Go-Go-Gozo!

What to do and see with 5 days free in Gozo

If  a  relaxed pace, interesting sight-seeing, rural scenery, transparent-sea – green water and a variety of beaches is your thing then perhaps Gozo is for you?

How to spend five days in Gozo

The only way in to Gozo, currently is by ferry from Ċirkewwa on the north-west coast of Malta to the port of Mġarr on Gozo. There are many crossings each day and a fully synchronised bus service once on Gozo.

Gozo Ferry  – Bus Service

There are a total of 15 different routes on Gozo many of which pass through Victoria, the capital.

http://www.transport.gov.mt/land-transport/bus-service

Rent-a Car You really don’t need to worry if a car is more to your liking. Cars are cheaper to hire on Gozo than in Malta and taxis are inexpensive. Car hire: https://maltafirstcarhire.com/?gclid=CPGRvabzlM8CFVYz0woda-UNcw

Or,

https://www.sixt.co.uk/?prpd=Y&pccstatsugg=Gozo&c=GB+-+Outbound+MT&adg=GB+-+MT+Gozo+Hire&kw=car%20hire%20gozo&mt=exact&sxamc=Google|Search&sefir=41&gclid=CIzVtfHzlM8CFQjgGwod49wBZA&_rfa=1

Cycling is viable – the roads are quiet and safe – there are even organised cycle tours if groups are more your thing.

Rent – a- bike – http://www.victoriagaragegozo.com/ (Rabat)

Rent- a-bike –   http://www.gozomgarrtouristservice.com/ (At ferry port – Mgarr.)

Rent – a- bike http://www.on2wheelsgozo.com/  (Marsalforn)

Or maybe you’d prefer to get about cycling in a group?

Then check out:

Organised Cycling Tours http://gozoadventures.com/discover-gozo

bike

Maybe you fancy  a full circuit of the island? (I did!) It’s only 9 miles long by 4 miles wide so it’s easily achievable. If  you want to walk  March – May, or October – December is preferable.

For independent walking try :  http://www.visitgozo.com/en/content/country-walks-rambling-169/ or the Ramblers of Malta –  http://www.ramblersmalta.org/ are very accommodating and friendly.

You don’t need to join an expensive walking holiday. Try booking a flight, maybe:    http://www.airmalta.com/ then organise your own accommodation.

I stayed at Xlendi Bay, but there are a range of other places.

Visit: http://www.lonelyplanet.com/malta/gozo/hotels  for an excellent guide to where to stay.

Five days in Gozo

Day 1

Firstly, familiarise yourself with the island by boat. There are so many  opportunities for diving, snorkelling, water sports as well as swimming. Gozo is known as a world class place to dive. So, give it a go. There are very supportive dive centres dotted about Gozo. Personally, I haven’t dived yet, but it is on the cards!

See http://www.lonelyplanet.com/malta/gozo/activities for further information.

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Blue Lagoon, Comino

Xlendi Pleasure Cruises do a fantastic Round Island Tour, including a trip to the famous blue lagoon on the neighbouring island of Comino (ten minutes by boat) The cruise stops at most beaches on the island and the staff are friendly and knowledgeable should you have questions. They also provide a delicious lunch and have a bar.

For further details see my Round the island of Gozo blog for more details

https://julieadexter.wordpress.com/2016/09/09/round-the-island-of-gozo/

http://www.xlendicruises.com/

In the evening why not have a fish dinner at one of the waterside restaurants on Xlendi Bay? – It is a beautiful location and the fish restaurants – all – have a wealth of choice including gluten free options!

http://www.malta-info.co.uk/resorts/xlendi_gozo.htm

 

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Xlendi bay dotted with all types of restaurants in a beautiful setting at the water’s edge.

 

Day 2

In contrast to your first day why not spend the second day in the island’s capital, Victoria? Victoria is known to the locals as Rabat. There’s so much to see and do. You’re spoilt for choice!

You’re going to want to visit the Citadel:

citade
Citadel, Victoria, (Rabat)

A good place to start is at the free visitor centre which is very informative.

Things to do around the Citadella

It could be that you decide spend a half day at the citadella – there is so much to see.The citadel is a prime example of Aragonese and medieval architecture. It has ramparts fortifications  and  city walls which offer 360 degree view of the city. But if you want to do something different after  a walk around the Citadella, then you could visit the smaller museums.

Very close by is Gozo Cathedral, which was once a sight of a Roman place of worship to the goddess Juno;  as well as: The Cathedral Museum, the Museum of Archaeology, the Folklore Museum, the Gozo Nature Museum, the Old Prison, the Old Gunpowder Magazine, the Grain Silos, the Battery and the World War II Shelter.

So much choice! – Choose according to your interests.

 

Food: If you don’t want to leave the citadel just yet, you could try the Café San Martino, a short walk from the Pjazza Katidral, (Cathedral Museum Piazza), yet still within the citadel at St Martin’s demi-bastion. So you can continue your tour without leaving  the citadel.

san-martino
Café San Martino, Rabat.

