There is only one way…and one way only to visit Gozo in one day. And that is by taking the Hop on – Hop Off Tour of the island. Now, one thing you need to know about Hop on – Hop Off Double Deckers…as charming as they might seem…it can get windy as hell on the top side. So be sure to have that in mind before you get too excited about the two stories convertible ride. Lucky I had my hair pulled up and braided because well…let me tell you…there’s nothing like a hop on hop off ride to fix your hair…punk rock style.
You seldom hear of Gozo, because people always talk of Malta. However, Gozo is an entirely different island. After Malta itself, it is the second largest island in the Maltese Archipelago. Gozo is believed to have been the home island of Calypso, the nymph that fell in love with Odysseus and kept him captive for years in a row before she let him continue his journey home. The aspects that differentiate Gozo from Malta are its natural landmarks, its rural character, and its lavish cuisine.
As we got to the ferry on our way from Malta to Gozo, we hadn’t planned on our one day trip at all. As we looked up public transportation in Gozo on the internet, we somehow figured it out that it isn’t ideal, but we thought we’d somehow manage. However, out of the many people handing out flyers and vehemently marketing the hop on hop off rides, one convincing little lady made her indisputable case with us.
The idea behind the Hop On – Hop Off Rides to Gozo
The public transportation in Gozo is strange, to say the least. It is based on a radial system, which means that you always have to head back to the center of the island before heading to another destination on the map of Gozo. The Hop On – Hop Off routes came as an alternative to Gozo’s limiting public transportation system, whereas people can now easily take a circular ride along Gozo’s most important sights and landmarks.
Why take the Hop On – Hop Off trip to Gozo?
The argument is simple: one gets to see the most of Gozo in one day’s time, without having to worry about missed buses, hidden bus stops and time efficiency. For about 20 EUR or so – 10 EUR if you get a discount 😉 – you have buses taking you to the island’s most significant sights every 40 minutes. This means, that if you decide to get off the bus to visit a particular sight on the map, you have 40 minutes to admire and take photos of it before the next bus comes to pick you up. All rides end at 6:30 P.M. so be sure to decide ahead what sights you want to see and spend time photographing. There are 20 on the schedule, but you will be able to see 5 at the most during one day. The great thing is, that for each stop the driver guides you into the best thing to do along the ride: get a snack, take a quick photo or hop off entirely. So really, the hop on hop off tour to Gozo is about great guidance and exceptional time management. At the end of the tour, you will end up exhausted, however, you also have had seen everything there is to see in Gozo that has both charm and meaning.
1st Stop – Ramla Bay and Calypso’s Cave
Ramla Bay was our first stop on the hop on – hop off tour of Gozo. We hopped off with the intent to do some swimming and sunbathing, however, as there was a red flag on wind and waves that day, we ended up having a beer at the beachfront. One reason you should definitely hop off at Ramla Bay, however, is the magnificent outline of this incredible beach. It stretches out for miles and it has the most gorgeous yellow sand I have ever seen. Calypso’s Cave, we soon found out, is a great vantage point for taking a picture of the Bay in all of its might.
2nd Stop – The Magro Food Village
One thing I loved about the hop on hop off tour of Gozo….the TREATS! So Gozo is really famous for the tomatoes it produces, and the Magro Food Village is ideal for portraying the gastronomic journey of the island. There’s a tour of the tomato processing plant, free sampling of food & beverages produced in-house; traditional crafts in the making; an old Gozitan kitchen gallery and even hands-on cooking classes with local chefs.
3rd Stop – Owejra – Azure Window
Now…this landmark does not exist anymore, as it recently collapsed into the sea. Even more saddening as it was the highlight of all hop on – hop off tours, and Gozo’s most precious tourist destination. Chin up, however, I’ve read they are planning to rebuild it 😉
4th Stop – Ta Pinu Basilica
They say that the Basilica of Ta’ Pinu is the most loved of all Gozo’s churches…and there are many. The notoriety of this church is mainly due to the fact that there is a story behind it…And we all know how much I love stories 🙂 There was a lady that once came to pray here…Carmela Grima…And as she did so…she heard the voice of the Virgin Mary Herself talking to her inside the chapel. When word spread that a woman heard a message from the Virgin Mary on the site, many islanders began to make pilgrimages to the chapel. The number of pilgrims continued to increase. As its popularity increased, the Ta’ Pinu Basilica eventually became one of the most sought after Gozo churches.
5th Stop – Xlendi Village
Xlendi Village is where we finally took our breath on Gozo. On our way to the village, we took another shot at the top side of the double decker, and it completely wore us out. That and the 90 degrees climb to the stone caves Xlendi is most famous for. This was it…the near end of the road trip. We had to sit down and enjoy a beer. And I must say, that having a beer while gazing at this miraculous little village on the near edge of the sea…well..that was my Gozo moment. The perfect one. The reason why traveling is all worth it. So cheers, guys! And bottoms up! Don’t say tomorrow if you don’t trust it today! Go live it! Deeply breath in the bits of the world that make you most happy!