We spent the first part of our honeymoon soaking up the history and majesty of the Mediterranean island of Malta. You can read all about it on my previous honeymoon post here. After three days on Malta, it was time for us to take the ferry over to Malt’s smaller sister island, Gozo.
When we arrived at the ferry port in Gozo we had a new friend waiting for us—Bunty. Bunty is the reason we decided to come to Malta in the first place, an island that we had never even heard of before January of this year. Bunty is the cousin of our coworker who works as the social studies coach for the school district. We befriended her ages ago, but for some reason in January she was working with us one school day morning when we ended up talking about vacation spots. She mentioned that she had family on Malta and thus visited Malta often. Intrigued, we asked for more details and she went on and on about how amazing Malta is—the beaches, the history, the culture—and how much she loves to visit and how her cousin Bunty rents renovated farmhouses to vacationers. Mr. C and I became even more intrigued. Suddenly plans for spending our honeymoon in Costa Rica were quickly fading into oblivion. We had a complete honeymoon 180 in a matter of minutes. Our coworker was suddenly emailing her cousin asking about her rental properties. In a week or so we had booked Bunty’s three-bedroom farmhouse on Gozo, complete with a kitchen, living room, WIFI, a rooftop terrace, and a private pool.
Bunty was standing outside in the chill air holding a sign with my name on it. We exchanged hugs and gave our sincere thanks for her picking us up at the ferry to take us to the house. Her husband Anton was waiting in the car, and they whisked us away to our private farmhouse, built 300 years ago and renovated into quite the cozy and relaxing oasis of tranquility. When Bunty gave us the tour of the house we were flabbergasted! It is an absolutely incredible place. The sandstone walls, roof, and wooden support beams make you feel as if you are stepping into a castle! The entire first floor was once a barn where the animals were kept. The living room has a TV alcove which was originally a manger. There are several holes carved into the stone which were used to tether animals inside the barn.
When we opened the fridge there was a bottle of champagne, milk, orange juice, strawberries, and two different kinds of dip with crackers waiting for us. Oh, and the absolutely delicious tomato, cheese, olive, and onion plate you see in the photos. There was also a sweet wedding card sitting on the kitchen table. I was again amazed! Bunty and Anton’s generosity is certainly something—all of this for complete strangers! I am still brainstorming a way that we can thank them.
After the tour Bunty and Anton dropped us off at the nearest grocery store, a short 10-minute walk from the farmhouse. There Gavin and I bought food for dinner (ingredients for homemade spaghetti), snacks, drinks, and breakfast foods. It was nice to stop eating out so much and actually stay in and cook for ourselves! Plus, it saved so much money.The store was very tiny and simple, but well stocked with necessities.
Finally, after arriving back at the farmhouse we were able to sit down and start cooking our spaghetti dinner. We used homegrown garlic so kindly left by the woman who lives next door. After an hour of so of cooking, the spaghetti was ready and it was absolutely delicious—or maybe it was just the hard work and day’s journey put into it that made it taste so good. Then it was time for a good night of sleep in the quiet little (well, not so little with three bedrooms and three floors, four counting the terrace on the roof) farmhouse.
The Azure Window on a windy, rough-seas day
We returned on a calmer day!
The first thing we did on our first full day on Gozo was visit a very famous place called the Azure Window. It’s only a 15-minute bus ride from the center of the city and it is a truly magnificent marvel of nature—a huge cliff jutting out into the Mediterranean with a natural “window” cut into the middle. The first day we went, the wind was intense and the sea was slamming against the rocks and the cliffs with foaming curls of the bluest water I’ve ever seen. The pictures don’t even do it justice! Unfortunately, this meant that there were no boats you could hire to take you around the cliffs and no swimmers or scuba divers in the area. The air was salted with sea spray and my camera lens was covered in a thin layer of salty water by the end of our visit. This location also makes an appearance in HBO’s Game of Thrones during Khal Drogo and Daenerys’s wedding. Usually you can take boats through the natural tunnel and out into the open sea, but because of the wind and waves, it was not possible during our first visit.
We returned to the Azure Window a few days later, this time on a calm day, and were able to take a hired boat out through the inland sea and around the cliffs. The water was so beautiful—clear, deep, and such an intense shade of blue. We also tried to go swimming out by the cliffs, but the water had a really intense pull that made us a little afraid to get in. We did get our feet wet, though, and put on goggles long enough to see some fish underwater. Then I saw a jellyfish and I didn’t want to be in the water anymore!
We had lunch back on the shore where we ordered a tuna salad and the mixed fresh seafood plate. Both were amazing! The mixed seafood plate had squid, octopus, two different types of clams, mussels, king prawns, and shrimp all cooked in a garlicky white wine sauce with some tomatoes and lemon. It was exactly what I had been craving since arriving on the islands! And for once, the octopus and squid were not chewy and rubbery, but tender and very flavorful. This was definitely my favorite meal on the trip!
We did end up going to Ramla Bay, a beach famous for its reddish sand. We also checked out the capital city of Victoria and the famous salt flats. Both the beach and salt flats can be seen in images above.
For dinner on our last night in Gozo, we decided to venture off to a new part of the island recommended by Bunty called Xlendi. Bunty said it was known as a pretty little inlet with great restaurants and she was spot on! I checked out some restaurant reviews on Trip Adviser and we ended up having dinner at Ta’Karolina—one of the highest rated restaurants on the island. We had a starter of freshly caught and fried calamari, and for main courses I had the seafood spaghetti (covered with shrimp, mussels, king prawns, and clams) and Mr. C had a steak with peppercorn gravy and potatoes. Everything was fabulous, and the food and service certainly lived up to their internet fame. When we first arrived the staff asked if we had reservations, and of course we did not as I had only discovered the restaurant online that afternoon. Then we noticed several signs warning that it is best to have a reservation. We waited (and I tried not to get my hopes up as I glanced at a menu) but the server returned and said he would set up a table for us outside on the dock! In fact, it gave a perfect view of the cliffs and the little bay all being lit up in the fading light of the evening: easily the best seats in the house! In the photo below you can see a little cave with a boat and a walkway starting on the right. Well, the walkway wraps around the cliff and ends at Ta’Karolina—we basically had a table set up right on the water! The second photo shows our view from the table. It was a very special way to end our last night in the Maltese archipelago.
It was so nice to finally feel my body relaxing and re-energizing. Travel is fun, but it’s also exhausting—lots of walking, climbing, waiting, reading maps and bus or train schedules. There’s a lot of pressure to go everywhere and see everything. It’s important to stop and remember that it’s meant to be a vacation, to be fun and relaxing. After a very long school year and an intense year of wedding planning, the five days we spent at the Gozo farmhouse were exactly what we needed. The next day we were up early and heading back to the ferry and then on to the airport on Malta. We were on our way to the Paris portion of our honeymoon!