If I were to write a travel ad for Malta, it would go something like this…
There are no 2 ways around it…this place is OLD. Everywhere you look there’s something crumbling. If that’s your thing, then this is the place for you. But if you come looking to find “pretty”…as in scenic vistas and flowing, lush greenery, well, you might want to rethink your destination choice…cause there ain’t too much of that here. Now don’t get me wrong, there are plenty of relatively scenic water views with rocky beaches. Well, “beaches” may be a bit of an oversell…there are lots of places where the water meets the land at huge boulders. People do swim in the sea though. They strategically place ladders, akin to those in swimming pools, off the rocks so you can lower yourself into the water and swim. Why would someone do that, though, when there’s a perfectly nice, fenced in pool with a VIEW of the sea. But it’s early yet…we’ve only seen a very small corner of this big island. The lush scenic vistas may come tomorrow!
Again today we learned a valuable lesson…just because you are standing at a bus stop with several other people, and the sign indicates that bus 186 STOPS at that bus stop, and you see bus 186 approaching…don’t assume that he will stop. Not being very adept at bus travel, we didn’t give the universally required wave to get that bus to stop. And being that it’s Saturday, that bus only runs every 30 minutes. No worries…the Express Bus #3 also runs and it will take us to the same destination…damn, but it only runs hourly. Now before you ask…it is my humble opinion that the “Express” part of the title Express Bus #3 is a bit of a misnomer. I don’t think the Maltesers understand the definition of express. It doesn’t travel any faster than the other buses…cause my experience thus far is they ALL drive much faster than road conditions should allow. And it really isn’t any quicker to take the express bus as it takes a very circuitous route to just about anywhere. Perhaps they just ran out of numbers to call the buses. It is a very extensive system with multiple buses stopping at every stop. They must have reached capacity and one Malteser looked at the other Malteser and said “What now?”, and the second Malteser said “Let’s throw ‘express’ in front of the next few”, which they did so now they have Express Bus #1, #2, #3 and #4.
So once we got the “bus wave” down pat, we were off and running on our way to Rabat and Mdina. First on the “to do” list was the train tour around the 2 areas. Now again…train tour is also a bit of a misnomer. It was a tour, and it looked like a train, but it ran on wheels, not tracks. None the less, cute idea and well priced at €5…but we didn’t actually PAY that amount. We found a deal! Yup, we sure did. It was called the Rabat Cultural Experience…and you know me…I’m ALL about the CULTURE…well, when it involves a DEAL, that is!! So, for €14 for me and €9 Kier we bought in. Why did Kier get a cheaper price, you ask? Only because of his dashing good looks!! Certainly had NOTHING to do with seniors pricing!! So the DEAL entitled us to the train tour, entry into the Domvs Romanus, St. Paul's Catacombs, and the National Museum of Natural History. Other than the Natural History museum, the rest were either on our list, or not overly onerous on our schedule.
The Domvs Romanus, as it turns out, is the ruins of a Roman Townhouse. It was a brief tour, cause in reality, those Romans didn’t require a lot of living space, so not a lot of rooms to walk through. But we passed along our compliments to the “spirits” of the owners with that age old compliment “LOVE what you’ve done with the place!”. No doubt they’d heard it ALL before!!
The train tour took us around Mdina (pronounced Em-dina), Mtarfa (pronounced Em-tarfa), and Rabat (pronounced just like you’d expect). Rabat is a walled city and although it looked fairly small, we did manage to get ourselves lost in amongst all the roads and alleyways. It is home to many residents, some restaurants and a few souvenir shops. A very peaceful spot…but man, was it hot in there. No breeze seems to pass through those very tall and thick walls!
Then we were off the the Catacombs to get our quota of creepy. And if the rest of what we saw today didn’t indicate it, we sure realized after the Catacombs how freakin’ old this place is. We didn’t spend a lot of time wondering around inside the many, many, many, many catacombs, cause quite frankly, once you’ve seen one empty hole in the ground where a dead guy was buried several hundred years ago, you’ve seen them all! We did tour through a few different areas, but as they got smaller and smaller, and I banged my head more and more frequently, we gave up the ghost! Not really, we didn’t see any ghosts…not a one!
Once back to our abode we had a little afternoon siesta…I’m SURE it’s a thing here…and if it isn’t, it should be! Then this evening it was a quick trip to the Oracle Casino. Not a big spot. Certainly wouldn’t be confused with a Vegas casino, but not a bad place to kill an hour or so…especially if, like me, you win €100.
Great day all around! Can’t wait for tomorrow!