Alternatively,  if you want to head back to the main square for lunch, try Il Tokk http://www.it-tokkrestaurant.com/Home.aspx  or stop by Grapes bar café near the Basilica. Both are traditional Gozitan fare providers, try the stuffed vegetables, courgettes, aubergines, peppers, or octopus stew – stuffat –tal- qarnit and the cheese platter with Gbejna, a Gozitan cheese is to die for.

grapes

 

You’ll get a first class view of the Basillica if you eat there!

basilica

 

At the end of the day why not head to a beach for a refreshing swim. West may be best for the sunset

From Victoria take bus 310 to Marsalforn

File:Xwejni Bay Marsalforn.JPG

 

or bus 304 to Ramla bay, alternatively take the 306 to Xlendi Bay.

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This beach is beautiful and the sea is hyper salty!

 

Day 3

You could start the day with an early morning swim with a snorkel and breakfast, or lunch at one of the beaches  before heading off to Ggantija temples. They are a world heritage sight and a MUST SEE.

Further details on this interesting archaeological sight can be found here: https://julieadexter.wordpress.com/2016/09/18/the-ggan tija-hagar-qim-and-mnajdra-temples-of-malta-and-gozo/

Take your time after wards and have a lazy dinner at Qbajjar restaurant in Marsalforn. There you can feast on local dishes, classic dishes such as fish, steaks, or even  pizza. Locals flock here. So the proof of the pudding must be in the eating, so say they! Besides, what  could be better than a sea view? http://qbajjarrestaurant.com/

 

Photo of Rebekah's Restaurant

Day 4

Today why not be a little nautical? The Kelinu Grima Maritime Museum is a privately owned museum in Nadur that has a great collection of exhibits that will take you through an interesting journey of three centuries of maritime history. You can find rare and priceless items, such as original pieces of timber from Lord Nelson’s ship,  the HMS Victory, the first US warship, the Constitution, battleships and also one of Lord Mountbatten’s gold epualettes which was worn during his duty in the Mediterranean.

If a church is more your thing (and  there are 50 of them on Gozo),  the astounding Rotunda church is well a worth a visit. It was made by the people for the people and took 20 years to build. Some people were killed in their devotion to making it. Fortunately, now there is a lift to take you to the top where there is an automated clock. It is remarkable in that its shell went up around the existing church, so it is actually two churches in one. And it is bigger than St Paul’s cathedral in London.

It is an architectural masterpiece and the third largest unsupported dome in Europe – remarkable for a small island!

rotunda1-rotunda

The views from the top are excellent and it is well  worth a visit – and do climb to the top (or take the lift).

Nearby there are restaurants cafes and bars for refreshments amongst them the only stone oven on the island. Try Gozitan pizza there – you wont’t regret it!

In the afternoon if you haven’t already passed by –  take a visit to the salt pans at Marsalforn.

 

 

For Dinner why not head to the ferry terminal and harbour at Mgarr for the fresh catch of the day? Porto Vechio, Martino Garces Street in the yacht marina, Mgarr, or Manoel’s restaurant are particularly good.

Day 5

Go on the trail of Edward Lear – if you fancy! He visited Gozo for one week in 1866 where he coined the term pomskizillious and gromphiberous to describe the Gozitan scenery. Head to the village of Xaghra (Shara) to the Pomskizillious Museum of Toys.

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Inside the museum as well as a late 18th century Maltese Doll with carved wooden head and some Italian Presepio and figurines dating from 1790’s, there is a 1930’s Noah’s Ark as well as other lead toys including zoo and farm animals, cowboys and indians, aeroplanes, ships and soldiers and an abundance of very spooky dolls on display

Of Edward Lear himself there is a poem written by him to the nymph Calypso and a diary entry which reveals his account of his painting Xaghra, as well as a visit to the temples. There is a spooky life size replica of him in a display case along with a first edition Laughable Lyrics and Nonsense songs from 1872 and his Nonsense songs, stories and botany, Alphabets. Early edition (1872).

In the afternoon kick off your shoes and chill  at one of the gorgeous beaches you haven’t yet visited, before dancing the night away in the fantastic club La Grotta club -inside a cave  at Xlendi.

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I stayed at Gozo for four days at the end of August when even in summertime it wasnt over crowded. I’ll definitely be returning.

For further details see https://www.lonelyplanet.com/malta/gozo

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Fish hook Island of Agistri (with or without Katsoules).

An informative travelogue-turned-quest to find a rare fish for dinner on the immensely beautiful, island of Agistri in the Argo-Saronic gulf, Greece.

Agistri Island is  one of fourteen islands situated in the Argo-Saronic gulf, South West of Athens. It is very easy to reach in just 55 minutes on the Flying Dolphin which  makes  a short stop at Aegina on the way.

