Last blog, 16th of May 2020… That’s been a while so time for a new blog. A lot happened this year, for example COVID. Wauw, the world stood sort of still for over a year. Today Fran d’Or received good news since a year; Malta is opening again for tourist from June. Per tomorrow they allow Dutch and German tourist without tests and quarantine. Does this mean the world will open up again? Does this mean the B&B will be full of guests again this summer and hopefully the rest of the year?
I’ve been here for a week. Last seven days I’ve had the best time and even better…. there are 4 days left on this beautiful island. The stay at Fran d’Or has felt like coming home. The spacious house with lots of art, privacy and a beautiful garden with an amazing view. I did lovely walks, visited terraces, ate amazing food and enjoyed the sun at the swimmingpool. I’ve visited the B&B in Zebbug six times, this is my second time in the B&B in Ghasri but this house feels like i’ve been here more than once.
Do you like art? Then you are in the right place at Gozo and Fran D’or Art B&B. Enjoy the peace, luxury and nature but also art. In the B&B you will find original paintings, sculptures and photos. If you want you can also paint or make music yourself, or with one of the hosts, for a fee. We have all the essentials!
In our B&B we can receive people from all over the world. From Brazil to Finland, from Ukraine to Israel. This is one of the parts that we like so much! Every guest brings something from himself and from his country.
In the last few days we have housed a cellist from Switzerland. Her question to us was whether she could play the cello. Of course, please! So we, sitting by the pool, heard beautiful cello sounds coming from the Yellow Room. Enjoy for us! And not just once a day, but several times. Our guest will give a concert on Thursday with piano and violin. This “Accio” piano forte trio has been invited to perform at the “Arts Festival Gozo”. The Arts Festival is one of the two free 5-week festivals in Gozo. The other festival is the “Gaulitana” which took place earlier in the year.
Anne told us the following: At first, Anne learned to play the piano because her parents saw it as a good basis. Her grandmother had a cello and she became so enthusiastic that she started taking cello lessons at the age of 8. Anne turned out to be very talented and is still studying in Stuttgart. At the “Baden Würtenberg Foundation” she was allowed to play and she did so well that she was entitled to a cello from this foundation. She could choose from 4 cellos. 2 from Italy and 2 from France. After playing on all 4, she chose a cello from France from the 17th century! A beautiful instrument with a beautiful sound.
Anne said she was very lucky to have chosen Fran D’or. She thought the photos of the B & B look nice, but that there was such a great atmosphere with all the instruments and artworks, she hadn’t dared hope. The personal approach and contact and the fact that she was free to play and relax also made her very enthusiastic.
Of course we will go to her concert on Thursday a.s.
The concert was great. They were enthusiastic young musicians. Anne’s playing the cello was “magic”!
High above Victoria, the old restored city of Rabat, the Citadella and the impressive Cathedral towers. In the “lower town” behind It-Tokk square, you will find St. George’s Basilica on the picturesque and atmospheric St. George square. The “dragon tour” of our good friend Berend and me starts on this square. The meter-high entrance doors to the basilica are copper-green and decorated with beautiful scenes. One of the images shows us St. George (George) on his horse, fighting the dragon.
Inside this rich baroque style church space, we find a beautiful mosaic with the image of the archangel Michael, who beats Ahriman. (the devil who wants to seduce us into the earthly, materialistic will) The so-known image of St. George, which is carried around during the exuberant and grand St. George procession, still a young man, stands taller than lifelike, illuminated behind glass . But also a statue of St. George who beats a human-like, winged devil creature. St. George is clearly the representative of the Archangel Michael.
In the beautifully colorfully painted rear dome, an image of Michael who rules the peoples of the earth. In Il-Hagar, the small museum next to the church, there is a permanent exhibition in which you can also see details of this painting.
Berend and I continue our dragon tour through the neighborhood behind the Basilica. Several houses carry the name of St. George or a derivative thereof. In the narrow and winding alleys and streets we see special reliefs, tile tablaus and even two life-sized colorful painted images of St. George fighting the dragon.
