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Monday, May 23, 2016

Malta Day 11: Welcome to Gozo, Victoria and the Cittadella


After another great breakfast buffet at the Maritim Antonine Hotel & Spa in Mellieha, we took a taxi to Cirkewwa, where the ferry to Gozo departs. It also would have been possible to take a bus from the Adenau Bus Stop. But the taxi seemed to be better option, than to end up in a completely crowded bus with no real space to put our luggage (again) and it´s also just 6 kilometers away. 


We arrived at the ferry terminal and asked a nice woman there, where to buy the tickets for the ferry, but she told us, that you buy the tickets only at your return trip. So, we just had to wait a bit and could walk onto the next huge ferry (they are very frequent), where we found a nice place outside for the relaxing 30-minute ride.


When we arrived, we wanted to take two different busses to our home for the next four nights in Xlendi, which looked charming online (both, the village and our guesthouse). But the bus was already overcrowded and didn´t take anyone in anymore. We asked a taxi driver and got a ride for 15 Euro, so off we went! 

Gozo is basically the sister island of Malta. It´s much smaller than the main island and also said to be more relaxed. I hoped to find out! We had decided on Xlendi as our base for Gozo, as it looked especially charming and has a frequent bus connection to Gozo´s capital Victoria, where all bus lines come together. We had booked four nights at the San Antonio Guesthouse and then were happy, that we were allowed to check-in early. It was a family run guesthouse with a nice, basic room with flatscreen TV and a nice balcony overlooking the sea - and it als has a swimming pool!





We didn´t waste time and went off to the Xmun Bus Stop, just a few meters away from the guesthouse. But it was closed due to roadwork - exactly for the time, where we would be there. Fortunately Xlendi´s main bus stop was just down the hill, along the bay and then behind St. Patrick´s Hotel. And it was working. We took bus 306 and ten minutes later already arrived at Victoria´s main bus terminal, using our convenient (second) 7-day-bus pass



The terminal is inside the city, so it was a short walk upwards to the city´s biggest attraction, the huge Cittadella. It crowns above the city and is a mixture of a medieval castle and a fortress. The fortified complex houses several attractions, like the Gozo Cathedral and some museums. 


We started our walk with a visit at the Gozo Museum of Archaeology which presents stone carvings, sculptures and was included in our a Malta Heritage Pass, which we had bought on our first sightseeing day in Malta. One interesting object that caught my attention was a fine white marble carving of Remus and Romulus suckling a she-wolf. This particular object was said to have been "discovered" in 1720 near Fontana in Gozo.



Next up was the Gozo Cathedral, which unfortunately wasn´t included. But it was rewarding to visit the Cathedral, built between 1697 and 1711, given the impressive marble floor, the beautiful paintings and rich ornaments.





We walked a bit through the complex and came to the wall, which is a great viewing platform. 




After having a snack at the restaurant, where we could sit outside, we walked to the Gozo Nature Museum, still inside the Cittadella. They have a shell collection, stones and some stuffed animals, concentrating on the Maltese Islands.



The Old Prison was, like the Nature Museum, also included in our pass, so we of course, went there too and visited the cells.



Like many historical buildings and tourist attractions in Malta, the Cittadella was being renovated with support from the European Union. It was nice to see, as the Maltese seem to use the money for especially good effect, from the fine aquarium, the temples and the Limestone Heritage we visited earlier in the journey up to this. Combined with the new, frequent busses, which have electronic displays, signaling every bus stop in English, the Bus Passes for tourists and the Heritage Tickets, it is a great tourist infrastructure they built.

We were finished with the great Cittadella and walked down to the nearby Independence Square and then to the beautiful St. George`s Basilica.




After visiting a supermarket for some grocery shopping, we walked back to the bus terminal and went through the pretty Villa Rundle Gardens


Soon we were back in Xlendi and after some relaxing at the hotel went for an evening stroll to the nearby Xlendi Tower, the oldest surviving watchtower in Gozo, built in 1650. There was a nice path leading to it and behind it we saw some salt pans. It is a beautiful area. 



On the way back we followed the path along the bay to the center of Xlendi, where many restaurants at the cove awaited. 




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