Back in the days when I first started travelling, I had this urgent need to see everything. I’d visit cities having done my homework and armed with a checklist, I’d get up before the milkman and hit the streets. I was a woman on a mission. In Amsterdam one year, I finally realised that there was no rush. I could always go back. And go back again and again until I had seen all I wanted to see.
When I’d come back from somewhere without having seen THE sight, it no longer bothered me. I was happy enough to have a reason to return. For me, in Malta, the thing to see was the Azure Window (Tieqa Żerqa) on the island of Gozo. I’d seen postcards and photographs. I knew what to expect. It wasn’t going to be a surprise. And yet it was – on so many levels. Photographs and postcards might capture the reality but they miss the essence: the smells, the sounds, the feel of a place.
This natural beauty spot has starred in the Clash of the Titans (1981) and The Count of Monte Cristo (2002), in the television miniseries The Odyssey (1997), and HBO’s TV series Game of Thrones. The sad thing is though, is that it’s slowly wearing away. Large pieces of rock are falling from it and despite the signs, irresponsible idiots keep walking on top of it. Earlier this year, a sizable chunk fell, widening the window even more.
Experts say that it’s only a matter of a few years before it crumbles altogether. This week, as I finally unpack my suitcase from that trip in preparation for my next one, I am grateful that I got to see it, in all its majesty, on a perfect November day in the company of three wonderful women. It is on days like this that I am reminded of how blessed I truly am.
Note: For a reminder of what the Grateful series is about, check out Grateful 52