May. 1st, 2017 07:26 pm
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[personal profile] ewx
Work sent me to Malta for Financial Crypto 2017 last month. I've already shared my domain-relevant thoughts on it with my colleagues, but thanks to the extra-mural parts of the conference program I got to see some interesting things on the island too.

The full set of pictures are on Flickr; some highlights appear below.

Sliema. The conference was held in Sliema, which particularly on the edges was mostly modern buildings (of which many more are going up); the interior had obviously been around a bit longer. Still, there’s some visually interesting things to capture if you look for them:

Enormous trompe l'oeil mural in Sliema Reflected buildings in Sliema

Ginsberg graffiti in Sliema

I’m uncertain whether the misquotation is deliberate.

It’s not exactly a beach resort; where it wasn’t harbour, the coast was interestingly eroded rock...

Unusually colored pool at Sliema coastline some odd structures:

Odd structures at Sliema coastline

Valetta. The really interesting-looking stuff was across the harbour. This is the city of Valetta, built in the C16th to control access to the harbour, and thus in turn to control traffic between the easterna and western halves of the Mediterranean - a very live issue in an era when the Ottoman Empire was its height.

View of Valetta from Sliema

We had a tour which included a visit to the co-cathedral of St John’s; the cathedral proper is in Mdina, which we also visited. IIRC the Baroque interior here is a C17th addition, the decor of the original Templar design was apparently rather more restrained (it could hardly be less so).

Interior of St John's co-cathedral, Valetta

The trompe l’oeil effect, with people’s legs apparently hanging down from the ceiling, doesn’t come across as well in a small picture as it did in real life, so you’ll have to take my word for it, although this detail might hint at one example of it:

Detail of trompe l'oeil art in St John's co-cathedral, Valetta

Marsaxlokk (“Marsa-shlock”). A fishing village, the boat shown here is pretty typical:

Colorful boat in Marsaxlokk (entirely typical for the area)

Less typical was the collection of protest signs:

Boat decked with signs protesting something I didn't look up

On the same afternoon we had a boat tour round some rather nice coastal caves. Photography in a moving boat in a cave with only a cellphone was challenging but this exterior shot gives some idea of why it's called the blue grotto. There were numerous jellyfish visible, maybe 5-10cm across?

Parts of the place reminded me of Sicily (the ubiquitous prickly pears depicted below) and other bits of England (BS1363, some of the Sliema shops, much of the spoken/written language), although the Arabic place-names contrasted sharply with this.

The last site we visited was the megalithic temple at Ħaġar Qim (approximately “Hajar Eem”). At well over 5K years old, I think this is the oldest building I’ve ever visited.

Inside the megathlitic temple at Ħaġar Qim

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