We’re still here! We planned to stay a few days but then got caught in strong westerly winds (the “majjistral”) which have not died away as they normally do, but have kicked up some big seas – 2-3m and very confused. Saturday was the 1st day of this and we took buses to the west-most point of Gozo (to see the “Azure Window” and “Inland Sea”), and the seas were spectacular, with huge plumes of spray shooting into the air.
The Azure Window is quite an impressive hole in the cliffs, but the Inland Sea is really odd. Pictured above right, an 80m long cave connects the sea to this pool – large enough for a small fishing fleet to call home. With the seas breaking onto the cliffs beyond, waves were smashing though the cave and into the “inland sea”. The other local highlight is “Fungus Rock”, home to a unique fungus which the Knights of St John harvested for its medicinal properties.
We decided to find a cliff walk to get back to Victoria, the capital of Gozo, but couldn’t find the path & ended up seeing some very interesting country instead. They quarry huge amounts of limestone to build all the local houses (and in the past, all the forts & defensive towers), which leaves some very impressive walls of rock, god knows how high. One of the things the locals are famous for is shooting songbirds, and you can see how popular this must be. Scattered all over the countryside and cliffs are these stone “hides” surrounded by little rock perches put up to lure the poor unsuspecting tweety-pies to their death. There were thousands of them – it’s hard to imagine any migrating songbirds which rest here surviving the onslaught!
After having missed most of the local fiestas on our travels over the last two years, it made a nice change to catch Gozo’s this weekend. We went in with two British live-aboards who’ve been here a while now. It could have been warmer, with the strong winds keeping things a little cool, but the lamplit ramparts were very pretty – made all the better by copious supplies of local wine (who would have thought an island so small would produce such good wines?). Unfortunately L stumbled over some steps in the dark (my fault for going the wrong way) and has got a few scrapes & a swollen ankle (another excuse not to run!). There were the usual processions of drummers and people in costume, but the highlight was probably the local singing talent – again, not bad for such a tiny island (pop 30k, 1/3rd that of the Isle of Wight).
We’ve just got the boat clean again, after the last bit of rain deposited thick red dust all over it. We feel a little guilty using their precious water in this way, but we’re not as prolific with it as the locals are. Spick & span again, ready to get coated with salt on Wednesday. We’ve also caught up with a few boat jobs, and we can now control the anchor from the cockpit (wowee), ready for Greek style mooring. We were originally going to leave on Sunday, postponed that until Tues, but it now looks like Weds before the seas die down enough. We’re considering a long day (85 miles, ~16 hrs) to Syracuse, but there is a harbour at 60 miles if we get too tired with the bashing seas. Then over to Cephalonia in one hop, 2 nights at sea, after exploring Syracuse of course.