Instagram Travel Thursday: The Island of Gozo in Malta

by farrah on November 21, 2013 · 27 comments

I needed at least two days to try and process everything my friend Ace and I did in Malta on our MamaGetaway. The best way to get going is to share some photos with the Instagram Travel Thursday linkup. Today I’m focusing on one location- because oh what a magical place it is. I’m thrilled to tell you about our day trip to the island of Gozo in Malta. So keeping it small and focused is probably the best way to jump right in (no, I didn’t actually do any jumping!)…

Azure Window, GozoThe incredible ‘Azure Window’

The Island of Gozo

On Sunday we planned a full day of adventure on the 26 square mile island of Gozo, which was just a short ferry ride away from the city of Valletta- where we were staying. Unbeknownst to my friend and I, it was ‘Free Gozo Weekend‘ and that meant everyone could ride on the ferry (including cars) for free to the island. Now saving €5 per person might not sound like much to you or I- but to the Maltese, it was THE time to go. Frankly I think it was the one weekend a year that most people visited the island! In other words- the ferry was packed and traffic was insane. To put it lightly.

Our goal: Arrive on the Gozo dock

Getting There

We took a bus from the station in Valletta on the main part of Malta to the ferry, which we both assumed would be a quick ride. Not really. Two hours later (!) we hopped off the bus about a mile from the destination and walked since the traffic was so bad. The backup was due to the sheer number of cars waiting to board the ferry. I feel like the distance we rode was only at most ten miles.

Bus to GozoLtoR: The traffic jam, the bus before it was crowded and we’d rather walk anyhow! 

The ferry itself was packed. Going through my head were the news stories of small ferries filled to capacity capsizing- but obviously we made it safe enough and from there took a hop on/hop off sightseeing bus. At this point things leveled out a bit more and we no longer felt like we might end up on the nightly news.

On Being Tourists

Somewhere, along the bus route…

I’m not sure when the term ‘tourist’ became a bad word- but one day I realized that there are those that consider themselves ‘travelers’ and the rest of us are just ‘tourists’. Well, I’m here to say that we did the tourist thing and it was great. We rode on the top of the bus. We listened to the headphones and heard the spiel. We got off at the designated spots and waited for the next bus to come pick us up. And you know what? It was fantastic, fun and informative too.

Unfortunately we missed Calypso’s Cave (where she is said to have held Odysseus for 7 years) because our bus driver was either a) in a hurry or b) didn’t think anyone was interested. Either way, we pulled up and drove away before I could get so much as a picture. That was frustrating.

However, next up was Ta’ Pinu, a church set atop ground said to have a miracle happen years and years prior. There, in the middle of this flat area overlooking the sea you find the most incredible sanctuary you can imagine.

Ta' Pinu

Popes have been here, people have flocked here- and it’s so beautiful it all makes your eyes hurt just a little bit. Inside- well, I wasn’t prepared to see the walls adorned with the thank you gifts sent over the years. I don’t have pics of the actual sanctuary interior itself, as I just felt a little inappropriate snapping away while people were praying. But take my word for it- it was gorgeous.

tapin

On the walls in a back room are hundreds and hundreds of items from all over the world- including full body casts, as thank yous to Ta’ Pinu for hearing their prayer of healing. There were too many baby clothes to count. So many of the notes said ‘Thank you for helping heal/conceive/help our child’.

We met the next bus and rode around for a while, taking in the warm sun and blue sky to find ourselves at the most impressive stop of the tour: the Azure Window. This natural structure has been formed from years and years of erosion. I was sad to learn that it’s not likely to last much longer as the ‘bridge’ will collapse into the ocean, but I was glad that I had a chance to see it for myself. Simply put- it is amazing and beautiful to behold.

In fact, the entire area is somewhat magical. You walk on hard rock/fossil- and there are clear indications of life that existed there many lifetimes ago. Thousands. I was humbled and awed by it all. What a place. My inner geek has since learned that this is where the Dothraki wedding was filmed in season 1 of Game of Thrones, and a slew of other movies have filmed including Clash of the Titans.

Gozo

From there our tour on Gozo was complete and it was getting dark. We had to make it back to the ferry and I wasn’t expecting to (again) hop off a bus stuck in traffic and run down alongside narrow sidewalks and alleys to get back to the dock. I suppose I should have known that getting onto the island would have been just as crazy as getting off.

Gozo sunset

Overall, my mind is reeling from everything we’ve seen on on the island of Gozo. Some parts of the island showed evidence that the first Neolithic culture of the Maltese Islands, some 7000 years ago, was here. Can you imagine? I looked around and just tried to comprehend what it all meant.

This is just part one of our amazing Mamgetaway to Malta. I’m going to be sharing more photos as well as our fantastic hotel and location soon on Travel Mamas– plus more stories here and there. I hope you enjoy them.

Hop over to check out the rest of these great IG travel posts linked up from @HouseOfAnais, @ToDestinationUnknown and many more!

 

All photos taken by me (except the ones I’m in!) with my iPhone.

{ 27 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Olga @The EuropeanMama November 21, 2013 at 8:58 am

I love love love Malta! It is one of the most incredible places I’ve seen!

