Mediterranean Odyssey 2019 travel blog

Mdina gate

Alleyway in Mdina

Mdina - gate

View from the walls

St Paul’s parish church, Rabat


Aaaagh! ( nothing to do with international pirates day!)

Today we are trying out the public buses. The plan is to visit Mdina and Rabat.

First stop was the HSBC bank to get some cash - surprisingly many places don’t take cards, so cash is king!

We walked (at least J and C did) down the ramp to the bus terminus. We needed a number 50 or 51 bus to Mdina. And there was one there so we touched our transport cards and sat down for the trip. Luckily, the next stop is displayed on a screen, plus there were some English tourists heading the same way, so no worries.

It was about a half hour trip - the first half through suburbs, all with old stone buildings with closed verandas which is the style mostly used here. For a while we drove alongside a stone aqueduct which went for a number of kilometres. The Wignacourt Aqueduct is a 17th-century aqueduct built by the Order of Saint John to carry water from springs in Dingli and Rabat to the capital city Valletta. It is 26 km long!

As we got closer, we got a view of Mdina, a honey coloured stone walled city with church towers and domes, inside.

We got of the bus right outside the main gate. After a well earned coffee in Howard Garden, we went in. Well, cameras and iPhones were in constant operation. The town is very touristy for obvious reasons. It would be hard to not visit. At every turn, another winding alley with stone verandas, flowers, lanterns, etc. impressive St Paul Cathedral, numerous chapels, a carmelite priory, and palaces. Numerous tourist shops of course, and some restaurants, but nothing to suit our meagre tastes. The town is a high point, so the views from the walls cover a large swathe of Malta.

J and C were in need of something to eat, but as usual, looked in all the wrong places. We ended up in a restaurant near a petrol station east of the town. Point de Vue. No wonder J couldn’t connect to the wifi - he thought the password was pointofview ! They ended up with pizza and focaccia. C was slightly shocked when her 400 mm diameter focaccia with about half a kilo of Parma ham arrived. Anyway, the wind was blowing the right way so no petrol fumes were detected. The young waitress gave us directions to the St Paul Catacombs. Up the road, turn left and walk till you see the church. Well, that’s what we did and we got there. Again, a very old city (Rabat) with great picture opportunities. Of course, here were all the little cafes and restaurants! Plus a nice Maltese bakery! We followed signs and eventually got to the catacombs.

Entering, we found an extensive area dotted with stone vents, and stone entrance buildings. each leading to different sections of the catacombs. They were built an used in 3rd to 8th centuries - Christian, pagan, Islamic, Jewish. The 1st was quite extensive, and others somewhat smaller. Some passageways very narrow, so there were many reversals, asides, waits, to allow others to get past. Some smaller ones had skeletal remains - C sat these out! We were all roasting hot by now, so J suggested a pit stop, and a drink in the cafe - he called it a Cafecomb! But no luck - just a few bottled drinks in a fridge.

We walked back to the little square where the parish church of St Paul was located. A few cafes here, so we found a cool one and had a cool drink, before heading back to Mdina. Of course J took a wrong turn, and although it was very scenic, we all ended up completely on the other side of Mdina with a 300m walk to get back to the Roman site Domus Romana. This is right near the bus stops so we could immediately see where we would catch a bus. The museum is on the site of a 100 BC Roman villa. Some great mosaic floors and many other relics discovered here. Unfortunately a road project lowed straight through, so some of the site was destroyed. Adjacent to the main building you could see a fair bit of the ruins of the villa.

J and C were ready to make their way back to Valetta. We found the bus stop, and waited with others under the shade of some nearby trees. As you might expect, when the bus pulled in their was a stampede! No such thing as politeness here. No “after you madams”!

We shoved and pushed and got on. C found a seat and we sat. Then cold water started dripping from the ceiling. Aaagh said C, and she jumped up. “The seats wet”. A few other passengers said it was just the aircon condensation. But she was having none of it. Up she got and sat on the other side of the bus. More water falling from the sky! Then she said she would stand all the way. J said “don’t be ridiculous”, and moved into the wet seat. Where he remained all the way to Valetta. Every time the bus braked or swerved, a shower of water fell on him. By the time the bus reached Valetta he was nice and cool from hair to shoulder to backside!

Then C jumped up and got off the bus. J got up and asked the driver if this was the end and he said it was. So he got off. C standing impatiently asked where his hat was, and he swung around to see the bus driving off. They rushed over waving and the driver stopped - J got his hat and the driver laughed! ( J didn’t see the funny side of this)

By now temperatures were up, so a small bar near the opera house was found and cool drinks ordered - an Aperol Spritz for C, and a Cisk beer with ginger and lime for J. That was better!

After half an hour of watching the passing parade, we left and bought yoghurt, water, and bananas for breakfast. Siesta time!

PS Wet in the title is an adjective, not a verb!

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