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The Cafè Taverna
St Paul’s Catacombs
On the third of our Holiday in Malta we decided to go out to eat for breakfast and to then go to Mdina. We spent some time reviewing places to eat and got directions to Bella Sicilia after seeing that it had a lot of good reviews.
Bella Sicilia was interesting… It is probably a great place if you speak Itallian, but it was not so great for us. There were places to sit outside, but we needed to order inside. We sat outside and looked at the menu and I tried to figure out what it was exactly that I wanted. I didn’t want to sit on my phone googling the different words though. It did have some english words on the menu, but that still required me to know what all of the different pastries or names meant.
I told my partner that I wanted a stuffed pastery. Apparently I said I wanted a stuffed croissant, which meant that he got me a chocolate stuffed croissant. I do not like eating sweets for breakfast and I don’t like chocolate in my bread. Needless to say I was pretty annoyed, I had thought I would be getting a pastry stuffed with something like meat, like a saussage roll.
I took a few bites of the croissant and then an ambulance drove by and spashed a ton of water off the road onto my back and onto my bag. So at this point I was just furious, I had a breakfast I didn’t like, and now I was fairily wet and my dress was sticking to me.
I told my partner he could eat the rest of my breakfast because I wanted to leave this place and go somewhere else. While he ate my breakfast I continued to drink the rest of my americano (which was actually pretty good, nice temperature, good flavour, and a nice aroma) so that we would be able to pay right when he was done. I didn’t feel welcome at this place, I didn’t feel like the staff was helpful when we didn’t know if we were to order first and then sit, or sit and then order. I didn’t like the menu options that I could read, the staff didn’t seem interested in explaining any of the menu, and now I was wet.
When we were all done I went over to the side of the establishment while my partner went to pay. He came out and we started walking off. Suddenly, this man started yelling at us “no payee” or something similar. my partner pulled out his reciept and tried to show the man that he did pay. The man continued to assert that he had not paid, and then a staff member came out and explained in English that the card reader did not have signal so it didn’t go through. The reciept that the business had given my partner was just an item reciept, not a credit card one so it makes sense that he didn’t realise it had not gone through.
We walked back to Bella Sicilia so that he could try to pay again. Apparently the card reader still did not have signal and they wanted their 6 euros in cash. Well, we didn’t have any cash on us so we had to go to an ATM. So by now, I am beyond furious. I had an annoying experience at breakfast, I’ve walked off once in my flipflops that were starting to blister, I’ve walked back, and now I have to walk off again, AND BACK!, before I can get food for myself, and get back to the AirBnB to take off these flipflops.
We walked down to the nearest ATM and of course this one charged a fee, so that 6 euro breakfast just turned into a ten euro breakfast.
After we had paid we started walking back towards the AirBnb looking for somewhere for me to eat something that I wanted. We stopped in at the Dialogue Cafe and took a seat. It wasn’t really lunch time but they had menus out which included lunch so I went ahead and thought I would try my luck with another Maltese Sandwich, the one I mentioned on Day 2 that I could go on about forever. (I came here again and had the same sandwich with a different bread which I have a photo of on day 4)
The sandwich came with potato chips and a salad. With that, we both ordered some iced coffees. The iced coffees were gross. First of all, there was no ice. Second, there was a lot of milk, and lastly the entire drink was room temperature. It took a really long time for us to be served but compared to my earlier experience, I was fairly satisfied.
The sandwich was delicious, and I was again left wondering how these sandwiches do not taste fishy. The bread was tough to eat, like a day old baguette and the bread was very powdery from the flour to the point I was sure that it covered my face but I could eat this sandwich every day for the rest of my life. The sandwich was so filling I was not able to even finish my chips. Thankfully I had help eating them. 🙂
Once I had finished eating we asked to pay, paid, and then walked back to the AirBnb to get ready to go to Mdina.
Once we were ready to go to Mdina, we needed to go to our parked car about a fifteen minute walk away, and then ‘un-parallel park’. This ‘un-parallel parking’ was actually pretty difficult. The previous day when we had parked there, we did not have very much space. When we returned though, a different car had parked behind us who left us even less space.
Needless to say, driving a car that we are not familiar with, it took quite a while for us to get out. I may have mentioned before, parking is horrendous, and because of this, there is usually only one lane of traffic. What that means is, while we are trying to get out, cars are seeing we are about to leave, and are deciding to wait, blocking all the traffic for the entire road.
I did my best to try and tell my partner how much further back he could go, and how far forward, but we are talking literally inches or less here, so it was tricky. I think he did a really good job considering, I would have totally rolled forward into the car when trying to back up since it was a manual on a hill, or I would have over gassed it and smashed into the car behind. Heck, if I was driving, we wouldn’t have gone anywhere that day, and would have waited for the owners to move the car so I could get out.
I think it took us about fifteen stressful minutes to get out of the parking space, and one of the people who had been waiting for us, after being honked at by other cars, drove away, and managed to come back just as we were finally getting out of the space.
Before we had even gotten out of Sliema to head to Mdina, I was exhausted. (I am exhausted just writing about the first half of this day lol) I got in the car and we headed to Mdina which was about a 20 minute drive for 7 miles.
Mdina is a fortified city. It was once the capital of Malta and while the city has existed since the 8th century BC a lot of what once existed has ceased to survive. The city walls were rebuilt numerous times by Eastern Roman Empire, Arabs, The Kingdom of Sicily, and the Order of Knights of the Hospital of Saint John of Jerusalem. It stood in a number of sieges which we learned about when we went to the Mdina Experience.
