Gozo - The Gozo Platter

Trip Start Oct 11, 2012
Trip End Nov 19, 2012

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Where I stayed
Osborne Hotel Valletta
Read my review - 4/5 stars
What I did
Ta Vola
Victoria Citadel
Gozo Museum of Archeology
Gozo Folk Museum

Flag of Malta  , Island of Malta,
Wednesday, November 14, 2012

It looked as if it were going to be a sunny day today, so instead of staying in Valletta and starting my museum tour, I decided to head off to Gozo today instead.  It was still fairly early - around 8:30 am when I had finished breakfast and I overheard a waiter telling some fellow breakfasters that Sunday was the market day here in Valletta....and I wouldn't want to miss a market day, would I?  Breakfast was good, but pretty much the same as yesterday, except that the fruit salad was mainly apples today.  It was a very nice breakfast here at the Osborne Hotel, so I shouldn't be doing any complaining.

Sometimes it is hard to know where the time goes when you are taking public transportation.  I set off directly after breakfast and walked to the bus station area.  I asked a few drivers where the bus to the Gozo ferry was and they pointed in a direction.  I couldn't find anything where they pointed, but did eventually find a bus info stand and the man there told me it was a 41 or 42 bus from #17 station.  I found 16 but couldn't find 17 until I saw a bus drive in.  I checked that the bus was going to the Gozo ferry and took out a 20 euro bill to buy my weekly pass.  The driver shook his head with impatience and said he had just started and had no change and I had to go and get change.  I went and bought a granola bar and got change but his bus was gone - another soon arrived and I got on.  It took quite awhile to get to the ferry...I guess because you have to go to the end of the island from the middle and there were quite a few stops.  I got my ferry ticket and managed to fend off some hop-on, hop-off tour touts.  I remember my London trip and how I hardly used the fairly pricey hop-on, hop-off bus.

When the ferry docked, I got the first bus to the neolithic site of Ggantija. There were two other women also looking for the site who got on the bus with me.  It is a good thing because I had asked the driver the name of the stop and he said - Ggantija - but it turned out to be another name that I didn't recognize but one of the women got off, then the second woman got off and I ran to catch up with them.  The first woman started walking down the street and I followed and so did the other - I think the first was German and the second French or maybe they were both French since they spoke to one another in French.

Ggantija was not that far down the road.  A lot of tourist sights are being worked on and this was no exception - there were apology signs and fences.  I am not sure what exactly I expected but this neolithic temple was slightly different in that it was large and incomplete.  I saw some drawings in the museum later and it looks as if the inner circles were rooms inside a larger covered circle.  I don't think you could really envision what it might have looked like from the remains - or from what was reconstructed from the remains.  I didn't get a sense of neolithic life from the site.   I need to read more.

My ticket allowed me to go to the Windmill site as well.  I hadn't originally really intended to visit it and wasn't sure whether it would impede my ability to visit the Folk Museum and the Archeology Museum in Victoria, but since it was covered in the ticket price, I decided to give it a go.  I was glad I did because I really enjoyed looking at the old tools and seeing the furniture and items from daily life of the miller's family right in the mill itself.

The mill museum attendant told me where to catch the bus for Victoria and I got on in short order.  While most of the bus ride on Malta to the ferry was through commercial or condo streets, the Gozo rides were through smaller villages and countryside where you could see gardens and fields.  There was even a fairly large olive grovs just outside the Ggantija complex.  Once I got to Victoria, I was at a loss as to where the Museums were.  Woman #1 from Ggantija was going to the Citadel.  I asked a few people on the street for the museums and they suggested the Citadel as well, so off I went up the hill to the Citadel where a map revealed that the museums were indeed there.  I got a two-in-one ticket for both at the Folk Museum because the computer wasn't working at the Archeological Museum.  I managed to walk around most of the Citadel walls before going into the museums.  There was a church with a separate entrance fee and it was being worked on - scaffolding present - so I decided to skip it this time....and probably forever.

The folk museum had some of the same kinds of items - blacksmith tools, dishes, flour grinders - as the mill had but with more professional displays.  I loved that they were housed in the old fortress rooms.  I am not sure what the rooms had been originally but the size of the rooms and the thickness of the walls added to the presentation of the exhibits.  I especially liked the room with the fishing nets and traps.  They also had some interesting old photos and drawings.  There were some rooms devoted to knitting and lace-making as well. 

The archeology museum was housed in an old mansion and had a marble staircase.  The museum used some downstairs rooms and had a huge gallery on the second floor with grand windows that had sort of frosted panes.  They had quite a lot of information on the neolithic period including the different sites and some burial sites too.  There were some artifacts, including a number of earth goddess figurines.  In the first room there was information on the geology of the Maltese archipelago with its limestone, blue clay, and coral layers.  There was a room with a wall of amphorae that had been used for shipping wine.  Signboards held info on bread, wine, oil and how they were produced.  I was glad I had time for both and it was still only around 3 pm so I decided to get some local food to eat.

This was not so easy as it would first have seemed.  All of a sudden the streets seemed empty, there was a loud screeching noise, the wind was gusting furiously and I wondered if the world were ending.  There was a small market square with lots of handmade sweater stalls and a restaurant - It was named Tork (or something like that) and advertized traditional Gozan food.  I was sold....and I could eat on the terrace (upstairs balcony).  The waitress offered their local fish special of lampuki but I kind of had my heart set on the Gozo platter so I ordered it will a glass of local red wine - but could only get South African by the glass.  I absolutely loved my Gozo platter:  black olives, capers, sun-dried tomatoes, fresh tomatoes, lettuce, fresh sheep's cheese molded with a little design, the same sheep's cheese aged and coated in herbs, and red onion along with some crusty Gozan bread.  I went down to pay as the waitress was leaving.

When I got to the bus stop/station, the waitress was there and I asked her which bus went to the ferry.  She told me which one, and when, and it happened she was going to her village which was a few stops before the ferry.  She said she usually works until 6 but the "winter" weather that we had today makes people shy away from touristing and so everything was much quieter today.  So that's what happened!?!  I got on the ferry right away and off it went.  I was thinking things were going quite well with this public transportation thing...  I should have knocked on wood.

Too fast....things went awry when I got off the ferry and went to the bus stand.  People started getting on the first bus there but that one wasn't going to Valletta.  Neither was the next, or the one after that.  There were a whole bunch that said - "sorry, out of service."  I kept asking the drivers if they were going to Valletta but no one was.  Bit by bit, all the people from the ferry got on different buses - some for the airport, some for the Siliema ferry, others I don't know where.  A #41 bus driver said he was done, but another one was coming soon.  By now, it was approaching 7 pm.  Where did all the time go??   A sign showed the X-1 and the 221 buses due to arrive shortly - I don't know how many 221's had come and gone by then.  Then the sign showed a 41 due to arrive at 18:59, and then in 9 minutes, then in 3 minutes.  A driver was walking around and I heard Valletta so I asked him if the Valletta bus was really coming in 3 minutes, and he said - there's a Valletta bus and it is leaving, go get on now.  So I did - I think I may have pushed into someone in my haste to get on this bus.  I know it was not a 41 bus while it was standing there before - I think it was transformed into one.  That may have happened to others and they managed to slip by me.  To me, the system defied logic.  While I was waiting, one pleasant man had said that soon there would be a new terminal - as if that would help me get back to my hotel.  Who knows - maybe a new terminal is all that is needed.

I made it back to Valletta around 8 pm, got some water, managed to pass my street turnoff and had to retrace my steps, but now here I am snug in bed and have almost forgotten the trauma of waiting for a bus and not knowing if it would ever come.

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