For once, I can say that I am NOT sorry that my latest post comes nearly 2 weeks after my last one. My life here, contrary to popular belief (which may or may not be perpetuated by me), is pretty boring. I go to class, go grocery shopping, and run errands. Nothing too exciting going on here. I’ve more or less fallen into a schedule that is somewhat difficult to break, especially being a student on a quite limited budget (if you’d like to contribute to the Meredith Needs a Life fund, please message me at your convenience).
So, I was determined last week that this weekend I would do something exciting. Something cool. I’ve been cooped up in my flat/at class for 2 weeks, with really nothing to show for it. I have made some amazing, delicious, stupendous, MIND BLOWING chicken stock:
But again, this weekend, I was going on an adventure. I was going to go somewhere that reminded me of the awe and beauty that struck me when I first began exploring Malta.
That place, as it turns out, is Gozo.
I had spoken to Danielle earlier in the week about making a trip out to Gozo, and she told me that she’s down for just about anything! She’d been to Gozo once before when she saw a production of Madama Butterfly at the Opera House there, and was eager to go back. Unfortunately, this time of year in Malta consists largely of rain, cold breezes, and some more rain. I told her that we’d try to plan for Saturday. If it wasn’t nice and sunny on Saturday, we’d have to scrap the trip for another date. I crossed my fingers…
Thankfully, yesterday was mostly sunny and non-rainy! And yes, I am writing this the day after my adventure. Shocking, I know. I emailed Danielle at 10:15 AM, and told her to hurry to my apartment by 12, because I wanted to get out there immediately! In hindsight, I probably should have gotten by butt out of bed earlier, because…well…you’ll see.
Danielle actually showed up at 11:45, and we left to get to the bus stop. In order to get to the ferries at Cirkewwa, we had to take the Arriva pretty much all along the northern coast of Malta, right along the shore. It’s about a 45 minute bus ride – not because it’s physically a long distance, but because of all the stops and small side routes along the way. Really, it’s no big deal. Who’s going to complain about riding in a nice, cool bus along the Maltese coast? NOT THIS GIRL.
So, we really lucked out, because as soon as we got to the harbor, there was a ferry ready to go to Gozo!! At the harbour, you really only have 2 choices. The big, official looking ferries to go Gozo, and the small, slightly sadder looking ferries to go Comino. Because Comino’s population consists of maybe 32 people and some sheep (NO LIE), the ferries that go there mainly go to Blue Lagoon…which will be a adventure for another day.
Also, you don’t pay for the fare at this harbor. You pay for the fare in Gozo, on your way back to Malta. So FYI – keep enough money/cash to be able to get home when you’re finished with your time in Gozo. It’s only €4.65, so it’s not a lot. But still. Don’t be stupid.
So we rushed up to the ferry, but we really didn’t have to, because there was already a line of people waiting to get on. They let you on (at least in Malta) via the car entrance/exit, but after all of the cars have been let off. You walk inside, and go up this set of stairs, and suddenly, you’re in the middle of the ferry. There is a cafeteria, a lounge, and a lot of seating room outside, on the deck. Since the ride isn’t really that long (about 30 minutes), we chose to sit outside, and it was definitely the correct choice. The Sea was nice and calm, and the boat swayed gently, so it was very relaxing as well. The pictures below are the ones taken from the middle deck of the ferry, on our way to Gozo.
As we “pulled into” (I don’t know what the proper term is…docked?) Gozo, I took these two photos:
but as you can tell, I had a fairly large pole. Oh well.
When we first started talking about going to Gozo, we had talked about going on the hop on, hop off sight seeing tours, so that we could maximize our time on the island as well as the time spent as some pretty sweet places. For those of you who are unfamiliar with this idea, you basically pay €10, and get a ticket. You then board one of the red buses in the previous link, and it takes you to all sorts of tourist hot-spots around the island. You then have the option of getting off at any of these hot-spots and exploring for a good amount of time, as you can then board the next red bus that comes along, usually within the hour. We were so excited to be able to have this option, as we wanted to have reliable transportation around the island, but didn’t want to pay separate fares for the Arriva buses on Gozo (tickets for Arriva purchased in Malta to not apply in Gozo. Bummer). We got off the ferry, and went to the CitySightSeeing booth to purchase tickets. Unfortunately, we didn’t get there early enough for the hop on hop off buses, because the next line we could get on was the last line. I desperately looked to Danielle to make a decision, because in serious situations I am able to make decisions, but when it comes to simple things like this, I’m at a loss. She left it up to me…and I chose to purchase tickets.
I could tell she was angry with me. We were paying €10 each for tickets to, essentially, stay on a bus for 2 hours and not actually get to explore. Truth be told, I was a little angry with myself as well, because I almost felt like I allowed myself to be ripped off. BUT, the experience actually turned out to be enjoyable, and wasn’t nearly as bad as we thought it would be. We sat on the top of the double-decker bus, which was open top. :)
But you didn’t come here to read my thoughts on ripping off tourists. You came for pictures.
I feel used.
