Well, the day had come for Steve to get his long-awaited day of water sports. Something I’d been a little apprehensive about (although not as much as I had been about the diving) and thus happy to put off with days filled with what I love — exploring ancient towns, eating gorgeous food, clambering around unique landscapes, visiting cultural spots, seeing incredible scenery, sunbathing on golden beaches, laughing at bizarre spectacles and sailing the sea. With all that done, however, it was for an adrenalin rush…
Biting the bullet
It was a quick bus ride to Mellieha from Malta’s ferry port and we found Oh Yeah watersports inside a bar styled like a beach hut. I was nervous and unsure about parasailing with Steve but, after some reassurance — that the cable was very firmly attached to the boat and would not snap (leaving us flying away into the sky), we wouldn’t land in the water (to drown/be suffocated by the parachute), we didn’t need to water ski (far too difficult), we weren’t going to be pulled off the pier by the boat (given whiplash) and we didn’t have to jump off the back of the boat either (too scary) — I decided that I’d go for it.
Turns out, you begin parasailing simply by sitting in a secure-feeling pouch of ropes strapped and clicked around you, attaching you to the parachute and a large reel mechanism on the boat. From this position, you are lifted very gently off the boat by the wind in the parachute — not difficult or scary (unless you’re afraid of heights). As the boat sped up, the guys on the boat gradually let out more rope, allowing us to climb higher and higher into the air, until we could see over a great expanse of the town and beyond, and people were reduced to tiny dots.
Head in the clouds
The views were fascinating and the feeling incredible, almost unreal. It was an amazing experience and a large part of that amazement was how supported we felt, very solidly positioned in the air and comfortably seated, arms and legs free to wave and swing as we shared our wonder at what we were seeing — not like we were floating underneath a parachute at all. It’s a shame I didn’t have the guts to take my camera up there so as to capture and share the view, but the guys on the boat were nice enough to photograph us up there.
We touched back down gently, thanked the guys for the experience and photos and, with renewed vigour and bravery, hired out a jet ski. We were already in our swimwear, having changed for the paragliding (we needn’t have bothered — we hadn’t got a drop on us) so we just put on another set of life jackets and jumped on once our ride arrived. Steve drove first, speeding us out of the harbour and over the waves (the resultant bumps are painful — my coccyx was bruised for weeks as a result). It was thrilling to go so fast and be far out in the sea by ourselves.
After a while we swapped over, and although I felt I handled the waves better (slower over them, to avoid violent bumps) I did get a little power crazy once Steve had encouraged me to be braver with the accelerator. Unfortunately, this adrenalin surge led to some daring swerving that, all of a sudden, tipped over our jet ski and sent us hurtling into the water. It all happened so quickly that falling in and re-emerging from the water is a blur, I only remember bobbing about in the waves, desperately trying to keep my head above water while reaching for the boat and screaming to Steve. I know the life jacket would’ve kept me afloat — the worst thing was the sheer panic and fear that I would lose either Steve or the jet ski. Thankfully it was only seconds until Steve had climbed back onto the jet ski and was pulling me back on too. It was all over in under a minute but will stay with me forever as my most terrifying moment, much as I wish it wouldn’t!
Shellshocked, Steve took back the controls and we whizzed around a bit more to try to get back to normal again, before returning to shore. He kept expressing disbelief at what a maniac I was, while I apologised profusely and tried to laugh at adversity (it’s not every day you’re adrift at sea, is it? Haha…) Sitting on Mellieha beach for a bit helped us get over it, then we got dressed and began contemplating dinner.
Hunt for food
We walked up Mellieha’s main road for what felt like miles in search of a nice restaurant, but to no avail. I was convinced we could’ve walked all night and not found anything half decent, so persuaded Steve that we should get the ferry back to our beloved Gozo to try again at our first-choice restaurant, Menqa L’Antika, from when we visited Marsalforn (it had inexplicably been shut last time, leading us to eat at Il Forno instead).
To our delight, Menqa L’Antika was open and we were welcomed under the heated outside canopy to decide, off an excitingly traditional-sounding menu, what to order. Steve went for snails, or Bebbux (believe it or not, this was the main reason we’d wanted to eat here) — these came en masse, swimming in a salsa-like sauce in a seemingly bottomless bowl, despite being only a starter. They came with what seemed to be unique ‘snail eating’ utensils: a dainty pair of pliers (with which to lift and hold the shell) and wooden toothpicks (to skewer the slimy curls). Not being a ‘starters’ person, I satisfied myself with the complementary bread. Having to wait for Steve to get through those snails left me waiting an age for my dinner though!
Sticking with tradition
With Steve’s snail bowl finally empty, we moved onto our mains. I had a chicken ballotine stuffed with pumpkin risotto in a red wine glaze. This was delicious at first, quite sweet in flavour, but being a huge portion and inevitably stodgy in texture, it became too cloying. Steve meant to order the seabass but actually ordered the swordfish (again!) and we only realised once it arrived. It was at least better this time around! Dessert was a no-brainer — we went for the most traditional ones, which we’d been looking out for the whole holiday. I had fried date slices (Imqaret) with praline ice cream and Steve had ricotta-filled pastry tubes (Kannoli) with cinnamon ice cream (he gave this to me as he doesn’t like cinnamon). Both unusual — wouldn’t choose either over a British sticky toffee pudding or apple crumble — but a delight to try.
Having caught the last bus home, we watched a bit of our favourite TV channel (it remained the information channel throughout our holiday — wish I could remember the addictive songs it played on repeat…) before crashing for our final night on the wondrous island of Gozo.