Gozo, Maltese islands

Gozo is smaller than it’s sister island of Malta.  It is one of 21 that make up the Maltese archipelago.  Gozo has been inhabited for thousands of years by the Phoenicians, Romans, Arabs, Sicilians, French and British.  It was most famous for the Azure Window, also known as the Dwejra Window.  The Azure Window was a 28-meter tall natural limestone arch located in Dwejra Bay, close to the Inland Sea and Fungus Rock.  Unfortunately, on 8 March 2017, the arch collapsed due to high winds during a storm.  The Azure Window was also the backdrop for Game of Thrones wedding scene between Daenerys Targaryen and Khal Drogo in Season 1.  We were lucky enough to have been able to see this beautiful structure.

While on the main island of Malta, we took a bus to the Northern tip of the island to reach the ferry in Cirkewwa.  The only way to get to Gozo is by ferry, unless you have your own boat or seaplane.

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Ferry from Cirkewwa to Mgarr

The ferry ride lasted about a half hour and when we approached the harbor it was a sight to see.

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Approaching Mgarr Harbor, Gozo

As we disembarked the ferry we were able to see up the cliff and all around this part of the island.

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Walking to Mgarr from harbor, Gozo

We were only going to be on the island for one night, so we had to plan our itinerary carefully and efficiently.  Since we did not have our own transportation, we had to rely on buses and taxis, which were plentiful around the island, though the bus routes were more regional.  Basically, there were main bus terminals in Vapur and in Victoria.  You could go North, South, East or West, but not all on the same bus.  For instance,  we were staying in a hotel in Xlendi but wanted to visit the Azure Window which was in San Lawrenz.  We had to first take the 301 bus from Mgarr (Vapur) to Victoria, then take the 312 bus from Victoria to San Lawrenz.  In order to get to our hotel from San Lawrenz we had to take the 312 bus back to Victoria, then take the 306 bus from Victoria to Xlendi.   It’s a small island, but the system was a bit inconvenient.

What was convenient was that we were planning to return back to the main island of Malta to stay a few more days at our hotel in Sliema after our overnight trip to Gozo.  Because of this we were able to store our luggage at the hotel before we left for Gozo (they basically wrapped tape around our luggage and put in a closet behind the front desk, not exactly luggage storage as mentioned on their website).  This allowed us to only take a backpack each with overnight supplies to Gozo.  We basically got on the ferry, toured around Victoria, went to the Azure Window, swam, then arrived at our hotel without having to carry around luggage all day.

Let’s get back to our itinerary.  Once we arrived at the port, we took the bus from Mgarr (Vapur) to Victoria and had enough time to explore a bit of the town, which was absolutely beautiful.

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Back street in Victoria, Gozo

We found ourselves walking on some back streets and came upon St. Georges Square.

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St. Georges Square, Victoria, Gozo

We had a fantastic lunch of amazing local Maltese wine, rabbit ravioli and fresh mussels at The Grapes Wine Bar.  Simply amazing.  We still talk about this meal!

After a leisurely lunch, we walked back to the main bus terminal in Victoria to find our bus to the Azure Window.  It took about 15 minutes to get to San Lawrenz and we walked down to the Azure Window.

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Azure Window, Gozo

The site of the Azure Window just blew me away.  It didn’t look real.  We saw people walking on top of the bridge of the arch and it looked pretty scary.  Of course we decided to hike up to the arch and walk on it as well.  It was a bit terrifying, but I put on my big girl pants and trekked on.

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Standing on top of Azure Window arch, Gozo

We climbed down from the arch back to the sea level.  Then we decided to hike down to the swimming hole underneath the arch.  Wish we would’ve brought water shoes because the rocks were rugged and slippery.

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Standing sea level below Azure Window, Gozo

I have never experienced such cold water, but it was so invigorating to stand in the pool beneath the window’s arch.  I wish I had a waterproof camera because the waves crashing against the rocks was absolutely breathtaking, I’m sure the photos wouldn’t have done it any justice!  After our refreshing swim, we enjoyed a couple of beers to celebrate our experience while we waited for the bus back to Victoria.

Once we arrived at our hotel in Xlendi (pronounced Shlendi), it was still daylight and we wanted to swim at the beach in front of our hotel.  Upon check in at the most amazing St. Patricks Hotel, they upgraded us to a higher room.  The view was outstanding and the service did not disappoint.

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View from balcony of St. Patricks Hotel, Xlendi, Gozo

 One of our favorite things to do is find amazing seafood on any coast we travel to.  Prior to the trip I did some research on highly rated restaurants in Xlendi and found The Boathouse.  It’s a very nice restaurant, and you would think the dining attire would be more upscale.  However, we walked in and there were people sitting in swimsuit sarongs.  I remember ordering the squid ink pasta with an array of different seafood.  I recommend sharing some different plates here, because food portions were huge!  Besides almost exploding at the seams, the meal was incredible nonetheless.  After dinner we were presented with a glass of homemade limoncello.  I then proceeded to talk with our waitress about how my parents make homemade limoncello from a recipe we found while traveling in Italy.  Next thing I know, the owner came over and set down about 5 or 6 bottles of homemade and local Maltese liquors. Yes, we had to enjoy a glass of each one.  The meal and all those drinks were fairly inexpensive for what we had; dinner for two, bottle of wine, dessert was about €70.

After dinner we walked off the food and booze around the other size of the cove.

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South side of cove, Xlendi, Gozo

It was a perfect ending to a perfect day.  We were sad to leave the next day, but still talk about going back to spend more time on Gozo because it was definitely one of my favorite places to explore.

 

 

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