Although you can find this particular type of erosion elsewhere around the globe, this is possibly the most scenic of them all.
We had decided that the best way to see the area was by hiring a car. We picked up the phone book and found one for 45 Euros per day. We have experience driving on the “wrong side of the road” as they do on this archipelago so that wasn’t really an issue. That’s right, in Malta the driver sits on the right hand side and drives in the left lane. Our car was delivered to us first thing in the morning.
There aren’t many “main roads” on the Island, but we found one in the direction of Gozo to see the famous Azure Window. On the short ferry between Malta and Gozo we discovered a local delicacy that we couldn’t get enough of: pastizzi. I can see why pastizzi is probably the most popular snack in the area. Served warm, they are a delectable pastry filled with either a mashed pea, a ricotta cheese or even an anchovy filling (mashed pea is my favourite by far). They’re very cheap and available everywhere you look. I guarantee you will fall in love with these treats. I couldn’t stop eating them! A couple of those with morning coffee made for a delicious breakfast as we sat outside on the small ferry’s deck while watching the island of Comino go by. Comino seemed very nice and peaceful with very few houses in sight.
Once on Gozo it was fairly straightforward getting to the Azure Window, the scenic spot this island is renowned for. However somewhere along the way there was a nasty traffic accident involving several vehicles so we had to detour off the main road…..and we promptly got lost. Gozo isn’t a big island though, so I suppose you are never really “lost”. Finding our way along a side road we found a large beautiful church in the middle of nowhere. The bells were ringing, and they had to be the loudest church bells we’d ever heard. I suspect you could hear them all over Gozo. The landscape was dry and dusty, and it had to be over 40 degrees Celcius at mid-morning. While taking a few snapshots of the church, we spotted a bit of an odd dust cloud. Odd because it wasn’t windy. Turns out it was a dozen quads and ATV’s doing an island tour. Now that would be an awesome experience.
We reached the Azure Window by late morning. The Window is almost directly across the island from the ferry terminal. It was a nice drive, getting lost and all. Gozo is sparsely populated. But there was a good crowd at the Window with several tourist buses in the parking lot. We enjoyed the breeze coming off the ocean. That made up for the fact that there are very few shady areas here.
As with other scenic locations in Europe, the warning signs seemed to merely be suggestions. I have noticed that at many tourist locations across the continent and beyond, safety is essentially your own concern (Cliffs of Moher come to mind). Whereas in North America you are often caged in, for lack of a better expression, often limiting your experience. So although there are many signs indicating you shouldn’t hike up the trail to walk across the Window’s arch, almost everyone does. It’s almost impossible to avoid due to the temptation of a breathtaking 360 degree view. Great spot for a picnic and pictures.
The Azure Window is a huge limestone outcrop that’s been eroded at its centre, effectively creating an almost perfect oval “window”. The arch is slowly disintegrating as chunks of the underside tumble in the water below. As the arch falls apart the Window will eventually disappear. The water here is as warm as a bath and is popular with swimmers, boaters, tour boats and scuba divers. In recent years, cliff diving off the arch has become popular thing to do:
The Azure Window has appeared in Game of Thrones, as well as Clash of the Titans and The Count of Monte Cristo. Although it’s out of the way, it’s a lot out of the ordinary. Definitely worth the trip.
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Dianne & Mike