Armed with a photo camera, we search the neighborhood for images and references to our dragon slayer. Berend and I come to at least 60 images and nameplates. The main street through this neighborhood (2 meters wide) is called “Triq San Georg”. On this street there are again small alleys that lead to one or two front doors, vistas, planters and sleeping cats in the window frame.
At the end of a dead end alley we find an old bakery “Kampnari”. The week before I was here for a delicious pizza! I like to show Berend this place. The baker bakes a real ftira, a high-calorie pizza filled with goat cheese and eggs. The bakery has a high chimney for the authentic wood oven. Above the bakery’s workshop, an old discolored image of St. George. He and his wife show us his traditional products, and when asked what his name is ………………. he looks at us questioningly ……. …. just like my father: George goes without saying.
After roaming around this beautiful authentic neighborhood for a few hours, Berend and I return to St. George square. Many people have settled on the terraces. Our favorite terrace even has no place! In the afternoon sun we enjoy a light lunch and a glass of cool white Gozo wine.
I would like to recommend this trip to Fran D’or guests. I want to share this journey with you and I am happy to go on a journey of discovery.
There are more and more ways to discover Gozo! When we came here three and a half years ago you mainly saw tourists on scooters and in cars. Easy to recognize because the number plates of a rental car or scooter have QZ or K at the end of the letters. Also easy to recognize because they don’t know the way and stand still to look at the map or listen to their GPS. Tourists also adhere to the traffic rules and drive slowly and you don’t see the Gozitans doing that!
Of course there have always been walkers (no wheels). Gozo is an ideal island for walking. There are many routes that are issued for free by the tourist offices. They lie with the information for our guests. There has also been a group of volunteers who have made a route of narrow paths, over rocks and through bushes, as much as possible along the coast and around the entire island. They have marked the route with large red dots on rocks and stones. If you like scrambling and excitement, this route is recommended!
Last year the Segways arrived. (two wheels) Under guidance you drive a route over the island in a group. This year they do the same with electric bicycles! Of course you can also rent bicycles and electric bicycles and you can hit the road yourself.
This year the tricycles have arrived! Tuktuks with driver driving you around. Looks nice but if it is comfortable?
There is a lot on offer on four wheels! Cars of course but also electric skateboards (you have to buy them yourself) and quads. With the quad you can cross the island independently or also under supervision. Just like with the Jeepies. This week we encountered four groups of quad bikes. The faces of the quad riders did not always look relaxed!
And then the six-wheeler; the bus! Excellent and inexpensive regional transport that takes you all over the island and the Hop on Hop off bus, as known everywhere in the world. The red or green double-decker buses whose roof is open.
And as the one with the most wheels; the train! The white train, not on rails, has several carriages and you also drive over the island while enjoying a cheerful music. Well, pleasure?
And it is still not possible to see everything on this small island in a few days!
Gozo has many options in the field of music. You can go to cafes in Marsalforn, Victoria, Sannat, Qala or Xlendi where bands perform, karaoke evenings, Jam sessions or “Open Mic’s” are held! And this all year. So you can enjoy yourself!
On the main square in Victoria “It Tokk” there are regular performances of bands, singers or the so-called “Bandas”. Every village has its own Banda. A Banda consists of all the “brass” blowers that you can imagine, a big drum and a rhythm drum. At all “festa’s the Bandas are also present. They accompany the processions or perform. Also all year round, but especially in the summer.
The “Gaulitana festival” offers during 5 weeks, starting in March, all kinds of classical or cultural performances and exhibitions spread over the island! These concerts are freely accessible and very worthwhile! This festival always ends with an opera (for a fee) and a final concert. This year it was “Manon Lescaut” from Puccinini.
Gozo has two opera houses, two cinemas and a film house. The opera houses offer large professional productions such as “Jesus Christ Superstar”, “Evita” and most recently “Queens meets Goldplay”. Major productions are expected this year.
So enjoy when you live or stay on Gozo. There is always something to do in the field of music! Enjoy listening to music on a balmy evening while enjoying a glass of wine. What else do you want! Nothing anyway!
