|Azure Window, Gozo|
I'm based, as ever, in the south-west of the island, and have just returned from a visit to the fishing village of Marsaxlokk, invaded by the Ottoman Turks in 1565 and by Napoleon's army in 1798. In more recent times - exactly 20 years ago (I think!) - Marsaxlokk harbour hosted the Bush-Gorbachev summit.
The world's oldest human structures - more ancient than the Pyramids, more antique than Stonehenge - are to be found on Malta and Gozo. Perhaps the most bewitching testimony to Malta's pre-historic past is the Hypogeum, an elaborate burial chamber plunging three storeys beneath the earth.
By contrast, the time-worn, sea-blown stones of Hagar Qim and Mnajdra occupy dramatic sites overlooking the Mediterranean. Gozo is home to Ggantija, the Temple of the Giants, as well as the Azure Window, where every year I meet the man who, it is claimed, is Malta's richest resident.
Steve's ruse is simple: he waits for the tourist buses to decant their contents and then simply walks up to each tourist in turn and puts a guide book or a selection of post-cards in their hands. If they want them, they buy them - at a hefty mark-up, of course (and, it goes without saying that he never has any change and we're in the middle of nowhere). If they're not turned on by his tatty old postcards or dog-eared guides, well, that's when the fun begins.
|Temple of Ggantija, Gozo|