Travel Blog - In search of Calypso Cave and a visit to the BEST beach on Gozo.
Updated: Oct 6, 2020
Have I mentioned before how much I love the #beach? 😆 Or that I’m captivated by anything mythical? 🧚♀️ 🦄 🧜♀️ Well I totally have to blame the latter on my choice to take Classical Studies as one of my options way back at school 😆
Basically Classical Studies was learning all about the culture intrinsic to the period known as “Classical Antiquity” - roughly the thousand years or so between the Bronze Age of Ancient Greece and the fall of the Roman Empire. It includes all the #literature, language, #history, and #art within that period.
Sounds awfully boring and tedious reading that description but it was actually rather good fun 😀
The book we studied in depth was Homer’s The Iliad, which recounted the epic Trojan War, a war fought between the Trojans and the Greeks. What I adored about it and what gave me my lifelong love of myths and mythical beings, was that this battle was so important that even the Greek Gods played a pivotal role!
I hope that this helps to explain a little why I’m so excited to be approaching my next stop, Calypso Cave 😊
I last visited here when I was in my late teens, and it was simply magical.
Inside the cave we were met by a lovely old Gozitan fella, who so passionately recanted the mythical story of the cave. Whilst listening, I gazed in wonder out at a mesmerising breath-taking view of the azure blue Mediterranean Sea far below and the fiery red sands of Gozo’s best beach Ramla l-Hamra (Ramla Bay)
Would you like me to share that story with you? Yes? Ok my lovelies here we go.
Calypso Cave............drumroll.............is allegedly the cave Homer referred to in another of his epic tales The Odyssey.
Homer’s Odyssey tells the tale of Odysseus and his epic journey home from Troy to Ithaca. The most enthralling of the myths within the story is that of the sea nymph Calypso. Calypso was the daughter of the Titan Atlas, and she was imprisoned on the island of Ogygia (thought now to be Gozo) due to supporting her father in the battle between the Titans and the Olympians.
In the Odyssey, set in 300 BC the sea nymph Calypso rescues Odysseus, the exhausted Greek hero, who had drifted for nine days at sea. Calypso detained him for seven whole years on Ogygia (Gozo) 😱 preventing him from returning home to his beloved Ithaca. They lived in her breath-taking Cave home, which is rumoured to be, you got it, the legendary Calypso Cave!
Her aim? To make him her immortal husband of course!
#Odysseus was content for a while but as the years wore on he longed to return home to his precious wife Penelope.
Eventually, at the Goddess Athena’s request, (Athena is the Goddess of Wisdom and War) Zeus, King of the Gods of Mount Olympus, sent the messenger Hermes (who thankfully was more reliable than today’s Hermes Messengers 😆) to Ogygia.
The message delivered stated that #Calypso had to free Odysseus, as to stay with her forever was simply not his destiny. Seductress Calypso very reluctantly complied with the request from the God of Gods, and kindly helped Odysseus build a boat which would take him home. She also provided food and #wine 🍷 for the long journey ahead and bestowed the voyage with blessed good winds 💨
A bitter sweet finale to a wonderfully mythical story.
The car journey takes me through picturesque #Xaghra, and in next to no time I’m parking up at somewhere I really don’t recall at all. Am I in the right place? There was nothing at all here last time I visited, just rough parking and a donation given to the old Gozitan fella in the cave for his enthralling storytelling.
I’m confused totally, there really aren’t any good signs, there’s a stone gift shop selling the traditional wool jumpers and lace, and a walkway! I guess I just have to follow it.
The wind is starting to whip up, but it’s a deliciously warm wind, that caresses rather than bites. I’m the only person here, and the path leads to a breath-taking viewing area, but I really can’t see the cave at all. I fear it may be no more 😔
The start of this short video clip has a little wind at the beginning, but please bear with it!
I spend some time taking in this awesome view, the view I remember from inside the cave, the deep blue sea and the rust red sand of beautiful Ramla Bay. This spot is a travel photographers dream!
After some time, I wander back out again totally perplexed and decide to explore a little more, to see if there is an alternative way in I’ve missed.
That’s when I spot the information plaque which at the very end informs me the Cave is currently closed 😩 😔 I still can’t even fathom out where it is/was, this whole area looks totally foreign to me.
