In my latest post about Malta I have already mentioned that a trip to Gozo is absolutely compulsory once we are in the country. The little sister island is truly a gem. Here you can totally hide away from the world, enjoy some dolce far niente (sweet doing nothing) topped up with some sun, sea and delicious food, dive deep into the calmness and simplicity of country life and wonder at scenic natural beauty surrounding you wherever you go. First I visited Gozo in 2006. The brief meeting soon turned into a close acquaintance, followed by an intimate friendship, which finally turned into love. It happened something like this:
A brief meeting
I went to Gozo for the first time during a summer university. On a one day excursion we covered the main sights, went for a swim in Hondoq-bay and tasted the traditional Gozitan pizza with potato topping (yes, it is as filling as it sounds!). Immediately I liked the idea that you can reach this place only by ferry.
Once standing on the deck refreshing wind and beautiful sunshine greets me, and the deep blue sea with its white curly waves. If I pay attention enough I might see jellyfish as big as a volleyball floating in the water. Or even dolphins! But I have never been that lucky so far. While approaching the tiny island the running time slows down and only the moment becomes important. Somehow I feel that now I am arriving at a magical place, and already at the first time I am looking forward to returning and discovering it a bit more.
A close acquaintance
There are those defining moments of life that even many years, or even decades later we are able to recall perfectly clear. It happened at a weekend in November that together with another four girls we decided to spend a couple of days in Gozo.
We had amazing weather, which made our hike from Victoria (the capital of Gozo) to the megalithic temples, then to Ramla-bay, which is famous for its red sand, very memorable. Here the braver ones (or shall I say those who do not tend to freeze?!) even had a quick dip in the sea. The next day we jumped on our rented bikes and headed towards the Azure Window (the featured image of this post). During the peak season there is always a huge crowd here; everyone wishes to see the marvellous natural arch, which is a masterpiece creation of time and sea. But this time we were pretty much on our own; talking, laughing, eating our pre-packed sandwiches for lunch then enjoying a bit of solitude with nature. I walked around the rocks, wondered at the beauty of the infinite blueness and I felt that after a very long journey I arrived. That afternoon, sitting by the Azure Window, I made one of the most determining decisions of my life: that I would move to Malta.
Beginning of a beautiful friendship
From then onwards short trips to Gozo became a regular thing. Once in February at the Nadur Carnival we were scaring winter off in terrifying costumes, then at dawn we were running all the way from the village to the port to catch the first ferry. Nadur also became really special because of its promenade, from where you get to see all the islands and the sea. Here there is a bench, where I am able to sit for hours just looking at the serene view. And there is a swing, which does not only give space to the child in me, but celebrates her with open arms.
I found my favourite places in Victoria as well. The Grapes Wine Bar, where the kisra (Gozitan bread) is not made with canned, but fresh tuna, and where the vanilla ice cream is prepared in the old way. Or Organika, the tiny shop or rather a treasure chest of fair trade products and organic food, where I can never resist to add another item to my Organika collection. And I found my favourite little squares, alleys, even door knobs.
Falling in love
I do not know if a swim at the hidden beaches, my first snorkeling experience or a walk along the salt pans was the moment when something changed in me forever. When I fell in love with this remote, sometimes crude, other times protecting but always truly honest corner of the world. Maybe those couple of days played their part as well, when as a holiday we rented an apartment with a breathtaking sea view.
We spent mornings and afternoons by the sea; at noon and in the evenings we cooked and had great meals on the balcony. Fresh fish, delicious pastas, crispy salads, and loads of ice cream! for which we did not mind to go as far as Xlendi. Ever since then these mini breaks in Gozo became a habit. Although I never know when will be our next trip, I always have the joy and excitement of returning and discovering something new. Maybe that is why this love can be long-standing, even eternal…
P.S: … a bit like Malta J