Our lovely Airbnb host got up early at 5am to make us a lovely breakfast of toast, homemade jams and coffees before whisking us off to our next destination → Malta.
As we had booked a private taxi (cheaper than grabbing one at the airport), our 30 minute flight was followed by a quick drive to our next Airbnb host family. They provided us with a fantastic flat in a beautiful home and made a cornucopia of food including freshly made sweet breads, muffins, jams, cereals, meats and cheeses. We have never experienced such a feast at a restaurant let alone a person’s home for breakfast. Additionally, the accommodations (a basement flat) was simply amazing, being more akin to a small apartment rather than a massive room.
After digesting our meal, we hoped on the local bus #202 to Mdina, the walled city and the surrounding town of Rabat.
Mdina is quite a walled city.
While there are cars inside (only locals can drive within the walls), mostly you find other tourists. While we did go in the high season of August, we were there on Monday, and it was not crowded at all (apparently most tourists are there on the weekend).
While small and difficult to get lost, part of the magic is wandering the small corridors and walkways throughout the city.
After spending time just marveling at the city’s charm, we went to St. Paul’s Cathedral, the main attraction of the city. Two towers from the cathedral tour over the city with its two clocks (one for the time and the other for the date) and is impressive both outside and in.
Inside is certainly something. Painted murals on the ceiling telling the story of how St. Paul was shipwrecked on Mdina cover the ceilings while intricate and beautiful colourful marble adorns the floor. The whole baroque architecture takes you in, and is certainly one of the most beautiful cathedrals on earth.
After that, we exited Mdina and went to the town of Rabat (right outside).
Our first stop was the Roman Villa of an aristocrat. The museum inside tells the story not only of the house itself, but how life was in Malta during the 1st + 11th centuries.
Littered with artifacts and information told through an ancient Roman house, it’s well worth a visit.
After that, we headed back to Mdina for a drink and quick bite at a beautiful restaurant named Mdina: Bacchus Restaurant.
This restaurant had both a beautiful medieval architecture for the interior and an upstairs garden where we had a drink and ate some wonderful pumpkin risotto.
Finally, we went out to the final destination in the area, the Catacombs of St. Paul in Rabat.
The road to the catacombs from Mdina was dotted with churches that were incredibly ornate and beautiful, and is well worth wandering around Rabat to look at. The catacombs were very interesting. The first room in the entrance tells the story of the catacombs and explains the rituals and how the funerals and burials were performed. After that, it’s on to the complex maze of 27 different catacombs from different times and belonging to different religions. Fascinating and worth the time spent!
We went back to our Airbnb residence and relaxed before dressing up and going to St. Julian for a night out. On the way, there was a small parade and band playing as it was the beginning of the festival of St. Julian. While not as big as the Friday and Saturday festivals, it was still quite big. The festival starts on Monday, August 22nd (the day we were there) and we were fortunate to see a bit of it.
Malta has festivals dedicated to saints almost every weekend. Before you go, check what city celebrates what saint and try to go down for the festivities. While we couldn’t see it on the weekend when the celebrations are at their peak, we hear it’s quite something!
We ended up in a bar, Saint Julian’s: Monte Carlo for some drinks, food and sheesha! Reasonably priced with well made drinks and good food, it’s a nice little place to relax and chat.
After the night was over, we got ready for our second day in Malta → Valletta and St. Julian!