belonging to UK).

Greatly located in the heart of the Mediterranean, Malta is a main mass-tourism destination getting roughly 1.5 million visitors per year, many of them from England.  Besides, foreign investors attracted by a sound and rewarding banking system, have poured their money into the Maltese archipelago and favored real estate growth.  As a result the beautiful island, one time rich in biodiversity and endemic species, has been heavily looted to get room for the building sector expansion. Still the island, a blending of Arabic, Italian and English influences, retains so much character and history to make it worth a travel.

Avoid going there since April till half October and rather visit Malta, together with Gozo, in the late autumn or winter season. In Malta, you will get a glimpse of the fantastic as it had to be landscape if you explore the western coastline: reach Mosta by bus from La Valletta and go on walking westward. Take care of the hunters, a true plague in Malta, and hike from the Golden Bay to Fommir Rih Bay.

Smell the scent of the Mediterranean thyme shrubs, watch the sea squill widespread in the coastal guarigues, pick up wild rocket and carrots, get some almonds and will also find snails on the tree branches as they are fond of the leaves. Thus you've done your healthy meal for free. High quality tourism is fun and cheap also in Malta  whereas mass-tourism is expensive and boring. Mass-individuals need "travel" agencies to be packed in standard and horrible hotels. In such resorts, the mass-individual will encounter plenty of kin types to mirror his/her insignificance. The mass tourist needs high densities to display and satisfy its stupidity.

Between Ghajn Tuffieha- and Gnejna Bay

Oddly LonelyPlanet guide book highly praises the Radisson Blu Resort dominating the Golden Bay in North-Western Malta. This huge as much as awful building is an eyesore scarring the Bay as it can be seen from far away. I bet Carolyn Bain had a great, profitable staying at that Hotel but I wonder whether the LonelyPlanet author has a scrap of environmental awareness !
"Amazingly beautiful" Radisson Blu Resort in Golden Bay

Don't follow LP advice (in this case) and rather stay at Mallia's residence in Mosta. David and Mary promote and practice organic farming in Malta and will be proud to introduce you to the archipelago flora and history.

It is definitely worth spending few days in Gozo which is less densely populated than Malta. Being based in Xlendi , you may easily explore the gorgeous cliffs along the south west coast. Again take care of the hunters, some of them are children, which infest the area shooting the birds. Their stupidity is such that, due to the lack of wildlife, they buy and release pigeons  to have some targets to shoot.
Brainless human  behavior patterns are widespread throughout the world, some of them are recurrent.

Live pigeons on sell for bird addicted Maltese hunters

Hike and find fields generously covered by yellow-flowered wild rocket: it is for free and organic, thus take advantage.  If you are lucky, you may learn about the rocket virtues from some local beauty who likes harvesting the herb.  Also buy a fresh Lampuki  from the fisherman at Piazza San Frangisk in the nice island capital Victoria. Freshly milked sheep milk is available at kind shepherds in Munxar.  Dinner and breakfast should be tasty, healthy and cheap. The rule of thumb is: the more you avoid restaurants the better you eat. This holds everywhere. Moreover, giving your money directly to the producers  you weaken parasitic middlemen in the food distribution chain. From producers to consumers, this is the main recipe to eat well.

Maltese wild rocket gatherer

From Xlendi, climb up towards north-west and head to Dweira along the coastal paths. Once there you will see, in the Bay, the Fungus Rock islet whose flat top hosts the rare Cynomorium Coccineum well known to the Arabs and later to the Maltese Knights Hospitaller for its medicinal properties. Compare it with the quite similar Cynomorium songaricum widely used in Chinese traditional medicine.

These are just a few hints to make you curious about these places.

The crowds of  tourists looking for the all inclusive hotel with swimming pool infest mainly the eastern coast between Bugibba and Sliema. Not to waste time and energy, keep far from that zone also in winter.   If  you want to know more about nature in Malta and don't like going solo then contact the environmentalist Ms Annalise Falzon. She is the right person at the right place.

Fungus Rock

In the following, I'll come back to the population density issue which troubles so much several parts of the Planet.

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