28.01.2013 - 28.01.2013 13 °C
Gozo is proving to be simply a wonderful place to recharge and appreciate God's beautiful handiwork. I love the sandy arid cliffs combined with the green of the terraces and the blue-green colours of the bays. It seems to soothe my soul and generate a peace within. And this despite the trials that come to Ben while driving on the wrong side of the road! Actually, he is doing just great and has discovered how to drive with just the right amount of aggression and restraint. It definitely is a two person job, however, and I am a fully active partner as navigator. Between the GPS' sometimes nebulous' directions and Gozo's many 'diversions' (seemingly permanent detours), the journey is only really restful when the car stops and we get out to walk or take in one of the many vistas. The first order of the day was to find a grocery store to purchase supper fixings. Seeing a free parking stall in the centre of Victoria, Gozo ("quick, Ben, grab it"), we took advantage of it and hoped there was a store nearby. Alas, once found, the grocery store was closed for the daily three-hour siesta so we elected to visit the Citadel in the town instead. It is an imposing fortress but its best feature was that it provided a beautiful view of the countryside.
Today, we visited the Azure Window, so named because one can view the sapphire-like sea through a natural arch, formed over many thousands of years. It is on a beautiful, craggy coastline, sharing its natural glory with another rock formation named Fungus Rock, because of the fungus that readily grows there. There were a few tourists but not many due to the winter climate. Several come by bus as there is both the tourist sightseeing bus which allows patrons to ‘hop on, hop off’ at various spots on their own timetable and the island bus. Each would be a worthwhile option for people without a car. We find our little Peugot very handy, however, and make the most of travelling around, especially considering the following: when we picked it up from the Malta airport, they ‘very kindly’ had filled it with half a tank of gas, charged us for that (with appropriate markup) and told us to ‘bring it back as empty as possible.’ Even with seeing much of Gozo, we have only used an eighth of a tank so I see their scheme to supplement their rental profits is a reliable one. (Most other car rental places provide you with a full tank and if you return it full, you have no extra charges so , in this way, you only pay for gas you actually use.) Those astute Maltese!
Next to the Azure Window is the Inland Sea, a small body of water that comes through a channel from the Mediterranean. Surrounding it are a couple of dozen boat houses. All appeared to be locked for the season. As we humans are wont to do everywhere it seems, they have put in a road to see these two geological sites, added a restaurant, some souvenir shops and an ice cream truck for good measure, and promoted it. Voila, insta-tourist site. I must admit we partook of the ice cream but declined the insistent ‘guide’ who was attempting to sell guidebooks by thrusting them into our hands through the car window upon arrival.
We felt we couldn’t leave Malta without having stepped into one of the 365 churches on the islands so, on our way back home, we popped into one that still seemed very much in use. I can’t recall the name of it just now but it was quiet, dark and restful inside. The many churches on the Malta Archipelago rise high into the sky and provide startling interruptions to the otherwise diminutive skylines. Several of them have imposing domes, with one actually larger than St. Paul’s in London. Pretty impressive for such a small country
We came across a very well-stocked little store and were happy to find a choice of pre-made curry sauces. We paired the find with mango chutney, bought some chicken and rice, and enjoyed a delicious, easy meal at home tonight. Fortunately, the girls were hungry by then, despite having a rare sojourn to a restaurant for lunch on their own. They were served very large platters of pasta and had to leave portions on their plates. They almost didn’t have room for dessert but, luckily, gelato stomachs are separate from lunch stomachs so they were able to go to the same cheap, beach-front gelato stand we frequented yesterday. The evening saw us doing laundry, puttering and playing Dutch Blitz --no one remembers who wins the first game of the evening, just the last one. Sigh.