Agistri, or fish hook island as it is also known (due to there being a plentiful supply of  fish),  is a beautiful pine-clad island with a myriad of beautiful  blue and green colours framing everywhere you look. There are wonderful smells emanating from the arid Mediterranean earth; aphrodisiacal scents: mimosa, jasmine, oregano and  basil waft on the gentle sea breeze.

 

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Agistri is  also renowned for its  abundance of fig trees. In  summertime the local people dry them off on their roof tops to preserve them for winter when there aren’t many to harvest. Wines and liquors can also be made from them.

fig tree
Fig trees are everywhere on Agistri

Less well-known and less visited that some of the other islands, though hugely popular with  salaried Athenians,  Agistri  has a small  population of only  1250 inhabitants. There are few cars on the road which makes it ideal for cycling. It’s not possible to go directly to some of the other islands that make up the Argo-Saronic,  such as  Spetses,  Poros or Hydra as once had been the option. That said, it is possible to reach Epidauros in the Peloponnese from the port of Skala.

Sandwiched behind Aegina and Salamina with Metopi in the distance (also a part of Agistri, though uninhabitable) it’s a fabulous place to get away from it all.

For a small island there are a wealth of different types of beaches.  http://www.agistrigreece.com/portfolio-type/agistri_beaches/

Down in the south west of the island there is  lake  Limenaria, next to which  is a tiny island, Aponisos which you can reach by walking across a small bridge.  It’s a private  island and closes at 8pm each evening. To go on to Aponisos for a refreshing  swim in the cool, crystal-clear water,  you have to pay a small charge of 5 Euros,  but it does include a free drink, sun lounger and parasol.

A word of warning – do not try to cycle there from Megalochori in the heat of the mid day July or August sun.  It is further than it seems, ( 7 miles) due to the relatively high land which rises to 275 metres.

If, however, you woke up early before  sun rise, or  rode there after 6pm,  it is indeed a  joyous cycle as the smell of the pine trees is simply luxurious. You’d also be able to take a swim before the island closes, though the tavern across on the mainland is open much later.  With only a small number of inhabitants living on the island and relatively little tourist activity,  there won’t be  very many cars passing you by either.

 

Aponisos
A small private island joined by a bridge, Aponisos

 

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the sun from Milo
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Yachts and private boats love to anchor for a swim

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a resident goat!

Before leaving Athens we were told by our friends to make sure we had a dish of katsoules for them  as that particular fish is quite a  delicacy being  native to the Argo Saronic gulf.  I had assured our friends that of course  we would most definitely eat a plate of katsoules for them since they couldn’t come with us. And that would be such an easy thing to do.  Or so I thought.

I didn’t forget my promise when we set off to have  dinner each night.  But after three nights and some searching, we found  octopus, squids, mullet, prawns, anchovies and others – but no katsoules.  But I don’t give up easily, and before I knew it, my get-away-from-it-all vacation  turned into a quest to find katsoules.

Visiting a few taverns on Agistri, I ask before I sit down whether they have these delicacies. Each time I inquire,  my request is met with a smile.  I begin to wonder whether there is something fishy about these katsoules?

When I ask a restaurant owner why they  are laughing  she tells me she thinks it’s quite strange for someone outside of the islands to ask for them as not very many people know of them.

“So you don’t have any?” I ask at the third tavern in Milos.

“Oxi. No. No katsoules.”

Fortunately, as I am walking down Megalochori,  I see a fisherman sitting on the wall with a bucket by his feet. I approach him  – he surely will have some fish in that bucket and maybe a katsoula too!

“Yeia sas,” I say.  “Hello.”

“Good evening,” he replies.

I look in the bucket and see fish swimming around. Silver and red ones. “What do you have here?” I ask curiously.

He pokes his finger in, swirls the water, looks thoughtful and tells me it’s mullet, red snapper and that he will eat them with his cat that night. His sharp,  green eyes shine brightly in his lean, brown face, his glistening white hair framing his face.

“And do you often find Katsoules?”

He smiles, then raises his nose in the air indicating a firm no.

This time I ask why not.  “I heard that this is the place for Katsoules, only here around Agistri.”

“Yes,” he says. “Usually around here.”

“And why is that, why only here?” I ask .

The fisherman makes a snakelike motion with his arm.

“Sea snakes?” I guess.

“No, not sea snakes” he laughs. Little scholikes. They like to eat the scolikes we have here.”

“Scholikes?” I repeat, non the wiser.

He nods, “I don’t know in English,” he confesses.

I discover later that these katsoules are fussy-eaters, apparently only having an appetite for a specific type of worm found at the bottom of the sea bed in the shores around Agistri.I have yet to discover why there aren’t any this year, though I am assured by a fellow traveller-chef that the neighbouring island most definitely had some earlier in June.

Later that evening, a thought occurred  whilst I munched my way through a delicious plate of  fried prawn, why do the katsoules only eat those particular scolikes?

If you know, please do let me know!

 JulieADexter, August, 2016

 

My scrumptious dinner of fried prawns with lemon.DSC_0014

 

If you want to look out for a katsoula or two, this is what they look like.

katsoules

 

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