We took a car hire to the airport to pick-up our Sixt rental car, Ford Fusion. While we were adjusting the driver settings on the auto, a Sixt employee stopped and asked if we help. Long story short – He told us about the traffic pinch points on our route to Xlendi, Gozo (smaller Malta island) and an alternate route. We programmed the Garmin GPS with the new route, which took some effort, and off we went.
Thanks to the UK, Malta autos drive on the left side of the road. The roads are small, poor if any signage, and mostly through areas with housing on both side of the road. I had assumed there would be open areas once we got outside of Valletta. I was wrong. Our system for driving overseas is:
- Marty is the driver
- I am the navigator
Maps of Malta & Gozo are hard to find and the detail isn’t sufficient for navigating. It was a challenge to navigate even with the GPS due to the many close turns and the delays in the GPS updates. We boarded the Gozo Channel Ferry, which was similar to the Washington State ferries but smaller. Like the Washington State Ferries, one only pays for crossing in one direction, Gozo to Malta. We had one issue when we parked the car on the ferry. The vehicle next to Marty’s driver side door was too close and she couldn’t get out. The parking area was too hot to stay in the auto. We eventually maneuvered our car so Marty could get out. When we crossed the channel, we were close to Comino Island. I could see the ancient tower, tour groups walking about, and the boats anchored in the bay.
We managed to not get lost and made it to our apartment in Xlendi in time for a sunset, al fresco, dinner. The outdoors tables were across the quiet street from the
restaurant with a view of the Xlendi cliffs. Dinner was very good. It was a wonderful end to the day: good, cheap wine (Euro 14/bottle), cooler weather, and a great view.
Xlendi (Lonely Planet)
The sometime fishing village of Xlendi is now a small, popular resort town. The cluster of hotels are low-rise and unobtrusive, and it’s a beautiful bay. It’s a favourite place for weekending Maltese and tourists to chill out by the sea, with good swimming, snorkelling and diving, and plenty of rocks for sunbathing. In the 19th century, this was known as ‘women’s harbour’, as it was reserved for women-only bathing.
Gozo and Comino (Lonely Planet)
Gozo, called Għawdex (aow-desh) in Malti, is a gloriously pretty island, with what the 19th-century nonsense poet Edward Lear called a ‘pomskizillious and romphibberous’ landscape. He coined the words especially, looking for a way to describe the island’s fairy-tale hillocks topped by enormous churches, its hidden, glittering coves, and its sculptured coastal cliffs. Gozo moves at a much slower pace than its bigger, busier neighbour. Although it is more than one-third the size of Malta, it has less than one-tenth of the population – only about 30,000 Gozitans live here (and they are Gozitans first, Maltese second). People leave their front doors unlocked; only one car has apparently ever been stolen, and the perpetrators were arrested before they reached the ferry. This is a lovely place to kick back, with sandy beaches, rocky coves, excellent scuba diving and snorkelling, plus history in the form of megalithic temples and medieval citadels.