Whenever I think of hiking and seaside cliffs and sunsets, I have always thought of them as very calm and peaceful. And on a hike as secluded as this one was, where I was by myself and had been in sort of an introverted and more reflective mood, you’d think I’d feel the same way. On the contrary. I was totally amped up during this entire hike and it finally clicked at the very end why.
I had already decided I wanted to do the Gozo coastal walk before I even knew it existed. I looked at a map of Malta after buying my ticket, and for some reason I told Rob, “I’m going to walk around that whole island”. Having never done any sort of multi-day trek like this, I have no idea why the idea popped in my head to do that, but once it did there was no getting rid of it. And when I found out how easy the Ministry of Gozo has made it for visitors to do, I was even more determined to make it happen.
The hike is broken up into four, seven to eight mile sections. Each section runs almost entirely along the coast, with a few necessary breaks to avoid private property/walking off a cliff and dying. So I’m doing one hike per day for four days straight. And I started it off with the trek from M’garr to Xlendi (the red trail featured on the map I linked to above).
I started the trek a little later than I had wanted to, because I was so eager to get out there that I decided to do it the first day I was in Gozo. After taking the bus from St. Julian’s, the ferry from Cirkewwa, getting to my air bnb and getting unpacked, and finding a grocery store, it was already 2:30 in the afternoon. The guy at the tourist information center told me this would be no problem, as the hike only takes about three hours and the sun won’t go down until 8:00 pm. ‘Great!’ I thought, ‘I have time for a quick beer beforehand!’.
I was so excited that I had time to start my hike that day that I chatted to my waiter about it when I was paying for my beer. “Oh, you should be really careful, some of the paths are quite narrow…” Whatever dude! I’m so excited! Don’t piss on my bonfire!
Well, he was right. Some of the paths were very narrow and I was kind of terrified. But that was only at the beginning and my fault for taking the more dangerous cliff side route out of the two trails you can choose from. Like I said, I was excited.
This hike was so amazing. There are so many different deviations from the trail and cliffs to climb down and places to explore. I was honestly acting like a little kid, running around off the trail and seeing how close to the edge I could get. It was such a rush to sit and have my dinner with my feet hanging off a massive cliff, the waves crashing against the rocks and caves below me. I’ve never been so exhilarated while eating a peanut butter and jelly sandwich before in my life!
I had been walking for a while like this, meandering on and off the main trail to see what else I could find. The entire hike was just gorgeous. I do, however, kind of turn into a dog chasing a squirrel when I’m hiking. I get distracted and kind of forget about everything else. In this case, I got distracted and forgot about the time.
I passed a man and his adorable dog walking down the trail at one point, and of course I immediately ran over and started petting the dog. The man asked me where I’m from and what I’m doing, yadda yadda yadda. I told him I was walking to Xlendi and his eyes got wide. He looked at his watch, looked up at the sun (which unbeknownst to me was creeping closer and closer to the horizon) and shrugged his shoulders. “Meh, you can probably make it before it gets dark.” I looked up and quickly said my goodbyes. I definitely was not trying to walk along some of those narrow cliff trails in the dark.
So the end of my hike kind of turned into a motivated power walk. No more lollygagging, it was time to make tracks and fast. The rush and excitement of possibly having to sleep in the middle of a field somewhere was far from the peaceful, tranquil feelings I usually have while hiking.
Mother nature was doing what I’ve done to so many of my friends on so many different party occasions: she was trying to tempt me to stay out longer. Tempting me with the promise of more secret cliff spots and secluded trails, more exciting distractions. I had to put the blinders on just to get through it before the sun went down.
But despite mother nature’s best efforts, I made it to Xlendi just in time to find one more cliff to hang my feet off of, crack a beer and watch the sunset. And what a sunset it was. The reflection of the sun dancing off the water looked like glitter. The sky was colored in different neon pinks and oranges and reds and purples. The waves were crashing over and over again and the wind was blowing.
That’s when it hit me. Sunsets aren’t peaceful, tranquil settings at all and Mother Nature isn’t some soft spoken, harmonious, Gwyneth Paltrow type woman either. Glitter? Neon colors? Loud repetitive noise? Mother nature is an out of control, erratic and wild rave girl, and she wanted me to stay out and party with her all night. The beautiful cliffs and trail deviations and secret caves were all just an attempt to suck me in deeper and deeper until it was too late and I had to stay out until the sun came back up. What a brutal walk of shame that would have been.
Sorry, girl, I just couldn’t that night. I needed to get some sleep so I could come back out and party with you again the next day. And then the next day after that. And then again after that….