Published: April 16th 2012April 15th 2012
Sunday morning was up to a rough start. The plan was to meet Jackie, a colleague of mine who works in Central Admissions, at the main gate around 9am. She was going to take me to the fishing village of Marsaxlokh. Well...that didn't happen, and I slept through my alarm, getting up at 10:17. I will need to somehow make this up to her...Anyway, I had booked a taxi transfer at 10:30am so I basically threw all of my crap into my bags and booked it downstairs to check out. The trip to St. Julian's, which I had done both prior nights, was quick enough and I was back at the George hotel in maybe 20 minutes. This would be a major upgrade and is the fanciest hotel I've stayed in on my own. Thanks, EC! Unfortunately I couldn't check in, but I dropped off my bags and tried to formulate a plan for the day. Going to Marsaxlokh would involve me bussing back into Valletta, so I ditched that idea, opting to head into the former capital city of Mdina in Central Malta.
The bus came immediately, which was extremely lucky given that everyone is on what seems to
be "Mediterranean island time". It took maybe half an hour to get in, painless enough. Mdina is the name given to the fortified city itself, whereas the surrounding town is called Rabat, so my bus techincally took me to Rabat but it was some 2 minutes to talk to the main gate of Mdina.
The Mdina citadel dates back to around 1000 BC when the Phoenicians arrived, but it eventually fell into Roman hands and finally Arab hands in the 9th century. It was the Arabs who named it Mdina, with "medina" meaning 'walled city' in Arabic. The walls were strengthened and a large moat was boat around the city, separating it from the Rabat suburb. During the medieval area this was the center of Malta, with all of the aristocracy and government being based here. Once the Knights of Saint John arrived, it fell out of favor, as they were very much a sea-faring force based on the coast. Now it's known as 'The Silent City' and offers incredibly beatiful architecture and shaded lanes and passageways, not to mention history.
On the day I chose, it wasn't so silent, as the annual Medieval Festival was going on,
which included traditional music, dance, costume, food and beverage, etc. It was more or less like being at a medieval fair back in the states, except everyone was speaking Maltese and there were no turkey legs to be found.
There are more photos below