My Gozo Adventure - Day 1!
Updated: Oct 6, 2020
When I planned this trip, I had no idea that the memories of it would become so precious so quickly!
Now in our second week of lockdown with the uncertainty of any of it easing anytime soon, recalling those wonderful days in the sun last month on #Gozo and #Malta is just priceless and I’m so delighted that I have this blog and the ability to share them with you 😊
I’m sending prayers to all of you and to the wonderfully kind people I met throughout this adventure hoping that you and them are all staying safe and well.
Are you ready my lovelies? I did say there may be a little reminiscing taking place in this one too, and there is 😉
So here we go.............
For me my holiday has always started the minute I arrive at the airport ✈️ is anyone else the same?
From being a little girl, I still remember my very first flight, of course to Malta, with Air Malta from our fabulous local airport Newcastle. Looking up at this huge plane that was going to transport me and my parents to an exciting new world for two whole weeks.
Before that our fun family holidays had always been spent in the good old British holiday resort of Great Yarmouth, splashing about in the cold North Sea 😆 now here we were heading to the promise of warm waters and guaranteed hot sunny days. ( You can read more about our very first visit to the island in Cucumbers Goats and Festas! )
In the Summer months, Air Malta used to fly charter aircraft back then from Newcastle to Malta, and for me the anticipation of what lay ahead began onboard. Your choice of red or white divine Maltese wine (of course when I was old enough to partake 😆) served, along with a lovely meal, all part of the price of your ticket. I used to adore the little coasters and stirrers served with your drinks which were adorned with the Maltese cross ♥️ The entire crew were of course Maltese and I used to listen in awe to the safety announcements in this completely new to us all, exotic sounding language.
To this day, I still love the smell of aviation fuel, the sound of the aircraft sitting on the tarmac, the smiles and hellos of greeting as you board, but best of all? The heady aroma as they open the plane doors on arrival at Luqa Airport, that’s when I know I’m truly home ☺️
I’ve a little tale to tell now, it’s a good one I promise 😁
From time to time Air Malta used to subcontract the Newcastle to Malta route, - does anyone remember Dan Air? Or Dan Dare as us in the travel industry fondly recall them as?
When I was fairly new to the travel industry, maybe a couple of years in, we were travelling as a family for our Summer visit to the island and we had a Dan Air aircraft to carry us there. We had the exit row seats, crikey back then didn’t you feel you’d won the lottery when you asked at the desk and that row was still free 😆
The crew this time were English due to the aircraft substitution and two members of the crew were sat opposite us in the jump seats 💺 We got chatting, as you do, and they were thrilled to discover I worked in travel. Later during the flight one of them invited me into the cockpit for a visit with the Captain and his co-pilots 👨✈️ 👨✈️
For me this was the treat of all treats. Of course I jumped at the chance, it was absolutely amazing, the pilots were Australian 🇦🇺 and typically in Australian fashion so very friendly and laid back.
Around forty minutes out from landing, the crew returned and said the Captain would like to know if you’d like to join him in the cockpit for landing!! 🤩 Holy moly, hell yeah! My Dad was snoozing, having thoroughly enjoyed sampling the red wine 🍷😆 so I asked if my Mam could join me too. “Sure” was the response 😃 so in we popped again.
This time we had to fully belt in. I remember this all as plain as day as it was truly a once in a lifetime, never to be repeated again occasion. The Captain showed us the charts, and explained how they plot their course, and we flew over a smoking Etna, the view out of the cockpit windscreen was just out of this world.
As we approached the island, Maltese Air Traffic Control began to converse and advised which runway to land on etc.
Descending the Captain said, “Tracy can you do me a favour and just lift up that lever in front of you and pull it down towards you as far as it will go please?” Of course, Sir, happy to oblige 😁 Eek 😬 “You’ve just turned off engine number 2” 😯 holy moly again 😆 this was just surreal.
Coming in to land was outrageously breathtaking, as we touched down on Malta soil, the pilots started to smirk as Maltese air traffic control chirped in again. They turned and said “ah they wanted us to land on Runway A but we’ve saved fuel coming in on B” 😱 and this my lovelies is one of the reasons they earned the nickname Dan Dare 😆
The funniest part though was when we saw my Dads face, he had woken up and we were nowhere to be seen, it was hilarious, I think he thought he was in an episode of The Twilight Zone 😂
This is one of the few times I’ve shared this tale but I think I’m safe to do so now that Dan Dare no longer exist 😆 #truestory
Now, back to my #adventure!
