In the last few months it seems it has been almost impossible to read a travel blog without seeing reviews of Malta or Gozo, especially in reference to the country’s affiliation with the travel craze surrounding Game of Thrones locations. I am ashamed to say that I am a little bit behind the times with the seemingly addictive television show, but when it comes to one particular location I think I’m pretty well indoctrinated.
My first trip to Gozo was in the summer of 2005 with my family. My brother had just turned ten, and I was 14, both of us still fairly awkward when it came to meeting new people. I had just been on my first trip abroad without my family, on an exchange program with a french school, and was caught between wanting to have a great holiday and stay independent from my family at the same time. You know, awkward teenager stuff.
My brother was the star of that holiday. My parents have always had the best approach to holidays, and that is to stay as far away from other British tourists as possible and try and get to know as may locals as we can. We had never heard of Gozo before seeing the farmhouse that we decided to rent in a travel brochure, although my parents had a good idea of Malta as do most families with a British Royal Navy background. The farmhouse turned out to be tucked just behind the church in a village called Gharb; being awoken by the 5am bells for morning Mass was countered by the fun we had at the only local bar in the village. Ranger’s Club.
It was here, over countless games of Blackjack (or 21), that my brother earned the nickname “Lucky Bill” by consistently whooping the arses of all the local men at cards. Lord knows how he did it. It was also at this bar that we met some of our closest friends, one of whom had to defend my dark-skinned cropped-haired tattooed dad at the annually impressive Rabat festa, when the local police mistook him for a leader of the Maltese Mafia.
Our most recent trip was in 2012, and despite having been away for five years, it seemed like it had only been a week when we waved from our seats outside Rangers at our friends in the Gharb festa procession that was making it’s way past the bar. Instantly we were dragged in to the crowd and soon I had two cups of the infamous festa ‘punch’ thrust in to each hand. My brother wasn’t a fan of the taste and thankfully I was a fan of the alcohol content.
The rest of that week was spent in a friend’s apartment pool, attending a random wedding, spending hours on a jet ski, going fishing with the locals and having barbecues in the small bays around the island. You can read more about that here, as this post is all about the lovely people of Gozo.
Each time we return it is as if we haven’t been gone for long; they’re so willing to welcome us with open arms each time that I find it incredibly hard to leave at the end of each trip! In all the time I have spent on the island, I have only ventured over to Malta for one full day. I just haven’t had a reason to yet! Gozo is full of so much history, as well as laughter and kind words, that with limited time there during each trip, I always feel it would be a waste to spend any time in Malta!
Lots of love,