Sarah is a UK born artist who has relocated to Gozo and uses the environment and sea to inspire her work. Her experiences of moving to the beautiful island of Gozo make her the perfect candidate to give us the low down on all the best spots to visit.
There are many great restaurants on Gozo, but I will always go back to Ta’ Karolina in Xlendi for being consistently good. It is a family run business and their dedication shows. Most of the restaurants serve local cuisine but if you want something different then Pings Dining is a very good Chinese and Indian restaurant in Victoria. A bar called The Diamond in Xlendi does wicked proper English fish and chips and a jolly good Sunday roast amongst other English fare. Well-cooked home grub. Mo’s in Victoria is the place for good coffee and well-made snacky food. It’s where everyone meets.
It has to be the pea pastizzi, don’t eat too many though as they are laden with calories! Victoria has many street kiosks which supply fast traditional snacks for ‘on the go’.
Cisk is the local lager and very drinkable. Wine is produced locally at the Ta’ Mena estate on Gozo. You can have a tour of the vineyards and a tasting session. There is a small shop there stocking all their home-made delicacies. Kinnie is a soft drink made of a blend of oranges and aromatic herbs. Very good coffee is served in all cafes, cafe life is very important here.
Lemoncello liquer... yummy. Often given as a freebee at the end of a restaurant meal.
Thick Arran style wool jumpers. Some outlets make them in acrylic so beware! Handmade lace is worth buying. There are many outlets. Filigree silver jewellery is beautiful and very good quality.
St Julians and Paceville - Malta, have clubs and many restaurants especially for 20 something’s. On Gozo, La Grotta is a great club, dancing goes on until the early hours. It’s situated on the road between Victoria and Xlendi.
On Malta I would say Mdina and Rabat are cultural and quiet. The whole of Gozo has quite a different feel to Malta. It’s quieter and greener. Most tourists staying in Malta come just for the day which just doesn’t do it justice. Victoria is a good place to be based as the buses all start and finish there, so exploring without a car is easier from Victoria. There is lots to see in the capital too, even just exploring the cobbled streets of the old city can take more than a day. Walking in the countryside is easy, take a bus from Victoria to pretty much anywhere and walk in the open country.
For me to sit with a cup of coffee in any square you will see the world go by and gather a little bit of the flavour of the place. But the Citadella in Victoria is a fab structure with amazing views right around the island. There are also many museums and churches to visit there too.
Ramla bay and San Blas on Gozo. Paradise beach and Golden bay on Malta are all sandy. Most other ‘beaches’ are rocky outcrops.
Follow a dirt track towards the sea, you will undoubtedly come across a secluded bay. That is half the fun of these Islands, discovering unspoilt and secret inlets.
San Blas, because not many people go there as it is down a very steep hill. Cars have to be left at the top and on a hot day it’s a real effort to walk back up again. It’s a lovely walk down through orange and lemon groves.
In Xlendi you can hire kayaks, pedalos, speed boats and ringos. Xlendi watersports has a glass bottom boat which does a tour of the island and Camino, giving those who don’t dive or snorkel a ‘birds eye view’ of life under the water. You can hire sailing dinghies in Mellieha-malta. If you don’t dive then snorkelling is a good alternative. Even staying close to the rocks you can see a variety of fish and sea life.
Victoria has many museums based in the Citadella, and also around Victoria. You will also find interesting museums dotted around in the outlying villages too. If you enjoy bowls then lucky jacks is a fun few hours if the weather is bad. There is also a cinema. Cafe life is all important here and that is where you will find most people on a wet day.
The Maltese archipelago is a wonderful mix of North Africa and Europe and this is evident in the buildings. What lies behind an old door with peeling paint is intriguing. Sometimes you may get a glimpse through an open door of a lush courtyard beyond. The traditional farmhouses were based on an Arab design, all the rooms leading off a central open space.
The three major places to visit are Valletta, Mdina and Victoria. All have fascinating buildings in a shabby chic style. The Citadella in Victoria can be seen from practically everywhere on the island and dominates the skyline. St John’s cathedral in Valletta is wonderfully ornate and houses some Carravaggio paintings.
Sadly art is not in the Maltese tradition apart from religious icons. There are a few art galleries scattered but not many. It is something I have myself been trying to remedy! The most central are in Victoria and Xlendi on Gozo and Valletta and Sliema on Malta. The best way to find them is to Google art galleries. Some painting workshops can be found on Gozo again best to Google or ask when you get here. There are the some artist’s studios which are open to the public. All of these are usually sign posted. Some guesthouses run art courses.
It is an area that needs to exploit as up until now has been undervalued. Valletta is going to be the European Capital of culture in 2018 so I hope this will have a good effect on the up until now overlooked arts. However there is a strong community of expat artists who are beginning to make a little headway in bringing their expertise and enthusiasm to the islands.
There are some great music festivals during the summer for both popular and classical music. It is an up and coming venue for the music festival scene. ‘Sunscape’ was launched this last September and held at Ramla bay on Gozo. It looks as if it will be where all the kids will come in the following years for a chilled alternative beach fest. There is Earth Garden festival on Malta, which again was a chilled affair. In the days leading up to the Isle of MTV concert, Malta & Gozo host the Malta Music Week, featuring various activities from various club nights featuring international guests and sunset beach parties. Isle of MTV is Malta’s mainstream music festival and it’s FREE, held near Valletta. It headlines acts like Kiesza, Dizzie Rascal and Enrique Iglesias. This takes place in June. Valletta also hosts many classical events.
Many bars have live music at weekends and on other nights during the winter. On Gozo – Zeppis pub in Qala has some great bands, as does The Captains table - bar in Xlendi. There is also the Glass Box in Marsalforn and the Piano bar. In Xlendi during the summer there are often weekly concerts in the bay by local bands...these are free.
Mercury Holidays would like to extend our thanks to Sarah for her hard work and participation in our Ask the Expats project.