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Month: February 2016

Xemxija Heritage Trail

Xemxija Heritage Trail

Very often we’re so keen to travel abroad that we tend to overlook the beauty of our own country. However, if you just try to search what you can do, you can easily create a list of stuff that will keep your weekends packed while making you feel like a tourist in your own country. That’s exactly what I did a couple of weeks ago when I stumbled upon the Xemxija Heritage Trail (you can easily google it and download the printable guide).

It’s a trail along Xemxija’s countryside, a northern seaside village in Malta. It starts off at the  place where a Roman road connected St. Paul’s Bay with Mellieha. It is also known as the Pilgrim’s route since, in the past, pilgrims used to trek all the way to Mellieha’s shrine of Our Lady.

Along the route one encounters several historical remains from different periods, such as apiaries where bees were kept to produce honey, caves which served as a shelter for sailors or burial places, remains of dwellings for farmers, punic tombs, a grain silo which was later used as a well, an old carob tree, a Maltese Girna and a pill-box used under the British reign. All this is carefully labelled with interesting information about the history of each site.

Carob Tree
Cart ruts – remain a mystery as to who made them and for what purpose

Walking along this trail makes you realise how intelligent the Romans where at a time when they had no commodities as we are used to today. I was marveled at the way they created the Roman baths with cold, hot and lukewarm water as well as the road with a canal on the side to prevent flooding. 

You can also extend the walk by walking over to Mistra Bay, a secluded beach along the coast. If its too cold for a swim, sitting down on the beach listening to the waves splashing on the shore is just as nice to rest the weary feet before walking back to where you started off.

Overlooking Mistra Bay
Aleppo Pine trees grown in an unused quarry

The walk is not a long one and only takes a couple of hours, however, expect to take longer if you love taking pictures as it offers some great photo opportunities.

Selmun Tower

Photos: Chris Balzia

Riding the Children’s Railway

Riding the Children’s Railway

A popular attraction, mainly with locals, is the Children’s Railway, built in 1948 and now run by children under the supervision of adults. 
A girl selling tickets to ride the train
It runs through the forests found in the hills on the side of Buda. It provides a peaceful atmosphere away from the hustle and bustle of the city. The only sound is the rattling of the train along the track and the whistling of the birds sitting on the branches of the trees.
We started the trip at Szechenyi-hegy and stopped at Janos-hegy stop. We walked along a footpath towards Elizabeth Lookout Tower. 
Elizabeth Lookout Tower
Panting, we arrived at the top of the tower where a breathtaking view of the hills of Budapest greeted us. We looked around us breathing in the peace and quiet which is so rare to find in busy cities. It was as if the time was on hold and we could stay there forever…
But unfortunately we had to go back to the city so we decided to take the chairlift down to Zugliget from where we caught a bus to the centre of the city. Being afraid of heights I was not very keen on going up on the open chairlift with my feet dangling in the air. However, after a couple of minutes I soon started to enjoy the calmness of the ride, quite different from the noisy buses or trains, while spotting some beautiful houses scattered among the trees.
It’s a great trip if you are spending a couple of days in Budapest and want to get away from the touristy areas. In fact, it’s more popular with the locals, which may explain the reason why it was so difficult to communicate in English with the staff.

You can easily find the schedule of the Children’s Railway here and the opening hours of the Zugliget Chairlift here so you can easily plan ahead. It takes only a couple of hours to do this trip, but if you have more time you can even picnic near Elizabeth Lookout Tower.