Category Archives: Gozo, Malta

Post Script: Gozo scramble

Sunday is a big soccer day in Malta, as town’s local teams (adults) compete.  Gozo Joe offered to drive us to the ferry dock (very nice of him) but it had to be squeezed in before the start of his son’s soccer game.  On the other end of the ferry ride, our new host Mark had his wife (who also plays on a team) pick us up, as the team he coaches had a game.

Back to the scramble:  (Tom & Alyssa  – you’d enjoy this!)

IMG_1112 We had some free time Sunday a.m. before Joe arrived, so I started up the cliff.  Above you can see the zig-zag of the stair rail starting at the base.  Concrete steps correspond.

After that, there is a well worn path with steps carved into the rock where appropriate.  It was a quick ascent to a perfect meditation spot, and I took some mental snap shots to be recalled later.  Coming down took more attention but never really dangerous.  Laura

Reflecting on Gozo

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Dave gets credit for this image.  I’m still not used to where to look for traffic – they drive on the left. Yes – the skies finally glazed over and we had a cool breeze Saturday.

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Safety:  A person using a wheelchair or walker could not get around easily.  Narrow, steep stairs are the rule, and if there is a sidewalk, often it’s only 18” or so wide.

We spent Wednesday touring the Citadel in Victoria, where there are 4 museums.  There was a lot on construction going on, and we weaved our way through the construction zones, earthmovers and all.  Compare the photo above of the hallway outside one of the museums, where the public freely walks, to U.S. safety requirements.  “Watch where you’re walking my darling!”

 

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Ta’Nona. Seemed to have some British regulars.

The couple of times we did eat out, we did so at this cozy bar/eatery.  The cuisine of Malta is heavily influenced by Italy – pasta, pizza and local fish.  The pizza we had was great – thin crust.  In addition to the toppings common in the U.S., their list includes capers, seafood, and slices of boiled eggs.  Unfortunately their sausage translates into those little canned finger sausages -euwww.

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View from our Xlendi Bay apartment. Thanks, Gozo Joe. Ta’Nona is at the lower edge of the image.  If we would have had one more day here, I would have scrambled to the top of this ridge.  I’ve read that it’s possible – there’s a ‘ghost’ staircase. Not Dave’s cup of tea.

Yes, a live owl on his shoulder.
Yes, a live owl on his shoulder.

IMG_1276We didn’t stick around and stare, but if it’s like Greece, this family of 3 will squeeze on the bike and scoot on home.

Next posting from the main island of Malta! Laura

Gozo Doors

Grocery store in Munxar (mung-schar), about a 20 minute walk, which I did two mornings.
Grocery store in Munxar (mung-schar), about a 20 minute walk from apartment, which I did two mornings.  Tip if you’re ever here:  bring your produce to the cheese counter to be weighed and priced. Hum.

 

Classic Toyota door
Classic Toyota in pristine condition.  Generally cars were in fine shape, new and old.

 

OK - a missing door.
OK – a missing door – on an old farm building.

 

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Holy – schmoley! We have a winner. Xewkija Dome church.

 

S’more walkin’ !

Yup  – more walking!  This day we took the bus to the western edge of the island – Dwejra Point – to see the Azure window.  We then walked back to Xlendi Bay.  Enjoy!  Laura

Sunrise sky
Sunrise sky
Bus station in Victoria.
Bus station in Victoria.
When buses pass on a one lane street!
When buses pass on a one lane street!
(crazy) people were walking along the top of this 'window'.
(crazy) people were walking along the top of this ‘window’.
Working boat houses.
Working boat houses.
Where we came from..
Where we came from..
..where we're headed.
..where we’re headed.
Standing guard on 500 year old Qawra tower.
Standing guard on 500 year old Qawra tower.
Massive stone quarry, origin of main building material. The island was deforested centuries ago, leaving wood at a premium.
Typical, quaint church in the town square.
Typical, quaint church in the town square.
OK, hunters.  Bird blind?
OK, hunters. Bird blind?
Local produce.  Thanks for following our trip!
Local produce. Thanks for following our trip!

Morning walk

IMG_1163Looking back toward Xlendi Bay.  Note the absence of litter!!!  The islands are gloriously free of it, except for an occasional ‘accidental’ piece (I would guess).  The homes, yards and gardens  also reflect a very tidy quality.

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The only bit of graffiti we’ve seen.
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Not all rock walls are created equal.

