Today is going to be a historical kind of day.
Keen to see a whole lot more of Malta’s rich culture, we decided to spend the day in the city of Mdina and UNESCO world heritage site of Hagar Qim.
Decided against taking the hop on and hop off bus as we were told they tend to be a bit unreliable in terms of timing by locals and tourists in the hotel alike.
Instead, we purchased the Tallinja bus pass which allows us to have 12 single day rides or 6 night rides for 15 Euros. As a bonus, we can share one card between the two of us! If you plan it well, this will be more than enough for a few days. I do love getting a good bargain.
Fortunately, we decided to take the bus from Sliema harbour which was the first stop and got ourselves seats. By the time, we reached our hotel, the bus was already full with tourists and locals standing right up to the door! Keep in mind it will be an hour long ride.
The enclosed ‘silent city of Mdina’, once the capital of Malta is full of splendour, windy roads, and old history. It is not the bustling city of Valletta, quite the contrary, it feels like you’ve gone back in time walking through the small windy roads. You can see churches, chapels, palaces, museums, convents and old architecture.
I was told it was called the silent city because no traffic passes except it is not as silent as it once was. We occasionally had to dodge cars and vans in the narrow streets which I believe were catering or the residents.
Regardless, it is still a peaceful place and we always seem to find ourselves alone despite a lot of tourists around.
The city was free to enter for tourist to have a wander around and we got ourselves a map from the tourist centre.
The stunning mural of Carmelite Priory Mdina.
and in the middle of it all, is the infamous St Paul’s Cathedral. Today was the last day of the festival of the feast, hence it was Public holiday. We also had the pleasure of witnessing a mass that was held at that morning.
Malta is famous for their Mdina glasses, they sell all sorts of beautiful glasses here and Christmas ornaments.
I have to say I immensely proud of my willpower at this moment!
There’s a variety of restaurants and cafe within the city, from reasonably priced to fine dining.
We chose a simple, reasonably priced cafe which we randomly found, and ordered a baked Ftira bread topped with melted cheese and onion.
It is literally like having a pizza, the bread was soft topped with gooey cheese. It was freaking huge!
A better option than a standard white bread ham and cheese toastie with french fries which we also ordered.
There are horse carriages called Karozzin to take you around the city. We decided against them only because we wanted to explore the city on foot. They seem like a good idea especially if you have children and/or those who are unable to walk well.
We were hoping to take the public bus straight to Hagar Qim but what we didn’t anticipate was that the public buses are especially popular to the tourist attractions. Our bus comes once every half hour and it was packed with passengers standing right up to the door.
The despair on our faces as the driver whizzed by waving to say “nope, I’m not stopping!”
But……fear not, we took the longer route and went to Valletta first then swap buses to Hagar Qim. Better than waiting for the next one which may or may not take us. For a moment there, we did feel like we were on the Amazing Race.
Entrance fee costs 10 Euros – with that you will receive an audio guide and a 4D film.
It was pretty exciting, I haven’t been to 4D cinematic experience. Certainly wasn’t expecting to have one for an archaeological site.
It was with sound effects and rain, and to me, it was worth it as it gives you the complete history some 5000 years ago.
Also, don’t miss the museum bit straight after the 4D show which explains a lot more about the site and history.
The temple stands on a hilltop overlooking the sea and the island of Fifla, these covers are to help protect the monuments from the sun, wind and occasional rain.
At the bottom of the hill, only 500m away, lies another remarkable temple site, Mnajdra. Spot the little island, Fifla on the left.
Along the way, you can read about the tower and wildlife. Stop for a moment, look around you, absorb it all in and enjoy the breathtaking views.
For a Euro, you can take these golf buggies up the hill. Otherwise, it is approximately 15 minutes uphill walk under the scorching sun.
The whole experience took us at least two to three hours, but so worth it! It most certainly deserves a spot on your “To Do” list even if you’re not a history buff.
Back in Sliema, we had to sample traditional Maltese cuisine.
It’s Rabbit! You have to try it, it is so tender and as cliché as it sounds, it tastes like tender chicken. I was pleasantly surprised, it was a whole rabbit – I had thought it might have been just a leg or two. It also comes with a side of roast potatoes and mixed vegetables.
Accompanied by Maltese red wine. I never knew Malta have vineyards and it’s definitely something worth trying at least once.
This view facing the casino and sea front makes for a romantic evening. The waiters here are very accommodating and made us feel welcomed. I find that Maltese are generally friendly and very accommodating to tourists and everyone. They seem vibrant and love their food and nightlife; I find this adds more charm to the island.
I realise most restaurants around Sliema have an outdoor area.
Frescos came highly recommended by my friend’s sister who is married to a local.
2 more days in Malta – tomorrow we are exploring Ghar Dalam, Marsaxlokk and the Blue Grotto!
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