Ana Kisling is a Ukrainian national who has been living on the island of Gozo since 2008. In this personal account, Ana explains the first time she experienced Gozo and how she has since made it her home.
Words by VISITGOZO / MINISTRY FOR GOZO | Extract taken from August's 2022 Il-Bizzilla Magazine | Read more here
I'll take you on a little trip I experienced in July 2008, the day I first set foot on Gozo.
I remember the moment I first arrived on the island of Gozo like it was yesterday: it was a bright sunny summer's day, the sea was calm and gentle, and there was a lovely breeze in the air.
As it was summer and also festa season, Gozo looked like a place out of a fairy tale, with gorgeous flags flying over the villages on the hill tops and streets decorated with festive buntings and fairly lights.
As you might have guessed, it was love at first sight. If you're a romantic soul, like I am, you will also fall in love with this island's charm and magical flow.
On that day in 2008, our journey took us through a village decorated for the festa season and straight to the Gozo salt pans. This historical place is a coastal area where salt is still being collected the same way as it was hundreds years ago. This visit was followed by a sunset swim in the most transparent and calm waters of the island's popular bay: Ramla il-Ħamra (which translates to 'Red Sand', which can be found on the beach). By chance, we also managed to dine in a palazzo, enjoying a lovely four-course meal – Gozo's cuisine is truly exquisite.
I remember asking the waiter if we needed to rush to catch the ferry back to Malta, and he replied: "You never need to rush when in Gozo; everything has its divine timing, just trust it." And then he added: "The ferry operates all night long."
We were on Gozo for just a day, and I immediately regretted leaving the island. Why rush to the busier mainland when I felt all the peace in the world on this lovely island? Gozo deserves more than just a day trip. That's when I started contemplating the move to Gozo!
Fast-forward to a few weeks later when I found a 300-year-old renovated farmhouse with a pool on the island of Gozo. It didn't take much effort to jump into the idyllic island way of life. For a few years, I worked in the aviation sector on mainland Malta. I found it relatively easy to commute between the islands; the ferry trip from Gozo to Malta and back is scenic and incredibly gorgeous during sunrise and sunset.
I found absolute joy in exploring the underwater sea, swimming in the caves and lazing in the sun. Since English is the second official language here, connecting with the locals and becoming good friends was quite effortless. Gozitans are very open and helpful; they are generous and will share their produce from their heart.
I truly settled on the island after becoming a mother. I find Gozo a fantastic and safe place to have a family and enjoy life outdoors. This led me to the idea of starting my sustainable business - Gozo, Picnic.
My appreciation for the island, passion for cooking and desire to live a sustainable and environmentally friendly lifestyle led me to create an experiential service of discovering the island of Gozo through a picnic. I am fortunate to have met people who loved and supported my idea, and four years later, Gozo Picnic is thriving, and I have the honour of sharing my experience with you.
Depending on the time of year and weather conditions, visitors to the island can book a picnic at an array of locations and take their pick from the different menus that cater to all dietary needs and wishes. The menus are built with local and seasonal ingredients in mind, so guests can truly get an authentic taste of Gozo.
What is especially satisfying is that apart from tourists wanting to experience Gozo and booking one of our picnic set-ups, we also have locals opting for this activity. We love seeing them appreciate their country and support such a service. It has been a beautiful journey from the start, and I can't wait to see what's in store.
As of July 2008, I've created countless memories and experiences on this gorgeous little island. Now it's quite surreal to think that since then, I've been calling Gozo my home for 14 years…and I don't regret it one bit.