Got to one of our favourite Gozo family bakeries and there we had the Gozo best ftira, the local pizza version perfectly done in the old log oven.
In Malta and Gozo, the ftira has a thicker crust and dough similar to bread making and different toppings.
But the Gozo best ftira looks and tastes are second to none!
There, the bakers and I invited our guests to actually help us prepare the ftiras in the oven.
Guests were simply delighted with such hands-on-activity and pizza making on Gozo.
In these pictures, Rosi and Ewald, our guests are taking out very carefully 🙂 the fresh sheep cheese ftira…
…and then also taking out from the old oven the mouth-watering Gozo tuna ftira or pizza.
The cheese ftira just taken out from the old log oven. Incredible aroma!
Rosi and Ewald could not stop taking pictures!!! 🙂 while at the same time, we were all in a such a hurry to start dining!!! 🙂
After leaving the bakery, we found a secret panoramic spot, away from it all… and there we had the ftiras (plural of ftira) together.
It was truly another great experience for our guests and a wonderful experience for us hosts.
It’s a huge satisfaction when guests could not stop talking about the local experiences they have just had. They look back at their past holiday experiences…. and soon realise about the BIG difference of staying in a hotel or hotel chain or third party companies or group of holiday homes with so many villas, farmhouses and apartments…..AND the beauty, peace of mind and true experience when guests go local and book direct with the local owner.
Gozo best ftira is very juicy with a crunchy crust – typical of Gozitan ftira bread. In brief, a ftira or pizza to die for!!! 🙂
As soon as you leave the Mgarr Marina and the breakwater, you’ll find Zewwieqa bay, a perfect spot for swimming and snorkeling.
The coastal walk actually starts from here.
There is a coastal path from Zewwieqa bay in the fields and on the rock area side between Mgarr and Hondoq bay. The coastal walk itself should not take more than one hour, of course depending if you do not stop very often to take pictures! 🙂
Looking back… lovely panorama half way from the harbour towards Hondoq bay.
The coastal area is covered in very small shrubs, typically Mediterranean. Being so exposed to the natural elements, plants and shrubs tend to grow very short, but certainly are very well rooted in the natural rock formations.
Would we get lost? No, definitely. It is an easy to medium level walk and the Gozo coastal trail is clear most of the way towards Hondoq beach. Very important to use the appropriate walking shoes, take enough water to drink and take care especially where the path is very close to the cliff edge.
Great view of the little rock formation jutting out from the rest of mainland Gozo. One of our favourite spots for snorkeling!
Rock erosion due to natural elements. This is actually the erosion of the globigerina limestone, the sand stone quarried here and used in Malta and Gozo for building practically all dwelling structures, churches, palaces, schools, etc.
Another close up of the little rock formation and the rich flora diversity in this beautiful natural park on Gozo.
While doing this coastal walk, you’ll also find some farm land especially to your left side. Please kindly respect all farming signs.
A typical picture of Gozo right now – Gozo in winter time. Fields covered in yellow Cape Sorrel flowers locally known as l-Ingliza. This non-native plant was introduced about 500 years ago and gradually became part of the Maltese natural environment.
During our walk, we met some lovely curious pigeons who kept following us for a while… and this is their selfie! 🙂
Getting closer to Hondoq bay, the environmental habitat changes even more. Less shrubs, less greenery and more wilderness with hard rock formations.
The wilderness area is covered with a number of very low growing shrubs, some of which flower in winter and spring time. The one below is the Mediterranean Heath, locally called the Erika.
Certainly, you cannot miss the aromatic wild Mediterranean Thyme. It grows only around the cliffs and this wilderness area near the coast on Gozo. It normally flowers in June.
Just about 300 metres from Hondoq bay, you’ll see Ta’ Bamberin cave, a little lovely secluded inlet beach.
and finally you arrive at one of the most beautiful and popular beaches on Gozo – Hondoq Bay!
