My Mediterranean hideaway
When a friend suggested a spring trip to Malta, my first thought was, “where?” Turns out this barren rock in the middle of the Mediterranean – south of Sicily, east of Tunisia, north of Libya – was the perfect getaway.
Malta comprises three islands: the main island of Malta, the uninhabited Comino, and Gozo.
Malta is a popular tourist destination and is thus covered with resorts. But after a quick flight from Rome, we immediately bypassed the luxurious hotels on beautiful beaches and hopped on the ferry to Gozo. In contrast, there is little tourism on Gozo, an island dotted with sleepy fishing villages and small hilltop towns along a rugged coast. We stayed in a flat in Xlendi Bay for just $3 per day. Xlendi is a typical Gozitan fishing village and harbors a number of fishing vessels; it is certainly the ideal hideaway on an island blessed by progress, but uncursed by time.
On every corner of the Maltese islands there is stunning scenery that provides a spectacular backdrop. The honey-hued sandstone of the architecture is set off against the blue azure of the Mediterranean. It’s no wonder several movies have chosen a Maltese setting, including “Troy,” “Gladiator,” “The Count of Monte Cristo” and “Swept Away.”The most stunning vista is the Azure Window, a massive natural arch that acts as a window to the turquoise water of the Mediterranean. It is just a few inlets away from Calypso’s Cave, the place Odysseus is believed to have been held captive. It’s easy to see why myths that survived for centuries were born on this island.
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The Maltese, I had heard, have a reputation for being the “friendliest people on Earth.” I met only a few – a local butcher, our landlady, a few fisherman – but all were very kind, interested in where we were from and if we were enjoying their beautiful island. Our landlady, who was kind enough to stop by every evening to exchange pleasantries, was shocked to learn that we had hiked most of the island, wandering over the cliffs and down roads between farms. She suggested we take buses across the island, that it would be faster.
But nothing about Gozo struck me as needing to be hurried, so we leisurely explored the coast and the villages, soaking in the hot sun and unique culture.
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