I’ve visited Gozo lots of times but just for the day, aside from the evening a group of us travelled across for dinner and drinks and missed the last ferry 😂🙈 but that’s another tale for another day 😆
We have flights from Newcastle to Malta with EasyJet year round, and in the Winter there is an early morning flight which provides the perfect opportunity to transfer across to Gozo all in the same day. To be honest I was taking a little risk, as I flew out on the 10th of March just as the news about Covid-19 started to become the lead news story on every TV channel and was making the front page of each of the tabloids. However the trip was only 5 days long and I was really missing my second home.
I do still miss the old days of arriving with Air Malta but #EasyJet do a smashing job. I travelled out on one of their new Airbus A320’s and the Captain announced that the journey would take just 3 hours. The crew onboard are always super friendly and I have to say I love their duty free selection especially as there’s always a further 20% discount given on top of their already super prices. As this was an early flight and I was driving at the other end, I had to pass on my pre arrival celebratory glass of fizz, 🍾 but I did tuck into a #Greggs sausage roll and a cuppa! Show me someone who doesn’t love a Greggs please 😆😋 Their HQ is here in #Newcastle and our store at Newcastle Airport is extremely popular at both departure and arrival 😆 it’s a Northern craving 😆
Usually I like an aisle seat, but if it’s a day flight into Malta it simply has to be a window! I love that thrill each time the island eventually comes into sight. Not that the scenery en route isn’t spectacular mind as it is.
Awww there she is, my beautiful second home nestled into the beautifully blue #Mediterranean Sea! I’m very much struggling to contain my exhilaration 😃 The first visual point of reference I glimpse is The Malta Freeport at #Birzebbuga which is one of the busiest ports in Europe! It also lies on the site of the former seaplane base RAF Kalafrana. Birzebbuga is also a seaside resort and is home to the aptly named Pretty Bay, also visible are the fishing villages of #Marsascala and #Marsaxlokk.
Continuing to head inland towards Luqa, I spy a stunning Church and start to see lots of Maltese stone houses shimmering in the sun as we drop ever lower, and it’s at this point I’m now smiling uncontrollably like a Cheshire Cat. 😺 The sound of the landing gear being lowered into place further adds to the anticipation. I absolutely love it, when I see my fellow passengers experiencing the same thrill, most I can hear are returning fans like myself, excitedly chit chatting to each other, about their already made plans to meet up with old friends in their favourite watering holes later.
Wheels down, we've arrived back on Maltese soil, the energy of the reverse thrust of the engines brings the aircraft to a crawl and we taxi to the Terminal Building.
Each time I land here, I physically feel myself exhale, I honestly can’t tell you how much I love Malta, I’ve grown up here and I’m blessed to have so many amazing memories.
Right from my first visit to the beach and discovering my love of shell collecting, to the stylish 80's evenings partying in the cocktail 🍹 bars of Paceville, the total excitement of the laser show at Styx nightclub, dancing ourselves dizzy until dawn, then having breakfast with new friends before heading home to our hotel for our 2 hours sleep 😴 😂.
Then there were the hilarious mystery tours that my Dad would take us on in the open top Jeep we used to hire, I always used to sit in the back, and remember how my Dad thought it was hilarious when I couldn’t breathe when an old truck used to slow us down, ohhhh and there was also the time he inadvertently got us into the middle of a funeral procession 🙈 oh my word, 🙈😆.
Right now, when we can’t travel any further than our back yards and gardens, it’s these #memories of our favourite island that are keeping us going, until we meet her again ♥️ 🌴
As a young girl in the 70’s I remember when Luqa Airport was little more than a shack. The luggage was manually offloaded and brought into the arrivals hall, no carousel, you just had to search out your cases from the rows all stacked up. Now we have a super duper all mod cons Malta International Airport!
I’d heard that MIA, ( that really has me chuckling, the airports abbreviation is rather apt - as another translation could be “missing in action” and that’s what happens to us all when we get here 😂) was ahead of the game with the Virus and I was expecting a scan of some description at some point on arrival. The queue for passport control was happily onerous but I’d gladly wait longer to have secure checks made on arrival anywhere any day.
Ah I’ve found the Virus scan, just through passport control at the top of the escalators down to the baggage hall. Thermal Scanners, which measure our body temperature, apparently anyone seen to be suffering with a fever is then given a mouth swab test which will determine if the virus is present. Thankfully everyone around me is deemed fit and healthy and so we continue with our journey.
