Gozo

Trip Start Mar 16, 2004
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Trip End Jun 13, 2004


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Flag of Malta  ,
Wednesday, March 31, 2004

I set out early following the road along the north coast of Malta to get to Cirkewwa and the ferry to Gozo. Miriam has given me the address of the hostel on Gozo with the instructions to say a big hello to Fr. George.

Its another fine grey day. the wind is really blowing strong, but its mostly behind me. Soon after getting into the countryside I take a break by a tower on a little headland, Qrejten Point. Qalet Marka Tower, built 1658/59 a sign informs me. Its a two storey high stone tower and housed an old gun emplacement. I sat on the sheltered side and read a bit more of the History of Malta. I reckoned I had tons of time to get to Gozo.

I eventually put the book away and continue into St Paul's. A fine resort town along St Paul's Bay. A little out to sea are the islands he was actually shipwrecked on in 60AD. Daydreaming my way along I missed the turn off to Melliha and end up on the other side of the island. Before I realised I had made a slight error I spent some time exploring Ghajn Tuffieha Bay. It is a protected area and managed in partnership with the Gaia Foundation.

A beautiful sandy beach and the water looked clear and inviting despite the weather.I tried to take a short cut in the wrong direction and that was when I noticed I was not where I thought I was.

Back on the right road I found that Malta has a couple of steep climbs after all. I actually broke into a sweat getting over the last couple of hills to the harbour. A ferry was just arriving as I made my way down to the quay. The bow of the boat opened and people streamed out followed by the cars. Within 15 minutes I was onboard and we were sailing to Gozo. Twenty minutes more and I was on the pier at Mgarr Gozo. Three ferries were in operation so its clearly a very busy route.

The only way out of the harbour(by road anyhow) is up. I stopped at a supermarket and got directions to the hostel. Its only a few hundred metres from the port. It was about 6pm and despite ring both bells at the gate I could get no reply. I couldn't see over the high wall around the building.

With only an hour or so light left the best option was to cycle to Victoria , the capital, and look for a B+B. I was there soon after. A large sign outside a building proclaimed B&B Real Estate. It turned out to be an estate agents. No one around knew of a B+B. A little further on I asked in a bar. The men had a bit of a discussion and directed me to a house nearby where a woman lets rooms. I could get no answer here either.

It was dusk now so I fell back on the camping option. I headed out towards the coast and choose a spot on the hard clay at the entrance to a field. I used huge limestone blocks instead of pegs. At one point after inserting the pole I ended up holding onto a guy rope as the tent flew in the wind like a kite. It was nice and snug inside out of the wind.

Trucks rumbling by on the way to the quarry just up the road woke me about 7am. I dozed a while and got up. The wind had died a little but the mist had closed in. It was that fine mist that soaks everything. I packed up and headed back to try my luck again at the hostel.

In the fog I took a wrong turn somewhere and ended up in Zebbug by a mist enshrouded church and in completely the wrong direction. Luckily Gozo is tiny so its no big deal to retrace your steps.

I had better luck this time and Fr George himself welcomed me in. I got a lovely little single room and Fr George plugged in the heater to warm the room although I didn't think it was cold. A few minutes later he returned with a little history booklet about the hostel. It used to be a home for orphaned boys, now its a home for wandering travellers.

Fueled by a tasty pizza at Rexy's restaurant up the road and I set out for a look around Gozo. My first stop was the Ggantica Temple, thousands of years old. Only a little bit down the road are the Calypso Caves. When I saw the steps leading down into a gap between the boulders I thought this might be really exciting. However the caves only extend in a few metres. Its not exactly pot holing. I'm not familiar with the story of Homer, no not The Simpsons, ancient mythology. Apparently these caves feature in it.

The sun was however trying to break through the cloud when I re-emerged onto the cliff top. This weather was definitely unusual according to the man renting out candles at the entrance to the site. Four days with no sun and fog till the afternoon. "Its not normal"

On the road to the Azure Window I past a sign to Ta'pina Church. I'm glad I visited it now. Its my favourite of the churches I was in. Simply decorated inside, this is a church you can pray in. This is the Knock of Malta. The story is that in 1883 Carmela Grima heard Mary talking to her in the old Chapel. Many miracles occurred in the years that followed and when the plague struck Malta it is said that prayers at the church saved Gozo. In thanks the locals decided to build a new church and the existing building was built with money donated by Gozitans at home and abroad. It was consecrated in 1931 and given the status of Basilica in 1932.

The Azure Window was more like the grey window by the time I arrived. Still worth the visit. Equally interesting is the fact that the wave cut platform by it is absolutely encrusted with fossil shells.

Hostel bound I went for a quick walk around the citadel in Victoria. Another old walled city, but much smaller than the others. A fine cathedral by the entrance and a few people still live in the buildings around it. Almost everything behind it has tumbled and you walk narrow paths between overgrown sites. I only just beat nightfall back to the hostel.
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