Gozo: Calypso’s Isle (2)

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This is a continuation of my post about the Maltese island of Gozo, which we visited on the Wednesday of our week in Malta in early September. It was a great day out, and we saw a lot of the island, the main site being the Ggantija temples (pronounced like something like J-gan-tia) which my last post on Gozo was about. This time I’m adding a little about some of the other places we visited. So here we go.

After leaving the Ggantijan temples at Xaghra, we headed out to the east coast to the town of Marsalform to take a ride on a little trackless train:

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Marsalform itself is the most popular seaside resort on Gozo and is always crowded . . .

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. . . but we headed on along the coast to have a look at the 300-year-old, rock-cut Qbajjar Salt Pans, the biggest salt works on Gozo and stretching over 3km. Several tons of sea salt are produced each year, continuing the centuries old Gozitan tradition:

We were all handed a nice little bag of sea salt from an old Gozitan stationed along the roadside. The ‘train’ pulled out so quickly that none of us had chance to even offer the old man a tip! I can only hope the tour company pay him for providing this little ‘extra’ service and keeping the customers/tourists happy.

Heading off across country to the west coast, we stopped en route at a Craft Centre to have a quick look round. There were a variety of goods on display,  one of the main things being traditional Maltese lace:

On to the west coast … and the beautiful Azure Window (my f1rst image on this post). All three of the main Maltese Islands have a ‘blue water attraction’ for tourists to admire. On  the south coast of Malta is the Blue Grotto and on the little island of Comino, the Blue Lagoon. On Gozo, near to Dwejra Bay on the Inland Sea, it’s the Azure Window – a favourite place for scuba divers from all over the world. There is an underground cave close by and the sea is warm for snorkellers and sea bathing. Here’s another picture of it, although it’s little different to the one above:

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The Azure Window itself was created by the collapse of two limestone sea caves, and is very lovely to see. It has been featured in many films, including: Clash of the Titans (1981) the Count of Monte Cristo (2002) The Odessey (1997) – and last but not least, even  Game of Thrones!

Close to the Azure Window (behind us as we photographed the arch) is Fungus Rock – so named because of its mushroom-like shape. I wasn’t totally convinced it resembled a mushroom, but who am I to know these things? Well, here it is:

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Eventually, we headed for Victoria (Rabat) the capital of Gozo:

Citadella, Victoria (Rabat) Gozo, Republic os Malta. Author: Radoneme, Wikimedia Commons
Citadella, Victoria (Rabat) Gozo, Republic os Malta. Author: Radoneme, Wikimedia Commons

The city’s original name was Rabat, but on Queen Victoria’s Golden Jubilee in 1887, the British government changed it to Victoria. Many Gozitans, however, still call it Rabat, so both names stick together.  The city is located in the cente of Gozo.

At the city’s centre is the Citadel or Citadella (pronounced Chitadella) which has its roots in the late medieval times.  But the hill on which Citadella stands has been used since Neolithic times as a sanctuary from attack by Barbary pirates and Saracens.

Unfortunately, we weren’t permitted – mayor’s orders! – to enter the Citadella, as building work was going on. (Don’t ask – we didn’t understand that either!) I don’t think we would have had time, anyway, as the tour guide rushed us back to the coach as soon as we’d had our meal of the day at almost 5 pm. We did manage five minutes inside the Basilica of St. George before we had to rush off.  The other photos were quick snaps as we walked.

There were several plaques and other reminders of St. George along our route. And the door with the key sitting in it was interesting! It seems that burglary is so rare on Gozo that people think nothing of leaving doors unlocked all night, or even leaving the key in the lock for late arrivals.

We eventually got back to the ferry port, where we saw this interesting looking wooden sculpture. I’ve no idea what it’s about, but here’s the photo anyway:

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Then it was onto the ferry and back to Malta.