When we arrived near Mdina we found free parking with lots of empty spots on Triq It-Tigrija near Triq Ta’L-Infeti. I was very happy that we did not have to parallel park or drive around for a half hour looking for parking.
From Triq It-Tigrija, we walked up Telgha Tas-Saqqajjato Is-Saqqajja, and then through a nice park on the corner of Is-Saqqajja and Triq tal-Mużew. This basically brought us to the forefront of Mdina Gate.
I really didn’t know what to expect when we got there but it was absolutely beautiful. From above we could see this area below where presumably a moat was, that had been turned into a neat garden. There was areas of grass (that could not be walked on), trees, bushes, and lots of seating. It was completely empty. There were certainly some tourists here, just a whole lot less. I would say I see more people in my hometown than I did in Mdina.
We found out how to walk in the area we had spotted from above and walked as far around Mdina as we could. It was a really cool experience. When we walked inside Mdina I was surprised to learn that people actually live in it. The whole thing was full of residents. How would you like to live in a place that has been inhabited since 700 BC?!
There was so much to do in Mdina that we didn’t even do. We saw a few places to eat within the walls, and we saw that we could watch a movie called the Mdina Experience. We decided it would be a good idea to see the movie and then catch a bite to eat after. We sat down on a bench and ordered the tickets online, and then headed to where the Mdina Experience was located which was just above a small cafe.
When we arrived, we showed them that we had got tickets online, but they hadn’t yet been “approved”. The woman made a few calls and told us that we were welcome to get a beer of a coffee while we waited and that she would call us when we were to be seated.
We ordered two Cisk beers and sat in the medieval 13th century gothic styled cafe. We only had about ten minutes which went by fairly quickly. I enjoyed sitting in the cafe and thinking about what it must have been like in the past.
The women came over to tell us we could go up but we hadn’t finished our drinks yet so she said we could finish them first. We basically chugged them, because we noticed that by waiting for us, they were also preventing the children from going up to get seated.
The Mdina Experience was a short movie in a small theatre. You could tell they put a lot of money into the theatre area, the seats were large and comfortable, and each seat had some android powered touch screen device in the armrest. That screen allowed us to change the language that we watched the movie in. I thought this was really cool.
There was a large group of school children on a field trip who were speaking french? At the time I thought oh, they just must have driven here but that is obviously not possible so perhaps they were not speaking french, and were children living in Malta. I’m not totally sure how field trips work in Europe so maybe they did come over on a plane or a boat.
They sat the rest of us before the school children and I thought that was actually really kind. The children were really well behaved though, and didn’t cause any distractions during the film. While the seating was great, the film was another story.
The film was very blurry. They had this really nice theatre but it seems like they blew up the image a bit too large. I assume the film was rather old, something not shot in film, or in 4k, because otherwise I can’t imagine why it was so blurry.
Blurriness aside, it was worth the 20 or 30 minutes, because the narration was well produced, and the film was very informative. I learned a lot about the history of Mdina, the different wars that happened, and about the different people who inhabited the area. Once it was over we left and went to get a bite to eat in the cafe below.
The Cafè Taverna
Apparently the cafe was called The Cafè Taverna but I can’t find it on any websites. The cafe was decorated with weapons and armour on the walls with fake candles to lite the room. It was fairly dimly lit, and there was present day popular songs being played on a harp or other instrument that sounded yeolde.
We sat back down in the cafe and looked over the menu to order some late lunch, early dinner. We actually sat in the back right corner of the image above, it was cosy. There was not a lot of options on the menu but the options that existed all sounded nice. I ordered a rabbit pie and an iced coffee, and my partner ordered a sandwich. I don’t think that I have ever eaten rabbit before, but it is something that I saw in a lot of places in Malta.
Before dinner I decided to use the toilet and was a bit surprised to find a massive window that as open. I don’t know where exactly it led out to, but it looked like perhaps the other side of the building was on higher ground and that the window was near ground level. I don’t know if people could walk by but it was certainly uncomfortable. I don’t know what the bathrooms original purpose was but it was one of the only places I saw windows in the building.
I returned to my seat and waited for our food to arrive. While I waited I enjoyed my iceless iced coffee. Apparently iceless iced coffee is a thing there. This time it was a bit better than the previous, maybe it had chocolate or something… Shortly after our food arrived.
I have eaten a lot of pies since moving to England after basically never eating pies in my life, and this rabbit pie I had in Malta was one of the best pies I have ever eaten. I couldn’t tell you what parts were actually rabbit and what wasn’t but the combination of the vegetables, gravy, pie crust, and meat really hit the spot. It was super savory, and certainly a comfort food.
After we were finished eating, we walked around a little bit more in Mdina before we headed over to St Paul’s Catacombs.
St Paul’s Catacombs
St Paul’s Catacombs was a short walk from the Mdina in Rabat. After walking for ten or so minutes we started to see the catacomb buildings, but we didn’t know where to enter? Basically, it’s an outdoor museum that spans across a street, so you buy tickets on one side, keep the tickets and use them to get into the next side.
There were a lot of catacombs and we didn’t go in all of them. You can tell that they put a lot of work and effort into making the museum and it was really well kept. The catacombs are over 2000 square metres. When we walked to each entrance it had a sign that said what type of burials were located inside, such as pegan, jewish, christian, etc.
When we went there was not a lot of people and we could easily have spent a lot of time in all of the different areas. I kept getting a bit creeped out though. The areas we walked were well lit, but not all of the areas in the catacombs were lit, leaving lots of shadows and my brain to wonder. It was also very hot outside, so after we saw five to eight of the different areas, we decided we had seen enough and were ready to head back to the car.
That was the last thing we did on the third day, and I felt like it was a day well spent.