Introducing your new best friend
I would like to introduce you to your best friend in Gozo, Malta.
Peter is the adventurous sort, having travelled extensively and wound up on Gozo restoring an old farmhouse. He is passionate about walking, sustainable tourism and his travel concierge services are just what you have been looking for to create an authentic travel experience.
We arrived late evening on a Sunday, and being an appealingly secluded place, all the shops were shut. So Peter welcomed us by bringing over a hamper of essentials, and over a glass of local wine (or three) we digested a map of the island and planned a few adventures together whilst nibbling on home-made sun-dried tomatoes and stuffed olives. He also leant us an arm load of walking guides and a chunky guidebook.
This is the life
One of the best activities that Peter arranged for us was spending a day on a private yacht, sailing around the stunning azure waters of Comino island. We swam in crystal clear waters of greens and blues, jumping straight off the back of the boat, and dipping in and out of sun-drenched bays, including the jewel in the crown, the Blue Lagoon (main pic above).
Our private charter also included all food and drinks throughout the day, and what a generous feast we enjoyed! First off was a platter of fresh local produce; olives, tomatoes, crisp breads, salami and chorizo, sprigs of basil and the sweetest strawberries. Later we tucked into a BBQ of chicken, meaty sausage and succulent pork with delightfully crisp rosé on tap. The friendly skipper and his partner treated us to a luxurious snapshot of boat life and now I really want to own a yacht and sail off on adventures unknown with a hamper full of food and wine! Oh what a life!
After spending all day on Bob’s boat and joining Peter on the yacht he is fixing up, for more wine (hey, I’m on holiday!), we took the bus from Mgarr back to Victoria, threw a coffee down our necks and hopped on the bus to Sannat. From here we toured Peter’s stunning farmhouse which was filled with artifacts from his travels in Africa and stunning photographic prints. He also rents it out and you can enjoy use of the wood burner in winter and the outdoor pool year round.
Having packed up the cooler with wine and snacks we walked over the dramatic cliff tops at Ta’Cenc for sundowners at the end of a perfect day. The terrain is easy enough in sandals and dotted with wild flowers, herbal plants and ancient and mysterious cart ruts. These man-made tracks in the limestone can be found all over Gozo and Malta, and are estimated to have been made around 200BC. Not much is known of their purpose or true origin, but it is theorised that they were used for dragging sledges around the island or as an irrigation system.
Wine and meditation
Peter also arranged for a friend of his to take us over to the salt pans at Marsalforn and guide us through an introduction to meditation. We spent a wonderfully relaxing morning balancing our chakras with the warm and friendly Lorrraine, followed by a refreshing dip in the sea and rounded it off with a hearty breakfast at a seafront café.
As wine drinking somehow became a big part of discovering the island, it is only fitting that we spent an evening at a local vineyard in Gharb tasting two whites and two reds and getting an overview of the terroir (soil, topography, climate) that makes this local grower’s wine so unique. The evening at Tal-Massar was not a ‘how to taste wine’ session like one I have been on in Paris for example, but a showcase of their produce with finger food and unpretentious advice on choosing and buying wine, set in beautiful surrounds and backed up with sustainable credentials and organic farming methods.
As a traveller with limited time to really get to know a place, finding a local expert to help you find authentic experiences at reasonable prices is essential. More and more people are realising this with the rise of travel services such as Rentalocalfriend and Couchsurfing for example. Befriending a local fixer is almost an essential part of trip planning. They can give you the low-down of out-of-the-way places to visit, arrange trips with small, yet high quality, local providers rather than big tourist companies, and like Peter did, put you in touch with a reliable local taxi driver who will only charge a fraction of the cost that metered taxis impose on visitors. Even before you head out on your trip they can answer all your practical or mundane questions, such as: are there any jellyfish about this week, how’s the weather, how long does the ferry take and should I bring water shoes. In my case the answers were no, 30 degrees, 20 minutes and yes!
Gozo is a true off-the-beaten track Mediterranean island and if you have been inspired to hop on the ferry from Malta, give Peter a call. I have plenty more posts to come about Gozo, and Peter’s website is a great resource for inspiration; he can arrange art and photography courses, scuba diving and kayaking trips, even an overnight stay in a cave only accessible by boat! What are you waiting for?
Visit Peter’s website: www.experience-gozo.com
Or call/email him direct: +356 79264346 / firstname.lastname@example.org