It was Friday morning and our sixth full day in Malta. We were looking at the options for the day and there was one that caught our interest. This was the Għar Dalam Cave in Birżebbuġa, a place none of us had visited earlier. Little A and I actually went on a hike last year from Marsaskala to Birżebbuġa, but this time we decided to find an easier means of transportation.
Read more about Birżebbuġa:
Going to Birżebbuġa
We started our day with a short walk to the outskirts of Marsaskala and St Thomas Bay. Here we had some ice cream and spent a while playing at the playground before we started to look at the options on how to get to Birżebbuġa. When we looked at the bus route and considered the actual distance, we realized the route was what we in Sweden would call the jungle route. It passed through most of Marsaxlokk before even heading towards Birżebbuġa. That is why we eventually opted for a taxi to take us directly to the door of the Għar Dalam Museum.
The Għar Dalam is a cave that is famous for its many neolithic remains. The first excavation here took place in 1865 and there have been several since. Findings have included animals that today are extinct on the Maltese islands. Considering the very small amount of wild mammals in Malta today and especially their relatively small size, it is impressive to see what animals once called Malte their home. Well, I guess we will never really know what they called the island. The different sediment layers in the cave have fossils from various periods. What they tell us is the story about dwarf elephants, hippopotamuses, and giant swans that once lived here.
After the mandatory temperature check and filling in the list for the track-and-trace, we were allowed to enter the museum of Għar Dalam. It is possible to split the visits into four parts. The first part tells the story about the cave and the findings. Secondly, the early 20th-century cabinets showcase the many fossils that have been found here. The third part is the outdoor park overlooking the ravine and which partly acts as a botanical garden. Finally, it is the Għar Dalam Cave itself. It is not a large cave and the walking path leads just a short bit into the cave. Along the path, visitors can see many stone formations and excavation pits.
For our four-year-old, Little A, there were two parts of the museum that she found fascinating. First, there were the fossils and especially the elephant and the hippo. Secondly, there was the cave itself. The cave was scary at first for her but it eventually turned into a fun adventure.
The visit to the Għar Dalam was not too long, an hour is enough for the museum and the cave. Once we were back outside and had removed our face masks we set our direction towards Borġ in-Nadur. Borġ in-Nadur is another historical sight in Birżebbuġa. It is in most part a megalithic temple dating back to the Tarxien phase of Maltese prehistory. It has been dated to around 2500 BC. For visitors, it is hard to really grasp the significance of this place. We walked around, saw the stones in less than 10 minutes, and were soon on our way back towards the center of Birżebbuġa.
Our visit to Birżebbuġa had taken us from Għar Dalam and Borġ in-Nadur to the center of the town. Our first stop was at St. George’s Park. Here Little A found a playground that had seen better days. Well, let’s just say that we soon continued towards the much larger area of Pretty Bay. Our target was to find somewhere to eat and with the view of the large Malta Freeport in the background, we got our first view of Pretty Pay.
The town of Birżebbuġa is supposed to be a popular holiday destination among Maltese domestic travelers. We can see why as there are not many towns in Malta with a beach at its center. There are usually only rocks and cliffs. Pretty Bay was probably not suited for swimming at this time of the year. November is not really the high season for swimming when the sea is in an uproar. We eventually found a place for lunch. There really isn’t a lack of restaurants, but our timing would probably not be considered the best for lunch. In the end, we found a Turkish restaurant where the food was really good.
During our lunch, the weather had turned colder and greyer and we felt that it was time to return home. Little A had time to play at the playground while a few of my requests for a taxi was rejected. It seems like most taxis are either around the Airport or in Sliema.
An Evening in Marsaskala
Once back in Marsaskala we had a short rest. By this time, it was already dark outside. Little A still wanted to go to the playground at the center. She had really gotten fond of that specific playground. Fortunately, it wasn’t too far away. So we were soon walking along the waterfront promenade to the center of the town. The waterfront in the evening can be a really beautiful walk. There is just something very special about having the moonlight lightening up the path ahead and the sea surrounding you.