To the right of the gift shop I spot a couple of stone steps, I don’t need any further invitation, up I sneak 😆 Ooohhh, there is a bush full of buzzing bees 🐝 at the top and I have to creep past, hoping they like that bush more than they might like this new intruder 😆
Where am I? Oh I’m in a kind of garden area, it’s very pretty, lots of wild #flowers and lots more buzzing 😆 Oh, now this looks a little familiar, could this be where part of the cave stood?? I’m really not sure at all.
I’m so sad, as I really was looking forward to reliving my past visit as a young girl, but if nothing else, the views from up here have been very much worth the visit, and just to know how much mythology is/was beneath my feet is pretty awesome.
I find a not overly difficult departure route 😆 back to the car, jump in and now I’m headed for Ramla Bay below.
This road gives a whole new meaning to hair pin bend! 😆
This is the first time I’ve had to do a three point turn just to get around one 😆
I pause part of the way down as I’m again not sure if #Google Maps is having a laugh, 🤔 this road is soooooo tight and narrow. Ooh 😯 look a vineyard, I’ve noted the location for next time! 😆 Please let there be no cars coming in the opposite direction, please no, please no...............hurrah, I’ve now hit the road down to the beach 🙌
I park up, and grab a plastic container from the boot of the car. I have to collect some of this beautiful sand! There’s nothing open here, usually there are a number of vans selling snacks, cold drinks, alcohol etc. The café is closed too and I'm not too sure about the loos either.
As it’s such a beautiful day, there are a handful of cars here already and I’m greeted by another handful of darling #cats 🐈.
Everywhere you go in the Maltese islands you can spot a kitty kat, even the feral cats aren’t feral as they are looked after and fed by the local communities. These ones are absolutely gorgeous, they’re basking in the sun, but a black and white one is a real Chatty Cathy, he pops over to say “hi” whilst simultaneously winding himself round and round my legs. He’s gorgeously cute, but I must drag myself away as a mesmerising beach 🏖 awaits.
Wow! Its more stunning than I actually remember! In the High Season months it’s generally rammed here at Ramla, 😆 but today there's no problem at all in finding a spot to #chill.
This is Gozo’s, and dare I say it, most probably Malta’s too, best beach!
“Ramla il-Ħamra” literally translates as the red sandy beach, it’s a wide stretching curving bay, surrounded by hillside at either end. The water is wonderful, truly crystal clear so perfect to swim or snorkel in.
The area surrounding the beach is delightfully undeveloped, and the sand dunes are protected. The descending roads to the beach are scored through a green and fertile valley (ohhhhh.......hence the vineyard 🍷😀)
Even here we are surrounded by history!
In the middle of the beach is the stunning white statue of Our Lady of Hope which dates back to 1881 when it was erected by John Gauci. John was the last remaining member of the Polizia Marinare (marine police) whose role it was to guard the Order of St John’s Betancourt Battery. The statue was built to provide comfort for the solitary guards, as at this time the beach was rarely frequented.
The Betancourt battery was one of two batteries located at each side of the curving bay of Ramla. It was an artillery battery and was built by the Knights of St John to guard the bay from more #pirates 🏴☠️ and intruders.
In the centre of the beach stood the Redoubt of Vendome (a blockhouse) which is now the site where the statue is located. Also buried deep underneath the sand are the remains of Roman ruins.
I simply have to have a plodge in this water, it’s far too nice not too. ☺️ Ahhhhhh I’m in absolute heaven. The beach is like a life force for me, it’s as important to me as the air I breathe.
I had no idea at the time that this memory would become so important to me over the coming months when the whole world 🌍 was forced into #Lockdown.
I take out my little plastic container and scoop up some of this delightfully orangey- red grainy sand. I picked up some pretty little stones at Wied il-Ghasri and I have some gorgeous shells at home to make a small display vase ☺️ Another wonderful memory of a wonderful day on Gozo.
I’ve messaged Avis to check what time I need to take my car back. They’re great guys and I’m hopeful I have time to make a couple of more stops before I head back to the ferry 🙏🤞With everything crossed I hop back into the car and head to my next stop!
Since returning home, I’ve been determined to find out what has happened to Calypso Cave. Searching the internet, I eventually found a super article by Television Malta. Apparently the cave was closed several years ago as it was considered to be unsafe following a partial collapse. The article and video showed me the location - I actually wasn’t too far out during my wander through the gardens 😆
It also explained that there are plans currently afoot to carry out structural works in the aim to reopen the Cave once again to the public! The pic below show the Cave in all of its former glory, to be unveiled again to us hopefully very soon!
Hurrah, I do love a happy ending! 😊
Until next week my lovelies, have a fabulous week, stay safe and stay well.