We Live To Travel

Our First Visitor in Gozo

Note: I have not been posting much… but of course have much to say and show you πŸ™‚ You didn’t think I could keep quiet about my favourite place did you? The internet in our apartment seems to be quite slow for uploading… so it is painful to upload photos and videos. I will do the final posts probably when we get home, as I don’t expect our internet to be fast in our next stop… Sifnos πŸ˜‰

You may also have noticed that I have lost track of counting the days. I know there were 59 days altogther… and I know that we are closer to the end than the beginning… but that’s about all I can tell you right now… it’s probably better for my psyche that way!

Now back to this particular post!

So we have our first (of many, we hope) visitor in Gozo for our last few days here. Steve’s Uncle John has stopped off for a few days before his trip to Germany.

Steve picked him up in Malta at the airport and brought him back to stay with us in Marsalforn.

The first night we had a delicious dinner down at the harbour atΒ  Ta’ Pennellu. This is the third time we’ve eaten here this month and it’s been delicious each time. It’s right out on the waterfront on the main walkway in town. They bring you a complimentary little tasting plate before you get your food with some of the local cheese, olives and a delicious bean dip.

All of our food was delicious… but of special note was this beautiful set of ribs that were falling off the bone.

We were all astonished by the huge portion size… and didn’t think Steve could polish it off on his own… but of course, we were wrong πŸ™‚

After dinner we took a little walk along the waterfront to get some gelato. Here is Steve re-enacting a scene from one of his favourite movies… anyone know who he’s imitating? πŸ™‚

Hint: He has made me watch this movie approximately 34 million times!

 

The next day John and Steve headed out early for coffee… and I slept in πŸ™‚ This is a reversal for Steve who usually sleeps in while I wake up early. Afterwards we went out for breakfast and I enjoyed those delicious waffles with fruit and ice cream again… honestly can waffles get any better?

The next part of our plan was to take the bus up to Xaghra to show John the town where we would like to live when we buy a place here. (In case you missed it the retirement plan is 6 months of the year here on Gozo πŸ™‚ ) While we were waiting for the bus we had a little rest on the waterfront watching the world go by.

The bus ride was an adventure as always. People in Gozo tend to just park their cars wherever they like while they run into the store. This is a problem for buses who are squeezing through some pretty tight spaces. Today our bus driver was unable to make a turn because someone had done just this. To get the person out of the store he laid on the horn for QUITE some time. Then there was the yelling that started with “What is this???? You just saw me ten minutes ago!” and continued with words I don’t understand πŸ™‚

The bus was packed to the gills as always. I’m not sure if I’ve mentioned before but the buses run fairly infrequently. The most frequent one we take is 45 minutes apart, some are one hour, and this particular bus only runs every 90 minutes. This can become a problem because when the bus is full, he just doesn’t let anyone else on the bus… and you are left waiting for the next one to come along. Luckily (knock on wood) we have never been left at the stop… but multiple times (at least three I can think of) we were the very last people the driver let on the bus!

When we arrived in Xaghra and squeezed through the people to get off the bus, we walked a bit to show John the area where we would likely buy a place. We wanted him to get the idea of what it would be like to live in this village. He noticed it was much quieter up in Xaghra (we say up, because it’s up on a hill) rather than Marsalforn where our vacation apartment is.

Steve took a small break to play in the park πŸ˜‰

We also passed the Ta’ Kola Windmill which is a heritage site in Xaghra. I’m going to include a link to the page about it, because I found it fascinating, but it is too much for me to type.

http://heritagemalta.org/museums-sites/ta-kola-windmill/

Now… I’m not sure what I was thinking… but I didn’t realize that the original purpose of windmills was to be a mill. A bit of a “Duh” moment for me. So you see even old girls like me can learn new things every day πŸ™‚

Here is a photo of the above-mentioned beautiful windmill.

We didn’t go inside, but you can visit the windmill and the Ggantija site by buying a 9 Euro entry fee. This gets you entry to both. If you have never been, I highly recommend the Ggantija site as it is ruins that are older than the Pyramids of Giza and Stonehenge! We visited on our first visit to Gozo in a post linked here:

The HOHO Bus in Gozo

I also just have to include one more photo of a house in Xaghra because it is so beautiful.

After our walk through the back streets we headed to the main square. We had a look inside the Cathedral which was something else. It was beautiful, ornate and simply stunning. I got kicked out (oopsie) because my shoulders weren’t covered, but it was okay, because I’d already had a good look πŸ™‚ Steve and John stayed inside and chatted with the man (not sure if he was a priest) who gave them some history and interesting tidbits. Then the man came outside and really tried to convince me to come in because he had some scarves to cover my shoulders. He was quite nice, and really REALLY didn’t want to deny me entrance to the church!

