Day 10: Gozo with the Flow

It was a bit of a lazy morning, we took our sweet time and weren’t out and about until 10:15.  Our aim was to get to Gozo, another island just north of Malta, so we hopped onto a crowded 222 Arriva bus northward for the hour-ish ride to the Cirkewwa ferry terminal.  The Gozo Channel ferry took another 25 minutes or so (€4.65 each/round-trip) and then there we were, dropped off to Gozo’s Mgarr Harbor.

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Our water transport

It shouldn’t come as any surprise that our first order of business was to stop for a coffee at the only café near the ferry terminal.  Our waiter was all smiles, as we found the case with many Maltese, and we enjoyed watching the goings-ons near the ferry terminal.  Ok, now we were ready to Go-zo.

Gozo is served by the Arriva bus company, too, but our weeklong Malta bus pass was not valid here so we had to purchase a separate day ticket (€2.60/each).  Once sorted, we waited for the 322 to come by and take us up to our first stop, the Ggantija Temples.  We had confirmed with the lady selling bus tickets that indeed, Ggantija would be a stop and the digital sign on the bus would alert us when to get off.  How hard could this be, especially since Gozo is a very small island?  Well, whenever Arriva was involved you knew something will go haywire.

Ggantija Temples

Ggantija Temples

Everything seemed to be going according to plan, we were passing stops that matched up with our rudimentary map and going in the general vicinity of the temples.  When it seemed like we should be very close, a sweet Polish couple, who were also going to the Ggantija Temples, got up to ask if our stop was near.  The driver told us to sit tight, we were almost there.  A block or two later the driver looked like he was going to make a turn but there was a car in the way so he opted to go forward, instead.  All of a sudden the digital board went blank and the bus started to speed up and make random turns; the driver was slinging it.  We passed bus stops that didn’t even list the 322 and I began to grow very suspicious we were off route.  Jim thought maybe we were going to swing by the driver’s house for a bite to eat.  No one had any idea where we were going, but we were making great time.  A few kilometers later the digital sign sprang back to life and we were once again listed on the bus stop signs along the road.  The only problem was by this point we were on the other side of the island, nearing the bus terminus of Marsalform Bay.  The bus driver came to a screeching halt at the terminus and opened the door, expectantly waiting for all of us to disembark and maybe even marvel at how quickly we got there.  We approached him as a group and asked if we were near the Ggantija Temples, knowing full well we weren’t.  His unapologetic response?  Oh, sorry, I forgot to stop there.

Come again?  You forgot?  Dude, you are responsible for making about 10 stops on this route and you mean to tell us you only managed to make 70% of them?  And now we were being told to get off, as his bus was turning into a different route, and take the next 322 that comes along to get back to the temples?  Don’t worry, he said, it’ll be here in 5 minutes.  Right on time, fifteen minutes later, it arrived and we boarded.  This time we all sat up front and took turns reminding the driver where we needed to go.

Inside the Ggantija Temples site

Inside the Ggantija Temples site

At long last we found ourselves at the Ggantija Temples (€5/each), believed to be the oldest buildings in the world, predating the Egyptian pyramids, Stonehenge, everything.  They were built around 3,600 BC and dang it if they aren’t still standing.  Well, there is a little bit of scaffolding to help support some of the walls, but I’d say at almost 6,000 years old that is some pretty solid craftsmanship.  It’s not a huge site to cover, as McMansions weren’t big during the Neolithic Age, but we spent a great deal of time reading the placards and taking in the significance of it all.  It was also observed that there was trash tucked in the corners of the structures well behind the ropes where the public is allowed to go.  Apparently littering in these parts is a tradition dating back several thousand years.

The mean streets of Victoria

The mean streets of Victoria

Our next destination was to get to Gozo’s capital city of Victoria, so we found the 307 bus stop and were on our way.  From the bus terminal we made our way toward the Pjazza Independenza, stopped for a refreshment, wandered the streets, and then decided we needed to start making our way back to Malta.  It had been raining intermittently all day and we were tired, a little wet, and a little wary of what Arriva might have in store for us.

Our journey back started at 16:45 and involved a packed bus 301 from Victoria to the ferry terminal and a ferry back to Malta, and it took just shy of 2 hours to accomplish this.  Once back at the Cirkewwa ferry terminal in Malta we opted to board a 221 bus to Bugibba Bay, a seaside town several kilometers north of St. Julian’s, where we were hoping we’d find a quiet seaside restaurant for our last meal here.  We wound up at the seaside terrace of Bayside Restaurant, where we ate and each had a locally brewed Cisk beer to toast our departure the following day, before taking bus 12 back to St. Julian’s and excitedly gearing up for our move to Sicily.

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