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2 farrah November 21, 2013 at 2:42 pm

Awesome, isn’t it? So glad you can share in my sense of ‘wow’. It really was fantastic.

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3 Satu VW / Destination Unknown November 21, 2013 at 9:43 am

That looks amazing! Nothing I expected althoughI have to admit, I didn’t really know what to expect in the first place. And I think theres nothing wrong about being a tourist 😉

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4 farrah November 21, 2013 at 2:43 pm

Me too. As long as we’re respectful and there to experience something new- where’s the harm? Really a beautiful place Satu. If you get the chance, check it out.

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5 Reeta @houseofanais November 21, 2013 at 9:58 am

Gozo looks amazing – when we visited Malta we didn’t go there in the end and I regret it, as that place looks just amazing. Moms escape sounds so good, I hope I can go on one of those soon too, that would be really lovely….

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6 farrah November 21, 2013 at 2:43 pm

You totally should- we had a blast.
I’m glad that Ace mentioned going as I don’t know if it would have been on my radar otherwise!

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7 Katja of Skimbaco November 21, 2013 at 11:27 am

Looks amazing!! And nothing wrong about being the tourist 🙂 Well, at least sometimes! We used to never do the guided tour-type of things, but in the past couple of years have done more, and really appreciated it, they can be very educational for the kids!

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8 farrah November 21, 2013 at 2:47 pm

I feel that not really knowing where to start on Gozo, it was perfect for us. They took us to the really big spots and from there we got a feel for it. Hey, they must have SOME idea what they’re doing, right?

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9 Julia November 21, 2013 at 12:03 pm

This looks beautiful and unlike any place I’ve been. Sometimes doing the tourist thing is so much fun and you get to see so many things .

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10 farrah November 21, 2013 at 2:47 pm

TOTALLY agree. They steered us in the right direction 100% 🙂

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11 Susan (@VibrantIreland) November 21, 2013 at 12:05 pm

Malta looks fab! I agree with you, I’m not sure tourist should be a dirty word. Sure, there are plenty of people who consider themselves ‘travellers’ who seem mostly concerned with racking up numbers of countries visited. I think at the end of the day we are all ‘visitors,’ & the thing is to pay attention & try to experience the places we go. To learn about them & enjoy them- whether that’s via a bus tour or a self-guided backpacking trip! 🙂

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12 farrah November 21, 2013 at 2:48 pm

Susan, you and I are totally on the same page. It’s not about ticking off countries- it’s about getting down and into them that makes it all worthwhile 🙂

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13 Kea November 21, 2013 at 12:52 pm

I’ve never been to Malta and apparently I’ve been missing out! Great pics!

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14 farrah November 21, 2013 at 2:49 pm

Thanks Kea! Good thing this world is so big. I have to rely on people to show me places all the time that I never knew about before. Glad I could fill you in on Gozo 🙂

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15 Mrs. Chasing the Donkey November 21, 2013 at 2:07 pm

I am stunned that your phone captured so much in such details. I am glad you guys had a great time – albeit crowded. I can not comprehend the whole 7,000 year thing – even thinking about the romans makes my head hurt. Just amazing.

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16 farrah November 21, 2013 at 2:50 pm

I know, right? How on earth does it do such a great job? here I stressed about not taking the DSLR, but in the long run I’m glad I didn’t. It’s big and clunky and I probably would have broken a lens.

And dude- PHOENICIANS. I mean. Woah.

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17 Chamisa November 21, 2013 at 2:10 pm

Gorgeous! And my bucket list just grew 🙂

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18 farrah November 21, 2013 at 2:54 pm

Yay! I hope so. This place is pretty awesome. Although I cannot imagine how hot it must be (and crowded) in the summer. So add to your fall list!

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19 Ace November 21, 2013 at 2:29 pm

I second this – your iPhone does a pretty good job taking pictures. They came out great – and they really do the sites justice!

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20 farrah November 21, 2013 at 2:54 pm

They did! We did good work. Of course Linc wanted to know if he could climb that rock. Um, no.

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21 Robbie November 21, 2013 at 3:00 pm

Looks beautiful!

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22 Alison Chino November 21, 2013 at 5:22 pm

Malta is on my short list right now for sure! And these photos are really making me want to get there sooner. GORGEOUS!

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23 farrah November 22, 2013 at 8:19 am

Thanks! I highly recommend it, and fall is a wonderful time to go!— Just not Free Gozo Weekend 🙂

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24 Elena November 22, 2013 at 2:45 am

Looks stunning. Definitely on my short list.

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25 farrah November 22, 2013 at 8:19 am

It really is. Glad it’s on your list- such a must see.

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26 Leigh Powell Hines @Hinessightblog November 22, 2013 at 8:34 pm

I’m a little late to the party, but Malta is gorgeous. That first photo is stunning, and so unusual. I am sure you had a great time.

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27 Gayla February 17, 2014 at 6:57 pm

I will get to Malta someday, I just know it. Will have to hit you up for recommendations for eating/accommodations when I do 🙂 BTW, your pics are amazing. I’d never guess you used your iPhone. Beautiful scenery! Hopefully the Azure Window bridge will go naturally without the aid of human hands (Scout leaders) like the natural formation in Utah…

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