February 20, 2019 – Balzan, Malta

The day started out well, we read the forecast, 16C and sunny so we dutifully left out a layer of our usual tops/jackets. We got the local bus to Mdina, almost. The bus driver was no help so we ended up going past our stop and had to walk back, but it wasn’t very far. The clouds rolled in quite soon after we arrived and we wished we hadn’t dumped those layers.

We found the main gate of Mdina quite easily, the walkway leading to it goes over an impressive moat.

Main gate to Mdina

People still live in Mdina. The architecture of the city was beautiful. I’d like to think it was a much livelier place several hundred years ago when it perhaps wasn’t quite so pristine and lifeless. I find it challenging to define why we were disappointed, perhaps it was the lifelessness which I suppose gives it the quality of its nickname, the Silent City. Or we were just all cranky because we were cold !

One of the many beautiful doors in Mdina
Carolyn and Bob walking along a typical side street in Mdina

We saw a 30 minutes film on the history of Mdina which was a bit dated from a production point of view but provided excellent historical information. The auditorium in which we saw the film was freezing – there seems to be a bit of a theme here.

Looking north toward the Mediterranean from the ramparts

There were great views of the surrounding land as far as the Mediterranean from the ramparts. Those Romans, Normans and Knights sure knew how to build and maintain fortified cities.

It was lunch time after the movie so we went to a restaurant in Rabat recommend by friend Terry who had been there a couple of years ago. Excellent food, Caroline finally got to eat rabbit, which we gather is a national dish. We could have done without the non-stop Ed Sheeran music but hey, you can’t have everything, at least it wasn’t really loud.

After lunch we headed to the St Agatha Catacombs, at least we thought we did. A bit more backtracking ensued and we did find it eventually. Bob chose it over the St. Pau’s Catacombs, a good decision. The visit was with a guide, apparently the St. Paul’s one is not and there is no audio guide there either. The tour took about 20 minutes and we saw example of single graves, family graves, graves of the well off and the poor. There were also some well preserved frescoes. You had to do some major ducking wondering around the tunnels, Bob managed to bang his head once – but lightly. There was also a museum of sorts on the property. It had interesting artifacts from as far back as the Roman period but it was obvious that the museum was a labour of love and probably not particularly well funded.

We easily caught the bus back and of course when we got off, all we could see was the sun and blue sky.

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