Amazing crystal clear waters at Hondoq Bay. In fact this beach is rated as Excellent in terms of Quality of Water for public interest.
Certainly my family is definitely my top reason why I live on the island of Gozo. I was born here, grew up here, went to university and enjoy the brilliant healthy lifestyle and the slower pace of life on Gozo. Looking back… so many wonderful memories of friendly people, places and performances on Gozo. Nostalgia!
2. The Climate
The weather is truly lovely. The Maltese Islands are perfectly located in the centre of the Mediterranean Sea, between Europe and Africa. The weather in Malta and Gozo rarely gets very cold in winter and very warm in summer. In winter, day temperature varies between 14 to 20 degrees Celsius and maybe goes down at night about 8 or 9 degrees Celsius a couple of times only. In summer, temperatures range between 30 to 36 degrees Celsius. But again, being in the centre of the Mediterranean Sea, the gentle sea breeze does cool down the heat during the day and night. Fantastic!
Does it rain a lot?
I actually enjoy it because it does not rain a lot! I hardly remember when I really got wet! The nice thing about it is that we can plan ahead to do any outdoor activity with family or friends such as a BBQ by the sea or go kayaking in winter. Here you can definitely plan ahead.
3. The Sea
This is one of my soft spots. I swim on a daily basis. I call it my vitamin C (Sea)! Have my favourite beach spots and hidden gems where I kayak. Crystal clear waters perfect for swimming, snorkeling, diving, kayaking and any other water sports. Absolutely gorgeous beaches – rocky, sandy, dotted with small white, brown and yellow pebbles, secluded or not – the choice is yours. What else can you ask for?
4. The Views
The more I live on Gozo, the more I discover the hidden beauty spots of the island. Whether while I am coastal walking around the valleys or the South high cliffs or else sea kayaking around caves and inlets, the views remain spectacular. Two of my favourites are definitely the sunrise views on the Gozo channel and sunset on Xlendi and Dwejra bay. Just magical!
5. Simple and Relaxed Lifestyle
Informal and relaxed way of life is an essential part of Gozo – part of its natural identity. Summer is my favourite season and practically wear summer clothes in Gozo all year round with the exception of few days or weeks in winter. T-shirt, jeans or shorts if I am doing some outdoor activity. Fantastic! Besides, how peaceful and relaxing it is spending every evening and night having a family and friends chat over a BBQ by the sea in summer and early autumn time.
Daily baked crispy bread and pastries from log ovens just round the corner, fresh Mediterranean fruits, vegetables and wild herbs just picked in the morning from the nearby valley terraced fields, daily fresh local milk products, quality red meat and certified poultry and certainly the unique fresh catch of the day – absolutely recommended!
7. The Perfect size island!
One thing I really like and do miss when I travel abroad are the short distances on Gozo. Wherever you are, it is just 5 to 10 minutes drive or 20 minutes walk to the nearest beach. Very few traffic lights, hardly any traffic jams except of course when the ferry arrives or in the main streets of capital Victoria only at certain hours of the day. If you are visiting Gozo, you will see a lot!
8. History, Art and Culture
Though a very small island, Gozo is surprisingly very rich in history and prehistory heritage. The world famous Ggantija Temples built over 5600 years ago are found here. That’s not all. If you like art in all its forms, old and contemporary in various mediums and shapes, you’ll find it certainly here. Festivals, historical re-enactments, exhibitions, concerts, musicals, operas, ballet performance and numerous sports events fill the Gozo’s cultural diary of events inside out. In a nutshell, there is always something going on here…
9. Cost of Living
Generally speaking, compared to other places around Europe, it is cheaper. Everything you get in other places, you get them here basically at a better price.
10. Local Hospitality
Luckily enough, Maltese people still have a strong sense of community. This is most evident during the annual feast celebrations across Spring and Summer time. The majority of families still embrace the values of commitment, dedication and solidarity. In fact, if there is one common element in all the guests’ reviews at our Gozo boutique self-catering accommodation certainly is how friendly the local people had been. So, if you’re visiting Gozo, do not hesitate to ask. You have the added advantage that all locals speak English, but they’ll even go the extra mile to help you.
