Call that a Roman Villa?… (Gozo cont.)

When last seen, Our Hero and Lone Support Angel were enjoying a latte and pastizzi before going in search of Ninu’s Cave… Good news: We found it… Bad news: It’s closed…

So what do we do now?… Well why don’t we go find Calypso’s Cave? ooooh and they have a Roman Villa nearby… Bit of a Busman’s Holiday for Our Hero but … but… History!!

According to Homer, Odysseus was trapped on the island of Ogygia (Gozo) by Calypso until she was ordered by Zeus to release him… Now we all know that the Odyssey isn’t an entirely factual account of the events following the Trojan War ~Nicely put. Legal~ but that hasn’t stopped the tourist sector from cashing in on the events it recounts… And why not… Hell, if people were (are they still?) prepared to pay good money to follow in the footsteps of Robert Langdon (The Da Vinci Code) then why not visit the sites mentioned in the far superior Odyssey?

And so we shall… Oh Glod! who left the car parked in the only unshaded part of the street? Well done, Our Hero, now you are not only cramped and breathing diesel fumes but also being slowly cooked…

So head towards Ramla Bay and follow the signs for”It’s There!! Take that turn…  ” again the road sign is almost past the road we want… “it should be down here about half… Oh we’re here”… Soooooo… Calypso’s Cave is marked by a slight widening of the road, an ice cream van and a little shop selling jumpers… No, the cave is just beyond the shop… it must be along that path.. or should that be up these five steps to the viewing platform…

So, where is it? Oh, I get it… the cave is directly under the viewing platform… and, we can’t go in because it’s unsafe… Well, let’s just buy LSA that nice jumper she saw and then head on down to Ramla Bay for the villa…

The next mile of road leaves something to be desired to say the least… Our Hero is now cramped, hot and (despite avoiding most of the very worst pot-holes) bouncing around like a five year old on a bouncy castle… LSA appears more relaxed but that may be the bottle of water, the lack of steering wheel producing a permanent groove in her knees and not having her left foot twisted at an almost impossible angle to reach the clutch pedal… Wow, look at all this parking… Something tells me Ramla Bay is very popular…

[You mean all the kids running about, the people playing ball games, the swimmers, surfers,the huge cafe bar and the five ice cream vans isn’t a clue?]

First let us get our bearings… According to this map the villa is just beyond the public conveniences… so it must be here…

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Surely that’s not it…

No, it must be further on… Maybe it’s over this dune… Or maybe this one… OK, it must be over this one… I’m just going to go back and have a look at that map again…

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Nope, this is it…

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Ladies and Gentlemen I give you the Roman Villa at Ramla Bay

Now, I know that my archaeology  experience is primarily armchair based but I have seen the odd one or two villas in my time… to say that this one wasn’t particularly well presented… Actually, I’m not going to complain about it… I know that Gozo doesn’t have a lot of money and that, for them, the villa probably isn’t that culturally or historically important… For all I know, it might not even be that well preserved or architecturally significant… but I do feel a little cheated…

Oh well, it’s almost siesta time so let us brave the Rocky Road to Dublin Gharb and have a rest before we head out for our evening meal… Tomorrow is another day…

It seems the hunting is tailing off… this morning Our Hero is awoken by about five shotgun blasts a minute rather than the twenty or so that so generously greeted each sunrise over the past few days… By Glod, it’s still only five am… I really want to kill somebody…

Fortify yourselves folks, gird your loins and sort out which is your best foot to put forward for today we are going for a hike up the coast… today we go in search of the Ancient Salt Pans… And so to Marsalforn… Let’s head out early so we beat the traffic (hahahahahahaha), and get most of the trek done before the heat of the day… twenty minutes later we’re at Marsalforn… are we ready for this? Yes, let’s go…

Gozitian guide books and maps being what they are we have no idea how old the salt pans really are… and, truth to tell, I don’t know if there is any way to actually find out… We do know that they were in use before the arrival of the Romans… So they probably do date back into pre-history… and are still in use today… Why are we so surprised that the hours long hike we were expecting take about half an hour? You’d think by now we would be used to how small this island actually is…

The Salt Pans is another history geek moment for Our Hero… yes castles, villas and temples are all fascinating but things like salt pans, aqueducts (and for some strange reason sewer systems) are always thrilling for me… They are the reminders of our humanity… the way I look at it, buildings reflect the relative wealth of their owners but we all need to eat, drink and crap so studying the methods and systems put in place to provide for these universal demands is a great reminder that we are all human… history from below the bottom up 🙂

Also, the salt pans are a fantastic innovation  when you think about it… and they look nice too…

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Sea water and sunlight = salt

But hold on… Wasn’t that the mountain that the aliens landed on in Close Encounters?

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LSA stood about ten feet away to give scale…

Oh no, you’re alright… it’s just a copy 😉

OK, even I’m getting bored with this now… I mean there are only so many ways I can say WeWentHereWeSawThat… and even the bad running joke that was the car can only go so far… Besides, most of the historical sites have been visited now… I don’t mean to sound dismissive but, truth to tell, I’m not really feeling this any more… Besides, there really not much more to say… We went back to the Citadella… We spent a few hours wandering around Victoria and the Craft Village… We climbed a hill looking at a bunch of statues about a cigarette smoking Roman soldier and some bloke carrying a log… We ate in some  delicious restaurants… We met a very cheeky ginger tom… We only just made it through security and passport control as last call for boarding was being announced for our return flight… We came home to our four legged flat mate and two friends (who proceeded to ply us with enough alcohol to render us barely coherent for the rest of the day… 🙂

I would like to thank Jackie and Mark at Ta’ Matmura Farmhouse B&B for the delicious meal they made for my B’day that we all celebrated together…

I would also like to add a recommendation to go visit Gozo… Oh and if you do go I suggest you stay at the Ta’ Matmura Farmhouse B&B… oh and tell them Our Hero and Lone Support Angel sent you…

TTFN

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