I was excited for this day. On my trip to the information office I had found a huge number of brochures on different walks to do all over the islands. Some to see windmills, some to see beaches and some to see ruins. I narrowed it down to the walk that took in the circumference of Comino, the teeny tiny island between Malta and Gozo.
The entire walk was only 7km, that is how small the island is. It has no roads and only 4 permanent residents. There is one hotel but the staff of that do not count in the island’s census. The main attractions of the island are the Blue Lagoon and the Santa Marija Tower, which I will tell you more about in a bit.
I had plans to be there early enough that I wouldn’t be walking in the midday sun. However I hadn’t realised that the bus to the ferry alone took over an hour and so I ended up landing on the island at 11:30. Ready to start my walk in the midday sun.
Riding over from the mainland in our small boat (10 euro return) the first thing I noticed was the sea. So far all the beaches I have been to have had glorious colours reminding me of gems and mother of pearl but this was even more surprising. The white sands of the lagoon create the perfect backdrop for the crystal water so that it appears the colour of a clear blue topaz, or even, the blue of bombay sapphire gin.
The island looked like a huge slab that had been cast into the sea. Whoever had thrown it had not been gentle and the force of the landing had caused the edges to splinter and fall off so that now we are presented with the sharp cliffs of the island just meters away from its fractured and original edges. In between the separated edges and the island is where the magic colours of the water took place.
I walked straight past all those who had come just for the beach and headed in an anti-clockwise direction to the huge tower on the cliff I had seen coming in. Passing stunning bays and the loud party boats moored in them I was already hot when I got to the tower and was glad to find how cool it was inside.
It is run and maintained by volunteers and the two on today were so good to me. Neville was British and obviously loved what he did. He was excited to show me all the different ways the fort defended itself (cannons, oil drops, 6 meter thick walls, fake moat, multiple gates). I was mostly surprised that such a small island was so at risk of attack that it needed all of this. He told me that the next island of Gozo had been taken almost entirely into slavery by Turks and the defenses were to stop the same happening to Comino. Fair enough. He was so glad to show me videos and kept saying how nice it was to have someone who was interested and as I left he called from the top of the fort ‘Thank you nice lady!’ Which is a lovely thing to have yelled at you from 6 stories high.
Just next door was Il-Palazz which has been in its time a hunting lodge, ‘palace’, isolation hospital, school and now is home to 2 of the residents of the island. It looked pretty abandoned to me so I am still wondering where they keep themselves.
I ran into a few people as I walked to the Battery next but there were never so many that I was walking with them, just passing with a nod of the head. The battery was yet another defense from pirates that the island used. It seemed tiny but I assume its 4 cannons packed a punch back in the day. They still sit there, looking like a warning out over to Malta. ‘Dont come near’ they say, but for me it is unclear if it is a threat or a warning. Just behind the battery are abandoned buildings of what I was told was an experimental quarantine station. Maybe the battery cannons were warning the residents of Malta to steer clear for their own sakes.
The second half of the walk took in the ‘green’ part of the island. The whole island really was teeming with flora of all kinds. The predominant colour was yellow, wattles, daisies and other golden blooms overwhelmed all the other colours but they were still there to be found. Blue and scarlet pimpernels dotted the ground, fuchsia pink succulents sprung up from between rocks and these teeny tiny purple flowers at times carpeted the path.
When I got back to the blue lagoon it was 3pm. The walk could have been done much quicker but I made a lot of stops along the way to drag it out. The population at the lagoon had tripled since I had left it and I bought a cold drink and surveyed my options. I found a small patch of sand to sit on although it felt rude to lie down seeing as how precious real estate was. It is a little embarrassing to admit that I did not go in the water. I was in my bikini, on the beach, had just been walking for 3.5 hours. All the conditions were right. Except one. I got into the water about as deep as my knees and it was just too cold to go any further. Honestly I was not expecting it to be as freezing as it was so I contented myself to splash a little on my arms and return to my towel and book.
The boat ride back was made more fun by the fact that they took us via some cool caves and inlets and that I made a friend, Paulo, a resident of the island who told me about being an alter boy in the 70’s and how a school trip to Rome changed his life. He was looking to become Comino’s 5th resident and I wished him luck.
To say I was shattered when I got back to the hostel would be correct but it is amazing the wonders that a really hot shower can do (and some medicine for my allergies, not a cold, which have been playing up wonderfully on this trip due to all the flowers and pollen that are about!) and I dressed myself up to take on what I had put aside the night before. A trip to Mdina.
‘The silent city’ sits on a high point of the island and it’s walls rise like it is a citadel from an ancient time. It is, like many of the cities here, completely walled with a huge, empty, moat around it. When I arrived at 9pm it was deadly quiet and my first impression was of how much it looked like Dubrovnick. It’s smooth cream blocks of marble blend from the walls down to the streets which shine after being worn smooth by hundreds of years of feet. The golden lights of the city reflect off them and make it glow. My footsteps echoed in the empty streets and it began to rain huge fat drops. On the dry ground, it smelt like home. I had come with a vision on my mind of rabbit for dinner and I found it quickly at Bacchus restaurant. I ate in a romantic cave like area and the rabbit stuffed with herbs couldn’t have been better. It was the perfect ending meal for a fantastic day in Malta.