Friday, 26 April 2013

Day Three: A day spent walking with guide Annalise discovering the natural beauty of Gozo

Gozo – Day Three

Start morning by feasting on Maltese bread and cheeses for breakfast whilst engaging in more delightful conversation. Authentic Adventures is about people and it is they who make the holidays - united in their common interest. Holidays are perfect for individuals and couples alike.
A painting wife and a walking husband (and vice versa) can experience Gozo from fresh perspectives and reconvene to compare notes. I spend the day with the walkers while the painters leave for Lunzjata Chapel, valley and market gardens to artistically capture the culture.  

 Walkers in Qala

Quick sketch of San Blas Bay
The caper
Annalise, our leader is a walking encyclopaedia, pulling out facts about Gozo's natural history, the fauna, flora and bird life. Today she takes us to East Gozo, where we start walking from the village of Qala (meaning harbour) and embark on steep ascents and descents. It's like trekking through dry jungle in places. I stumble across a banana plant and it immediately takes me back to my adventurous Fiji days. We take care not to tread on skink and rare plants such as Sea Daffodil and Sea Holly. Annalise's eyes light up as she points out a Scarlet pimpernel, Bear's Breeches - an exploding plant which fires out its seeds like bullets as they heat up; an array of butterflies - Painted Lady, Swallow Tail; Bugloss, a magical plant nicknamed a Christmas Tree by the Maltese for obvious reasons and majestic birds of prey circling overhead. Conversation suddenly stops as she or one of the group spots a Marsh-harrier, Honey Buzzard, Kestrel and Malta’s national bird the Blue Rock Thrush.

We find ourselves in the Land of the Boulders, dwarfed by dramatic, magnificent limestone rock. In contrast nature's tiny creatures take refuge in this terrain. It takes a trained eye to spot them. I come away from this walk enriched and in awe of the beauty in the minute things such as tiny star-like Azure Stonecrop, white and pink rock roses, By-the-wind-sailor Jellyfish which resembled tiny flip flops, Sea Grass and Bladder Campion, a funny-looking pod like flower.

Azure stonecrop

I’m particularly drawn to the meticulously manicured terracing and agricultural gardens. All kinds of fruits are spotted, particularly lemon and orange trees which throw refreshing splashes of vivid colour on the essentially rustic canvas. Almonds, Carobs and Capers are also pointed out; the latter considered by Annalise as the “taste of summer,” marking the start of a warmer season.

Our three refreshment stops are welcome breaks on small secluded beaches, where the sound of water lapping against rock is soothing. I manage to do two small pencil sketches to help assist my visual memory. It makes me stop and look in a similar way as the walkers do on these botanical walks. I learn a valuable lesson today. Slowing down and walking at a lower gear makes you see more and I come away all the better for uplifting conversation with fellow trekkers and knowing a little bit more about Gozo’s unique natural secrets.

Tracy hiding beneath a banana tree!