We arrived late in the day in Gozo and barely had the time to familiarize ourselves with the island, but after our first half day, one thing is already clear: it is not at all what I had imagined.
From what I had read, I had expected to find a throwback to the Mediterranean world of the 1950s, an island full of dirt roads with a agricultural delivery van passing by every ten minutes in a cloud of dust, villages with women in black veils who quickly rush back into their houses as soon as an unfamiliar face turns around the corner, church bells and mustachioed men with hard faces and suspicious eyes.
I smile as I write this, because Gozo is not like that at all, and a throwback – if any at all – only to the Mediterranean world of the 1970s.
From the ferry port to the farmhouse where we were booked to say, (The Almonds) near San Lawrenz, we did not see a single woman in a black veil and certainly did not pass any dirt road. Instead, for about 20 minutes, we travelled through a friendly-looking urban area with family restaurants and shops everywhere that look gentle and sweet and sell everything from school socks (“new delivery just arrived!”) to electronic goods (“your family’s partner in modern home furnishings since 1967”).
I read somewhere that the whole of Gozo only has five traffic lights. This is almost certainly a canard, since I counted three alone on a short stretch of the main road when I suddenly remembered that article.
Even if it were true, this is not a reflection of the lack of traffic on the island but of the iniquitousness of roundabouts, that great English invention of controlling traffic at intersections by making everybody go into a spin. (The “new town” of Stevenage near London does not have a single traffic light, but nobody takes that as evidence for its inability to move out of the Middle Ages.)
All in all, modern-day Gozo is what the main island of Malta must have looked like before the party tourists arrived, the all-night bars and the casinos.
Our “farmhouse” is an absolute pearl. It is a traditional residential building that has been purposely built to be a luxury holiday home, fully air-conditioned and equipped with a modern kitchen as well as a swimming pool, which is located just outside San Lawrentz town centre, quiet but close to all amenities.
It is a great base for all kinds of trips through the island, not least because there is a bus stop just outside. (Buses in Gozo are relatively frequent – every 60 minutes all days of the week including Sundays, to and from the centrally located capital of Victoria – and the network is rather dense, considering there are only 35,000 residents on the island. You can go virtually anywhere on Gozo by public transport.)
Something else about Gozo: it is full of gently rolling hills, with a landscape that looks more varied than that of Malta.
That makes me look forward to the hikes we have planned for the coming days. Who knows: perhaps we will even run into the Duke of Cambridge (who is in Malta to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the country’s independence) and Brad Pitt or Angelina Jolie who are in Gozo to shoot a movie. Either way, you will be the first to know!
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… is how Edward Lear described the Maltese island of Gozo. But that’s not the whole story. #MaltaisMore!!! In our last post, we gave you a few tips for your autumn city break. Today’s post is all about our own, which will take us to Malta – and not to Malta at the same time.
Admittedly, this is not much of a riddle, considering I pretty much let the cat out of the bag in the headline. So here it goes: Malta is both an island and a country, and, conversely to what many people may think, the two are not the same, because the Republic of Malta comprises more than the island of the same name and actually is a proper archipelago of many rocks both great and small as well as three inhabited islands: Malta, Comino (which admittedly just barely scrapes over the “inhabited” line with
Continue reading Pomskizillious and Gromphiberous …
Going to Barcelona, London, Paris or Rome? Here are some tips for an active autumn city break Now that summer is over, and the holiday season behind us, it’s time to plan your autumn city break. Here is a suggestion: why not include a hike in your travel arrangements?
This does not have to be something difficult. Ideally, such a “city break hike” would be not too taxing: short and easy even by Easy Hiking standards, something you can do in a comfortable pair of shoes rather than hiking boots (since you will not want to carry a pair of those in your flight luggage), something where you find a pretty village at the end of a road where you can have a cup of coffee or a light meal. Plus it must be easy to reach by public transport.
Fortunately, most popular destinations have several
Continue reading Easy Hikes for an Autumn City Break
The Easy Hikers atone for past falsehoods by revealing the truth about Germany’s national dish As a final note to our brief stay in Berlin, here is something that, admittedly, is only somewhat tenuously linked with hiking. Something in lieu of an official retraction, an apology or (what they called under communism) “criticism and self-criticism”. And, to use a modern term, something to achieve “closure”.
There must have been, over the years, many a post where I have made some very tall claims indeed, twisted the truth in the most abominable fashion or expressed some truly outrageous opinions, but overall, my dear friends, you have been letting me off fairly easy.
Only once did I really get heat from you. This was when I suggested – on the occasion of a restaurant recommendation connected with one of our hikes in the West
Continue reading Who Invented Currywurst?
Berlin’s Tempelhof airport has been turned into a paradise for cyclists, windsurfers, wild birds, crazy golfers, baseball fans – and walkers Hiking, in a certain way, is like listening to popular music – because, let’s face it, most hikes do not really offer anything strikingly original like something you have never seen before, but rather rearrange familiar motifs: trees, meadows, wooded hills, a river, a lake, views of farms and distant church steeples.
The same is true for urban walks, where interesting cityscapes mix houses where something important has happened with houses where somebody interesting once lived and houses that are merely pretty to look at.
Only a few walks offer something genuinely different and are truly “one of a kind”. This is one of them.
It is an odd thing that, while most of the truly legendary train stations
Continue reading One of a Kind