While visiting Malta, we took the ferry one day to the neighboring island of Gozo to experience a different slice of island life.
Even though there were severe wind warnings that day, we continued with our plans amidst drizzle, wind and grey skies (after taking a little motion sickness tablet for the ferry ride, just to be on the safe side!)
No, this is not a photo of our ferry ride, but a picture of our group in fishing boats as we toured the area around Dwerja Bay.
We first boarded the boats in the Inland Sea, then headed out to the Bay through 200 foot tunnels through the cliffs.
Once in the bay, the views and water were amazing.
Geography created this natural phenomenon when
two limestone caves collapsed thousands of years ago. The Azure Window, as it is called, is a popular spot for cliff diving,
and the whole area is well known to divers for the underwater scenery,
coral and beautiful seascapes.
We were "gob-smacked" as the Brits say, to find that there are 365 churches in Malta. Our guide told us that 98% of the people in Malta are Roman Catholic and that they are very proud of the heritage of the Biblical story that Paul was shipwrecked there on his way to Rome, staying for sometime after and converting the island to Christianity.
We were able to visit just a few of the churches, but enjoyed seeing a couple in Gozo, such as The St. John the Baptist church perched high on a hill,
where they were preparing the statues for their annual procession during the days leading to Easter. With Malta being such a devout Christian country, every city, town and village
will have processions of the statues from their churches, representing the different stages of the Passion.
Another quite amazing church indeed was the Ta Pinu church, most recently built in the 1920-30's.
Beautiful both inside and out, its heritage is quite a story. Devotees to the Virgin Mary have been coming to this place of pilgrimage for decades after a village woman reported to have heard a female's voice coming from the early chapel which stood at this location, and then was cured of her illness after prayer.
Believers have swarmed to this National Shrine of Malta for years to pray for their own miracles,
and when prayers have been answered, they have brought back mementoes of thankfulness, including this letter from a survivor of the Twin Towers,
as well as scores of testimonies of healings,
babies being born,
and wedding bouquets from the ceremonies performed there.
Our favorite slice of life that day was a visit to the Ta Mena Farm,
where Joe, along with his sidekick, Daisy, gave us a tour of his farm and shared his passion for the agricultural products and wines that he and his family grow right there.
We were treated to a feast of focaccia baked in outdoor ovens, olives, capers, ham, sun dried sweet tomato paste, olive oil and Gozo peppered cheese.
A welcome respite for the weary, windblown travelers and a feast for the eyes and the soul.
More Malta to come....