Melita one of the internet and phone providers in Malta is improving their service! Very nice right? In Malta there are only two internet providers who, also offer television and telephone. They also have various options for the mobile phone. If there are only two players in the market, the competition is big. If one of them offers a new service, the other will do the same.
During the three years that we used their service, it never went without a struggle; we did not receive any e-mail from them with the bill, account forms were “gone”. Because we moved, they wanted a signature from us to change the account to a different name. It was not the first time that we tried to arrange this, our former landlord had also been a number of times to the shop…………. “to wash this pig” …………..a famous Dutch saying.
We entered the empty store where three ladies sit at their desk. “Do you want to draw a ticket first?” And the lady from the first desk points to the new numbering device. So we went to the device…… we answered the first question with “yes” and got 4 new options. We choosed an option and 4 new options appeared. The next option chosen and then we must enter our ID number. The screen jumps halfway through the input! So we have to do the whole process again. Puff …. After a few minutes we may then press the “take your ticket” button. Finally! We took the ticket number C 420 from the machine with difficulty and directly the lady from the first desk says: “Can I help you?”. We laughed uncontrollably. It looked like Kafka.
Enjoying reading a book in the sun on a lounger in the sun, sunscreme on your nose and forehead, turning and turning and be careful not to burn! Put new plants in the pots, sweep the terraces, hoe the garden, rinse the windows and wash the car. People it is spring! Finally after a long wet winter we enjoy the sun! That was at the beginning of this week.
Two days ago the wind turned slowly southward to the east and the next day to the northeast. The wonderful days without wind were over. But the sun was still there and it was wonderful from the wind! But then the clouds came and the lovely sun disappeared behind them.
On Friday the palm trees started to rustle more, now they do that quickly, but they made more noise. The branches of the olive trees moved as if there were 10 birds on one branch and on Saturday there were already 20 birds on one branch and there was the announced storm!
Pieces of palm trees fly around and fill the pool! The new plants are ripped out of their pots, the rain strikes the newly-felled windows. The sunbeds and wooden garden chairs are flying around! The bins with plants on the wall are on the ground. The sky is dark gray and the wind is screeching around the house! The ferry makes a detour around Comino and the hydrofoil is taken out of service.
After three years we know that the winter period is always coming off with a violent storm. So next week we expect the sun again!
We have been living in Gozo for more than three years now. Several times a year we visit our children, friends and family in the Netherlands. With great pleasure we do groceries at one of the large supermarkets. In the department of vegatables and fruit it looks like there are no seasons anymore. The offer is overwhelming; potatoes of different varieties but also packaged as slices, cubes, potatoes with herbs etc. Fruits and vegetables with exotic names from all continents. Pretty well everything wrapped in plastic. We heard that there are plans to tackle this plastic problem.
In Zebbug where we lived before, several vendors came through the street loudly. Also two greengrocers every day. In Victoria (Rabat) there are at least six vegetable stalls daily. We regularly buy from Simon, a young self-employed person. He buys his vegetables and fruit from local farmers (or people with a small piece of land such as so many locals own (we also grow lettuce and tomatoes on our own soil) or he buys from the wholesaler who also imports some things. The local oranges are from his father’s fields.
The supply of fruit and vegetables is much less than in the Netherlands, but sometimes we also come across unknown vegetables, for example. the local sweet potato. Simon has already put his wares on his cart in crates, the eggs in “old-fashioned” cardboard. Import fruit often packaged in plastic but the local products are not. Are we walking behind or leading the way here at Gozo? In the past we used to do the groceries in the Netherlands with a list of what kinds of vegetables and potatoes would be served in the evening, now it is a daily surprise every time “what is the offer”? Tonight (Dutch) sprouts and local sweet potato !
Our guests at B & B Fran D’or are offered freshly squeezed orange juice every day. The taste differs; the import oranges a bit more acidic, the local sweet from the many sun hours here on the island. We also serve several types of fresh fruit every day. Tasty strawberries and sweet melon in spring, watermelon and apricots in summer. In the autumn plums, pears and grapes. Although the sun is shining here most of the time, the seasons have continued to exist.