The 2nd of the three islands Gozo is described by wikitravel as being the island Malta could have been. Less densely populated than its bigger neighbour, it is less developed and in some ways the more beautiful of the two. The island is maintained to have significance in Greek Mythology. Gozo is said to be the island Ogygia, mentioned in Homer’s epic Odyssey. The island is where the nymph Calypso resided and held Odysseus captive because of her infatuation for him. There are far worse places to be held captive though than the pretty island though 🙂
Despite this history hasn’t always been kind to Gozo. The Ottomans having failed to conquer Malta turned their intention to Gozo, a successful attack which lead to most of the population carried away in slavery. The Knights Hospitallers (who ruled Malta and Gozo) repopulated the island mainly from Malta but the island’s people have their own culture to this day. To get there is a ferry service from Cirkewwa�but you pay for your ticket when returning to Malta. There is a beautiful view of the Mgarr harbour that can be seen when incoming or departing. I only saw the latter as I slept for the very short journey on the way.
When arriving in the city I purchased a one day bus ticket but walked around 2km to a place near Qala with a beautiful view of the harbour. Before setting on the uphill walk I passed by the church of Our Lady of Lourdes (set upon a hill and photogenic) as well as passing a church dedicated to the Roman Catholic saint – Anthony of Padua. The church was closed at the time but like many of Gozo’s churches it was impressively large for a small village.
Later I took the bus to Victoria, the main town and very much the centre of life on the island. There appeared to be a religious festival (on Malta) too at the time, although I am not aware which. In any case the town was more lively with some restaurants and nice shops. I also came across several friendly groups of people who asked me to take pictures from them.
The atmosphere there was congenial and the town has impressive architecture and a plethora of St George flags (also the flag of England). perhaps the cities patron saint. There is a huge church dedicated to the Saint. I walked up the impressive citadel to where there is a photogenic and beautiful panorama of Victoria and its surroundings. The citadel itself is free to enter and there are several museums , shops and a cafe with a view on the site and when I was there were not too many people.
I decided to take a bus to visit the Azure window and while waiting I had the pleasure of coming across some kind Polish travellers I had met while travelling in Dingli (I had asked them to take a photo for me) and then again briefly came across them on the ferry. They were also planning to visit the Azure window and we took the same bus and travelled together.
The Azure window is without doubt a place of great natural beauty. We walked in the water nearby although it was a bit slippery and difficult without footwear. But the view close up is very impressive and the azure coloured waters of course adds to the attraction. We also then decided to view both the Azure Window and cliffs from above. Missing a bus but without regret. It is a place well worth spending time in.
Along the other side is a natural pool of about 1 metre deep which leads to a natural cave with a big increase of depth of 26 metres. None of us took a boat there but such opportunities exist. We decided to leave in order to be able to catch the last sensible (in time) ferry back to Malta which required a change in Victoria.
The ferry journey was smooth and we enjoyed a nice view of the harbour as we left.
However the drama was when we arrived.. The last bus did not depart as apparently the bus driver had worked his regulated hours and so everybody was stranded! Well not completely there were night buses but day tickets are not valid on them. And the obstinacy (or stubbornness of the staff) meant everyone had to pay despite being on time for the last bus that was not now departing. Appalling service but I have never come to expect much of a British transport company. I elected not to share that information with others while there. However my visit to Gozo was lovely and I hope to return when time permits.