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10/8 Where is Gozo?

Before you even ask, Gozo is an island in the country of Malta. Malta is in the Mediterranean Sea near Sicily (roughly 100 miles) and only 241 miles from Tunis, Tunisia. Malta is a member of the EU and uses the Euro.  It’s been on our list to visit for a bit and when we met two Americans who live here (You meet the most interesting people tasting Scotch last December in Edinburgh), we decided to come see the country.

First we had to get here the day after we went to Oktoberfest!  Thank heavens for Star Alliance Gold!  The Munich Airport was a disaster at 10 AM with LONG lines snaking through the terminal to check in/drop bags (the longest lines we’ve ever seen in Munich by far) and then go through security.  Since Lufthansa checks in Air Malta (the airline we flew), Mark said “Let’s use our United Gold card and go to Star Alliance First Class/Gold line”.  I KNEW those mileage runs would come in handy!

That line had about 6 people in it. The Lufthansa check-in lady said Oktoberfest always makes the airport busy and next week (Wednesday) is a Public Holiday – Reunification Day – so lots of people took Monday and Tuesday off to go with Wednesday.

We touched down in Malta almost on time but getting to Gozo involves a drive to the ferry port, ride the ferry for 20 minutes to Gozo, and another drive to Victoria where our hotel was.  The taxi drive from the Malta airport to the ferry took about an hour – tons of Friday afternoon traffic on not very big roads.

Gozo ferry

This ferry runs between Gozo and Malta with cars, trucks and people on it. The whole ride takes about 20 minutes.

The ferry ride from Malta to Gozo is free – you pay on the way back!  We took a cab from there to the Duke Hotel in Victoria.  Gozo traffic was pretty bad but it was Friday and there’s only one road from the ferry port to Victoria.

Gozo is pretty small (about 9 miles by 4 miles) with a collection of 2 lane roads, narrow city streets, and parking on 2 sides of the main city streets. Don’t forget .. Malta was British for so long that they drive on the left side of the road.

narrow street with red car

That car really did belong on the street. We watched some interesting driving and parking!

Maltese wooden balconies

Maltese balconies. These are all over the place painted in different colors.

Another view of the Citadella from Victoria. You can see how big the Main road is …or is not!

One day we walked up to the Citadella, built in the 15th century and reinforced and added to over the years.  There’s also a Cathedral in the middle of it.  It was hard to get any good pictures of the castle up close.

Citadella

The Citadella in Victoria looms over the entire island. That’s a hedge of prickly pear cactus.

spare pillar pieces in the Citadella

Looks like they left a few spare architectural pieces laying around.

Malta cat peeking around corner

We found this Malta cat staring at us in the Citadella.

Fake dome in the cathedral

This ceiling is really flat. There was not enough money to pay for the dome so the builders used a technique to make it look as if there’s a dome.

Cathedral of the Assumption altar

Altar in the Cathedral of the Assumption

Church of the Assumption

Cathedral of the Assumption inside the Citadella

Another day was Hop On Hop Off bus day!  Little did we know a Holland America cruise was in port and lots of those passengers opted to take the sightseeing bus. The bus was packed when we got on and most of the people, we think, just stayed on and rode around the island without ever getting off.

The bus went through Victoria on the way to Dwerja where we got off to wander around the rocks and see the sights for 45 minutes, use the toilet and buy 2 postcards.  Back on the bus to drive past Ta Pinu (large cathedral), Fontina, Xlendi (beach town near Victoria), Marsalforn (beach town).

Cliffs of Dwerja

More cliffs of Dwerja.

Dwerja cliffs

Dwerja Cliffs and rocks. Lots of people were diving or snorkeling off this coast.

We started looking for megaliths when we lived in Portugal.  The Ggantija megaliths in Gozo are well-organized and easy to find with a good visitor’s center in the sleepy town of Xaghro.  I didn’t have to drag Mark on any dirt country roads in this trip!

Ggantija megaliths dating from 2500 BC

Ggantija megaliths

These megaliths are literally on the main road and quite easy to get to.

stone windmill

Ta Kola Windmill built in 1725

When the bus finally showed up again, we rode it past Ramla and Nadur to Mgarr, the ferry port, where we lost most of the other people on the bus. When we arrived at the Rotunda Church, the driver told us we could have 5 minutes to go in the church since the next stop is closed on Sunday and he has to wait at the church, anyway, to stay on schedule. We checked out Rotunda of John the Baptist, 4th largest rotunda in Europe, depending who’s doing the calculations!

St. John the Baptist Church looming above the plains

Church of St. John the Baptist standing above Xewtija.  I had to take the picture from a moving bus!

Best sight of the day … worker at the port trying to get a group organized for a speedboat ferry.  He finally said, “OMG” and then blessed himself!

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