Mediterranean Odyssey 2019 travel blog

View from Citadella

Citadella

Restaurant we ate in

Gran Castello

Mgarr harbour


Up very early but not as early as planned. J woke up to the sounds of church bells - he listened to try and figure out what time it was (assuming maybe 5am). Then he looked at his phone. Yikes - 6:45! And we had set the alarm for 6:03 - but J forgot the AM bit! Anyway, without too much panic we were out the door at about 7:30 with time to catch the 7:55 bus to Cirkewwa (ferry terminal).

We walked the same way as normal, but he’s what, the bus left from a B bay which is much quicker to reach by the ramp from Castille - so we walked twice as far as needed. Anyway soon the 41 bus arrived and we were first on and got seats up the back. J and C wanted to be as far away from having to give up their seats as possible given the 1 1/2 hr trip.

The bus headed of and we had a grand tour of the north east of Malta. Through the suburbs to Birkirkara, and on to Mosta, home of the Mosta Rotunda ( full name Basilica of the Assumption of Our Lady). We saw it as we passed - it looks huge! Third largest unsupported dome in the world apparently. During WW2 a bomb pierced the dome and didn’t explode - a miracle!

On we went through Buggiba where we were stopped for about 15 mins while some clown in a concrete agitator truck decided to reverse from the road ( very narrow) into a very very narrow lane way that was curved and sloping uphill! j was worried we would miss the boat, so to speak. Anyway on through St Paul’s Bay - on some of the rocky banks and cliffs, you could see rectangular excavations that we assume were ancient tombs. Then through some seaside resort areas and we were there - and so was the ferry.

Hundreds and hundreds of people swarming into the terminal where they were directed into a time wasting/space saving expedition between rows of seats. Numerous young “couldn’t care less” women climbed over the chairs to gain an advantage. Anyway, J got some tickets and we continued on until we boarded. There it quietened down - most of the rid-raf went to the upper deck. J and C sat in the lounge and had breakfast - coffee, muffin for C, and some Tucs for J *.

It was a smooth 25 minute crossing and then we were there on Gozo. The plan was to visit Victoria first and then if time and tempers permitted, see something else later. The direct bus was standing room, but we were turned away just as we stepped on. So the next one was a less direct route, but we thought, might as well have a tour of the Island, so we hopped on. It was twice as long as we travelled around lots of narrow single lane streets in little towns. In one place the bus had to do a 3 pt turn! We arrived at Victoria (also Rabat) at a small bus terminal with a park at the centre.

The main feature here is the Citadella ( virtually a castle) within which is a very prominent church. You can see it for miles around. J&C trudged up the steep hill to the village below the Citadella. There was a market in the square, so some browsing and shopping was required. After this, and some photo opportunities , more trudging up the final steep pinch to the entrance . There was a lift here to save another bout of steps, so J and C took the easy option.

A few hours were spent exploring the Citadella - views from the ramparts, a gallery, the Cathedral of the Assumption, the Prison, and the Gran Castello Historic House. The Citadella site has been used since the Bronze Age, later the Romans, then conversion to a medieval fortress, and finally use by French and British. It is on Malta’s list for consideration for UNESCO world heritage status.

J and C lunched at a small cafe which advertised traditional coking. They shared a platter of tomatoes, cheese, onion, dried tomatoes, and olives, with bread and oil. Very relaxing!

We walked back down to the main part of Victoria, and by the time we got there it was hot again. More cold drinks, then down through the back streets to the bus terminus. We considered alternatives, but decided to return to the port - a 301 bus arrived soon and seats were grabbed. 20 mins later we were at the port. After a short stroll, we entered the ferry terminal, but drat! Too late for the 4:30 boat. C visited the toilet, and then J. When he came back C was talking to an official ferry person - he said that the boat was still there and we could get on. So J and C were the last on! The boat was near empty ( J counted about 20). It was a good crossing, but windier now, and there was a bit of a swell - but still quite comfortable. A small ferry (perhaps 5m long) was having a fun time motoring over to Comino. There were no passengers, which was probably a good thing!

Off the ferry Greek Style - ie walking off the vehicle ramp. Then a short wait until a bus arrived and we were on our way back to Valetta. An uneventful ride, and we arrived at about 7pm. At one point J was sitting daydreaming and felt a strange tingling in his hand. He was starting to wonder what was going wrong now, when he opened his bag to hear the sound of his alarm going off at 6pm!

Tea was again at the Market. J and C shared a mixed salad, and some cod and chips. J was a bit hesitant when he asked what fish was the fish of the day. His look must have said it all, as the cook said it was done in the Italian style - grilled, then crumbled and fried. J loved it and C was also impressed. Back home for an early night after our whirlwind trip to Gozo! Not before a small aperitif - Prickly Pear Liqueur.



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