Our final day of waking up in the sunny stone-walled and balconied bedroom of our huge farmhouse, situated in the charming village of Ghajnsielem on the beautiful island of Gozo, had arrived. We had only one more thing to tick off our list — visit the Ta’Dbeigi craft village on Gozo and buy our souvenirs.
Making sure we’d enjoyed our accommodation to the fullest, we took a last morning dip in the pool and ate breakfast in our large living room, listening to the information channel. Before packing our bags and setting off towards the craft village, we took photos all round the house — which I’m putting throughout this post, to show how lovely it was. (If you’re interested in staying there yourself, this is its official website)
The craft village was reasonably easy to get to, although the buses were only hourly so we had to time our visit well. It comprised several buildings laid out in a large, sandy square that was close to deserted. A cafe stood in the middle and toilets in the bottom-right corner. Jewellery and lace makers chatted outside their doorways. The buildings were more-or-less gift shops, each specialising in their own craft. Some contained the workshop in which the products were made, allowing you to see the craftsmen/women at work.
Jewellery shops were the most prolific, with lace, leather, other textiles and pottery following close behind. There was a shop containing hundreds upon hundreds of canvases, depicting beautifully painted sights from around the islands. It was tempting to get one but unfortunately out of our budget. There was a very talented glass and metal sculptor who made stunning decorative pieces of animals, insects and other symbols to hang on a wall. There was a wood carver selling a wide variety of intricate wooden sculptures. You could also buy Gozo glass and watch it being blown.
Our favourite shop, however, was a little one in the right-hand corner owned by two Maltese ladies (this is the shop pictured below). They sold a variety of typical gift items — such as mugs, key rings, stationary and decorative items — as well as things you wouldn’t generally see in a gift shop, including handmade lace items; bottles of wine made from the first ever batch of grapes grown in a nearby vineyard; and jewellery threaded by hand in the shop (they were sat at a small table in the corner doing this just as we arrived)!
Steve bought one of the wine bottles, an espresso mug and a selection of key rings and pens; I bought a delicate lace bookmark (each one was different) and a tiny silver Maltese cross to thread onto my Troll Beads charm bracelet. Because we spent over a certain amount, we were even invited to choose one of the hand-threaded necklaces as a free gift. The women were so lovely as well, that it cheered us just to be buying from and supporting them.
With time to spare, we gave Victoria another quick visit to pick up any last souvenirs we’d missed. Here I bought some Gozo honey and a pot of sweetly unusual pomegranate jam, from a brilliant little shop selling a wide range of jams, honeys and liquors all made by the family that owned the shop — and which, best of all, encouraged all visitors to sample everything. Steve bought a gift set of Gozo-made condiments, such as carob syrup, sun-dried tomatoes and sea salt, as well as some Bajtra liquor, a traditional spirit made from the island’s abundance of prickly pears.
We left with bulging shopping bags that we just about managed to fit into our already bulging suitcase and rucksack. We got the bus to Malta airport, ate dinner there (not a great selection of outlets, if I’m honest) and drank two of Malta’s most prominent brands of beer, called Hopleaf Pale Ale (my favourite — tasty, smooth, easy to drink and with minimal beery aftertaste) and the more ubiquitous Cisk Lager (Steve liked it so much he bought a pack of it in duty free). Our plane arrived, we flew back, we arrived at London Gatwick at an otherworldly time in the morning. A long night bus home and it was all over — the best holiday we’d ever had.
All text and photos (c) Juliet Langton, 2012. All rights reserved.