Our bags are already on the carousel - hurrah. Grabbing my suitcase 🧳 I message my friend David who I use for all my transport needs whenever I’m here, to find out where he is. He’s just outside arrivals, it’s so lovely to see him and to catch up with what’s been going on here whilst I’ve been away.
Gozo is inaccessible by road. So you will need to catch the Gozo ferry ⛴
The ferry departs from #Cirkewwa which is located on the Northern most tip of the island. The journey takes less than 20 minutes and the service now runs around the clock from the early hours of the morning to late at night. There is a direct bus 🚌 which operates from the Airport the X1, but they do get exceedingly busy, hence I’m having a lovely leisurely drive up with David, at an extremely reasonable cost. Do let me know if you’d like his details, I will be happy to share them.
The first thing I notice is how green the island is and how stunning she looks adorned with a plethora of brightly coloured spring flowers 🌷 The second thing I notice is just how quiet the roads are. The Virus 🦠 I feel is starting to take its effect.
In next to no time I’m at Cirkewwa, I bid a fond farewell to David and I hotfoot it into the terminal building as I can see there is a ferry docked and firing up. I’m greeted by a huge Maltese smile from one of the lovely Maltese ladies who work here and she shows me to the lift, I say, oh but I don’t have a ticket yet, she smiles and says, it’s ok sweetie, you pay on the way back. Awesome. Everything is falling into place today, I’m actually ahead of the game here by two hours!
It’s a cool in the shadows, but warm in the sun kind of day, and suitcase or not, I’m sitting outside for the scenic short journey. The sea is azure blue, we pass the tiny island of #Comino home to Malta’s stunning Blue Lagoon and I can now see Gozo and the port coming into sight.
Ooh I’m getting excited again! I won’t drive in Malta, I’ve tried that once and never again 😂 as the saying goes, the Maltese “drive in the shade” - terrifying 😆 but I like to drive here on Gozo, it’s a much slower and more peaceful and steady pace of life in comparison.
Disembarking, I take another lift down to ground level and exiting I can see the Avis office just a few minutes walk away. As I reach it I’m greeted with another smile, this time English “Tracy! Oh you’re a little early, I’m still washing your car 😆” Would you like to leave your suitcase here and go grab a coffee for half an hour?” Erm, leave my suitcase? Then I remember where I am, the safest little islands ever! “Absolutely thank you so much, be back soon!”
As the sun has really broken out now, I decide to pass on sitting indoors, I grab a crazily cheap Latte Coffee and a Twix 😆 I need a sugar boost after my early start, and find a lovely little square right next to the harbour to take in the gloriously comforting suns warm rays. How lucky a girl I feel right now, and exhale happily again. There’s a beautiful statue titled Three Graces, and I’m totally cracking up at one guys parking 🤣 hilarious. There's a beautiful view from here of the #Church of the Madonna of Lourdes up on the hill too.
Time to wander back to the office taking in the beautiful brightly coloured fishing boats in the harbour.
Hurrah my little car is ready! I never opt for large cars as parking on Gozo in the main resorts and capital is tough, the smaller the car, the easier to get parked. Just so long as it can fit in my large suitcase 🤣 I never ever will be able to pack light 😆 Both guys here are fab, so friendly! Whilst completing the paperwork I ask how Alex, who is Spanish, would like me to pay the extra for the Sat Nav I’ve reserved. Shock, horror, the car doesn’t have Sat Nav, the only one they have with one is the #Mini Cooper and that’s €200 a day with a €2500 deposit! Yikes! He then says, honestly you don’t need it, all roads lead to Victoria the Capital you can’t get lost! 😳 Holy moly, then he pulls two Tom Toms out of a cupboard and says you can try these but I’m not hopeful 😆. He then suggests if I really get lost, “just use google maps”. Bless him, he’s horrified and is really sorry. Ah it’s fine, how hard can this be and the whole idea is to explore is it not? I’m no shrinking violet by any means, this is going to be hilarious! I bid the guys farewell, and then pull into a parking spot to try the two Sat Nav’s out. One is in Danish ✖️ oh joy of joys the other is in English 🎉 oh pants, furthest I can get with this one is “acquiring satellite” 🛰 right google maps it is.
Gozo is mesmerising, it’s literally a rural playground away from #Victoria the Capital.
