Our closing celebration evening has arrived. Several of us head for Mdina (pronounced M-deena), the oldest city on Malta, dating back to prehistoric times, one of the few fortified ancient walled cities left intact in Europe.
Some of you might recognize the Arabic influence of the name; “medina” is Arabic for city. Although the Arabs were expelled in 1250, when the islands were under Christian rule, their influence is everywhere in Malta.
The apostle Paul’s influence is also felt again, as we pass the incredible edifice of The Cathedral of St. Paul—an impressive landmark from anywhere in central Malta, just begging to be explored. But it’s night, and closed--our trade off for cool temps and beautiful amber lights (the best way to see Malta in my opinion!) Note how tiny the people are in the foreground.
The glass blower's shop is open...we go in to see what's on display, and I find something for my sister (your birthday is coming, darlin'!) Not this chandelier, nor the clock...
After wandering through streets like a film set (several movies have been shot here), recalling Biblical times, or Disneyland, (only this is real!), we climb up on the city’s bastions, the stone walls fortifying the city. The view is a breathtaking panorama, and we "Oooo!" and "Aaaah!" while watching planes, cars, and fireworks over Valletta.
A few obligatory photos later, we move on to the FontanellaTea Garden, where we navigate through a crowded multi-level cafe, filled with greenery and white lights. Diners are tucked into nooks and crannies everywhere, and we find our niche on the rooftop, up against the stone walls, the perfect perch to feast and watch the fireworks (Malta is in festa season, celebrated with fireworks and food for weekends on end each summer.)
We are just here for dessert, and are soon ooo-ing and aaah-ing over mint chocolate cake, strawberry meringue, banofee, and baci cake. We are taking iphone photos and slurping milkshakes or espresso. Guys couldn’t do this, we decide. (Well, I know a couple who could!)
Now we are in sugar stupor, and have to leave: some of us have an airport run at 5:30 am tomorrow. It's hard to leave the beauty, the softness of the air now, the end of discovering Malta and each other.
We take our time, meandering back under the amber lights through medieval side streets, across Publius Square, and out the city gate, past a jazz band playing in the open air. All is peaceful, patrician and perfect. Mdina, I will be back, inshallah!