Malta – Hop on, Hop Off To Dwejra Point and Other Hamlets in Gozo

Europe, Malta
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Gozo still beckons, following my wonderful day out there yesterday (Cittadella & Marsalforn blog links). The images of those 3 churches that I bussed past between the ferry port and Victoria, remains entrenched in my mind. And so I prepare for a 2nd day of a long bus journey to the tip of Malta for more adventures.

  • Start of Journey: Valetta Bus Terminal, Malta
  • Cost of Day Out: Cheap(£)

This time I take the long way round into Victoria. It’s a far more thrilling route than the main drag into town. As I climb the steep hill out from Gozo Ferry Terminal, perched on an outcrop, is [1] Lourdes Chapel, one of many, many churches on this tiny island.

Lourdes Chapel

Soon after the church, the bus veers of the dull main road into the parish of Ghajnsielem. It’s a tiny village with a church large enough to be called a cathedral back in England. One to note for my return journey to port.

Ghajnsielem Church from the bus

Next the bus loops around Xewkija, the hamlet of Rotunda St John Baptist Church. Of all the churches on this island, this church with its magnificent rotunda dominates the view from virtually everywhere, the ferry, the drive up to Victoria, the Cittadella and even the Gigantja Temples.

St John the Baptist from the Bus

I decide to allow serendipity dictate my day, by taking the first bus to depart Victoria Bus Terminal. Next thing I know, I’m on my way to San Lawrenz, through very agricultural landscape. About 20 minutes into the journey, I spy some [2] aqueducts in the middle of a field.

Aqueducts in the middle of fields

Through the lime green, verdant  and undulating countryside, the [3] church of San Lawrenz looms on the horizon. There really is no need for sat navs in Gozo. You could navigate round this little island by just these church spires.

San Lawrence Parish Church from the Bus

After a circular, but enjoyable loop around San Lawrenz, I get off at the Wileg stop. Back home, hours of horticultural work is put in to make a bus stop look like this. Here, it just happens naturally.

Bus Stop at St. Lawrenz

San Lawrenz is devoid of tourists. There is a sign in both directions to the church. Whch is true, as all roads here lead to these tall, silver blue domes.

San Lawrenz Church from a village street

There is an arrow for Dwejra Point by the church, which leads me out of the village towards the cliffs. Whilst [4] San Lawrenz is not what I would call a quaint town, it has a charm of its own.

Scenes from the village of San Lawrenz

It’s a pleasant walk down the kerb to the beach at the bottom of the hill.  Apart from a section of terraced farm on the slopes, it’s mainly meadows on the left and scrub on the rocky cliff face to my right.

View Down to the Fort as I Walk Down to Dwejra Point

The [5] Azure Window, a natural stone archway which has featured in films, is no more, having succumbed to storms in March 2017. But the cliffs are still quite dramatic. And the stones on the beach are littered with fossils that go back 15 million years.

The Azure Window minus Arch

There is plenty to do in [6] Dwejra to fill the hour between buses. Boat rides (5 Euros) can be taken through the [7] Inland Sea. And there’s the [8] Marine Education Centre, a modern looking [9] chapel and a [10] fort to wander around. And a lady who sells painted pebbles from a stall in the car park, from whom I buy a magnet.

The Inland Sea

The bus drops me off back at San Lawrenz at the top. Its patron saint is Lawrence of Rome. I explore the little village before wandering down towards the next village of [11] Gharb.

Having now been in Malta for a few days, I should really be getting over the excitement of discovering yet another magnificent church a stone throw away. Obviously not, as I’m impressed by the [12] Church of the Visitation of our Lady (1679), which has the symbols of Faith, Hope and Charity carved over the main door.

I stumble across the [13] Folklore Museum. As instructed, I telephone the caretaker in order to enter. I’m almost ready to give up waiting, when a lovely grandmother turns up with the grandchildren she’s baby sitting.