I’ve tried to caption the pictures appropriately, based on where we were and what we saw. :)
At this point, I have to stop and recount our experience while at Azure Window. Our bus driver stopped the bus and told us that he was getting off to stretch and hang out for 10-15 minutes. We were free to “hop off” and explore, so long as we were back to the same bus in 10 minutes. Danielle and I did indeed get off, and made our way out to the Azure Window and Fungus Rock. It was a relatively easy, short walk, but it was rocky, and you had to take your time, or else you’d twist an ankle. So, as we were walking out, this old man came up to both of us, and placed picture books and calendars in our hands.
I’m sorry I missed you when you got off the bus – here are picture books of Gozo and the coast. I put these together by hand and make them myself. Take a look – beautiful pictures and a nice calendar! Such a nice calendar! This is my living. I do this for a living. Take one, and then take one for your family! Take one for your friends! Only €5! Take one!
Needless to say, I wasn’t down with being hawked when we only had 10 minutes to take pictures and take in the sights there. I had to tell him no at least 5 times, and began to walk away. However, as I was walking away, a younger man came up next to the older man and began trying to double team Danielle into buying the calendars. Once again, I turned around and told them “No, we’re fine. Thank you, but no. No. No. No. No.” as I tried to help Danielle escape. They ended up backing off, but it was highly annoying. HIGHLY.
As we picked our way out to the edge of the cliff, we saw just why people come here from all over the world to take pictures.
Our ten minutes were up shortly after this, and aside from Danielle and I almost dropping my camera into the Sea, we got back onto the bus without any fuss.
Here are the rest of the pictures from going around Gozo.
So, sitting on top of the bus was really cool, and allowed us to take pictures of things that we might not have been able to see otherwise. Again, I was feeling better about my decision. But, it was cold. FREEZING. Due to the winds from being on the top of a moving vehicle, and the fact that it was maybe 60 degrees out, Danielle and I were freezing our cute little butts off.
We also got a charming and heartwarming show in front of us. This random couple, possibly from Eastern Europe, got on, and took the seats right in front of us. Now, the bus had some people on it, but there were certainly other seats that they could have taken. But no. The ones directly in front of Danielle and I were perfect, apparently. To make matters worse, they were super, crazy affectionate, and were making out like starving walruses less than 10 inches from my face. I was then reminded of this scene, and swore off of kissing anyone for at least 5 minutes.
BUT IT GETS BETTER. So, then, the man whips out this piece of chocolate cake that they must have bought at a bakery or something. They proceed to share it, by passing it back and forth and taking bites out of it. Not bad. But then there’s only one bite left. The woman puts it in her mouth, chews it up into a paste, and then
TRANSFERS THE CHOCOLATE SPIT PASTE INTO THE MAN’S MOUTH, WHERE HE PROCEEDS TO EAT AND SWALLOW IT.
It looked like they were passing a brown turd back and forth between their mouths. I nearly passed out. My Uncle Michael reminded me that mastication and transfer is the preferred feeding method of birds to their chicks. I was then reminded of this lovely tidbit. I couldn’t deal with it, and sat in a state of shock for the remainder of the bus ride.
At last, the bus deposited us back at the ferry terminal, where we made our way as quickly as we could to the ferry. We had originally wanted to eat in Gozo, but we needed to get back to Malta anyway, so we just decided to eat in St. Julians!
Fastforward to actually getting to St. Julians (it’s a long, crazy, vaguely interesting story involving an Arriva bus, a drunken Russian dude, and 5 angry Hebrews) – we got some bubble tea to tide us over, because we were STARVING, and it was mindblowingly delicious. I got coconut with tapioca pearls (OMG OMG OMG) and Danielle got Coconut/Honeydew with Mango Boba. Delish.
Dinner consisted of 3 courses, plus dessert, at Gululu, located on the St. Julian’s waterfront. Of the very delicious and not too expensive dinner, these are the items ordered:
- Local green olives marinated in thyme and garlic
- White beans with garlic and parsely (this one was incredibly delicious)
- Small pastas with minced pork, onions, parsely, parmesean cheese, and sweetish spices (mine)
- Tuna fritters with potato, lemon, and fresh herbs (Danielle)
- Fried rabbit in garlic, then simmered in white wine, rosemary, and marrowfat peas (this was mine, and it was DELICIOUS. Rabbit tastes like dark-meat chicken with the consistency of white-meat chicken)
- Pasta shells filled with ricotta and herbs, baked in a clay dish, covered in cheese (Danielle)
- Maltese bread/olive oil
- Cannoli – these were absolutely spectacular. An order came with 3, and they were smallish, so you didn’t feel like a pig. Filled with sweet ricotta, candied orange peel, and chocolate chips, and then covered with almonds. Dusted with powdered sugar. I lost my mind, and wanted to eat more than I did.
This dinner was leisurely, having started at 8 and completed at around 9:45. Danielle and I then waddled over to the bus stop, where we boarded the same bus (funny enough). I got off at Qroqq 4, and Danielle still had a few stops to go.
Overall, it was a beautiful, if somewhat frustrating day, with excellent company and such great experiences. I can’t wait to go back with all of the people who are visiting me!!