My Holidays in Malta, Ferry to Gozo

Gozo Ferry

In 1997 I visited Gozo for the first time.  It is a short crossing and there had hardly been time to settle down in our seats on board when the ferry began to approach the port of Mgarr and began to slide into position ready at the quay side for disembarkation.

Mgarr was thankfully a lot more attractive than Ċirkewwa and in the shelter of the walls the iconic multi-coloured fishing boats of Malta were swaying idly in the limpid water of the harbour.

We wanted to go to the capital Victoria but the bus looked crowded and so, because I knew it wasn’t very far, I foolishly allowed myself to be talked into a taxi by a persuasive cabbie.

It was immediately obvious that a short ride to Victoria was the last thing he wanted and he was looking for a much more profitable fare.  He told us an improbable tale that the capital was mostly closed today so we would be disappointed and he suggested an escorted island tour instead.  He ignored our repeated instructions and set off instead on his preferred itinerary and towards the east coast village of Xaghra where he promised windmills and Megalithic temples.

The last thing my teenage children wanted were windmills and Megalithic temples but once there he made the mistake of stopping and letting us out for a closer inspection and it was now that we took our opportunity to be rid of him and we told him that we no longer required his services, paid, what I am certain was an inflated fare, and the with a collective sigh of relief looked for a bus stop.

It didn’t take long for a grey and red bus (grey and red to distinguish Gozo buses from the Orange of Malta) with the sun glinting off of its immaculate chrome bumpers to come along and we climbed on board past the heavily decorated driver’s seat which he shared with pictures of his favourite Saints and swinging rosary beads hanging from the window blinds, paid our fare and found some vacant seats.

Gozo Malta Cannons

The centre of Victoria turned out to be rather too busy for me but the quiet backstreets were shady and quiet and we wandered around the maze of alleyways until we re-emerged back in the centre, visited the cathedral and walked the walls and ramparts of the old Citadel with its fortifications and old cannons and explored tiny side-streets until it was time to make our way back to the bus station and return to the ferry port at Mgarr for a late afternoon ferry back to Malta.

I returned to the island in 2015 and for our day on Gozo we had booked one of those open topped tourist buses.  I don’t usually like these because they seem to spend a lot of wasted time going to places that you don’t want to go but the man at the hotel reception had persuaded me that this was a good option because we could be sure of seeing all of the places of interest in one day which could not be guaranteed if relying on the privatised bus service.  We found the bus, made our way to the top deck and waited for it to fill up with passengers and leave for the first stop Victoria.

Victoria is the capital of Gozo.  It used to be called Rabat but in 1887 the British renamed it to commemorate the Golden Jubilee of Queen Victoria.  I can’t help thinking that it is rather arrogant to go around changing place names in such a superior way.  A lot of people on Gozo still call the place Rabat – Good For Them!

The bus dropped us off and we made our way to the centre of the city, to St George’s Square and the Basilica of the same Saint.  As it was 23rd April there was a lot of bell ringing and celebration but the disappointment was that the square resembled a construction site as it was in the process of restoration and improvement.

We moved on from St George’s building site and made our way to the Citadel at the very top of the city which as the name suggests is a medieval fortress city in the most defensible position on the island.  This also turned out to be rather a disappointment because this was another construction site.

The Citadella is on the UNESCO World Heritage tentative list and it looked as though the Gozians are putting in a bit of extra effort (courtesy of EU heritage funding) to give the application a boost.

This is the Cathedral, no cannon anymore, replaced now by statues and the decoration on the facade of the building is gone which personally I thought was rather a shame.

In 2017 we took the ferry to Gozo again but when we got there we did nothing more than wander around the port town of Mgarr which is most likely something that not many people do as they clamber aboard buses and taxis and leave the place as soon as they can.  It was rather nice, we strolled around the port, explored some dusty back streets, found a friendly bar and then after only an hour or so made our way back to the ferry terminal and returned to Malta.

Gozo Victoria Rabat

35 responses to “My Holidays in Malta, Ferry to Gozo

  1. Love the bright fishing boats and the story of the cabbie who wanted to be a tour guide!


  2. It has occurred to me that there is no need for me to put up with the mishaps you’ve encountered. I can just travel along with you through your posts! Saves a whole lot of money and far less hassles! Thanks, Andrew! 😀


  3. Good memories but you’re lucky to have photos from that time. In our decluttering stint I’ve just found a packet of 35mm slides from our first trip to Nepal in ‘83, long lost. Now need to find a way to digitise.


  4. I’ve actually got about 100 but 80 ish of them are of scenery I’ve shot many times since. The precious 20 are of our young selves with 6 years old kids!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. It does look atmospheric, Andrew! 🙂 🙂 I didn’t know that about Rabat. For some reason I thought that was a place in North Africa.


  6. We liked Gozo but didn’t get to see much of Victoria. It was a boat/bus tour and the bus took us to what used to be the Gozo Arch but it had fallen into the sea about 10 days earlier! Still, it was nice to see the countryside and that side of the island. We had a quick lunch in Victoria, a sandwich on some of the best bread we have ever tasted, and then had to get back to the boat. Maybe next time.


  7. Wow, Andrew, I would have been screaming at the cab driver. It was kidnapping. Clever of you to escape… No tip for sure! –Curt


  8. Those coloured boats are right at the top of my list of spectacular.


  9. Love the boats! The rest of your experiences sound a bit unsatisfactory though, so maybe I won’t put Gozo on my list…


  10. I suppose we are an arrogant lot when you come to think about it, or perhaps were, place has gone down hill quite a bit since I left!


    • Which place do you refer to?


      • Why England of course, never been the same since I left 😈


      • Ah, the whole country, I thought maybe you were being more specific.
        England (UK) has issues but I would never leave!


      • I’ve been in Australia for 67 years and am still an Englishman, I object to the term “Brit”, I was born English and as they say in Australia, “Once a Pom always a Pom” ; I came to England in 2005, it broke my heart and I shall never return. I remember England as it was in the 1940’s


      • As a consolation you didn’t have to live in England through the 1970s!
        There are a lot of problems here now some of them we are yet to discover just how serious. The parlous state of the NHS for example.
        I used to think I would like to leave and move on but now I think ‘where would I go?’, ‘Where would I be happier?’. I think I will stick it out!

        Liked by 1 person

      • I think my real reason is that I’m a racist at heart. I recall when there in 2005 riding a double decker in London and I heard a Cockney clippies voice “anymore fares please” sort of thing and turned thinking it was me ol’ uncle Alf, ‘e was a clippy; and I looked around and it was a coloured bloke don’t know where his roots were but obviously born in London himself, and I wondered ‘where were all you people when Jerry was dropping bombs on us. and I didn’t feel any shame at thinking like that.


      • My granddad was a bus conductor in London, worked out of the Bromley Road garage in Catford.
        As for immigrants well, we invited them in post war to provide the labour we needed for reconstruction. They are part of life here now!

        Liked by 1 person

      • My Uncle was a clippy out Dagenham way, not sure where the depot was I think there was one in Barking.
        If truth be told, and admitted, it was a big mistake.


  11. Oh the construction sight blight! I have lost count of the times I have approached iconic sights and spied the tell tale sign of scaffolding. Gozo Seems a very pleasant place – will get there one day!


  12. I’ve been to Malta for New Year’s Eve and it was a wonderful experience, Andrew! Gozo Island is simply magnificent. 🙂


  13. Sounds a very quiet place, Andrew, yet very beautiful. Probably great for somebody like me who dislikes large crowds.


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