Gharb Folklore Museum Inner Courtyard

So whilst the grandchildren make themselves useful by watering the plants in the courtyard, I wander around this 18th century house with its 28 rooms housing anything and everything old, from print presses, utensils and agricultural tools.

The Collection at the Gharb Folklore Museum

Lunch is at the very reasonably priced [14] Il Kunvent down the road from the Folklore museum. I have the most delicious ravioli of trompette with speck and sage. Ravioli seems to be a popular dish in Gozo. And the serving here, buttery and well seasoned, is worthy of a Masterchef entry.

Ravioli Lunch at the Il Kunvent

The bus I catch from the L-Gharb bus stop, goes round the houses, ending up in the tranquil [15] Baqqqaba, before heading back to Victoria. I shall never get tired of gazing at yellow filled meadows. And as ever, the San Lawrenz Parish Church always within sight.

View from the Bus

From Victoria I catch one of the frequent buses towards the port. But I get off at the Industrajali stop. My destination is the [16] Rotunda St John Baptist.  Wandering down little streets, I stop short when the church looms up, larger than life, through the lane leading up to it.

The Rotunda within sight

The church (rebuilt 1971 ) is clearly the largest church in Gozo. Of a plain, bright white limestone interior, the spectacular unsupported dome draws my eye. And in the adjoining chapel are tombs of Knights laid out on the floor.

The magnificent dome

The highlight though, at St John the Baptist, is the [17] walk around the roof. A spectacular 360 degree view of Gozo unfolds before my eyes, with a much different perspective than the Cittadella, given the church’s proximity to the harbour.

Views from the roof

I catch the bus from the aptly named Dome bus stop, just under the shadows of the Rotunda. My last stop of the day, [18] Ghajnsielem, is the first hamlet I rode through this morning. I hop off at the Kenun stop and walk in. It’s quite an unremarkable village until I get to [19] Pjazza Indipendenza with its blue themed painted doors and windows.

Ghajnsielem Village

Round the corner, is the [20] church I saw from the bus this morning. Unfortunately it’s shut. So I wander around it, perfectly timing it to its tuneless chimes of 15:00. There are several eateries around which catch the afternoon sun. Perfect for a refreshment before my last leg.

Ghajnsielem Church

I wander back to main road and down towards the harbour. Soon I get my first [21] views of the harbour. Steps to the side lead me down to the ferry port via little streets with some rather charming restaurants and bars with decent views of the harbour inlet, and well away from the concrete ferry terminal.

The ferry harbour comes into view

On the ferry back to Malta, I catch my last views of Gozo and Comino Island for this trip. There is so much to discover on this island that perhaps it would have been worth staying for a couple of nights. The best thing about catching buses on Gozo is that it’s so small that one is bound to find a spectacular bay at the end of the road.

I Say Goodbye to Gozo and Comino Islands

Important Stuff to Know

  • Tallinja  Bus Pass – available from airport, bus terminals. I buy the 7 days unlimited. Without a pass, each bus journey is a standard fare of 1.50 Euros when I was there.
  • Buses to Cirkewwa from Valetta – Bus # 41 timetable & route and Bus # 42 timetable& route
  • Gozo Ferry timetable – Walk on service. Payment is only at the Gozo end returning to Cirkewwa
  • Indirect route from Vapur (ferry port) to Victoria – Bus # 303 timetable & route and Bus # 323 timetable & bus route
  • Bus from Victoria to Gharb and San Lawrenz – Bus #312 timetable & route
  • Bus from Victoria to Dwerja Point – Bus # 311 timetable & route
  • Dwejra Marine Education Centre (Facebook page ) – closed Monday, opens from 11:00 on weekdays.
  • Gharb Folklore Musuem (website) – daily, entrance fee applies
  • Rotunda St John the Baptist – small fee for rooftop walk.
Walking Routes – Ghajnsielem to the Port, Dwejra Point to Gharb, St John the Baptist

 

 

 

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