 

Ahhh… I hear the toot of a ‘market truck” – my name for them.  We’ve seen them in Xlendi and neighboring towns.  The horn announces the arrival of basically a rolling mini-grocery store.  You have to be quick though, they don’t linger in any one spot long.

Moving Mini-market
Moving Mini-market

 

Modern windmill??
Modern windmill??
Example of a house shell for sale.
Example of a house shell for sale.
The island's main town - Victoria - and it's citadel in the distance.
The island’s main town – Victoria – and it’s citadel in the distance.

– Laura

Gozo walk about

In December 2004,  Dave & I visited Malta for 3 weeks.  We stayed in 2 different places on the main island and had a 4 day stay in Marsalforn on the north coast of Gozo.  Though it was rainy and unseasonably cold (so they said), I remember fondly the walks we took through the countryside from town to town.  I’ve anticipated these walks on this trip, and thankfully the weather has cooperated.   Cloudy mornings skies seem to always clear by midday.

Monday’s walk started in Xlendi Bay where we headed east on a trail through the fields.  The islands have been inhabited for over 5ooo years, and I can’t imagine how much work it took to build the rock retaining walls that cover them.  The terraces they create are garden/farm lands. IMG_1085

We met a gentleman on the trail who said he had been in bed with a bad back for 3 days – he blamed the bumpy scooter ride!  He and his dog Charlie were headed to Munxar – where they do have a grocery store.

IMG_1083Our walk continued along these beautiful south facing cliffs.

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Construction challenges with  narrow streets!  There are many eunfinished homes with for sale signs.  It appears as though they build a shell on speculation and the buyer finishes the interior, including windows. It also appears as though no mortar is used between these solid blocks of stone.

IMG_1090Finally, we wound our way through the villages of Sannat and Munxar before looping back to Xlendi Bay. – Laura

Xlendi Bay
Xlendi Bay

 

Winning Musher!!

A personal shout out to my brother Al (Fritter) for placing first in a professional dog sled race in N. Michigan this last weekend.  He ran with 10 dogs (winning time of  4 hr, 28 minutes), and I’m very proud of him.  He works hard training these dogs, and I’m sure he’s enjoying the payoff.  Way to go Frit!! – Laura

Musher Al
Musher Al. Photo by Sigurd Utych

 

 

On to Malta

Travel day Sunday, Jan 11 (Go HAWKS!!)

Norberto arranged for his regular taxi driver to pick us up at 5 a.m. (Aurg!). 15 minute ride to airport and search for Ryan Air’s ticket counter.

NOTE : Ryan Air (a big Boeing customer) is a budget carrier.  Our 2.5 hr flight to Malta on a 737-800 was $60 each.  The reverse trip will cost us $45.  What you give up for that price is:

  • a seat that reclines
  • a seat back pocket and it’s contents,
  • an assigned seat. You can pay for the privilege, or get their random pick for free.
  • an email reminder the day before the flight.  You can chose to get it for a fee.  See a pattern here?
  • music and tv/movies. The armrests are totally free of buttons, plugs etc.
  • complementary anything – nothing on the food cart is free, including water.
  • a heavy carry-on.  They have weight limits  for carry on bags.

Dave’s suitcase, which fit as carry-on flying to Europe (and within the states) was larger than their max carry-on size, so it had to be checked – for a fee.  If you make the mistake of thinking your bag WILL fit as a carry on and it doesn’t, that fee is double at the gate.  We did witness 2 young ladies in this bind – trying in vain to squish their hard shell bags into the little measuring box. 🙁  There are more restrictions, all of which are detailed on their website.  Ryan Air and Easyjet are great options for budget travel, just be advised to do your homework to avoid surprises.

Back to Sunday!

Flight was uneventful – we flew over the north coast of Africa, and arrived in a cloud-covered, windy (palm trees swaying) Malta.

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Took local bus from the Malta airport..

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to the ferry dock at north end of the island.  The 30 minute ferry ride (cars & walk-ons) took us to the island of Gozo.

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The island of Gozo is a part of Malta, just a little smaller and greener (less populated)  island than the main island.  Our lodging  host (Joe) picked us up at the ferry terminal.  We could have taken a taxi, or 2 different buses to get to the town of Xlendi, where our 1 week rental is located.   Graciously he offered to stop at a supermarket for us to get provisions, as our little beach town of Xlendi has no grocery store – though it does have has 18 restaurants! – Laura