Gozo is small and pleasant. My first day I went to the kitchen to eat the breakfast that was included with my room. It was all laid out—-instant coffee, canned juice, a loaf of bread, margarine, jam and tea bags with a kettle in which to heat water. I decided not to partake. I went looking for some good coffee and found it, but ordered a baguette with it——a mistake. That turned out to be a cheese sandwich that she put in that toaster thing that smooches it together while it toasts it. At least the cappuccino was good. I looked further and found an Italian coffee bar for the next day with good-looking croissants.
Sightseeing was walking up, up to the Cathedral of the Assumption. They are working on the area around it——all stone walls, etc. so I had to navigate between huge pieces of machinery. The cathedral was fine—-similar to the one in Mdina. I also looked in on the Cathedral Museum, which was unremarkable, and the archeological museum, which was good.
More fat ladies,
more figurines, and a female bust from the Gigantic
Temples, which are very old. I also got good information as to which bus to take and where to go to the temples. A walk around the walls of the church (old city) gave gorgeous views of the whole island, which isn’t very big. It also isn’t as built up as Malta, so more pleasing, in a way.
I found a good restaurant and had a good lamb shank for dinner. I always mean to make that at home but I never do. It takes a special trip to a special butcher shop, I guess that’s why. I told the landlady of my hotel that she wouldn’t have to put out breakfast for me.
Friday I visited the biggest, oldest temples in Gozo, the Ggantija Temples. They’re actually some of the oldest, and certainly the biggest, in all of Malta. Unfortunately in the 18th and 19th centuries, much was pillaged and so the temples kind of disintegrated. However, they are a UNESCO marked place, and so they have been working at restoring them.
They reach about 20 feet high, and some of the individual stones weigh many tons each. How did they handle these in the years of 3600 to 3000 BCE? One can still see the several niches in each of the two temples. Many of the big stones have holes penetrating completely through the rock. Maybe these holes were for ropes to handle them?
There was a lovely museum in connection with it, too. Two ladies sitting on a couch; several other ‘fat
ladies;’ then some cow toe bones (tiny) made into figures of men; and a ‘family’ of stick figures, quite
beautiful. My guidebook listed several of these figures as being in the Archeology Museum, but they must have moved them back to this location where there were discovered when they created this museum. I wondered why I couldn’t find some of these in the Archeology Museum when I visited it.
A nice long walk early one morning, after my nice cappuccino and croissant, that took me out of town in beautifully pleasant weather, and all downhill (!) was lovely, My, Gozo, like the bigger island of Malta, has a million stones that all look like they have been rearranged hundreds of times.
For my walk, what goes down must come up, but luckily for me, after about a half hour I came to a bus stop with a bus coming in 5 minutes that would take me back to the Victoria bus station. So I escaped the uphill part!
At the station, I figured out which bus to take to go to Gharb (pronounced ‘arb’), which left right away. It’s fun to be out and about on a bus in the rural areas, although the whole island is very small, so one is rarely out of sight of the Mediterranean or of the city of Victoria.
When I got to Gharb, I was eager to see the parish church. It wasn’t open but the exterior was interesting. Three female figures on the convex front of the church represented Faith, Hope and Charity. A sign on one of the bell towers meant something like, “Pay attention to time, young man,”
Moving on, I wanted to walk out into the country to see Ta’Pinu, which was looming up, across some fields. I asked a young man to direct me, and he did. I had to walk quite a ways up the main road, and then cut back to the left to get to Ta’Pinu.
The church was built in the 1920s (they didn’t have ENOUGH churches in Malta!) to celebrate a local woman hearing the Virgin Mary speak to her in this location. Since then many miracles had happened and so the need for this church. It really is beautiful, both inside and out. Across the road a track goes up, up with huge marble sculptures for each of the 14 Stations of the Cross. Boy, somebody had a LOT of money!
Next to the church was a bus stop, again with a bus coming in a few minutes, that would take me back to Victoria bus station. It’s quite fun running around on these nice buses that have good signage and many bus stops all over the island. I also had a map of the buses.
In Victoria, the biggest city in Gozo, they don’t use house numbers. Each house has a plaque—-often religious—-which identifies the house. I guess you’d tell someone that “We’re in the Sacred Heart house on Kercem Street.”
I spent another day doing museums in Victoria. The Folklore museum showed lots of rural tools, including a whole big grinding stone set up to make flour. Apparently in the 18th C. the government encouraged wheat and barley bread as the staple of the common folk’s diet, and set about creating lots of flour mills like this one.
The other museum, Natural History, was less interesting, as it always is. Both of these museums were within the big walls of the Assumption Cathedral so the buildings they were in were fun to see.
A beautiful sunny day was the right one for going to Comino, a non-inhabited island between Malta and Gozo. It has a Blue Lagoon that is a must-see, and a few brave souls were swimming in it, in spite of it being mid-November and only about 70 degrees. The water is crystal clear—it looks funny to see a boat floating in that water when you can see the whole bottom of the boat.
I hiked around part of the island to a small 1618 church with the name of Chapel of Our Lady’s Return From Egypt. The name was bigger than the church. I thought it resembled our southwestern USA mission churches. Maybe just a coincidence.
My last day in Gozo I was sitting at the bus station when I heard “Oh, Holy Night” being sung on a recording. Already?? Since there were pretty flower beds with two kinds of poinsettias there, I photographed the Christmas flowers. No, they’re not quite like ours.
I took a bus to Nadur, a very nice town with a beautiful church, called The Church of Sts. Peter and Paul. There were big statues of them in front of the church, with a big black cannon under each! There was a Mass in progress—the interior was beautiful.
I visited the
Maritime Museum and photographed a small replica of the HMS Victory. Of course I saw a picture of Louis Mountbatten from World War II— his nephew, Prince Charles, resembles him more and more. And speaking of royalty, Queen Elizabeth is coming to Malta in about a week in connection with a meeting of all the Commonwealth nations. She’s still going strong—I think she’s about 91!
Back on the bus to the next town over, called Qala (pronounced aa-la) which has a couple of 18th C. windmills. One was especially complete, but private, so I couldn’t enter it. I guess a family is living in the windmill, just like in old times!
Back into town and to my usual place for linner. I’ve been having the BEST salad here. It’s simply baby greens, big chunks of gorgonzola, walnuts and pears, dressed sparingly with a little oil. I finally figured out that the reason it’s so good is the quality of the gorgonzola! I also had lampuki pie, lampuki being a local fish—-not terribly good, but I wanted to try it before leaving!
Wednesday I left Gozo by bus and ferry, returning to Sliema, Malta and my familiar hostel.
I had a nice conversation with a Mexican young man, who was my roommate. Actually he came in to go to bed about the time I got up at 4:45 AM. I got a bus at 5:30 AM—- the promenade looked pretty at that hour! The bus took me to the airport and then three flights took me home.
It’s fun to go, but it’s fun to come home, too. I hit the cold Minnesota weather as I arrived, but when I got home, I turned on my electric blanket, which I had had the foresight to put on my bed before I left!
Until next time—-