The country of Malta includes 3 islands – Malta (biggest island), Gozo (smaller than Malta, bigger than Comino) and Comino (smallest island of the 3). Gozo is a popular spot for the Maltese and tourists alike as the island has a slower pace of life, with more rural, hilly terrain and secluded, sandy beaches. Comino although noted for its tranquility, the island is a bird sanctuary and nature reserve with only 4 residents who live permanently on the island. A visit to the country of Malta would not be complete without visiting the two populated islands of Malta and Gozo. Since we had spent some time touring around Malta, Gozo was the next island we needed to visit. Karl and Mary being the fabulous hosts that they are took us to Gozo to spend the day. We left early in the morning to catch our ferry from the Island of Malta to Gozo (a quick 20 min. ferry ride). Passing through the clean, clear blue waters (the waters looked so refreshing) we arrived in Mgarr and started our adventure of the island
. As all roads on Gozo lead you through Victoria (Rabat), the capital city of Gozo, this was our first stop. At Victoria (Rabat), Karl, Jeff and I headed towards the Citadel (a fortified castle high up on the hill overlooking the town) for some sightseeing while Mary had some errands and shopping to do. Within the Citadel, we visited the Cathedral (another finely decorated church done in the Baroque style). Since the Citadel was built to guard against any attacks from enemy forces, there are many lookout points where you can go and gaze down at the town and surrounding countryside. It was very peaceful standing along the walls of this fortified castle with a light breeze cooling us down from our long, hot walk up the hill. We could have stayed there forever however it was time for lunch and Karl had in mind to take us to a rooftop restaurant in the area where we could experience a light lunch of Maltese cheeses, olives, tomatoes, onions, capers and bread. The restaurant is located in an old, stone building with a very narrow, circular staircase leading you to the top. Once on the rooftop, the breeze blew away any hot air around us allowing us to sit back and simply enjoy the moment (something that I am getting better at doing since Jeff and I started our year of travel).
Our next stop was on the Western part of the island – San Lawrenz where the Azure Window (a natural arch that is a table-like rock over the sea) and the Blue Lagoon of Gozo (Note: Malta also has a Blue Lagoon) can be found
. We were able to find a boat and driver who could take us for a tour around the bay. The rock formations had interesting shapes, some with faces and figures that we could make out (a crocodile, an elephant, a happy face – each of us seeing different interpretations of the rocks). Some sections of the waters that we drove around were a deep, ink blue with patches of turquoise – the sun hitting the waters at times making the colours glimmer and dance. I watched people swimming in the blue waters and felt some envy that these swimmers seemed to have a sense of freedom in that they were able to swim wherever they wanted (I don't know how to swim and it’s one of my regrets – a goal for myself that I plan to tackle when I get back home).
Our tour of the Island of Gozo continued with more stops along the way as we criss-crossed the island doing and participating in different things - some culture, religion, boating, sightseeing, swimming, eating, etc. With all the things we saw and did that day, it reminded me of a favourite BC beer (Kokanee) commercial I enjoyed where the commercial’s theme was to promote all the great things one can do in BC – hiking, biking, skiing, swimming with the tag line "Same Guy, Same Day". I was laughing to myself that in a way, Karl, Mary, Jeff and I were experiencing in our own way all the fantastic things you can do in Gozo - “Same People, Same Day”
. Our last stop on our tour of the island was to have dinner in the fishing village of Xlendi. We managed to get a table at an outdoor terrace near the wharf (Thank you Mary – quite a feat for a Sat. night and no reservations!!). We all had a craving for calamari – ordering it all around, it was accompanied with a nice bottle of Maltese Red wine (the wine is good – another treat that we discovered). We sat, talked and laughed at the day we had – there is so much to see and do in Malta! I kept thinking that Malta is like a hidden gem waiting to be discovered. Perhaps this is part of the charm – it’s not too crowded, the people are very friendly, lovely landscapes and architecture, lots of history, English is spoken by most people. Overall I feel that Malta has many things that can appeal to several interests.
We lost track of time and before we knew it we needed to get back to catch our ferry to head back to the island of Malta. Unfortunately we missed our ferry and had to wait 1 ½ hrs before the next ferry was due to depart (at 12:45 a.m.!!). The ride home seemed to take longer than getting to Gozo. I felt sorry for Karl as at times, I woke up to find 3 of us asleep with poor Karl also tired, never complaining but focused on driving us all home. We did make it home safe and sound, quickly falling asleep once we hit the bed tired from our adventures on the island of Gozo.