I wanted to stay somewhere completely traditionally Gozitan and I instantly fell in love with a farmhouse I found on #AirBnB. It’s huge for just me, but I just had to book it! It’s in the village of #Zebbug and that’s where I’m now headed. My host has messaged to say she’s left the key in the door, this is just how safe the island is. I just need to find it now 😆
So far so good, I’ve found Zebbug, it should just be right around this corner. Oh 🤬😆 there’s a crane blocking the road. Right that’s it, I’m parking up and finding it on foot. Wow 🤩 just wow, the sea views from here are spectacular as we are pretty high up. Ok, just a little further.........No, this can’t be it, surely? Is it? Yep it is, there’s the key in the door! Oh.my.giddy.aunt! I’m peaking inside, and I’m speechless, it’s beyond breath-taking, beyond beautiful, for the second time today, I’m feeling extremely blessed. Speechless and totally overwhelmed I close the door again, and head off to search for another way to bring the car around. Bingo! I’ve now got it sussed! I can park right outside, just need to go the long way around 😃
Now to the Farmhouse, I’ve decided it’s grandeur warrants it’s very own blog post! it just wouldn’t feel right not to give it the attention this very special place truly deserves. Therefore I’m solely dedicating My Gozo Adventure Part 2 to it. ♥️
After dropping my suitcase and navigating it up the spiral staircase then spending an age trying to decide which bedroom I should sleep in 😆 I’m back in the car. It’s now 1630 and I really want to catch a cool sunset. I totally forgot to download Google Maps Gozo in between all of the excitement of exploring and shrieking wow every other minute 😆 and I’m loathe to keep using my 4G which is sketchy across here in areas. Nothing else for it, “all roads lead to Victoria” 😆 so I’m off, and I’m going to aim for Ta Cenc and the cliffs! Again, so far so good, although I did have to circumnavigate Victoria several times until I found the sign, just call me Penelope Pitstop! As long as I don’t come across the Hooded Claw it’s all good 😂
I have to pause at #Sannat with its breathtaking Parish Church, it’s really quiet, so I take five minutes to wander down a few alleys which lead to magnificent views.
Then it’s back in the car towards Ta Cenc, it’s here beside the Ta Cenc Hotel I get a little lost, the sign for the cliffs is pointing towards a very narrow lane, there’s a guy with a tractor and another guy with his beautiful horse and they can obviously sense Penelope is stumped 🤔😆 they very kindly pop over and guide me in the right direction away from their farmland where I was just about to drive into 😆
So I decide to put my foot down and head back across the island to #Xwejni Bay. I stop again on the way as I have a great view of the statue of Christ the Redeemer atop of Tas-Salvator Hill. Breath-taking.
It’s now I notice the colour of the sky...........it’s not the burnt orange and copper pink hues I was hoping to see, it’s definitely more the colour of a bruise and I very much think a #storm is brewing. Yep, just as I reach #Xwejni Bay the skies open!
When it rains here, it rains! I was planning on eating in the village this evening but after a rethink I decide to pick up some essentials in the grocery store, by essentials I mean #wine 🍷😆 and then grab a takeaway #pizza 🍕 on the way back to the Farmhouse.
Now I just need to get there! I’m sure if I follow this coastal route it will take me back up to Zebbug! Holy smokes, the rain is lashing down, it’s windy, it’s now dark, my windscreen washers are the size of pencils ✏️😂 this is really hairy as I really can't see very much at all. Thank the Lord a sign for the village at last, it’s uphill, and this little car really doesn’t like the gradient or this single track road with pot holes everywhere. I’m in first gear and still struggling, joy of joys concrete!! Hallelujah 😃
The guys at Avis told me about an awesome pizza place called Francesco's and that's where I'm headed. Apparently the pizzas here are out of this world. Once inside it reminds me of one of the traditional Band Clubs you come across and it’s jam packed with locals, it’s a no frills kind of place and I love it. They cook the pizzas to order, after ordering a Francesco's special, I also partake in a medicinal calm the nerves - which are ever so slightly shot - glass of wine. The owner fills the glass to the top, crikey I must look like I need it 😆 and I take a table whilst I wait. Oh boy, this tastes like the nectar of the Gods 😆. I’m only half way down my glass when the owner signals to me that my pizza is ready, I was just about to leave my wine when he notices and signals to me again to sit down and enjoy the rest of it whilst he keeps my pizza warm in it’s box on top of the pizza oven. He definitely knows I need it 🤣
Now back to the Farmhouse, feet up and enjoy this delicious pizza and the even more delicious wine I have in the boot.
Ciao for now my lovelies 😘