It seems to have become a tradition that I have a terrible nights sleep on the first day of a holiday; and this one was no exception. I woke about 6 times during the night, and for the last time at the ungodly hour of 7am. I there open the curtains With the hope of seeing clear blue skies, and bright sunlight. Instead I was greeted with dull overcast skies and a howling wind. This was not in the script. After heading downstairs to eat a quite nasty breakfast, I returned to my room to head out onto the balcony and get stuck into my book before being picked up later on for the trip to Gozo. This isn’t quite as glamourous as it sounds. My room is at the back of the hotel and I have a view only of waterbutts roofs and a myriad of building sites. beautiful and tranquil it is not. as mentioned the wind was howling. Being an islander myself, I’m well used to Coastal winds. But this was different, it was very strong and above all very cold! So despite the temperature being over 22 degrees, I was forced back inside because I was cold. This was pretty much the last thing that expected to happen. Soon enough there was a shout that my lift had arrived, and I went down to join the small party that would be heading out to the neighbouring island of Gozo. After scouring the island picking up the rest of the group we headed to the harbour to catch the ferry. Driving through Malta I was struck by how much the landscape undulated. there doesn’t seem to be a flat surface on the island. from a distance I was put in mind of a cross between the agricultural terracing and landscaping of Japan. That all these terraces were built on, put me in mind of the concrete canyons of New York. except of course that New Yorkshire canyons were made from single buildings, where these were normal sized buildings and houses. When passing through the villages the separation was obvious, but any distance away the perspective simply joined all the buildings together and they looked like mini cities. The ferry was one of the old roll-on roll-off ships that you would see operated by Sealink in the eighties. Despite a large swell in the channel the crossing was very smooth. The size of the boat simply steamrolling through any buffeting. I went up top to grab some photos, and at times I could barely stand upright without being forced backwards, such was the force of the wind. As soon as we arrived in Goza our guide, Dane, was at pains to point out that Goza is separate to Malta and that they have been recognised by the EU as a unique region. the easiest way to describe it is realising that although Sark is part of the Bailiwick of Guernsey, it is it’s own unique place.
Goza is a beautiful place. When you picture the Mediterranean, I think that Goza is what immediately comes to mind. Open expanses, white stone houses, blue waters. It’s all here. But the thing that has stuck with me the most is religion. To say that it is teen seriously here is an understatement. Everywhere you looked were churches, idols, statues of religious figures. Even the houses were names after saints or other religious figures. it is the first place I have been were I have seen hordes of priests busily knocking on doors to call the population to church. I has to be said that it does seem like an extraordinarily trusting place. I know people at home that still leave the door unlocked, but I was astonished to see houses in Goza with small hooks outside, from each dangling a house key. In an age where most of us barely talk to our neighbours that kind of trust is amazing. We headed to a natural rock bridge known as the azure window, and watch the sun setting alongside it. by this point the wind had dropped considerably but despite this most of the group had headed for the warmth of the mini-van. Only myself and a young Russia man named Liv stayed out to watch the sunset. The two of us clambering over rocks to get a better view of the ‘window’, much to the concern of Dane who I’m sure didn’t want the paperwork if the two of us got swept away by a wave.
Liv is a photographer specialising in macros of flowers, and I’ll admit as soon as I saw his camera, I struck up a conversation with him. It does seem like I’m getting much better at this whole talking to strangers lark. yesterday, I was even approaching people in the street and taking their photos. Some even engaged like an old man sat on a bench outside a church. He sat there with his legs wide open, revealing a broken fly (I’m not sure he realised), and was playing with a manly cat by throwing it a piece of string. When he saw he was being photographed he broke out into a big smile and tried to encourage the cat into more tricks.
The evening ended with a meal in the village of Xlandri, looking out over the sea as the last of the light faded. The others went further into the village to look around, but I decided to find a small bar Dane mentioned which was next to the bay. I found it and bought a pint, and sat down to watch the sea. I then spotted that Dane was sitting not to far away nursing a coffee, so I joined him and had a really great conversation about travel and island living. Dane then told me that he was a photographer himself and had a recently published a book of panoramas together with his son! That led to a really geeky conversation about ethics in photography, photoshop and the like. Eventually it was time to return home, and we made the return journey back to Malta. For some reason I assumed that we’d be dropped off in reverse order to the one we were picked up in. This meant I was half asleep when we pulled up outside a hotel, and cars were honking loudly all around. “I feel sorry for whichever poor sods staying there” Was my exact thought. Closely followed by the sinking realisation that it was my hotel. Oh well. I’ve done nothing but read and swim today.. I’m going to go for a wonder now to find a restaurant. The tomorrow I head to Mdina the medieval capital of Malta. Sent from my iPad