One interesting piece of information about the church is about the clocks. Churches in Malta often have two clocks on the outside, showing two different times. We were told that this was to “trick the devil” so he wouldn’t know when to go in the church. The nice man from the Xaghra church told us, this is what people say, but he thinks the devil is smarter than that. He told us that the one on the left is painted on, and the one on the right actually works. The cool thing about the painted clock on this particular church is that it depicts the time that the actual clock first started working.

After this we stopped for a drink at one of the cafes, and then took a taxi (we think John had enough of the bus!) back home for a little afternoon siesta.

One of the other places Steve really wanted to show John was Victoria. This is the town we stayed in last year, and our second choice for places to live when we move here. We first took John to visit Steve’s favourite place on Gozo, the Citadella. We had a taxi take us right up to the entrance πŸ™‚

There are many reasons Steve loves the Citadella (I love it too of course!).

  • The history is fascinating!
  • The views are incredible. It is the highest point on Gozo and when you are up on the walls of the Citadella you can see all the way around Gozo.

  • He also loves the beautiful buildings. The cathedral is particularly lovely from the outside. We didn’t take any photos because there was a funeral procession happening when we arrived. We did watch from a respectful distance, as it is always interesting to see the local customs. They had a cannon going off multiple times before they walked up the steps and into the cathedral with the coffin. We didn’t count, but it could have been about 21 times. We are not sure what this means, but are thinking it means it is the funeral of someone of importance. This is a photo of us walking through the citadella with the cathedral in the background.

  • There are also some pretty interesting ruins to look at. During various periods in history people were forced to live in the Citadella for protection and safety. Now only two families actually live in the Citadella.

 

After our visit to the citadel we decided to walk down to St. George’s Square for dinner. This is our favourite square in Victoria, and where our apartment was last year.

Before we got there we went through Independence Square which is all gussied up for the Santa Marija Festival. Now there have been A LOT of festivals while we’ve been here for the last month, but Santa Marija is Gozo (and Malta’s) biggest! There are stages, statues, pedestals (I can’t think of a better word for it), flags and lights. I’ll include a few photos so you get the idea!

Can you see John?

Before we stopped for dinner in St. George’s Square we headed down the little street behind the cathedral to show John the “Marta” house πŸ™‚ When Marta’s come to visit they need to see the Marta house!

As we were walking we saw this pretty little street that we hadn’t noticed before.

We had a nice dinner in the square… Steve and I shared the chicken platter (of course). Here’s a photo of Steve and John with their “ales”. John with his favourite “dark”… and Steve with his favourite “ginger” πŸ˜‰

After dinner, we headed to our favourite gelato place, and then back home for the evening.

The next day with John we decided to take him on the Hop On Hop Off bus tour… which I will now refer to as the HOHO bus.

We thought this would give John a good feeling for what the whole island looked like. He wasn’t interested in doing the touristy things, just seeing why we liked the island so much.

When we first got on, we were the only people on the bus!

Some of the highlights were the many beautiful cathedrals. Gozo only has a population of about 31,000 people… but each village has it’s own beautiful cathedral… plus more churches. According to wikipedia the island has 46 churches! Here are a few of the beautiful ones (as seen from the bus!) This is the Church of St. Jean the Baptist in Xewkija. The HOHO recorded lady told us it can hold 3000 congregants! Wow!

This beautiful cathedral is in San Lawrenz.

And finally Ta’ Pinu. Not only is this a cathedral this is a national shrine. Miracles are attributed to this location as well as one interesting legend. In 1575 a delegate from the pope ordered the building to be demolished. As a worker struck the first blow he broke his arm. This was taken as a message from God that the chapel should not be destroyed. Of course there have been improvements and restorations since this time.

There are some beautiful carrera marble statues that start in a path in front of this church and then continue up the hill in front of the church. In total there are 14 statues which depict scenes from the stations of the cross.

The last bits from the HOHO bus are going to be videos.

The first shows the acqueducts that were built by the British in the 1800’s. They were functional and used to move water from the “Cave of Water Hill” to Victoria. They are no longer in use (which will be obvious when you see them in the video.) Before you see them on the left you drive through a large arch across the road. Only one car at a time fits through.

 

The second video shows the ride down the road to Dwejra (pronounced Dweyra). This is where the Azure Window used to be. It was interesting because you could see a large limestone quarry from the top of the bus. I’ve never seen it before because we were never high enough to see over!

The final video is to give you an idea of how tight the streets are for the bus. Many times we felt like we could reach out and touch people’s second floor balconies. You can see him dodging cars and making turns that come precariously close to buildings. I have to give the drivers credit. Never once when I was on a bus did they scrape a building or another car!

We finished off our beautiful day with a night out at the Fat Rabbit in Nadur with Suzy and Mike. This is my all time favourite restaurant in Gozo! If you come here you have to go! The food is excellent, the prices are amazing… and of course our evening was complete being in the company of our very favourite Gozitans πŸ™‚

 

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