Thursday, September 22, 2016

GOZO: The Other Big Maltese Island

We've arrived, the final post from our Malta trip back in April!  Yes, it really has taken this long because we really did pack it all in.  And we'll never forget it.

We basically did everything on our own, with the help of public transportation (bus and ferry) and the one Grand Harbour cruise that gave us a view of Valletta from the water, which was important to us.

Other than that, the only planned excursion we took was the all-day trip to Gozo, the smaller island just north of Malta, just past the wee island of Camino.  We had been told we could do the trip on our own but the bus system might be problematic.  You could get from one place to another but some buses came only every hour.  It was a no-brainer to use a tour coach, from Buggiba, our hotel, for the entire day, round-trip.

Malta is the largest island:  culture, commerce and administration.
Gozo is the second largest island:  fishing, tourism, crafts and agriculture.
Camino is the smallest island:  one hotel, pop. 4, day-hikers, water sports.

[Our travel agent was the one who suggested we NOT visit Camino, 
since we´re not sun-worshipers.]

Here's the public bus route/system for Gozo, covering 26 sq. mi. with a pop. of ca. 37K.
Our all-day trip, from 8 a.m. - 8 p.m., stopped at 5 main places after arriving at the Harbour.

But first, we had to get to the ferry in Cirkewwa from our hotel in Buggiba, 14 km. away,
passing interesting landmarks along the way.
The Gozo Channel Line runs back-n-forth all day long, every 45 minutes.

It's a 25-min. ride covering approx. 6 km. across the Mediterranean Sea.
It was fun to "capture" the island from the sea...and find our coach waiting for us.

From there, at the Mgarr harbor, we started our 5-point Gozo experience.

1.  Victoria (aka Rabat), the Capital City of Gozo.

From the ferry our coach drove us the 5km to Victoria, the capital city of Gozo.
It's situated on a hill, the highest point on the island, with the citadel on top.
Once off the coach, we started climbing further up to the citadel/Cittadella and cathedral within.

This is the Cathedral of the Assumption, dedicated in 1716,
with the clock tower in the curtain wall of the main gate keeping watch.

You walk in and immediately look up!
There is no dome on this cathedral but inside is the appearance of one
 because of the trompe-l'oeil painting, creating the optical illusion ((top-right).

This was when Astrid and I wandered off from the group to take photos!

We can never retain all the information from the tour off we go,
knowing we can Google later for the info we want

Because the cathedral is inside the citadel, we kept climbing to the wall, looking back.

From there, on top, we could see all across the island to major landmarks.

As you know, what goes up must come down,
so down we went back into the capital city of Victoria, away from the citadel.
St. George, Gozo's patron saint, was killing the dragon everywhere.

So many impressions, just like in Valletta, the capital city of Malta.

2.  Lunch at the Fishing Village of Xlendi.

From Victoria we drove 3 km to Xlendi for a 3-course, mass-produced lunch (with wine).
Xlendi happens to be one of the most beautiful stops on the island,
but we were only there long enough to run down to the bay and take a handful of pics.

3.  Fontana Cottage Industry.

After lunch we drove 2 km to Fontana for a chance to see/buy Gozo crafts/products.
(Nearby were ancient stone laundry basins.)

Remember, the Maltese Islands depend on this kind of tourism for their economic existence.
And what did we buy?  Prickly pear jam and carob liqueur (for on top of ice cream!).

4.  Azure Window near Dwejra Bay.

From Fontana we drove 7 km to the Azure Window near Dwejra Bay.
We first had the opportunity to see the "window" from a short boat ride.
For an extra €4 pp., what the heck, right?

 It was a chance to see this major tourist attraction from a different point of view (right-middle).

Then we saw it on the sunny side, in all its glory.
The natural arch is made of limestone, of which the Maltese Islands has plenty!

5.  The Ggantija Temples in Xaghra.

From the Dwejra Bay coast we then drove inland 10 km to our last destination of the day:
the Ggantija megalithic temple complex from the Neolithic era, a UNESCO site.

When do we get to see things this ancient???
These temples, c. 3600-2500 BCE, are more than 5500 years old...older than the pyramids of Egypt.

I'm not sure it's really hit me how old this was,
but what a way to end our trip.

While driving from here to there, we saw so many places of interest.
If we were on our own, for maybe an entire week on this island, we'd try to see it all.

Impressions.  Impressions.  Impressions.
(That's the carob tree, bottom-right, with its pods.)

♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

Guess what!  This ends the Malta Trip from April.  Finally.
And none too soon because...tomorrow we fly to England for a week-plus with friends!
You know we can't resist that, right?

Happy first day of autumn!


  1. I especially love the old stone!

    Have a wonderful vacation.

