Having explored much of Malta over the last two days we couldn’t leave without hopping across on the ferry, past Comino, to Gozo – Malta’s even smaller cousin island. Although markedly similar to Malta in terms of style and appearance, Gozo is in fact noticeably different, one of the first differences you will notice is it is much much quieter…well, ok, it’s basically deserted at this time of year!
Despite this, the Hop on Hop Off bus winds it’s way up the hill, giving way to a stunning birds’ eye view of Mgarr port, before we make our way through deserted streets until we find a delightful little town square, with picture perfect shops and market stalls selling the most amazing local liqueurs – including the famous pink prickly pear liqueur – perfect as a top up in champagne – which is exactly what we had at our lunch time stop.
After refueling with our prickly pear champagnes and somehow managing to not spill them all over ourselves and the bus, we were off to the next stop, the Citadella in Victoria. Inhabited since the Bronze Age, this site was full of history, wrapping us in a timeless elegance as we absorbed the culture and history of another one of Europe’s finest examples of an ancient walled city, with an extraordinary mix of medieval and baroque architecture standing side by side. It was here that we discovered yet more food of the gods, in a delightfully thick molten form of hot chocolate in The Clock House, a beautiful little cafe-come-restaurant in the centre of Victoria. If there’s one thing you do in Gozo, even if it’s dead quiet, get yourself along here for a hot chocolate!
Now suitably warmed up, we were were ready to tackle the rest of our flying visit to Gozo. The deserted bus took us through the deserted centre of Gozo, passing one of Malta and Gozo’s most grand Cathedrals – Ta’ Pinu Cathedral which was literally in the middle of nowhere! This grand building goes by many names, including “Ta’ Pinu Shrine” and “Basilica of the ‘National Shrine of the Blessed Virgin of Ta’ Pinu”, if you’re being fancy. The origins of this grand building are shrouded in mystery, but the first written recording of it was in the Curia of Gozo – which first came about in the fifteenth century, so it’s really pretty old! Pope Gregory XII had wanted it to be knocked down when he visited the Maltese islands in 1557 and found many of the churches to be in a terrible state, but after the workman broke his arm when he began demolition, everyone took this as an omen and decided not to demolish the building.
Continuing our journey and with the sun sinking low in the sky, we eventually arrived at the famous Azure Window – a natural stone arch formation as a result of erosion and two limestone caves collapsing. It is know as one of the many beauty spots of Gozo and Malta! With only just enough time to pose for daft photographs before jumping back over the rocks, in the dark, to the bus stop, we made the very last bus back to the ferry port.