Having spent the day in and roughly north of Victoria, it was now time to head eastwards. The wind was still blowing so we took a bus to Qala from where we wandered hither and thither, admiring the views.
We did see some wildlife, a few birds, the odd butterfly, but most excitingly, snails.
Many of the restaurants advertise ‘locally produced lamb’, ‘locally produced goat’ and ‘locally produced rabbit’. Along with ‘Argentinian beef’. But on all our walks, we never once saw a sheep, goat or rabbit out in the wild, not even any signs of their presence. We ate our lunch in a place recommended by our b&b host, Xerri il Bukkett. Entertainment was provided by some loud American ladies one of whom clearly knew more about breeding and raising rabbits, for food, not pets, than the local Gozitan population.
Speaking of birds which we were a minute ago, what a surprise to see these chaps out by the road.
We walked and took a bus to the Ġgantija Temples, still looking out for sheep and goats. ‘Ġgantija’ because they were built by a race of giants, according to local legend.
After about 5,500 years, the temples, older than the pyramids in Egypt, aren’t in the best of repair, and some of the stones are missing, having been acquired for re-use in new buildings. This has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1980, but that’s no excuse not to have a coffee shop at the end of the tour, along with the gift shop!
‘The typical habitat on the Ġgantija plateau is the garrigue, a seemingly arid and treeless environment. In reality, this is one of the richest habitats on the Maltese islands with hundreds of flowering plants, including the Giant Fennel, the Wild Thyme, the Mediterranean Heather, the Maltese Spurge and many others.’ I don’t think I’d seen the word ‘garrigue’ before.
The graffiti goes back hundreds of years but we’re now discouraged from such vandalism.
A couple of the walls have been secured by scaffolding until the local experts work out the best way to preserve the temples in the longer term.
The temples need another visit one day, but we were conscious of having to catch a bus. While waiting at the bus stop, we had another wildlife encounter. A cat made friends with us.
The weather hadn’t been as bad as forecast and the following day was even better. So we headed south on this occasion, to Xlendi. The walk, nay, hike, along the coastal path was more challenging than the average stroll around Northenden, that’s for sure, and in a couple of places, we lost the path. Still, no sheep nor goats to worry about.
The cliffs looked challenging to say the least, so I was glad that our hike took us in the opposite direction, along the il-Maxar – ix-Xlendi Heritage Trail. Still hilly and rocky but not vertical.
I saw the Usain Bolt of the lizard world dart across the path in front of us. Then Liesel saw one too, after which we saw a few, lone lizards, taking in the Sun on the rocks. Beautiful green lizards.
One thing we weren’t expecting to see was this little bridge. There’s no river, it just meant we didn’t have to climb all the way down the ravine and back up. I imagine this was constructed by the Romans. Or maybe the Brits.
Our destination was Sanap Cliffs, and we just enjoyed the walk in the sunshine, even as we were concerned that we might be off course, having lost the path, and might be tramping across someone’s crops. Still no sign of a goat or sheep.
‘This area, that forms the south-western part of the village of Munxar, is characterised by the high cliffs known as Sanap Cliffs. Sanap, from Maltese senapa, is the mustard plant that was possibly cultivated in the area. This place lies between Tal-Bardan, on the left, and Ras il-Bajjada in Xlendi, to the right. The surrounding fields are a grazing site for sheep and goats.
Sanap Cliffs offer an unparalleled view of the south coast of the island of Gozo. The highest point in the area is specifically known il-Pinnur, literally as the weathercock. This point is perched to the winds just as a weathercock. The island of Comino is to the left, and the north coast of Malta in front.’
So, sheep and goats do graze in the area, maybe they’re inside during the cold(er) Winter months.
As we approached Sanap Caves, our rocky, stoney, muddy path morphed into a paved walkway, very civilised. We even saw other people, but we didn’t join them at the cliff’s edge. Instead, we completed the loop, and walked back to Xlendi, following the road this time.
From a distance, neither of us could discern whether these crops were potatoes or cannabis, or maybe something else, more exotic.
Obviously, it was much faster walking along the road and we soon found ourselves by the waterside in Xlendi. We found Moby Dick Restaurant, enjoyed lunch, and coffee, and watched the Sun going down over the sea. Again, I took far too many photos of the setting Sun, with and without clouds, trying to capture the waves as they broke just behind the wall protecting Moby Dick and the other shorefront premises from the Mediterranean.
Another slog, well, a two-minute walk to the bus stop, where again we were serenaded by the susurration from a million small birds in the trees.
I think it’s fair to say that we enjoyed our few days on Gozo and that, having seen the weather forecast back home, we didn’t really want to go back. But we did, getting up early to catch a bus back to Mġarr for the ferry back to Malta. Having not seen a lot of wildlife (we can’t really count snails, lizards, cats and millions of small birds), you can only imagine the delight when we came across this old thing in the ferry terminal.
I know, I know, it looks like a donkey to us too, but the model really is titled Four Beautiful Women.
Waiting for the ferry to arrive gave plenty of opportunity to get some steps in by wandering around, of course. The boat trip itself was uneventful, as was the bus that took us across Malta, from Cirkewwa Ferry Terminal to the airport.
Malta International Airport. We checked in very quickly. A dozen or so desks, all staffed, which meant there wasn’t a ridiculously long queue. We got through security very quickly too. Lots of time to spare before our flight, so all we could do really was wander around, or sit in the Hard Rock Café for some lunch.
It was quite poignant sitting by Jeff Beck’s shirt, as he only passed away a few days earlier.
The flight was uneventful and finally, we dropped through several thousand feet of clouds to see the lights of Manchester.
Manchester Airport and yes, we were soon brought back to grinding reality. After a 3½-hour flight, it really shouldn’t take 1½ hours to get through immigration. Why was there such a delay? Because, again, only half the passport reading machines were plugged in and working. Mine wasn’t the only head shaking in disbelief.
And then we were driven home by the grumpiest taxi driver in the country. He took the longest possible route home and made a big deal out of finding his card reader because, of course, we didn’t have any British money on us. Welcome home, Mick and Liesel!
In happier news, the latest radio show was about Laughter Therapy, and it includes a chat I had with Sara about laughter and about Blue Monday. Listen here, right now, and have a laugh!