When Christmas and New Year’s Day festivities are over, all the lovely colours of lights and decor which light up our homes, shops and streets will slowly fade away and we get back to normal life. But not all colours do… In Malta and Gozo, January is the beginning of the red strawberry season which reaches its peak in Spring with various and endless healthy, social and philanthropic initiatives around the islands.
Just after New Year’s Day, during one of my countryside walks from home in our town of Ghajnsielem on the island of Gozo, I could not but notice the strawberry plants growing bigger and bigger and the first bright red strawberries coming out from beneath the dark green leaves and the rich fertile soil.
Local farmers actually start preparing their fields for strawberry planting in the hot summer days of August and September. A whole network of plastic tunnels with an in-built water drip system just beneath the rich soil is the first setup for strawberry growing on Gozo and Malta. Then, the farmer will start putting one small strawberry plant next to each drip and when the whole plastic tunnel is completed with the plants, it is covered again to maintain a constant temperature.
What’s the secret of such a success strawberry story on the Maltese islands? Definitely the Maltese climate, the various types of fertile soils on the islands as well as the passionate work of our farmers are the primary reasons for a high quality, nutritive fruit such as the local Maltese strawberries. As one local farmer said, “We make sure each strawberry plant uses all its natural potential entirely to produce its own fruit!” To make this happen, it is therefore very important to provide the most natural environment of excellence – natural warmth, right amount of watering and local expertise.
Frawli, Maltese word for strawberries are very popular in Malta and Gozo. From January till May, it is the seasonal fruit and certainly is enjoyed by everyone, except for those people who have fragariaphobia, fear of strawberries.
Children take strawberries for their school break. Schools promote healthy eating with loads and loads of strawberries and fieldwork visits where strawberries grow are organised as an integral part of the curriculum. Teenagers, adolescents, the elderly and tourists – just almost everyone loves the local strawberries!
Strawberries have many health benefits. Strawberries are very rich in antioxidant properties and help to reduce inflammation, promote weight loss, boost immunity, treat arthritis and gout, strongly support our eye health and even prevent cancer. Very interesting to know that strawberries are also known as brain food because together with banana, boost brain function especially at a time when we start getting older and older.
The strawberry season peak time is certainly around Easter time, that is mid March / April. A huge festival known as Festa Frawli (Strawberries Feast) is held in a small village named Mgarr on Malta thanks to the amazing commitment and dedication of the Mgarr Local Council and the local farmers’ cooperative. It’s actually a grand food festival! But there is one common denominator in all the types of food on sale and on show at the day-long feast. All food contains little or much of the strawberry fruit itself.
So, for instance, you can start your day with a strawberry coffee or a strawberry milkshake followed by a strawberry yoghurt and then you walk little more and get tempted by a mouth-watering seafood pasta or a white creamy risotto with local pecorino cheese with a dash of strawberry sauce. Must try are definitely the strawberry sourbet, ice cream, cookies and the strawberry and chocolate muffins and wait… don’t leave without tasting the strawberry liqeour just to mention a few!
But you may ask, what does Marilyn Monroe has to do with strawberries? Well, the colour, the taste and pleasure of eating a bright red juicy strawberry knows no borders and has no limits on creativity. Even Marilyn couldn’t but not recognise it. In fact once she said: Dating a new man is like holding a strawberry milkshake; first the taste, then the pleasure.
So, January, Gozo and Marilyn Monroe actually do have something in common. Here on Gozo, strawberries in winter and spring become a sort of staple food being so fresh, delicious and healthy. In shops and in the streets when the daily fruit and vegetables hawker stops by, you’ll hear someone asking Ghad baqaghlek xi ftit frawli jekk joghgbok? that is Do you still have some strawberries left please?