    1. I do, too, Marie. And THANKS. We think of our time in England as being Home! (We're so lucky to have more than one!)

  2. Wow, well you have done Malta so well! I loved seeing all these angles and views. The harbor cruise is so special!

    Have a blast with your friends in England. Mwah!

    1. Many "second blessings" in the recounting of this trip, Ruth. But now it'll be good to go on to something else...namely ENGLAND. Thank you.

  3. You did it and we did it. Malta such a wonderful place to be. The day to Gozo was so wonderful. The things we saw were incredible, all those hidden treasures. This trip will always be in our memory and thank you so much for putting so much time and love in making these posts. I never take that for granted. I loved the 'graffiti' (engraving) from 1890'... mind blowing and this is 'young'... Thank you again. IHVJ.

    1. Between the two of's DONE. Now we get to remember it and go find it in my posts, when need be. THANK YOU for being my partner in crime throughout both trips, in reality and virtually. We'll never forget it.

  4. I am totally bookmarking this series. It's going to be my resource when I go back to Malta, which I will be doing after reading your posts.

    1. I couldn't be happier, Maria. It's what makes all this work for me totally worth it!!! Thank you. Let us know when you plan to go. HA!

  5. The third montage of the streets of Rabat seems to me as lovely as anything you’ve ever sent. Compositions are spot-on, and the big picture on the left is such a delicious invitation. Thank you. Others are good as well, but that one is special. Of course I also enjoyed the domeless cathedral. Have you ever been to the Palazzo del Té in Italy. It is my favorite example of Mannerist illusionism. Hercules is in fact pulling down the wall of the room which are collapsing on top of those who enter.

    Glad to hear you visited only after the dragon had been slain, and that at the end of the Malta trip you did some real time travel. Yes, our ancestors were there. As to the impressions, that’s exactly my problem with “vacations.” I really just want to be in any one of those places with time to study photo angles, changing light and changing weather. I guess that’s why I’m primarily a backyard tourist.

    Sounds like you had a great trip, and as an added benefit, some of the images made me think of the Inca ruins we saw when we visited Peru and Ecuador. And now you have taken your journey twice, once in going there, and once in telling the world.

    1. Thank you, Ted, for the care you take in commenting, which I always appreciate. I always pay attention to what you say! I have not been to that Palazzo in Italy but have seen other such optical illusions in our travels to different churches, especially in Germany.

      I totally understand the "problem" with simple impressions we pass all the time while on these hurried trips. You'll be happy to know that we have already booked an 7-day trip to Venice and 4 days to Verona next April and hope to spend lazy days really just BEING get more of the nuances. Let's see if that happens. I will definitely try, remembering your words.

  6. carob liquer on top of ice creme??? i'm sorry you lost me there haha :)

    man oh man what GORGEOUS churches!! i totally fell for the fake dome too!!

    thanks for sharing your trip, and now you be sure to have fun and take lots of pics for the next one!!

    1. Some of the best toppings for ice cream are liquers, Elaine!!! :) And the carob one has a chocolate flavor to it, which makes it even better.

      Thanks for following most of this Malta trip and knowing how good it is to have it finished so I can now move on the where we are England! :)

  7. What a wonderful trip you had in Malta. You are a traveler – by that I mean, not a tourist. I think a traveler is a person who stays in a place for several days at least and enjoys everything – the history, culture, food, just walking around, etc. A tourist tries to see as many tourist sights in as many cities as possible within a week or two,(like checking off a list,) and usually will forget most of them, or get them mixed up, later on when they get old and it’s time for remembrances. It amuses me when someone tells me they love (or dislike) France and spent just a day or two in Paris and that’s all… This Malta trip will stay with you for sure. I enjoyed looking at your photos because, as it stands now, there is no way I could walk up hill and even worse, go downhill.

    Carob syrup sounds good on ice cream – my favorite is crème de cassis (blackcurrant liqueur) but I also like Kahlúa liqueur. Another one I like, and I bought the last time I was in Amsterdam, is Safari Liqueur. Do you have a bottle? They advertize it as “Safari Exotic Fruit Liqueur, Netherlands: exotic liqueur that boasts the unique flavour combination of passion fruit, mango, papaya, lemon and lime.” I put some when I made my jam, I thing peaches, and it really gave it a lift. But it is also good plain or on ice cream.

    1. You're most kind, Vagabonde, in your tourist/traveler comment. I suppose we're a bit of both, but when we can stay put for awhile, we really do like to see everything related to that place. We plan to do that in Venice and Verona next April, for 11 days. Looking forward to it.

      I, too, love the different liqueurs but have not heard of the Safari one. I'll have to ask Astrid about it. Maybe we can keep our eyes open for it. Thanks for the recommendation.