The first full day of our trip we took one of those tour buses – the hop-on hop-off types (am I the only one who has this tune reverberate around my head whenever I hear those words?). Anyway you know the ones: heavily advertised, overpriced, tinny audio and liable to being an hour late and leaving you stranded in a ‘craft village’ which you had to persuade your husband to visit in the first place. Not a perfect solution to getting round the island, but at least somewhat faster and easier than the local buses. So this bus passed through Mdina and we hopped off (hopping is mandatory on these buses you know) and found a place for lunch. Had a quick poke around the town and then hopped back on again. The place didn’t seem particularly exciting and we wondered what all the fuss was about. Luckily I figured out before the end of our trip that we had completely bypassed the interesting bit – the old city.
On our last day we found time to return, this time via a local bus (took the best part of an hour each way, but can’t complain about the minuscule cost!). This time we headed right through the old city gate (it’s pretty big and obvious, so you’re probably wondering how we missed it). I hear this is Game of Thrones filming territory, but that, like the many GoT memes that flood my news-stream, means nothing to me (please, I’m only just getting into Gilmore Girls, I’m a decade behind on popular TV).
Old city Mdina is beautiful, full of winding, sandy coloured alleyways and interesting shops, with several selling the authentic Mdina glass (which isn’t unaffordable!). Being on a hill, you also get a great view whenever the opportunity arises to catch a glance over the walls. There are a good number of restaurants and cafes, and a few tourist spots like a cathedral and associated museum (interesting-ish, but not as impressive as the St John’s Co-Cathedral in Valletta), and a display on ‘the Knights of Malta’ (having read reviews, we skipped this for the more purse-friendly ‘Knights Hospitallers’ in Valletta which was fascinating and enjoyable even for my history-repellent self). However, the fact is that the city is a tourist attraction in itself. Take a camera and some good walking shoes and enjoy it!