Strawberries have become an essential element in the Maltese healthy lifestyle and culture… and it’s our pleasure promoting the local fresh produce when welcoming guests at ourboutique self-catering accommodation on Gozo with some freshly picked bright red local strawberries.
Merhba! Welcome home! Wish you berry lovely holidays on Gozo!
New Year’s Eve is celebrated in all the towns and villages dotting the island of Gozo landscape.
If you plan to stay out with family and friends, day temperature is expected to be around 18 degrees Celsius falling to 14 degrees Celsius at night. No showers are expected.
Early afternoon on New Year’s Eve between 2.30pm and 6.00pm, the live animation at Bethlehem f’Ghajnsielem Christmas village will take place once more. Then, on 1 January, New Year’s Day, animation will be between 3.30pm and 8.00pm. The venue is just 10 to 15 minutes walk from the Mgarr harbour.
Another place worth visiting on New Year’s Eve is certainly the live crib named In Praesepio which takes place in the nearby village of Nadur. Live animation will take place between 4.00pm and 7.30pm on New Year’s Eve and again between 4.00pm and 7.30pm on New Year’s Day. Public transport from Mgarr harbour to Nadur centre by bus #303 and #322.
The main event on New Year’s Eve will once again takes place in Independence Square and St George Square in the very centre of capital Victoria. Some of the bands and DJs in this year’s concert will include The New Victorians, JJoy and Friends Live. It will start at 10pm.
Victoria is easily reached from Mgarr harbour by public transport #301, #303 and #323.
Wish you a truly wonderful New Year 2018 filled with peace, love and harmony!
The ninth edition of Bethlehem f’Ghajnsielem Christmas animated village opens on Sunday 10 December at 3.30pm and remains open until Sunday 7 January 2018.
The Nativity Village is spread over a 20,000sqm of land in the village of Ghajnsielem and through various combined works of the local council and volunteers, the first Christmas village is created to provide a wonderful Christmas atmosphere.
All visitors, upon arrival at the Bethlehem f’Ghajnsielem Christmas village will receive a map illustrating all the Christmas village attractions to visit.
Some of the primary attractions include of course the main crib with a local family dressed as Mary and Joseph with their new born as baby Jesus, the Inn, the bakery, the blacksmith, the wine tavern, the fisherman’s port, a suspended rope bridge and an open air market.
The Bethlehem f’Ghajnsielem organisation informs that animation with live actors will take place on the following days and times:
Sunday 10th 2.30pm – 7.30pm
Wednesday 13th 2.30pm – 7.30pm
Saturday 16th 4.30pm – 8.30pm
Sunday 17th 2.30pm – 7.30pm
Wednesday 20th* 9.30am – 12.00pm*
Thursday 21st* 9.30am – 12.00pm*
Saturday 23rd 4.30pm – 8.30pm
Sunday 24th 2.30pm – 6.00pm
Monday 25th 3.30pm – 8.00pm
Tuesday 26th 2.30pm – 7.30pm
Saturday 30th 4.30pm – 8.30pm
Sunday 31st 2.30pm – 6.00pm
Monday 1st 3. 30pm – 8.00pm
Saturday 6th 4.30pm – 8.00pm
Sunday 7th** 2.00pm – 8.00pm**
* On 20th and 21st December, Bethlehem f’Ghajnsielem will open two special sessions in the morning which will be animated by the Ghajnsielem Primary School children. Everyone is welcome.
** Bethlehem f’Ghajnsielem will once again close with the Adoration of The Magi on the Feast of Epiphany, Sunday 7th January.
The Three Kings will depart from Mellieha at 10.00am and catch the Gozo Channel ferry afternoon.
They will then depart form Mgarr Harbour at 3.00pm on horseback to make the triumphal entrance in Bethlehem and pay homage to Baby Jesus.
— Should the weather not permit, the organisers reserve the right to cancel the animation